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What’s It Really Like in the Los Angeles Limo Industry?

An Interview with Adir Katzin, Owner of A&E Worldwide Limo.

Q: How did you get started in this business?

A: This is a second generation family business. I worked in the business for 8 years learning the ropes, pursued a career in emergency medicine and eventually fell back into the luxury chauffeured transportation service, which was my original passion.

 

Q:  What do you enjoy about it?

A: I enjoy working with and speaking to my clients and the satisfaction of seeing a job well done.  I love 99.9% of all my clients. You have to have the “heart of a servant” and love customer service in order to do this work day in and day out. I care deeply about their satisfaction and safety and there’s a certain gratification in seeing a happy customer. Of course I do enjoy most everything else that comes with the daily grind…the nonstop challenge of dealing with logistics, traffic, airport delays and flight changes. It’s all a nonstop 24/7 challenge that constantly keeps me on my toes so there’s never a dull moment.  I really enjoy the hustle of it.  I also enjoy flipping the vehicles every few seasons and choosing new models based upon vehicle performance and client demand. There’s really a chance to “geek out” on the newest tech trends and development.  But, at the end of the day every choice I make is geared towards client satisfaction.

 

Q: How do you compare to your competitors in your area?

A: At the end of the day, it comes down to consistent performance. I can proudly say that we have one of the highest client retention rates in the industry.  That boils down to margin of error. Our margin of error on trip to trip is VERY small, and it’s due in large part to the team of people I surround myself with highly qualified staff and the equipment and technology we use. Needles to say most people also appreciate a “customer first” attitude, clean,  well-maintained vehicles, superior back-end office support and professional and punctual drivers who have great people skills.

 

Q. What makes your limo service different?

A: We are considered a “personal boutique service.” What this means is that we strive to treat each and every client as if they’re our only one.  That’s how it started for us and that’s the way we’ve continued to behave. The problem with some larger brand names in this industry is that they’ve forgotten about their customers. I try and make sure that EVERY detail on every ride is flawless. Even with perfect execution, with occasional goof ups do occur. What makes us different is that we care. If there’s ever an incident or complaint, I do everything in my power to make it right.

 

Q:  Do you only serve LA/Sherman Oaks area?

A: We also provide the same level of service in over 350 cities worldwide. It’s taken us 38 years to develop our worldwide affiliate network, but it’s a well oiled machine that we’re very proud of. We consider our service a one stop shop for all your transportation needs

 

Q. You must be some interesting characters and cool people. Can you share a few?

A: The clients that are most memorable to me are the movers and shakers; individual giants that drive the modern industry. Also it’s really neat to meet people whose work I have always had a personal interest in.  From the CEO of Twitter to the CEO of Discovery Communications, I have had the chance to meet and work with some of the most influential people in the western world. We also do alot of small family accounts and major corporate travel for companies such as Chevron and Amgen.  I am also a huge horror film buff and once had the chance to drive the Director of  the horror movie “Hostel.” That was a huge nerdy moment for me and I had to try my hardest not to geek out when meeting him

 

Q: What keeps you going everyday?

A: Limo.

I can liken it to the excitement of show business.  The action stress and spotlight are part of the excitement.  When we’ve completed group transportation for a large event or award show for example and all the working pieces have come together perfectly there’s a certain satisfaction to it.  That’s ultimately what keeps me going. I would also like to build this business into an asset that I can eventually pass on to my kids and see where they take it.

 

Q: What’s new and coming in your industry?

A: The discontinuation of the former industry standard. The Executive Lincoln Town Car has a left a vacuum in vehicle choice.  Right now we’re excited about new changes and have our eyes on the New 2016 Lincoln Continental, as well as the 2016 Cadillac CT6 with extended wheel base.  We are always in attendance at the trade shows and will be keeping our eyes peeled.  While we are certainly acutely aware of the pull and attraction of On Demand Apps for transportation.  We are holding out to make sure that we make the wisest investment in reservation and booking apps, so that we can find one that both integrates seamlessly into our back-end admin system and that also works for our clients

 

Q: What’s your vehicle selection like?

A: We have  recently made some significant investments in three new Cadillac Escalade platinum edition SUVs…a very nice option for small groups with luggage  We are also starting to carve out a niche in the Mercedes Benz Sprinter Market and have purchased 3 new vans that can accommodate anywhere from 11 to 18 passengers. Each model of Sprinter really has it’s own personality and can really be tricked out. We of course stock the standard Lincoln, Cadillac and Mercedes sedans as well as high end mini coaches for large group work.

 

Q: How do you compete with the car-sharing companies like Uber?

A: One word…Service.

Most Uber users are not using them because they want to. It’s a question of price and convenience. But, ultimately I always know who is driving my car and my clients. And I am able to trust them with my own family.  Without spending too much time mulling over the whole Uber debate, I can tell you that I invest a lot of my money and time in personnel, and that there is a distinct difference between a driver and a chauffeur.  We deliver a flawless service to our clients, that’s our promise. Ultimately, Uber has upped the ante with response time and new Whiz bang technology. While we certainly cannot and will not compete with them on pricing, we have crunched our lead times to 1 hour, almost anywhere in LA and are currently looking into a streamlined consumer end app that does everything Uber does, but even better.

Other things to consider is that Uber cannot take advance reservations of weeks or days beforehand where this is a standard option for A&E Worldwide Limo clients. Uber also does not have a phone number and we always have our phone lines and emails open to our clients. This is where caliber service starts.

adir-emmy's-lotcropped

 

An Inside Look Into the Grammys with A&E Worldwide Limo

As we all know, Los Angeles is the mecca of entertainment. When Tinseltown glistens with special events, and awards seasons,  thousands of sedans, limousines and high-end specialty vehicles pour onto the streets of Los Angeles.

Here’s an inside look from one limousine operators.

While viewers tune in to watch awards seasons on TV,  limo service dispatch centers are humming with intense activity.

Planning and coordination start two months ahead of time.  At every limousine company lies the heart of the hive – the dispatch room  often called “air traffic control,” –this is where the location and ETA of drivers and cars are coordinated. With clients making last minute requests and itinerary changes, it can be a daunting task running dispatch for clients and celebrities.  But you can never say “no” to a client.  Dispatch room supervisors often stay on shift until 3 am and can kick up their feet only after every last client is taken care of.

To the average person, the limo operations is an obscure concept. Many do not know that intricate communications and operational systems are running efficiently at high speed to meet the needs of clients. Multi-line call centers are the brain centers of proprietary dispatchers in the industry. Solid communication dispatch, emails, and texts are all necessary and fundamental lines of communication systems in helping us serve our clients optimally.

Limousines, sedans and vans are scattered from Beverly Hills to Hollywood picking up passengers  all over town, then making their way to awards venues: Dolby Theatre in Hollywood for the Oscars and Staples Center for Grammys and Emmys. Even the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion sees some activity during the technical and Actors Guild Awards.

The bulk of customers procuring limos come from the Los Angeles entertainment industry – production and studio accounts.  However, individual high- net worth individuals and long time accounts usually reserve like clockwork during the peak awards seasons.

Several dozen blocks surrounding  these venues are cordoned off to commuter and local traffic

During awards season,  major A list stars often need a cavalcade of cars not only for themselves but for their bodyguards and entourage. The minimum rental period is eight consecutive hours and prices range from $130 – $300 per hour, depending on the vehicle rented. Most popular vehicle rentals are the Lincoln Stretch Limos, Sedans and SUVS. However, the now popular MBZ Sprinter Specialty Vans gets requested every year.

On-site parking and vehicle coordination is conducted with almost military precision.  Some awards shows have LAPD security checkpoints with bomb sniffing dogs and swat teams, while others rely on a lighter detail of a few squad cars and a few plain clothes undercover policeman.

Parking space is limited to offsite lots near the venues and spaces are purchased ahead of time.  Each of the many limo companies working the event end up paying top dollar for large swaths of empty lot to fill with their vehicles. At some awards show, there can be around 400 to 700 cars  parked at offsite staging lots  and thousands more scattered on the side streets of LA. Each “show car” works with a number call tag system. A call tag number is given to the client and the driver.  After the show, on-site red carpet reps coordinate with parking lot reps to call forward the drivers based on their call tag number.  This is when the chaos starts and drivers and clients must be matched.

Some companies have on-site staff, who go around with a bottle of quick detailer a  microfiber towels and detailer brush making sure that the inside and outside of the vehicle stays immaculate at all times.  Others employ an on-site mechanic in case of any mechanical problems.

Chauffeurs often carry an emergency travel kit as well.  Their “jump bag” contains everything from shoe polish and make- up kits to mouthwash and sewing kits.  Sometimes even knowing the closest boutique liquor store that sells that special brand of European cigarettes can impress clients.  Every extra mile the drivers go for their clients can earn them big cash tips, some as large as $900 with the smallest tips being $20

Many larger to mid size boutique limo companies in LA may have as many as 60 cars working any given awards show, but all will have to sub-contract out to many smaller companies and owner operators at some point in time.  While most clients book ahead many wait until the last minute and request a car within days of the awards show season.

While the limo industry can be fiercely competitive, it is during the busy awards seasons that you will see a spirit of cooperation. Smaller companies often depend on  “the big five” companies on awards nights and vice versa.  Since almost every car in town is booked, they need to figure out how to help each other out and put egos and pettiness aside.  Most operators know that the head honcho in charge of procuring transportation for the next year’s award season may be sitting in the back of their car. These contracts can mean millions of dollars worth of work a year.

 

AE_Worldwide_Limousine_(@aelimos)_•_Instagram_photos_and_videos_-_2015-06-27_17.35.49

 

 

Ride Sharing Services Attempt to Get the ‘Lyft’!

A and E Adir Katzin demonstrating ride sharing in a limoAbout a year ago, we posted an article about the dilemma facing both the Southern California limousine and taxi services in regards to the introduction of ride sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, these various ride sharing systems operate as a series of Smartphone apps for iOS, Android and other cell phone operating systems. The idea is that by using these apps, customers can ‘hail a cab’ online and a driver, usually unregistered with the State of California would pick up the customer and drive him or her to their destination.

Since that time, the controversy has escalated. Back in June of 2014, the Los Angeles City Council threatened half the operations of all Southern California based ride-sharing services. Even with the “ban”, these companies continued to operate their smartphone apps and provided rides all over the Los Angeles region. From LAX to nightclubs, the pink mustached vehicles of Lyft and similar ridesharing services were utilized everywhere.

As of September 18, 2014, a landmark decision has been reached rendering California the first state in the nation to legally regulate these ride-sharing apps and services. According to a press release from the California Public Utilities Commission, the regulations establish a new category of business called a Transportation Network Company, requiring those companies to obtain a license from CPUC, conduct criminal background checks, establish a driver training program, and hold a commercial insurance policy with a minimum of $1 million per-incident coverage.

While this decision is being hailed by the independent companies as an enormous victory, opening their relatively new foothold in the door even wider, taxi and limousine companies need not despair just yet.

Reading both the nuts and bolts of the argument and the comments, what stands out again & again is the issue of customer service.

These upstart companies (Lyft, and the rest) are succeeding because they are new and fresh. They are actually listening to what the public wants and needs and delivering it. Cars are clean, drivers are friendly, rates are affordable.

The taxi industry as a whole has had a bad rep for years but consumers have had no other choices. Due to their monopoly on the market, taxi drivers have become increasingly slovenly, surly, rude, etc. Overcharging is rampant. Drivers have been able to rest on their laurels because they know passengers are stuck with them and had no other options.

Limo companies are kind of lost in the shuffle between the two, but taking a limo or a Town Car has always signified class and a level of upscale service which has remained consistent throughout this “battle”. Limos are also surprisingly affordable, but that never crosses anyone’s mind.

If either company wants to succeed, customer service must be put at the forefront. Taxi drivers have the experience but not the attitude. Lyft has the friendliness, the cleanliness and the care, but not the professionalism or the finesse of premier limo service. That’s where the biggest edge of limo service comes in.

Consider both sides when making your decision.

Limo service offers these 3 things that ride-sharing services do not:Premier, personalized/vetted chauffeurs with

1. Premier, personalized/vetted chauffeurs with CONSISTENT price.

2.  High-touch customer service and support.High-quality vehicle selection and variety.

3. High-quality vehicle selection and variety.

Consider a limo or a town car first before going for a trendy ride -sharing app.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Must Have Apps for The Executive Assistant

Executive Assistant Appstop apps executive assistant

Executive Assistants are a breed apart.  Between aligning their tone and vision with that of their boss, to juggling 3 or more different tasks at the same time, their day is busier than yours-trust me. Below are five of some of the most popular and useful apps designed for the Executive Assistant who is constantly on the go. From accounting to productivity, these apps are indispensable for the professional managing multiple deadlines at the same time.  Some are free, some are paid but all of them are aimed at making your day a little easier.

 

QuickBooks Online

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A recent reinvention of the original Quickbooks, this iPhone app connects existing users to Intuit’s ubiquitous accounting software. Now you can check real time bank and credit card info and integrate the same accounts payable and receivable features that many users have come to know and love. It even allows users to search and update multiple customer databases and update profit and loss reports.

(The actual app is free; QuickBooks Online incurs a $9.95 monthly fee.)

Pocket PunchclockPocket Punchclock

This app makes it super easy to log the amount of time spent on multiple tasks.  The app is the ideal solution for various assistants who bill by the hour or freelance professionals that need to officially keep track of their time. The software has  a user friendly stopwatch style clock and allows you to work with more than one timesheet.  It documents exact times and charges and integrates your smartphones GPS to include location based info. All this and the info can be e-mailed as well

(Cost: $9.99)

Ambianceambiance iphone app

Some Assistants require some peace of mind to stay productive. While straight white noise has its proponents, this app produces over a dozen soothing sounds to relax to. Sounds include: a roaring camp fire, rain and wind, and crashing waves.

 (Cost: $0.99)

SpeechCloud Voice Dialerspeechcloud

Everyone knows that the missing link of the iPhone is voice-activated dialing.  Other operating systems can intuitively dial contacts by simply saying “Call office” or “Call Cell”.  Finally an app that fills this void. Hold down the clearly visible button and enunciate the name of a person in your contact list when prompted.

(Free)

Jott for iPhonejott for iphone

This simple but ingenious app can record your award winning ideas or brainstormed thoughts when you speak them into your iPhone’s built in mic.  Additionally, it can also transcribe your dictated voice notes into text (perfect for email or dictation). The app is free, but maintaining a Jott account is a pre requisite.

(Free)

5 Things You Don’t Know About International Travel

International Travel

As the CEO and founder of a worldwide transportation network, I spend roughly half of my waking day speaking with airport car service clients and corporate travel planners.  As a byproduct of this hectic schedule, I’ve learned a few savvy tips and tricks  for making your travel experiences easier. From watching the entire last season of “Breaking Bad” to learning how to call outside of a foreign country for free!  Here’s five guarded travel tips gathered from discerning and seasoned business travellers, that I’ve put together just for you

You Can access your Netflix Account While Traveling Abroad.

Additionally you should be able to view Hulu and HBO Go, browse Pandora Radio or checkout your Facebook status in China. You’ll need one thing- a VPN. This is also known as a “Virtual Private Network,” and what it accomplishes is simple and amazing!  It allows you to route your Internet traffic through a network with a distinct IP address, mirroring your network back home in The USA, while you’re browsing away in a train in Berlin.

Hide My Ass! (Yes that’s really the name) and Strong VPN are two reputable and cost effective VPN options, they start at $6.55 per monthly use.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll have a fair access to numerous global servers. Getting set up is a cinch and both VPN services have top notch 24-hour customer service hotlines. Any of the aforementioned VPNs are compatible with a tablet, smartphone or laptop.

You Can Call the States for Free

T-Mobile has one of the best coverage options for international travellers; it’s a closely guarded secret they’d rather you not know about.  You can bet that they won’t publicize that all international calls made over a Wi-Fi connection are free. Like, totally free. You can forget about data or roaming charges altogether.

Calls are made using Wi-Fi connect with a UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) network.-this kind of works in the same way as the VPN.  What a UMA does is give the caller using the Wi-Fi a separate and standalone IP access to T-Mobile’s core network.  This essentially mirrors the same type of wireless connection made in the United States.

As a matter of plain stated fact-Mobile, hands down, has one of the best overseas data plan. Unlimited email access can be had for a monthly fee of $19.99-not bad!   Unfortunately the use of Twitter and Facebook is not included in this plan.  But honestly once you get the hang of the Wi-Fi and UMA network you can freely surf the web browser and log into any and all social media apps.

Electronic Pick-Pocketing is On the Rise

Tech savvy thieves are now using what’s known as RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) “skimming”.  RFIDs are really just the condensed radio frequency chips that hold all the data contained in your passports, credit cards and other personal identification cards that have a magnetic stripe.  Snatching that data is easy as pie for some of these thieves. The majority of them stroll around with a portable card reader and briskly walk by or ‘bump’ you in a crowded place.

I have heard a personal story of one  executive whose data was snatched while travelling,  only to find his bank accounts drained, within hours. Pickpocket hotspots include shopping malls, train stations and busy hubs like airports.

The best defense is a personal offense: Think about shopping around for a RFID-Anti Theft wallet or personal carrying case. Some travel specialists recommend PacSafe’s anti-theft RFIDtec 150 RFID blocking passport case.

Forget About the Power Converter.

I can’t tell you how many times I get asked about adaptor plugs for different countries, and if one needs to invest in a converter. Here’s the bottom line. Today, almost all up to date electronic gadgets come with a built in power charger as part of the adapter.  Yes that includes iPhones, tablets and cameras as well as almost all smartphone models.

What you will need however is what’s called a travel plug adapter. Different countries use different kinds of plugs. In Eastern Europe, there’s these distinct looking round two headed prongs. In England there’s those square shaped three-pronged plugs. Just remember to do some homework before you travel overseas, and find out what kind of travel plug adapter you’ll need. I personally recommend Kensington International travel plug adapter.

The only instance when you will you need a power converter is when using appliances that use an inordinate amount of wattage; hair curling irons, blow dryers or Norelco type shavers.  Honestly, you’ll thank me later for purchasing these items abroad; You can save yourself a whole lot of headaches and possible socket meltdowns!

Download the App for That

Need some useful sentences in Japanese? Personal travel recommendations from a local guide   Underground subway schedules?  There’s probably an app for that. Seriously

It’s a wise choice to by contextually specific travel apps for your destination city  before you travel abroad. Some of my favorites include: mapswithme (for offline downloadable navigation), currency (for up to date exchange rates) and worldmate (for everything from flight updates to travel itineraries)

Smart Apps  don’t hog up too much memory and many are free. The paid apps are often the best investment you can make when you find yourself in a jam in a foreign land.

5 Unique Gift Ideas for The Boss

Executive Gifting

Executive gifts should be chosen carefully, but that doesn’t mean your search for the perfect gift  for your boss has to be boring.  If you are planning on gifting your boss this season, keep his/her needs in mind. We have put together a variety of 5 original gifts for various budgets and various bosses.  Choose wisely!

Apple iTunes Gift Card

Presenting your boss with a thoughtful reminder of suggested apps along with an iTunes-app store gift card, can often be the most understated way to earn some serious brownie points without putting a second mortgage on your home Two apps that have been receiving a lot of buzz as of late: FlightTrack Pro-which has an simple and smart user interface that lets the executive traveler stay on top of flights updates and delays. Outpost is the ideal app for busy executives in charge of multiple projects.  It has one of the most elegant management tools available on the app market

Cost: Starting at $25

Apple Magic Mouseapple magic mouse

The fabled Apple tablet is due for release in 2013. In the meanwhile, tantalize the Mac nerd (c’mon we all know one!) with the newly released Apple multi-touch Magic Mouse. In typical Apple fashion, the user experience is both sexy and intuitive.  The mac fanboy/girl on your list will be able to scroll around their home screen with a single-finger slide on the surface area of the mouse.  Swiping with two digits will move the user through photos or web pages. The wireless wonder uses two AA batteries and employs an auto shutoff feature when not in use-smart!

Cost: $69

CorePack Fly Messenger Bag by Speckspeck products corepack fly messenger bag

Perfect for the young executive, this laptop bag is ergonomic and plays nice with those pesky TSA check points. The CorePack Fly Messenger Bag by Speck unsnaps, lays flat and reveals a secondary compartment that is specially made to cradle and protect your laptop.  This allows you to slide it right through those TSA conveyer belts and zip right through airport security checkpoints-sans fumbling. It features a removable shoulder strap and a special pocket designed to hold an iPod-complete with a pass-through for ear buds. Available in two striking and elegant colors, this item is sure to get plenty of mileage.

Cost: $89.95

Powermat Portable Charging Matpowermat portable charging

What was the last count on the number of mobile and portable devices your boss was carrying around?  I bet it’s at least two devices.  This nearly wireless mat connects through a traditional wall socket and can juice up to three devices simultaneously. The caveat is that multiple devices need to be fitted with receiver cases or USB connectors in order to be able to charge up. The featherweight mat folds up and comes complete with it’s own carrying bag, making it an ideal travel companion.

Cost: $99 and $39.99 for an iPhone Receiver Case ,  $29.99 for a “universal receiver” which has a complete USB adapter kit for various devices.

5Barz “Road Warrior” Cell Phone Booster5barz road warrior cell phone booster

We left the best (and priciest) for last! This “Road Warrior” unit is essentially a signal booster that dramatically increases cell phone reception and almost eliminates dropped calls. The simple and intuitive design has a built in cradle that will accept a veritable anthology of cell phone models.  It plugs into both cigar lighter sockets and standard wall outlets. Weighing in at a svelte 1lb, this little life-saver is well worth the hefty price tag.

Cost: $299

Images: inc.com, theawesomer.com,blushberry.net

5 Pieces of Travel Tech Gear You’re Not Using Yet

Travel Tech Gear That’s a WIN!

While flying the “friendly skies” and jet setting for business may sound exciting, there are common complications inherent when moving you and all your stuff from A to B.  Here are some hot new products that hit the shelves recently.  We have chosen 5 of the most preferred pieces of travel tech gear recommended by some of our airport car service clients. All are priced below 100.00 and easily pay for themselves in both convenience and utility.

 

Iogear Bluetooth 4.0 USB Micro Adapter iogear-bluetooth-adapter

What: The Iogear Bluetooth 4.0 USB Micro Adapter is a tiny piece of tech wonder that can convert any PC with a USB port into a Bluetooth-enabled device.

WIN!: This teeny adapter engages with Bluetooth 4.0, the most recent generation of Bluetooth technology- and the fastest. Also, this micro adapter uses very little power itself,  so it won’t drain the battery life of your laptop or device.

Cost: $12

 

Kensington International Travel Plug AdapterKensington International-Travel-Plug-Adapter

What: The Travel Plug Adapter is a packable adapter fitted with plugs that function in over 150 countries.

WIN!: You don’t have to buy a separate  adapter each time you travel to a different country, and this portable gadget takes up very little space in your carry-on

Cost: $20

MyGica A680B USB HDTV Tuner MyGica-A680B-USB-HDTV-Tuner

What: The MyGica A680B USB HDTV Tuner is a USB adapter that allows your PC  to receive HDTV signals.

WIN!: You can watch HDTV for free-on your PC! This tiny USB stick gives you the capability to watch, pause  and rewind live HDTV.  You can even play with a recording cue and set scheduled recordings to watch later-right onto your hard drive. The tuner is compatible with Windows 7 Media Center, the caveat is that it doesn’t play nice work with earlier versions of Windows. Buyer beware.

Cost: $24

The Speck CandyShell Card Case

What: The Speck CandyShell Card Case protects your iPhone while providing a

speck candy shell with cash

utilitarian slot to stash cash and cards credit cards.

WIN!: The case has a grippy, rubberized slot that securely stashes currency and credit cards , eliminating the need to schlep around a heavy purse or wallet.  The rubberized  trim also remains flush with the iPhone’s bezel, which supposedly defends the notoriously fragile iPhone screen should it land face first.

Cost: $25

DreamTraveler iAD301 DreamTraveler-iAD301

What: No mess of cords and devices scattered across your hotel room desk. This elegant and simple charger consolidates the mess into an intuitive and user friendly design. iLuv  walked away with a  2012 CES Innovation award for this slim travel-size combo power strip featuring built in surge protection and a USB charger for iOS devices completed by a slide-out charging port.

 

WIN!: The Device can charge six devices simultaneously with one USB charging dock, two separately amped USB ports, and three grounded outlets.  Charge all your Apple products in a snap. The hottest facet of DreamTraveler’s design has to be the three built in grounded outlets which let you charge everything from a camera to a laptop.

Cost:  $70 (currently on Backorder)

 

 

Images: kensigton.com, iogear.com, meritline.com, bhphotovideo.com

5 Hot New Apps for International Travel

top-travel-apps

Award Winning International Travel Apps

International Travel can be complicated. There have been some recent releases of high end robust software.  Some are free, all are feature rich and offer the international traveller the capabilites of a personal travel agent in the palm of their hand

 

MapsWithMe: is the ideal buddy to bring on any executive travel journey as it provides travel manuals and offline maps for any global location. Once set up, just check the boxes for the places you’ll be staying and the app will give you the ability to download “offline”maps and any pertinent info regarding the location you will be staying at. (Including local guide-like tidbits). Maps are sourced from OpenStreetMap and virtual travel manuals come from Wikitravel.

mapswithme app

Currency: gives real time info on exchange rate covering in excess of 100 currencies and countries. This app is perfect for overseas travel when you need up to the minute exchange rate conversion info. This app gives a data rich” thumbnail flags” readout for the appropriate currencies. All you have to do is enter your currencies that you plan on using during your journey and you can instantly keep a close eye on the exchange rates at a glance. You have the option of manually refreshing exchange rates or allowing the app to auto refresh in hourly or daily intervals.

currency app

WorldMate: app basically has all you’ll need under one thumbnail. It tracks your itinerary and provides accurate weather forecasts.  It also gives you a currency converter and allows you to book hotels through the free version.  There’s also the indispensable travel notifications, which keep you in the know with weather affected delays and syncs to do lists for the day. Some of the hottest capabilities of the Gold version ($3.99-iTunes) of this app include: weather forecast, currency conversion, live flight updating, and a snazzy tip calculator.  It also features a rich database of flight and Hotel Searches and World Clocks.  The high end Itinerary manager as well as automated flight alerts are some of the most raved about features

worldmate app

Safe To Go™ is a robust dual user integration app that provides a dialed in user experience.  It is on one hand, a mobile app that allows travellers in the field real time access to flight and itinerary updates.  On the other end it has an integrated corporate travel desktop app that keeps an eye on corporate clients in the field and provides travel alerts.  It’s great for times with high security alert, as well as zones with security hotspots.  While it’s no replacement for executive protection-it comes close. Complete with an itinerary and software management for everything from car, hotel and flight info.  The hottest facet of the app is the ability for the client manager to provide “duty of care by alerting travelers if they’re in a danger zone; kidnapping, criminal, political, extreme weather, health hazards, etc.”

safe-to-go-app

Word Lens: app has native translation software built into it.  It uses your phones camera to capture printed words from the foreign language and translates them into the language of your choice.  Many of our airport car service clients use Word Lens for family vacations, executive travel or just for the heck of it.  It’s integrated for use on the iPad or iPhone and while the app is free language bundles are a paid upgrade.

Worldlens-app

 

 

 

images: apkfullapps.com, computerworld.com, tripatlas.com, corporatetraveldesigns.com,inpiratoblogs.com

5 Things You Need to Know Before Booking Chauffeured Car Service

Los-Angeles-Chauffeured-service

Chauffeured Limo Service 101

Chauffeured car service can be both convenient and elegant.  Whether you’re pulling up to An exclusive Hollywood premiere or using airport car service, it’s often the preferred way to get around town. If you are going to rent a limo for the first time or even if you’re a seasoned car service veteran there are always details your limo service should make clear to you. The following covers 5 key questions you should always make sure to ask your Chauffeured car service provider.

When Will I be paying for my Chauffeured Car Service?

If you’re renting a Los Angeles Limo on a budget, getting a straight answer is crucial. The question is actually a two sided coin; let’s get the skinny on both. Find out if your car service does point-to-point or hourly/garage-to-garage billing. Depending on the type of service you’ll need, the answer will determine how you will be billed and help you to avoid having to pay a penny more than you need to.

Additionally, does the limo service demand payment in full or a deposit at the time of booking? Do you pay the full balance upfront at the beginning of the trip? Find out exactly when they’ll be putting charges on your card.

Is There an Hourly Minimum?

For client directed hourly trips, many LA Limo services charge a minimum number of hours-it’s usually around 2 to 4. If you’re just need to book airport car service, let your reservationist know that you require point-to-point service, which traditionally won’t have a minimum amount of hours attached.

Can I Get in Touch with My Chauffeur?

If you’re scheduling a pre-arranged pick-up, you’ll want to know how you can get in touch with your Chauffeur. Request their cell phone number ahead of time, as this is often helpful to have before during and after the trip.  Take advantage of any on-board communication too. If you’re going to rent a hummer limo, for Example see how you can communicate with your chauffeur during the trip. Are there intercom systems mounted in the vehicle in case you have any burning questions en route to your destination?

Is Alcohol Allowed In The Limo?

If you and your party are 21 years or older, most likely you’ll be fine consuming alcohol in the back of the limo. Ask ahead to make sure the limo comes with a full wet mini-bar. Some Los Angeles limo services have mini bars that rival that of many luxury hotel rooms.

Parents who plan to rent a limo for prom or any other event with minors should ask about the company’s policy regarding underage drinking. Great limousine companies often have a bag search protocol prior to boarding-this gives a measure of assurance and safety.

What Amenities Are Included With My Chauffeured Limo Service?

Ask what additional amenities are included with your limo rental. Will they have an AV package? Does it come with stereo surround sound, a CD Player, iPod connections? Why shouldn’t you enjoy your custom playlist during the ride? Additionally, see if they provide complimentary champagne or red carpet service for wedding limo packages. Ask about glass stem-ware, seating capacity and arrangement and anything additional provided with the service.

How Long Can We Party?

If you and your guests are having the time of your lives and you just don’t want the party to stop, you should be able to extend your reservation. The Likelihood of extending your limo service will be higher if your trip is the last scheduled reservation of the day. Be sure to inquire about policies and protocol ahead of time. There is often a higher cost for last-minute requests. If you’re unsure about the time window time your party will need, try and  book a longer window of time to avert any last-minute changes in billing or the off chance that the limousine won’t be able to accommodate your request. 

Is Chauffeur tip Included?

Chauffeurs often live off of their tips and many Los Angeles limo services have a policy of adding 20% to the invoice at the time of the initial booking, a practice known as “all-in pricing”. Make sure the price you get includes all additional add ons and ask for an explanation of each.

 

Special Thanks: John Kragh
Image: neogaff.com

How to Deal With Rude Airline Employees

Air Travel Survival

There’s been a lot of recent news coverage surrounding bad attitudes at the airport: flight attendants getting confrontational, gate agents having mental meltdowns, ticket agents who won’t move a finger for you. It seems that airline employees are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Is anyone really that shocked?

Changes in Airline Personnel

Airline employees have been dragged around quite a bit in recently. Management has leveraged their unions, reduced the zeros in their paychecks, cut their pensions, rearranged  work protocol, slashed personnel and even hidden behind bankruptcy protection.  Yet airlines have found a way to bathe CEOs and top brass in bonuses. Just pay close attention at LAX or JFK airport during the peak flight hours. You’ll find employees performing the functions of their jobs, but their spirit is broken.

It’s not that there aren’t any compassionate or competent airline employees around anymore, but they are few and far between. Chances are, the next time you fly, you’ll find one out of every three employees in a crabby mood or with a less than shining attitude. I wouldn’t accept it, but I can empathize with it and I understand the traveler’s pain as well.

Here are a few tips for dealing with airline employees with bad attitudes:

 

  1. Approach Cautiously: If the first thing to come out of your mouth is something to the effect of, “Could this airline mess up my trip anymore?” you are probably not going to get the most stellar service.
  2. Situational Awareness: Take a second to empathize with what the employee is experiencing at the time you approach her. Are they getting berated by another passenger? Is there a delay that is beyond their control? Is the airline clearly understaffed for this Particular flight? Give them a modicum of understanding.  More understanding is really what the world needs now.
  3. Hands Off: You might mean it as a simple gesture to get the agent’s attention, but nobody likes getting groped or poked by a stranger, and most will take it the wrong way.
  4. Keep Your Voice Down: The easiest way to get a poor response is to shout at an airline employee. They will instantly put their guard up, and many of them will refuse you any further help or service
  5. Tone Down Your Language: The minute you start with any obscenities your cause is lost. What is guaranteed to happened is that the agent will shut down in a very calm manner and then refuse any further help.  The other scenario will have them dishing it right back at you-and then refusing any further service.
  6. Kill Them With Kindness: If you are exceedingly nice to a rude person, sometimes you can disarm them-even improve their attitude. Besides, lowering yourself to their level of crassness is beneath you right?
  7. Be Selective: If you see that one employee seems grumpier than the others, go to the more agreeable one. Why set yourself up for an uncomfortable situation?
  8. Get a witness: If you are subject to extremely abusive behavior, ask someone who witnessed it to back up your story. Get a brief statement in writing if you can, along with a signature.
  9. Remain Calm: In a calm, metered tone ask nicely to speak with a supervisor, manager or a higher up. Nine times out of ten that will bring swift results and end the abuse. Whatever you do, don’t make a scene at the airport.
  10. Taking Formal Action: If you plan to file a formal complaint, get the agents name and employee number, along with the contact info of any witnesses. Draft a letter of complaint and reread it before you print it-time provides great perspective.  Be detailed in your letter.  If the airline gets a high number of complaint letters, sanctions will be taken against the employee.

Airline employees have had a rough time as of late and are less resilient to abuse than before.  Honestly, the majority of complaints most business travelers share with me have very little to do with the actual airline employees; Delays, foul weather and smelly seat mates are often beyond their control.  During the course of your travels, practicing a bit of smart empathy may eventually get you where you need to go that much smoother.



Special thanks: James  Wysong
Image: tecca.com