Friday, January 28, 2011

Buiness Travelers: Should You Travel by Business or Economy on Airlines?

Have you been caught in this gap between the company you work for and suppliers like airlines as a business traveler this year as the need for business travel increases for in-person meetings? 

This gap I am speaking about is the challenge where companies are trying to keep expenses flat while businesses in the travel industry are being creative to add to their profits.  I am sharing this story written by Jim Wickenden, a frequent international business traveler.  

Jim Wickenden is a business development manager for a Silicon Valley software company and consultancy. A writer and historian, he travels extensively on business and for pleasure with a keen eye on the humanity, or lack of it at times, as he passes through.

Traveling Economy, Jim Wickenden

Since the financial meltdown, most companies are looking to cut business travel at the same time as the airlines are looking to make the most of their lucrative element of their travel customers. The result is that the airlines want to charge $9,000 for a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo and the employers look to send their salesmen and project managers by economy.

If you travel internationally for business, until recently you pretty much had two choices of aircraft, the 777 or the grand old dame, the 747.  The configurations for both in business class are being upgraded to the nice flat beds that offer real relaxation for the cursed red eye schedule.  In the past, business seating was little more than a hard Laz-Y-Boy that prodded and poked.  If you were above 5’10”, then the paucity of leg room forced your feet to grind against the foot “rest.”

Now, here is the rub, finally, I hear you say. Do you fly premium economy, save $7,500, and try to sleep in something akin to your grandmother’s rocking chair or do you use your precious air miles, pay a nominal fee, and get upgraded?

This traveler says, it all depends, and it takes no effort on your part. When Becky, the travel agent, is arranging the flights for you, ask what type of aircraft is being used for that particular flight. And then ask Becky if the new beds are installed in that particular aircraft. Becky certainly should know, if not ask her to find out for you. 

Ahh, if only it was that easy, but not quite.
Photo of inside a 777 taken by Carib, on Flickr, Creative Commons
The other part of the equation to consider is what the seat configuration is in economy. The new business class in the 777 has compelled the economy configuration to change from the intimate 2-5-2, which is great for business companions and romantic, snuggly honeymooners; but lousy for the poor schmuck traveling solo on the middle of the row of five. He is surrounded by Squawk and Whinge families and their offspring from Fidgetville. Now airlines have gone to the more equitable, but less ideal 3-3-3.

Another thing to consider is the new economy seats are hellish. They dip and tip; and a gap appears where nature never intended.   Again the lankier among us may feel they are being boxed and shipped by UPS instead of United. He probably will have to suffer that socially agonizing task of asking the slumbering galumph, who just had to have the isle seat, to shift his carcass in order to take the doctor prescribed stretch and bathroom break.

Like many things in this world, it’s a game of inches, and yes, size does matter. I bet the corporate CFO doesn’t see it that way ...and ask yourself, would you personally cover the difference in fares to get there at exactly the same time as the plebeians in economy? 

Personally I wouldn’t…however I would spend $500 getting my back straightened, my lumbar muscles massaged, and enjoy that upgraded hotel room with extra deep tub in my Tokyo high-rise; and laugh all the way to the soon to be submitted expense report.

* * *

Thanks, Jim, for this story.  What choice would YOU make?  Is one loss of business revenue another's gain?

Please, always, share your surprises, comments. We are anxious to hear from you~The Fun Tour Guru

For help with your travels and book your own hotels, visit our new website, Lighthouse Travel & Tours

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Favorite Two Silicon Valley Research Books

HP Garage in Palo Alto, CA (before it was renovated)
I receive questions from readers, "what are my favorite Silicon Valley research books that I use?"  Yes there are many, my favorites that I return and my top two books for basic information:

My number one Favorite Silicon Valley book is The Making of Silicon Valley: A One Hundred Year Renaissance by John McLauglin which I use for history research and stories. It was published by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association in 1996.  This is definitely a book to keep on your coffee table that your family and friends will enjoy browsing the pictures and reading about the familiar companies we all know.  The book shows the stages of development from the establishment of Stanford University to the present technological powerhouse. Over 70 technology company histories run chronologically throughout. I even have the VHS tape that was narrated by Walter Chronkite from 1998. 

My second favorite book of Silicon Valley is Silicon Boys: And Their Valley of Dreams by David A. Kaplan.  This book has intriguing local personal stories of the founders of Valley startups. Do you know of the comparisons between the millionaires of Silicon Valley in Northern California and the glamorous Hollywood of Southern California?

Both of these are excellent reference books to keep near whether you are thinking about starting a business or interested in the history of this electronic, technology era.

Remember AOL?

And, don't forget if you are traveling into Silicon Valley, about our at-a-glance Silicon Valley E-Guide to print and take with you. 

Sharing for everyone to read and learn ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Friday, January 21, 2011

ENIAC Computer and the Six Women Contributors Story

I shared on Twitter an article I wrote about the six women contributors with the ENIAC Computer which was published on June 2009, with  This is one the first computers in the early 1900s during the world war.  From requests I received about this fascinating story - I am now sharing the 2008 video – with Jean Bartik in conversation (not with me, another person) and honored for this contribution.

This event took place in Mountain View at our fantastic (and recently renovated) Computer History Museum.  A lengthy yet excellent video. The item that drew my attention before the event is that Jean and I graduated from the same university, Northwest Missouri State University. Great story!  I did stay and talked with her afterwards and received her autograph.

I know this is a past event ~ a definite must save! 

Oh, and my 2 second You Tube fame, fast forward towards the end, you'll see me in the standing ovation audience. Lower right corner, black jacket, blonde hair.

I did write a post and included the abstract in 2008 of the event as well.  

Silicon Valley is amazing ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fun Friday Find this Week, Manteca CA Walking Tours of Murals

Every community has a story.  It is fun to find these stories through these old fashion murals on buildings from local artists.  

My favorite community find "off the beaten path" is the Walking Tour of Murals in the heart of downtown Manteca, California – remember to take a break and get off the Interstates and wander around this town.  These murals tell the story of Manteca in their special way. 

Do I turn left down this old western rural street or right into modern society?
I think I may try wandering this old western street for an hour and see what I may find. 

This walking tour starts at the corner of Yosemite and Main St and visitors will discover about 8 murals of 5 different artists along this easy walking path.  A great way to brighten up the intersections of this quaint downtown area.  Oh and yes, it is free. 

Stop by the Manteca CVB, 1422 Grove Ave, to pick up a visitors guide and information about the walking tours and murals – open 7 days a week.     

Fun Friday Find this week ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Join Me and Let's Kick Start 2011 with Fun Events in January

Are you looking for something to do - with an escape from shopping?  In town for business and need a break? Ride the train to Silicon Valley and spend the weekend.  Find the following things to do.  Don't forget to buy our E-Guide to take with you. 

Today and tomorrow - Jan 8 & 9, 2011 at the Santa Clara Convention Center

Couples might divide and conquer their own passions and take only one car to visit these shows:

Football fans connect at the 5th Annual Football Experience 

Bay Area 2011 event features Emmitt Smith, Joe Namath, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Barry Sanders, Roger Craig, John Riggins, Ernie Banks, Gordie Howe and many more. Hours are: Friday 5:00 - 9:00 p.m, Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Admission: $5.00; Weekend Pass Friday - Sunday: $25.00. Free parking.

Wedding Faire

The Wedding Faire offers everything to plan the perfect Wedding! 50,000 square feet includes local and national retailers and services with booth displays. Shop for your dream Wedding Gown in our Bridal Gown Salon – no dress priced over $399. There are fashion shows and Wedding Workshops throughout the day.

Next Weekend - Jan 15 & 16, 2011 

I always like to poke around and visit with the exhibitors of the Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show which will be at the Santa Clara Convention Center - anyone want to come with me?  I received 2 autographs from Rick Steves and Doug McMcConnell in previous years.

Of course, I need to go to the Travel & Adventure Show on Sunday because: ............. on Saturday, January 15, 2011 I drive to the:

Santa Cruz Mountains for Passport Day. I have my Passport already and this kicks off the first Passport Day for 2011.  I get a chance to re-connect with both favorite and small wineries not usually open.

Kick start your 2011 adventures - there is a wide range of interests for everyone available. 

Where would you like to go?

Quick updates from someone you trust! The Fun Tour Guru

Please note our E-Guides are availabe to buy for $5 on the right side of this blog (if you are reading a feed, you will need to click over to the blog, or at the LT&T local tour web page). This is a document to print out and take with you while exploring San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Monterey.