Value and Convenience Close the Deal For Business Travelers Throughout Mexico and the Caribbean

As the Caribbean is home to a number of spacious resorts – in many cases larger than those found in American cities – the region is an excellent destination for large groups and corporate getaways. In addition to ample space for large groups, the region’s resorts offer incredible business amenities, numerous on-site conveniences and plenty of exciting ways to spend free time. Best of all, business travelers will find limitless tropical scenery surrounding the resorts, meaning inspiration or relaxation can always be found just beyond their doors.

As nearly all Caribbean and Mexican resort destinations operate under a distinct annual tourism season – generally November to April – the summer and fall months feature excellent values for business travel and corporate functions. During the tourism offseason, business travelers will still find remarkably mild weather throughout much of the region, while popular sightseeing attractions and recreation destinations are often better equipped to handle large groups. Additionally, many of the region’s best resorts typically offer substantial offseason discounts, allowing corporate groups to secure rooms and meeting areas at rates similar to or even below comparable domestic destinations.

Business travelers staying at the best Caribbean and Mexican resorts will have access to all of the latest technology – including flat screen TVs, digital projectors, high-speed internet and multi-use business machines for fax and copy needs. As the best resorts offer easy connectivity for slideshow presentations, speeches and film viewings, business travelers won’t have to waste time setting up for events. For conferences and large corporate gatherings, resorts can also offer fully-equipped meeting rooms with ample space and seating for all types of activities, while catering services allow guests to enjoy the combination of excellent meals and on-site convenience.

As passports can be one of the biggest challenges of international business travel – especially for large groups – the Caribbean stands as an excellent destination for both American and European citizens, as passports are often not required for travel to national territories. For instance, American citizens can visit the U.S. Virgin Islands – most notably, St. Thomas – without a formal passport, just as they would U.S. mainland destinations. Additionally, St. Thomas’ resorts are known for having some of the best business facilities in the Caribbean. For instance, the island’s largest resort – The Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort – boasts 15 individual meeting rooms and 60,000 square feet of event space. Business travelers can also enjoy the outdoors in open-air meeting spaces that offer excellent views of Charlotte Amalie and the adjacent harbor. The Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort also boasts 479 guest rooms – meaning the resort has plenty of space for large corporate groups – while five on-site restaurants and six bars offer remarkable convenience and help business travelers maintain productivity throughout their Caribbean stay.

Despite the excellent business travel facilities and values to be found throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, the region’s scenery remains the biggest draw. As the most popular destinations in the region are small communities with centrally located attractions, it is easy to take advantage of downtime during business trips. Tropical destinations throughout the Caribbean and Mexico offer guided half-day and full-day tours throughout the year that allow business travelers with tight agendas to experience many of the best sightseeing destinations. Furthermore, as many of the largest resorts in the region boast picturesque waterfront locations, it is easy for business travelers to enjoy all types of active endeavors or simply relax on the beach. For instance, business travelers can often enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, kayaking and many other water sports by making simple reservations through their resort or, in many cases, simply walking a few steps to the beach.

When combining the values available to business travelers throughout Mexico and the Caribbean with endless scenery and easily accessible attractions, it is easy to see why many of the region’s top destinations have become such popular choices for conferences and corporate getaways.

Travel Cost Sinkhole

You won the contract, and it looks great… until you realize travel costs are going to eat you alive. It really hurts if you’re a small business, and it’s worse when times are hard and margins are thin.

So don’t let it happen to you. Make sure you and your client agree beforehand, formally, about such details as:

  • Will travel expenses be direct billed to the client, or must you submit them on invoices for later reimbursement by your client? Direct billing to the client is great for you. It nearly eliminates your financial risk on travel costs because you have hardly any travel cost to absorb for a billing cycle. Smart clients make it work to their benefit, too. I have seen a client do it to maximize their discounts as a high volume source of travel business.
  • What counts as travel time? Will it be billed only as actual time at a client site, or portal-to-portal? “Portal-to-portal” means billing begins when the worker departs to go to a client site and ends when the worker returns.
  • Is time spent traveling billable at the regular rate or a reduced rate? Is it subject to a daily ceiling?
  • Will you drive your own car, how will the cost of using your car be reimbursed? Or must you drive a rental car? In either case, is any special insurance required, and if so who pays for it?
  • Will you make your own travel arrangements, or does the client want you to use their favorite agency and discount programs?
  • Will air travel be first class, business class or coach? Does this apply to long international flights too? Does it apply to train travel? If your client demands that you use discount tickets, who picks up extra costs for any necessary changes that cause financial penalties?
  • Will lodging and meal expenses be on a reimbursement basis, or a per diem basis? Per diem is easier in terms of paperwork, but may not be feasible in some countries.
  • Who pays and arranges for special requirements such as visas, vaccinations, traveler’s medical kit, and insurance that is valid in a foreign country? One company sent a consultant and his family abroad for a six month assignment. He assumed his client was arranging visas. The client didn’t. His entire family found itself in Immigration Hell. Remarks: Health insurance is not the only kind to consider. For example, in some regions, kidnap insurance is recommended.
  • For foreign travel, must you hold reimbursement requests until a credit card bill arrives, or is a standard formula used to estimate reimbursement based on currency conversion from receipts? If the latter, which currency exchange rate table will be applied? Remarks: For a fixed price contract, either stipulate that the price is in the currency you prefer, or make provisions to cope with a rapid fall in the exchange rate for your currency. One of my clients recently paid another vendor about 28% extra for a fixed price job because this was missing from their contract.
  • Can the client terminate your contract while you are in the middle of travel to perform it? If so, who is responsible for your travel costs to return home? While abroad on business, my login accounts for that contract suddenly terminated. I belatedly realized nothing in my contract would make the client pay my way home if my contract was severed in mid-trip. Fortunately, a manager had only forgotten to file a routine renewal form.

Spell out the details up front to save your profit margin–and as a bonus, your relationship with the client will be smoother because you have done away with a potential source of friction.

What is Responsible Travelling?

Responsible travelling is about respect. Respect for the environment, the place, culture and the people. Responsible travelling is about reducing your carbon footprint and it is also about conservation and protection.  

Obviously when we travel, especially by air, we have inevitably contributed to global warming. However, we can try to reduce the carbon emission in other ways like planning your travel plans in advance to avoid unnecessary travel. Whenever possible, use public transport like buses and cycle to sightsee. Abstain from unnecessary travelling using domestic airline for interstate travelling if possible, travel by train or coaches to reduce your carbon footprint. Walking holidays and cruises are also ideal form of responsible travelling.   Responsible travelling is also about supporting the local produce and not imported goods. However, it is also important not to buy products of unethical practices like slave labour, company that exploit the young and the vulnerable. When you buy local produce, you inevitably create jobs and help contribute to the community.  

It is always an eye opener or sometimes even a culture shock to discover practices and way of life that is so different from our own. We should always respect the different cultures and practices of the locals, we should never try to judge and pass snide remarks about them. Imagine how you would feel if a tourist passes undesired remarks or do something disrespectful.   We should also be aware of different religious beliefs and should always try not to offend them.   It pays to learn more about the country, culture and the people before going there. You can obtain the necessary information from brochures or do your research on the internet. With a good understanding of the place you are visiting, you can immerse yourself into their culture more readily. It also enables you to have a more authentic experience about the place rather than just visiting the usual tourist attractions.  

Responsible travelling is also about visiting local conservation projects like forest conservation, animal sanctuary and learning about what people do to preserve their environment. There are responsible holidays where you can stay and participate in the conservation projects like forestry, wild life conservation and protection.  

Conservation is also about keeping the environment clean, not wasting water especially in places where water is scarce and not wasting food.   When you participate and practice responsible travelling, you encourage the good practice of tolerance and respect. When you take an interest in conservation projects and wildlife, you help sustain the livelihood of the local people and indirectly help build their community.