As a business traveler your number one goal is always stress-free, on-time, efficient and inexpensive travel. Getting to the place you need, when you need, at the price you want, in the shortest amount of time and as trouble-free as possible. Sounds like a pipe dream, right? It doesn’t have to be.
The key to the successful and happy travel experience we outlined above involves one step: preparation. Below we outline our best business traveler hacks that will help create an on-time and easy travel experience.
(For even more travel hacks that will “help even the most seasoned jetsetter avoid the inevitable hassles of frequent flying”, see this article from Business Insider.)
Business Traveler Hacks You Need to Know
Don’t Check That Luggage
As a business traveler your goal is to travel as efficiently as possible. To do that, you should always avoid checking luggage. The reason for this is two-fold: One, it’s a highly avoidable time suck, and two, it’s risky.
First, checking bags is seriously time consuming. From having to wait in line to actually submit your luggage, to waiting what seems like forever at the baggage claim. You can add on anywhere from 1 to 2+ hours to your travel time simply because you checked a bag.
Second, checking bags can be risky. How so? Because you may make it to your final destination on time, but your bag may not. According to airline information technology company SITA, 6 bags per 1,000 passengers were mishandled in 2016. Sound low? That’s because those were for direct flights. If you are like most business travellers and have a connection, the odds of losing a bag dramatically increase by 47%.
The moral of the story is to prepare, pack light, and bring a carry-on with you on your next trip. You’ll save time, money and the stress of a lost or late bag.
Know When to Buy That Flight
No one really knows why flights are priced the way they are. Have you ever found a ticket to Europe for only $70 and the same day seen a flight from South Carolina to North Carolina for $500? Perfect example that flight costs are based on travel dates, demand, time of year and other factors that none of us will probably ever understand.
Don’t be discouraged though! There are some tried-and-trusted hacks for purchasing flights at the lowest possible price and it all has to do with timing. Here are some of the best tips:
- Search (and buy) early. The best time to see the lowest prices is anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks out from your desired fly date.
- Holiday travel should be booked even further in advance, as far out as you can get.
- You will see the cheapest prices if you travel mid-week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays). The most expensive day? That would be Sunday.
- It’s also best to buy your ticket mid-week, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays producing the best deals on average.
- When searching for flights be sure to clear your browsing history and cookies, and use an incognito window. The jury is out on whether this actually matters, but hey it’s easy and if there’s a chance it can save.
Prepare For Data Dead Zones
As a business traveler your work doesn’t just stop because you are on the go. While traveling you still have to stay on top of all your duties, meaning must become a walking mobile office. Knowing how important it is to meet deadlines and be connected, it’s always advisable to prepare for the worst – i.e. data dead zones.
What if you can’t get Wi-Fi? What if your cell phone is getting no, or a very faint, signal? To navigate this situation unscathed it’s all about preparation, making sure you collect and bring vital and important information.
- Writing out all of the addresses for the places you need to be as well as taking pictures, screen grabs or printing out maps on how to get there.
- Print out a copy of your schedule including the contact information of all pertinent parties.
Hotel Upgrades Come to Those That Wait
If you want a hotel upgrade, then don’t check in early. According to “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter”, hotel upgrades are first given out to their elite members, but by mid- to late- afternoon most of them have checked-in. That means if you wait to check-in until later in the day you will have a better shot at getting one of those upgrades that was not taken by an elite member.
Enroll In TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
Everyone knows that going through security is one of the most time consuming parts of travel. If you want to seriously save time, and frustration, then enroll in the security check express lane…aka TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.
These programs pre-approve travelers (who are not convicted criminals) allowing them to breeze through security checkpoints because they have been deemed a “low-risk traveler”.
TSA PreCheck costs $85 and makes US domestic travel easier by allowing a business traveler to keep on their shoes, belts, etc. Global Entry costs $100 and makes international travel easier by allowing business travelers to easily gain re-entry to the US by getting rid of paperwork and processing lines.
Bonus Hack: Hotels Aren’t the Only Option For a Business Traveler
When staying away from home most business travellers tend to do the obvious and search for hotels as their temporary housing, but they aren’t the only choice. In fact, hotels are often the wrong choice, providing less options, amenities and higher prices for a business traveller. Instead, seek out lodging options in an AirBnb or a furnished apartment or home. Need help with that?
If you are travelling to Mississippi, Louisiana or Alabama and are seeking lodging for a week or longer, be sure to find the best and most economical options available to you. The team at Southgate Executive Lodging has over 50 years experience in the area and can you locate the right housing to fit all of your business travel needs. If you would like to talk to us, or have us send you a detailed list of your options, please contact us today.
At some point in our lives, everyone will have a need to stay in temporary lodging. Whether in the military, getting a new job, relocating to a new city or caring for a loved one…there are several scenarios that would require a person to live for several weeks to several months without or in-between a permanent home.
No matter the reason, it’s helpful to do adequate research before a move into temporary lodging. With any move, big or small, there can be unexpected issues and obstacles that pop-up. The best way to ensure a smooth transition is proper planning.
Below we lay out our best advice, acquired through years of experience, to prepare for a stay in temporary lodging.
Plan Ahead: Packing and Sorting Tips
Since temporary lodging is short-term you won’t be moving everything you own, just yourself and the essentials. The more you move, the more expensive and difficult the process becomes so learn to be choosy and take only the items you really need.
Below we lay out some tips and ideas for deciding what to bring and how best to sort your belongs for maximum efficiency and ease.
- A few weeks out from a move put a box in to everyone’s room that is moving into temporary lodging. Over the course of a week fill that box with all the items you feel are essential to your daily life. A week before your move, reassess and see what is truly vital. This is a great way to cut down on clutter.
- Dependent upon where you are going, you don’t have to bring your entire wardrobe. If you are going to a cold climate pack those types of clothes, similarly for hot climates. Since your stay in temporary lodging is short-term, only bring clothes that match the current climate.
- Always set aside and take the essentials and valuables. This includes important documents, prescriptions, jewelry, personal toiletries, all dire electronics (phone, laptop, computer, camera, chargers), children’s toys and pet necessities. Basically anything that is meaningful to you or expensive.
- Get a detailed description of everything that is currently available in your temporary lodging unit: TV’s, stereo equipment, entertainment items, kitchen appliances, utensils and cookware, bedding, and towels. Figure out what is missing and ensure you set those items aside to bring with you.
Getting There: Best Ways to Transport It All
You are moving out of a permanent home but not into another permanent one, so there will be some separation between you and your stuff. Now that you have sorted and packed accordingly for temporary lodging, you must now worry about how everything will get there.
Here are our best choices for transporting your valued belongings:
- Moving Trailer: For moves in town or nearby the obvious choice is to use a moving trailer for all of your items. The good news is that most trailers come with the option to purchase insurance, covering your items in case of damage or disaster.
- Moving Container: If you prefer not to drive, you can fly yourself and loved ones, and send all of your stuff in a moving container. Shipped to any location across the country (even sometimes internationally) this is a super hands-free option. Most companies also offer up to a month of storage if you needed/wanted to take your time on the journey.
- Moving Company: Another “I am traveling without my things” option is to use a professional moving company. Though the most expensive option, moving companies come insured and also offer unpacking services and storage options.
Temporary Storage: Secure the Best Option
Short-term temporary lodging goes along with short-term temporary storage. Since you are only taking the most select and necessary items on your move, it will be necessary to find a storage solution for the rest of your belongings.
If you are not keeping your things with a mover, or paying for a moving container to be stored then you will need to select a self-storage unit. When selecting here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure it is in a safe, well-lit and easily accessible location.
- If you plan on leaving your items for a few months, only use units that offer climate control.
- Ensure there the property has code-enforced security gates, uses a camera system and has a 24-hour monitored security system.
- Before signing a contract for any self-storage unit make sure you physically see the exact unit you will be assigned and measure properly.
Temporary Lodging Options
There are a few different temporary lodging options you can find.
- Extended Stay Hotels
- Furnished Apartments/Homes
- Mobile Housing Solutions
If you are in need of temporary lodging information for Mississippi, Louisiana or Alabama reach out us at Southgate Executive Lodging. From decorating tips to locating options off the beaten path, our expert team has insider knowledge to help you with any of your temporary housing needs. Contact us today and see how we can be of service!
5 Questions to Ask Your Corporate Housing Provider
Traveling for business and staying away from home in corporate housing can be tough, especially for extended periods of time. In order to ensure the best outcome it’s important to do your research.
Not all corporate housing options are created equal and there are certain things that can make or break your extended stay. To ensure the most comfortable and enjoyable trip be sure to ask these 5 questions before you sign any housing contract. Trust us, you will be glad you did.
What are my corporate housing options?
Each business traveler has different corporate housing needs and there are many factors that affect what those are. From the type of work to length of stay to office location, where you end up and in what type of corporate housing will look different for everyone.
Since there are many variables involved it’s important to seek a provider that can offer you the full spectrum of housing options. Do you need a one-bedroom apartment (traveling alone) or do you require an entire home (traveling with your family)? Do they offer both furnished and unfurnished units? What about locations off the beaten path, do they offer mobile housing solutions?
Be sure to clearly define your needs and only book the corporate housing solution that meets and exceeds those expectations.
What amenities are included?
Like we said before, not all corporate housing is created equal and the offered amenities is where you will really feel the difference. Be sure to find out exactly what is included in your extended stay. Does ‘fully furnished’ mean kitchen utensils and linens? What about Internet access? Do you have to pay extra for cable?
To ensure maximum comfort make sure your extended stay provider offers the following amenities:
- Private, Dedicate Wi-Fi: You will want a private, dedicated Internet server that delivers unencumbered Wi-Fi at the fastest speeds possible.
- Extended Cable with DVR: After a long day of work you will want to zone out, and you will want to do it on more than 4 channels. Also, with today’s technology make sure they offer DVR capabilities so you never miss your favorite show.
- Fully Stocked Housewares: The corporate housing unit should come with everything that makes a home, from comfortable couches to linens. Make sure they offer a full-size, fully stocked kitchen including all necessary utensils, cookware, etc.
- Dedicated Parking: Look for dedicated parking in the form of private sparking spaces or even better, a garage or carport.
- Laundry Facilities: Ensure that there are laundry facilities in your corporate housing unit, and if not available, at least on-site.
What are your corporate housing accreditations?
In any industry, accreditations ensure quality. When it comes to corporate housing you will want a provider who is held to ethical, professional and customer service standards. You will find this through membership and active involvement in the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA).
The CHPA is a trade organization that requires adherence to strict and specific corporate housing standards, distinguishing quality providers from the rest of the industry. This extensive education into temporary housing provides corporate housing providers with the tools to meet any client need or challenge.
Can I bring my pet(s)?
There may be situations, especially when staying for extended periods, where you may need bring along your furry family. Since apartment communities and private residences each have their own rules and regulations, make sure your corporate housing provider is able to offer accommodations that accept, and cater to, your pet(s).
Is there a dedicated property manager?
It’s Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. So, when staying in an apartment or home for an extended period you can assume something will inevitably break. In the event of a maintenance issue, you will want it fixed quickly and efficiently. The only way to ensure this is by working with corporate housing provider who offers dedicated customer service/property management.
This person will be on-hand for any issues, questions or concerns that may arise during a corporate housing stay. From billing inquiries to a leaky faucet to a question about where to go for dinner, make sure wherever you stay offers you a dedicated communication line.
Hopefully these tips have provided you with good directives to find your ideal corporate housing situation. If you still have questions or would like more information on options throughout Mississippi, Alabama or Louisiana, contact the team at Southgate Executive Lodging at 601-599-5634.
Business Travel: What Is (and Isn’t) Tax-Deductible
Business travel, whether for a quick trip or extended stay, can wear on any of us. For most business owners the biggest place this is felt is in their bank accounts. From lodging to meals and transportation, business travel charges can add up quickly. Fortunately, most of these expenses are tax-deductible.
Now that this year’s tax season dust has settled, let’s take a closer look and clearly define what you can, and can’t, write off as a business travel expense on your tax return.
Tax-Deductible Business Travel Expenses
The IRS defines business travel as any travel that is “longer than an ordinary’s day of work”, requires you to sleep away from home and is temporary (i.e. less than a year).
The IRS requires that business travel expenses be, “ordinary and necessary expenses incurred while carrying on your trade or business.”
The following business expenses will generally qualify as tax-deductible. Don’t forget, always save your receipts!
Trains, planes or automobiles…no matter how you get to your business-related meeting or event, the expense can be deducted. And once you get to your final destination? Any transportation or fees associated with the trip are deductible as well. This includes taxis, Uber or Lyft, rental cars, tolls and parking. Don’t forget that you can also write off every mile you drive for your business, whether in your car or a rental. The current deductible rate is 57.5 cents per mile, offsetting gas and upkeep costs.
Extra Tip: Even cruises for business purposes are considered a write off, though limited. Typically you can claim up to $2,000, but be prepared to show clear justification and documentation.
Baggage and Shipping
All baggage and shipping fees associated with business travel are tax-deductible. Keep in mind that the final destination for these items must be your business travel location.
Whether in an extended stay hotel or AirBnb, your accommodations during business travel are considered a write off. Be careful, this doesn’t cover every charge you could possibly incur. Be sure to always get a detailed, itemized bill for all lodging charges, as not everything is tax-deductible. Parking/valet charges? Absolutely. Mini-bar and movies? Most likely not.
Any meals associated with business travel fall under the tax-deductible category. Let’s not go crazy though. Be aware that while you can claim meals as part of business travel, according to current IRS rules you are limited to only deducting 50% of the total cost. So, for every $500 you spend, only $250 you can write off.
Most any charge that is directly related to and necessary for business travel can qualify as tax-deductible. This includes conference or event registration fees, any equipment that is necessary for a presentation or meeting, dry cleaning or laundry service and more.
Non Tax-Deductible Business Travel Expenses
If any of us got creative enough we could probably come up with a reason why a certain charge was a necessary expense for business travel. When it comes to the IRS though, you don’t want to get too creative. To avoid an audit, keep all deductions within reason.
To help you tow the line, the IRS has deemed the following as non tax-deductible business travel expenses.
Expenses Located In Your Home City
In order to claim expenses as related to business travel you have to actually travel somewhere, outside of your home city. The only business expenses that are deductible at home are meals and the standard mileage rate (57.5 cents per mile). Lodging, transportation, conference fees and shipping within your home city are not considered a write off.
Companion Travel Costs
The charges incurred for anyone who comes along on your trip, who is not there for business purposes, are not tax-deductible.
Unnecessary: A broad term, but when it comes to the IRS – an important one. No one wants to be flagged for an audit, trust us. To protect yourself, always ask this question before claiming any deduction, “Was this expense necessary to conduct business while traveling?” If it’s even a little bit questionable, do yourself a favor and don’t claim it.
For additional information on tax-deductible expenses for business travel, see IRS publication 463 – Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.
Furnished short-term rentals are an excellent alternative to hotels when staying for longer periods of time. Even though your stay is not permanent, it should be a happy and comfortable one. In order to feel at home when you’re away from home, here’s our best tips for personalizing a furnished short-term rental.
First Find Out What You Can and Can’t Personalize
The number one rule when personalizing a short-term rental is to always think “no damage décor”. Since your new rental is temporary, the management company is expecting you to return it in the same condition as when you took occupancy.
You can assume this means no painting, no wallpaper and no new fixtures or installations. If you are in doubt as to what is and is not acceptable, the best course of action is to always ask the management company before doing anything that could cost you.
While you may be limited in changing anything of permanence at your short-term rental, you are not limited in ways to add your personal flair and touches. Keep reading for accepted ways to decorate and personalize your home away from home.
The Small Touches
You’ve heard the saying before; little things can go a long way. This could not be truer than when decorating a furnished short-term rental. From adding pops of color to arranging a space layout that works for you, here’s all the ways you can make your short-term rental feel more comfortable and inviting.
Sleep is important, after all we spend a third of our lives doing it. To maintain productivity when traveling, it’s important that you have a serene and comfortable sleeping space. Adding personal bedding is an easy way to make your bedroom feel cozier, and more like
Pillows are our favorite way to instantly add a pop of color to a room, and on a budget. When it comes to these, we say the more the merrier! A few for the couch, a couple for the bedroom, heck throw some on kitchen chairs. Best part? When you’re ready to head home, just pack them up and take them with you!
Adding personal photos is one of the oldest tricks in the decorating book. Placing a few frames of family, loved ones, pets, or whatever it is that makes you happy, will go a long way.
While changing out the furniture at your short-term rental is not an option, rearranging itis. You would be surprised how simply moving a coffee table, sofa and couple end tables will make a room feel completely transformed. Plus, by rearranging you can make the space more functional for your needs.
The Big Touches
If the small changes just aren’t cutting it for you and you need something a little bolder, here are some ideas for “no damage décor” that can turn a blank space into your space.
From textiles to canvas prints to poster, adding wall art can instantly transform a short-term rental. You can add additional wall art, or simply replace what is currently in place (carefully storing the current artwork in a closet or under a bed). Be sure to use wall putty or temporary hanging options so as not to do any damage to the walls.
For a very vocal change to main living spaces consider getting furniture covers. There are tons of sofa and chair covers options out there, allowing you to get the look you want for a temporary situation.
Rugs are a great (and temporary) way to bring personal style to space. Since they come in so many sizes and shapes, and are relatively inexpensive, there is sure to be an option to fit any short-term rental layout.
Need Additional Short-Term Rental Resources?
If you are in need of short-term rental information for Mississippi, Louisiana or Alabama reach out us at Southgate Executive Lodging. From decorating tips to locating rental options off the beaten path, our expert team has insider knowledge to help you with any of your temporary housing needs. Contact us today and see how we can be of service!
When finding and coordinating an extended stay for yourself, your family or your corporate team, there are many options available to you. From furnished apartments to private residences, there are sure to be plenty of choices in any given local market. What if you need temporary housing for a project in a rural area, or an off-the-grid location? What are your options then?
While it can seem challenging to coordinate housing when your project is most literally in the middle of nowhere, Mobile Housing is the ideal solution. Instead of trying to find the nearest hotel or apartment community, which could be up to 3 hours away, mobile housing brings the shelter to you.
Below we take a look at how mobile housing serves temporary needs, and the options that are currently available. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask.
Mobile Housing Options
Whether your project is located on the oil fields, a sprawling ranch, or a backcountry site, mobile housing is the answer to your temporary dwelling needs. Below find the current mobile housing options that are available.
Mobile Manufactured Homes
The most common, and widely used, type of mobile housing is mobile manufactured homes. These temporary housing units come complete with all the comfort, convenience and amenities of a typical home, without sacrificing quality.
These mobile housing solutions includes full kitchens, full bathrooms, living rooms, and are available from one up to four bedrooms. For larger projects that require housing for a high number of employees, clients will typically use multiple manufactured homes and set them up in a park-like setting.
Bunk Sleeping Halls
For situations where the temporary housing need is simply too high, or if there are budgetary restraints for private mobile homes, bunk sleeping halls will be the best solution.
This mobile housing solution is designed for comfort and practicality and can sleep anywhere from four up to 20 persons under one roof. They come standard with quality HVAC, electrical, privacy curtains and offer bathroom and kitchen options.
Mobile dining facilities are available to meet the needs of highly populated onsite and rural projects. These self-contained, portable units come in a variety of sizes and have room to seat and service any dining need.
For projects that require employees to have dedicated, private working spaces, mobile furnished offices are available. These mobile units come turnkey and are outfitted with everything a client would need to run their project smoothly.
This includes comfortable and quality office furniture such as desks and chairs, any necessary office equipment such as copiers and printers, and of course is outfitted with fast and secure Internet connectivity.
Mobile Housing Logistics
When a project is located in rural or off-the-grid locations, there is more to plan for beyond the actual housing, sleeping and dining needs. If a location is truly in the middle of nowhere, that means there may be no access to electricity or safe, clean water.
As the need for mobile housing has increased, especially in the face of natural disasters where a high number of people are displaced or in military mobilizations with classified locations, so has the technology.
Each mobile housing solutions comes with the following:
* Waste Water Processing Systems
* Potable Water Systems
* Electric Systems
Seeking Mobile Housing in Mississippi, Louisiana or Alabama?
If you have an upcoming project located in rural areas of Mississippi, Louisiana or Alabama the staff at Southgate Executive Lodging can help. Our dedicated professionals have extensive knowledge of temporary housing options and have established working relationships with quality partners located throughout the South. We’ve been there to help set up mobile housing for both the victims of Hurricane Katrina and military mobilizations for Iraq and Afghanistan deployments. We can be there for you too. Contact us today.
Know Your Temporary Housing Options
Temporary housing bridges the gap between your old home and new. Often times in relocation an individual, or a family, will need a place to stay. This stay could last for a few days up or a few months, based on their situation. Hotels can certainly add up fast when staying for longer periods. Most of us simply want to stay somewhere that feels like home. Knowing your temporary housing options can help with the moving process.
Whether relocating because of your job or simply wanting a change, it can be challenging to find short-term, temporary housing options. In order to ensure a positive and successful transition to your new permanent home and community, follow our outline. We will discuss the available temporary housing options and for whom they are a right fit.
Temporary Housing Option 1: Hotels
If you are relocating and have already moved out of your previous home and found a new one that is ready and waiting, then a hotel would be the option for you. Hotels are a good choice for those who need temporary housing for only a few days. Although, any more than that and it ends up not being too convenient.
From room service to Internet to parking, hotel charges can certainly add up fast and aren’t very realistic for most relocation budgets.
Temporary Housing Option 2: Extended Stay Hotels
For those who need temporary housing for longer than a few days, extended stay hotels will offer more amenities and better prices than normal hotels. While they may fit relocation budgets a little better, and often include a full kitchen (a major living necessity), they still aren’t the best option for those who need temporary housing for over 30 days.
Anytime you go over a month two things are sure to happen: prices increase and so do your housing needs. Living in one room, full kitchen or not, is fine for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. Once you hit that mark though you realize you need a lot more space, and an option that won’t eat into your savings.
Temporary Housing Option 3: Furnished Apartments
For those who are relocating to a new community, have not yet found a place to live, and plan to stay for over a month, furnished apartments will be the temporary housing option for you.
Whether it takes one or up to three months to find your permanent place, with furnished apartments you get the amenities of living at home without quite being there yet. These include secure, dedicated Internet and private reserved parking just to name a few.
Temporary Housing Option 4: Private Residence
For families who need more space and options than an apartment can provide, a private residence is the temporary housing option for you.
Just like the home you are waiting to move into, a private residence comes furnished. It has everything you need to keep yourself and your family happy…without having to sign a lease or set up utilities.
The best part about a private residence as a temporary housing option is that it’s turnkey, flexible, and fits most long-term relocation budgets.
Moving and Need Temporary Housing? We’re Here to Help!
The team at Southgate Executive Lodging has deep knowledge of the temporary housing options throughout Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. Whether it is in a furnished apartment, private residence or executive suite condo, we aim to make our clients feel right at home. If you are moving, or you are moving your corporate team, and need to know what is available, please reach out. That way, we can outline your options and provide a comprehensive quote.
Why Your Choice of Corporate Housing Matters
When your business team is traveling, your choice of corporate housing most certainly matters. This isn’t a vacation and ensuring that your team stays relaxed, focused and productive is always the main priority.
To ensure that you have a team functioning at full capacity, there are certain corporate housing elements that must be in place. These must-haves will help facilitate the best environment possible. It just so happens that these elements you can’t get when you stay in a hotel, but you can with executive lodging. Executive lodging options include: furnished apartments, private residences, and mobile housing solutions (for remote areas).
Below we outline what to look for when searching for corporate housing options for you or your team’s next business trip. If you have any questions about what you read, or simply need help, please reach out to us at 601-599-5634 (Lodge).