Corporate Culture Is Changing Travel Culture… Slowly


Often the issue of diversity was buried in more general traveler safety, with a risk management provider or an internal safety and security team providing guidance for travelers as a matter of course, particularly for geographies that have a record of discriminatory laws or cultural norms. “We direct all travelers to our travel risk management site, where there is travel advice available depending on travel destination,” was an open-ended survey response that illustrated a typical process among respondents who had educational resources in place.

For others, the responsibility fell to the individual to voice their needs and reach out to the travel manager, their direct manager or a corporate safety officer to discuss accommodation for travel concerns. In such companies, said one respondent, “Travel is completed in the same way for all, but if a traveler were to approach with a specific concern, that concern would be taken seriously and changes to the itinerary made as appropriate.” Whose judgment determined what might be “appropriate” was not specified.

Still other respondents indicated their companies were focused on offering the same travel policy for everyone, with few exceptions. Those responses varied from a simple, “We treat everyone the same,” to the more philosophical, “Our organization’s approach towards business travelers is based on mutual respect and not on differentiation on gender or color,” and to the dismissive, “People are people, none of this other nonsense.”

Discrimination While Traveling on Business

Global travel manager Kate Scully knows firsthand what it feels like to be the target of discrimination on a business trip.

“As a Black woman, I can never go into a hotel in Dubai … without being ‘prostitute-checked.’ Even if I walk in with three of my colleagues, I will get pulled to the side and asked to show my room key,” she said. “I could have been staying there for a week, and I will continue to be pulled aside in front of my white colleagues. And they look away, and I look anywhere—at my shoes, just anywhere—and let them know that I will see them at the lifts or whatever.”

Only one time did a colleague intervene on her behalf and decry what was clearly a racist directive from hotel management. “A Brazilian colleague—a compliance guy—actually stepped in and was outraged,” she said.

More than half of survey respondents said their companies had mechanisms for reporting discrimination and bias while on the job, including travel. Respondents were split about how that reporting takes place—whether it comes directly back through travel channels or would be handled through more general corporate channels like human resources. Either way, buyers said such reports would be critical for them to receive so they could take up any incidents with suppliers.



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Travel Agent’s Tips on Visiting Disney Restaurants With Food Allergies


For travel agent Lizzie Reynolds, Disney is magical. And not just because of Cinderella’s castle or adrenaline-inducing Space Mountain. Rather, for the chefs and their eagerness to create dishes for all visitors, including those with food allergies.

An image of Lizzie Reynolds at Disney.

Lizzie Reynolds at Disney.


Pixie Lizzie: Magical Food Allergy Travel Agent



Over a decade ago, Lizzie Reynolds made her first trip to Disney World on a family vacation with her husband and her 4-year-old daughter.

Reynold’s daughter has severe food allergies to dairy and nuts, and as a result, Reynolds told Insider she found it difficult to plan vacations in the past due to struggles finding restaurants that had dairy-free and nut-free menus. 

Reynolds said a friend urged her family to go to Disney World. Initially, Reynolds “didn’t want to buy into the whole Disney thing,” and essentially didn’t understand the hype around the theme parks.

Then, she took her friend’s advice, planned a trip, and experienced Disney’s magic firsthand.

Reynolds said chefs at Disney’s restaurants were not only willing but excited to create her daughter personalized, allergy-free meals. Meanwhile, every quick-service stand had information on the food it served, and her daughter was able to eat snacks and meals carefree for the first time.

As a mom, Reynolds didn’t have to plan, cook, or pack meals for the trip. “I cried when we were coming home because it was my first real vacation from the kitchen,” she said. 

Reynolds realized that other travelers with food allergies should know how enjoyable it is to vacation at Disney, so, she launched her own travel agency, Pixie Lizzie, eight years ago. Her team caters to all travelers both with and without food allergies, but Reynolds and a couple of select agents work specifically with clients who have food allergies. Reynolds also added that although her team books a majority of Disney trips, Pixie Lizzie is not directly affiliated with Disney. 

Today, Reynolds has visited Disney World and Disneyland dozens of times and helps plan trips for hundreds of travelers with allergies. 

No matter the allergy — whether it’s soy, gluten, nuts, dairy, or something else — Reynolds said Disney is the best place to vacation.



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Pandemic-weary Americans plan for summer despite COVID surge


HONOLULU (AP) — A high school prom in Hawaii where masked dancers weren’t allowed to touch. A return to virtual city council meetings in one Colorado town after the mayor and others tested positive following an in-person session. A reinstated mask mandate at skilled nursing facilities in Los Angeles County after 22 new outbreaks in a single week.

A COVID-19 surge is underway that is starting to cause disruptions as the school year wraps up and Americans prepare for summer vacations. Many people, though, have returned to their pre-pandemic routines and plans, which often involve travel.

Case counts are as high as they’ve been since mid-February and those figures are likely a major undercount because of unreported positive home test results and asymptomatic infections. Earlier this month, an influential modeling group at the University of Washington in Seattle estimated that only 13% of cases were being reported to U.S. health authorities.

Hospitalizations are also up and more than one-third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at high risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Northeast has been hit the hardest.

Yet vaccinations have stagnated and elected officials nationwide seem loath to impose new restrictions on a public that’s ready to move on even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 1 million people less than 2 1/2 years into the outbreak.

“People probably are underestimating the prevalence of COVID,” said Crystal Watson, public health lead in the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s Coronavirus Resource Center. “I think there’s a lot more virus out there than we recognize, and so people are much, much more likely than they anticipate to be exposed and infected.”

A major metric for the pandemic — the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. — skyrocketed over the last two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The figure was about 76,000 on May 9 and jumped to nearly 109,000 on Monday. That was the highest it had been since mid-February, when the omicron-fueled surge was winding down.

Deaths are still on the decline and hospital intensive care units aren’t swamped like they were at other times during the pandemic, likely because vaccinations and immunity from people who have already had the disease are keeping many cases less severe.

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“The nature of the disease has changed. Two years ago I was seeing a steady flow of bad pneumonia cases. Now we are in a situation where people should be able to avoid that outcome by taking advantage of vaccines, pre-exposure prophylaxis (for high risk), and early anti-viral therapy,” Dr. Jonathan Dworkin, a clinical infectious diseases physician in Hawaii, said by email.

In Hawaii, which once had one of the nation’s lowest rates of infection, hospitalization and death, new cases are surging among the state’s 1.4 million residents. The University of Hawaii will again require masks indoors across its 10-campus system beginning Wednesday.

With cases climbing for eight straight weeks, Hawaii has the second highest infection rate of any state, trailing only Rhode Island. But because positive home test results aren’t counted in official data, Hawaii’s health department estimates that the case count is actually five or six times higher.

Despite its surge, visitors have been flocking to Hawaii’s beaches, especially in recent months.

Yaling Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel, said bookings to the islands haven’t slowed during the surge. On the contrary, they’ve increased.

“Even now we are still busy,” she said. “We don’t see any cancellations.”

Samantha Hanberg, who was in Hawaii this week with her newlywed husband, said the couple left their masks at home in California when they left for vacation. She said she contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic and subsequently got fully vaccinated, so she too feels safe.

“Nobody wants to get sick, but it’s definitely not at the forefront of my thought process anymore,” she said, snacking on shave ice on Waikiki Beach. “I’m to the point now where I just I want to go back to living and enjoying life, and not being so worried.”

Officials initially shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry by requiring all incoming passengers to quarantine. They shifted to a testing requirement and then a vaccination exemption before dropping all restrictions in March.

Hawaii was the last state in the nation to drop its mask mandate, though it remains the only state to require all public school students to wear masks while indoors — a rule that will remain in effect throughout the summer and possibly into the next school year.

Nearly two years after California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed the nation’s first statewide stay-home order, the state formally shifted to an “endemic” approach in February. Like Hawaii and many other states, its weekly infection rate has risen dramatically of late.

The new surge led the school districts in Pacific Grove and Berkeley to reinstate their indoor mask mandates, while an outbreak at a Northern California long-term healthcare facility had sickened at least 12 people by Friday.

Some Northeastern school districts have also revived their mask mandates, including those in Philadelphia and Providence, Rhode Island.

However New York, which was once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, doesn’t seem likely to follow suit. The city is dealing with another surge in cases, but Mayor Eric Adams has all but ruled out bringing back a citywide mask mandate unless hospitals get inundated again.

The city’s school district jettisoned its practice of closing classrooms if multiple students test positive, merely recommends that masks be worn and even abandoned its requirement that students need to be vaccinated to attend prom.

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Dazio reported from Los Angeles.

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Find more of the AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic



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Budget-Friendly Summer Travel Tips – NECN






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Business Travel Accessibility Still a Hurdle


Doing that likely will require a host of conversations and an effort to learn about those other “lived experiences.” Crohn has engaged in that process with her DEI lead at Coverys and come away with new perspectives, she said.

“I now look at every single thing I do through the lens of inclusivity, and I did not do that prior to two years ago,” she said. “I didn’t even know what it meant.”

Crohn specified the ways she now picks menus to be gluten free and provide choices that adhere to common restrictions like nuts or certain meats. She provides opportunities in the registration process for participants to share information that will improve their experience as an attendee. Most importantly, for Crohn, it’s about creating an environment of inclusivity for all while remaining mindful of attendees unique needs.

“I really look at it through the eyes of, ‘Am I being inclusive of as many people as possible?’ And if the answer is no, what do I need to change or what approach can I adjust or who else can I bring into this conversation to make it more inclusive?”

Evans said it’s not necessary to “boil the ocean” in one go, and one small change at a time is better than none at all. “On a scale of one to five, we all start at zero,” she said. Over time, small changes can accumulate to new models that organizations can apply to more situations, including how they work with travel and meeting suppliers.  

Partnering for Progress

Suppliers are taking note. Choice Hotels International head of associate diversity, equity and belonging Corinne Abramson told BTN, “We have an associate resource group that’s dedicated to ensuring within our organization that we think about the business in regard to including people with all different kinds of abilities.” Choice calls the group Enable, and Abramson said it continuously reviews Choice’s offerings to ensure the company is thinking about all those lived experiences. “For example, do we have within our large meetings the ability to have closed captioning? What is the technology that we’re offering, and what options can we toggle on for folks, and how do we make [those options] available?”

Meetings technology provider Cvent also has advanced its accessible options, and the company is working to further accessibility and inclusivity for meetings and events.

It recently hired Stephen Cutchins as senior product manager for accessibility to ensure Cvent technology platforms consider usability from the perspective of those who are blind, deaf or have physical disabilities. The company incorporates Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, as defined by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, that level the playing field for such users.

“They are pretty technical standards and not a lot of people know about them,” said Cutchins, citing best practices around color contrast standards, images and “alt text” that make images not only readable but meaningful within the context of the other content on the page. “There are 78 ‘success criteria’ defined in WCAG 2.1, and we have a third-party firm reviewing our technology so that we can be transparent about not only what we are doing well but also where we fall short. Because we know we aren’t perfect, but building an awareness around this type of usability is critical for us so our own users can reach as many people as possible.”



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Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau offers tips for local getaways, giveaways – Press Telegram


Last year, the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau offered a new service, providing themed itineraries for vacationers to experience the area “like the locals do.”

That program won awards — and is back for summer 2022. And with an addition. Now, when the itinerary of the month is unveiled, it will be accompanied by a chance to win prizes through the CVB’s Instagram account, @VisitLB.

This month’s trip is called Aquatic Adventure, highlighting all the ways to enjoy Long Beach’s 11 miles of waterway and coastline. The prize is aquatic-themed as well, with a family four pack of whale watching tickets from Harbor Breeze Cruises and four tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific. The day at the aquarium comes with an added perk: a family “Animal Encounter” with sharks and rays, or with some of the aquarium’s feathered friends.

A new specially curated itinerary will be released once a month for the next three months, according to Samantha Mehlinger, CVB’s vice president of communications.

“Our Long Beach Days & Getaways let you explore Long Beach like a local, showcasing unique attractions and activities alongside hidden gems that’ll make your friends say, ‘Where is that, and when can I go?’” she said in a release. “Be sure to follow us on Instagram for a chance to win prizes all summer long.”

Each itinerary will be revealed with an original video and giveaway on Instagram. To qualify for the prize drawing, go to @VisitLB on Instagram, spot the new video, tag two friends in the comments and follow @VisitLB.

For more ideas about things to do, go to visitlongbeach.com and visit the “This is Long Beach” blog on that website.

Sign up for The Localist, our daily email newsletter with handpicked stories relevant to where you live. Subscribe here.



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Airlines Deal with Pilot Shortage as Travel Rebounds – Erie News Now


“People need to be aware of travel throughout the summer even though there is a pilot shortage,” said Martin. “You still need to get to the airport early. American Airlines, for example, has changed [its] requirements. You have to be here and ready to check your bag 45 minutes before departure. If you are used to being here 35 of 40 minutes before departure, you can’t do that anymore.”



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BBB shares travel scams, tips ahead of Memorial Day


JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Summer is rapidly approaching and many people are planning to take a vacation, but beware – scammers are making plans too.

The Better Business Bureau wants you to be wary of false promises and a sense of urgency that can fool you into paying for something that doesn’t exist.

There are five common scams to avoid, the BBB says.

1. Vacation Rental Con:

Watch out for listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. These con artists lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. The “owner” creates a false sense of urgency – such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get payment up before doing sufficient research or questioning the legitimacy of the ad. The BBB warns you to talk with the owner by phone and check public records before paying for any type of rental property.

2. “Free” Vacation Scams:

When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” it does not necessarily mean the trip is entirely without cost or restrictions. Watch out for add-on fees for air transportation to the port, port charges, taxes, tips, and other undisclosed fees.

3. Hotel Scams:

When staying in a hotel, beware of techniques used to get ahold of credit card information, such as fake calls from the front desk, free wi-fi skimming, and fake food delivery. Scammers count on travelers – tourists and business people alike — being tired or in a hurry. Pay close attention and watch out for these tricks:

4. Third Party Booking Site Scams:

If you book your airfare, hotel or other travel through a third-party website, be sure to use caution. In the most common scam, the BBB says travelers pay with a credit card. Shortly after making the payment, receive a call from the company asking to verify the name, address, banking information, or other personal details – something a legitimate company would never do. 

5. Timeshare Reselling Cons:

Scammers may claim to specialize in timeshare resales and promise they have buyers ready to purchase. To secure this service, the scammer pressures the target into paying an upfront fee. The timeshare owner pays up, but the reselling agent never delivers.

Here are four tips for avoiding scams:

  • Look for reviews and ask for references. While vetting hotels, travel companies, vacation rentals, and more, check BBB.org for reviews and complaints. Look for photos and a variety of reviews. If the property or company doesn’t have any online reviews, ask for references and call them.
  • Avoid wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once the money is sent, there is no way to get it back. Paying with a credit card the charges can be disputed and dramatically limit liability from a fraudulent purchase.
  • A great deal probably isn’t the truth. Scammers lure in targets by guaranteeing an amazing trip at a very low price. Research it first. If the hotel, travel, or tour is much cheaper than similar options, be suspicious.
  • Do some snooping. Check the website for links to the company’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. If they do have social media accounts, check their activity and see if any other users have left reviews or voiced complaints. Also, look for typos and pixelated images. These mistakes are signs of a scammer, not a company that cares about its online presence.

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Copyright 2022 WLBT. All rights reserved.



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Hard Travel for Norris and the Temptation of Saudi League | Sports News


By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Shaun Norris, the last player to be paired with Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship, headed home to South Africa to see his young children, take a short break from traveling and figure out where his world travels should take him.

One option is the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational series, which has his attention.

Norris, who is No. 66 in the world with 10 career victories, said he has signed up for the inaugural event in two weeks outside London.

Still to be determined is whether he goes, or even if he’s in the field. Norris, much like everyone else, isn’t sure and hasn’t heard anything.

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“I’ve entered,” he said. “I’m just waiting to see what will happen. I’m not fully convinced or decided on going yet. I’m just hanging back and basically testing the waters.”

The money and the small schedule are appealing to the 40-year-old.

Norris has victories on the Sunshine Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Asian Tour and the European tour in his career. This year alone, he has played tournaments on four of the six main golf circuits, earning his European tour card by winning a co-sanctioned event in South Africa.

He has options. He also has two children, a 3-year-old boy and a daughter born two months ago in Pretoria.

“I saw her for a week and then I had to leave,” Norris said. “She’s smiling. We do video calling every day. But it’s tough.”

That’s a big reason why he is curious about LIV Golf.

“If it does work out for me, at my age, you start to want to look after your family and stay at home,” Norris said. “All this hard traveling playing Europe, the U.S., Japan, I barely get to see my kids. We’re trying to figure out a way to make it easier. If it comes down to have to do that, you never know. But I’m not rushing into any decisions.”

He returns next week for the U.S. Open, exempt by winning the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. The first LIV Golf event is June 9-11 at Centurion Golf Club, a week before the U.S. Open outside Boston. The next one is scheduled for Oregon on July 1-3, a week before he is to play the Scottish Open and the British Open.

“If you can work out 15 or 20 weeks of the year and the rest of the time is spent at home? That’s an ideal lifestyle, especially as the father of two,” he said.

Except for 2020, when the schedule was disrupted by the pandemic, Norris has averaged 27 tournaments a year, with a high of 34.

So what’s holding him back from signing up for a series of $20 million events with $4 million for the winner?

“I just want to see how the tours are going to handle it,” he said. “Are they going to completely ban you from the tours? Fine you? I don’t want to get myself in a complete mess where I can’t get out of it. We know there are a bunch of players fully committed. Let’s see what happens.”

Norris said neither the Sunshine Tour, which just started back up again, nor the Japan Golf Tour is “not bothered” by members playing. He is a European tour member. As tempting as the money and schedule is, Norris can see why the PGA Tour and European tour are resisting.

“The PGA Tour has built something for 50 years to get to where they are. And here’s Saudi, wanting to start where the PGA Tour is now,” he said. “They’re basically throwing money at it. I can fully understand why the PGA Tour is feeling how they’re feeling, and the European tour. You don’t want to have a tour just take over like that.”

Mito Pereira cared only about winning the PGA Championship, and to close with a double bogey to finish one shot out of a playoff was devastating.

It’s a small consolation but Pereira, who was No. 100 in the world and received a special invitation to the PGA for his second major, is assured of playing the next four.

He moved to No. 49 in the world in the last tournament before the U.S. Open (top 60) and British Open (top 50) used the ranking to decide which players are exempt. His tie for third earned him a spot in his first Masters next April. And the PGA Championship takes the top 15 and ties from the previous year.

The Evian Championship was elevated to a fifth major on the LPGA Tour in 2013, and the majors represented the biggest purses in women’s golf. Evian led the way that year with a $3.25 million purse.

With boosts across the board, the five majors have more than tripled the prize money to a total of $32.8 million.

The U.S. Women’s Open is the richest in women’s golf at $10 million. The Women’s British Open last year announced another bump so the prize money will be $6.8 million at Muirfield (which until recently was an all-male club).

Evian was the latest, announcing a $2 million increase that brings the total purse this year to $6.5 million, with a $1 million payoff going to the winner.

“Elevating the purse of this major championship makes a powerful statement about the value and status of the women’s game,” LPGA Tour Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said.

The Chevron Championship purse in California was $5 million, while the KPGA Women’s Championship purse last year was $4.5 million. It has not announced the purse for this year’s tournament at Congressional.

In addition to the $1 million for the winner, the Evian will pay everyone in the field, even a stipend for those who miss the cut.

Texas Tech junior Ludvig Aberg of Sweden has won the the Ben Hogan Award, honoring the top men’s college golfer based on college, amateur and pro events over the last 12 months.

Aberg is the first winner from Texas Tech and the third Ben Hogan Award winner from a Big 12 Conference school in the last five years, joining Viktor Hovland of Oklahoma State (2019) and Doug Ghim of Texas (2018).

He was selected over Sam Bennett of Texas A&M and Eugenio Chacarra of Oklahoma State.

Aberg, the No. 2 player in the world amateur ranking, won the Big 12 Championship and The Prestige as part of his nine straight finishes in the top 15. A runner-up at the European Amateur last summer, Aberg tied for 30th in the Scandinavian Mixed on the European tour and tied for 51st in the Bermuda Championship on the PGA Tour.

The award comes with an exemption to play the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial next year.

The PGA Works Collegiate Championship will be held next year at Shoal Creek, the Alabama club that invited its first Black member in 1990 so it could host the PGA Championship. … Bubba Watson, in a tweet to congratulate PGA champion Justin Thomas, revealed he has a torn meniscus and will be out for four to six weeks. That means Watson won’t be going through U.S. Open qualifying. … Inbee Park has withdrawn from the U.S. Women’s Open next week. … Harris English, who hoped to return to competitive golf at the PGA Championship, withdrew from Colonial. He had surgery on his left hip and has not played since the second full week in January. … After third-place finishes the last two weeks, MJ Daffue of South Africa is the latest Korn Ferry Tour player to have enough points to be among the 25 players who get PGA Tour cards next year.

The last four major champions were all in their 20s and among the top 10 in the world when they won.

“Now I understand when people watch me on TV how nervous they get.” — Joaquin Niemann as he watched Chilean friend Mito Pereira try to win the PGA Championship.

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





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12 Amazing Summer Travel Deals — Including Last-minute Memorial Day Sales




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