Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

At last month’s Americas Mobility Conference sponsored by the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (WERC), PCH team member Michelle Velasquez, led an interactive discussion on the most recent trends impacting employee travel in relation to temporary housing. Several of the HR Managers in the attendance asked questions about Airbnb and wondered if this “home-sharing” hotel alternative is affecting extended business travel and lodging needs in conjunction with employee mobility.

It was noted that these types of lodging alternatives are spending millions in creative advertising targeting the younger traveler, and they are becoming more attractive to individual employees traveling with their own out-of-pocket expenses. But for company-sponsored assignments, Airbnb is still a risky alternative.

The discussion was focused around the unknowns involved with those Airbnb-type of bookings, and how those unknowns can potentially impact the success of an assignment. With little-to-no regulation or quality oversight, employees take a risk on each booking. Another concern involves “home-sharing” solutions like Airbnb and its competitors being heavily lobbied against by the Hotel Industry. This lobbying is creating legislation that involves restrictions, and in some cities, elimination of these types of alternatives altogether. If Airbnb suffered a big loss in a city (think of the Uber ban in Austin, TX) where a company’s employees were utilizing their services, it could distract from the goal of the assignment while the employees are scrambling for alternative lodging.

AirBNB Nightmare

AirBNB Nightmare – Vice.com

Another deterrent for employers who may be exploring Airbnb as a lodging alternative for its employees involves the negative press that spreads throughout social media when a “home-sharing” booking goes terribly wrong. Vice.com released an article this morning recounting some of the worst experiences ever reported with Airbnb experiences. If the stories of brothels, drug-dealing hosts and sardine-style sleeping arrangements don’t scare employers away, the images included in the article certainly will. We’ve included a few as a preview, but you can view the entire article by visiting https://www.vice.com/read/strangest-airbnb-experiences-stories-876

Preferred Corporate Housing clients count on us to provide a home-like experience that is move-in ready and free of stress. HR and Talent Managers understand that employees need a stable, comfortable living experience in order to be productive and successful in their new assignments. Our furnished apartment solutions in residential communities provide the standardization, quality oversight and 24-hour service that are necessary for successful mobile assignments. If you are exploring lodging alternatives for your employees in order to create successful and productive assignments, call Preferred Corporate Housing to learn more about our solutions in more than 42,000 North American destinations. (800) 960-0102. www.corporates.com

Tenant Screening – A Welcome Requirement?

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Background checkThe use of tenant screening, more commonly referred to as “background checks,” is growing in popularity in multi-family apartment leasing. These days just about every landlord and property manager utilize some sort of credit and rental history screening process for the financially-responsible party, but now the integration of background checks for residents is becoming just as commonplace. In the past 24 months, Preferred Corporate Housing has seen a significant increase in the communities which now require specific guest information to be provided so that criminal background checks can be performed on each occupant. While each property management company has it’s own criteria they use to evaluate whether or not they will accept or reject an applicant, PCH is finding that communities are following the guidelines and recommendations from their local civil authorities. With many states and municipalities having passed legislation requiring the tracking of criminal offenders and sexual predators, apartment communities may be required by local law to perform these tenant screenings.

“PCH provided our fully furnished apartments in 49 out of the 50 U.S. states in 2014, and we’ve seen an uptick in background checks/tenant screening processes in every state we serviced,” said Anna Doran, Senior National Account Executive for Preferred Corporate Housing. “This is a welcome trend from our perspective because, even though it may cause a bit more paperwork on the front-end, adding criminal screenings is a way to improve safety across the board for our corporate clients,” said Doran.

Another reason multi-families are adding these types of criminal screenings to their leasing process is in effort to eliminate “negligent leasing.” This is a widely used term in the multi-family rental industry used to describe a rental situation go awry due to lack of due diligence and pre-screening on the part of the community management. Negligent leasing is a real concern today as properties can potentially avoid theft, violence and damages by simply running a criminal history check on guests before accepting them to their property. Fair Housing laws require that if any screening of this nature is performed on one potential resident, it must be applied to all potential residents across the board.

“We prefer to place our corporate clients at communities that require these type of criminal screenings for guests because it adds a bit more peace-of-mind about the neighborhood,” said Megan Margetusakis, Director of Operations for PCH. “Our clients have an expectation of safety when they stay with us, and while we can’t guarantee that crime won’t happen, we can do our due diligence to reduce the risk by placing them in communities with resident screening requirements.”

Although resident screening services can potentially weed out unwanted, potentially dangerous neighbors, many corporate clients have balked at the requirements to provide the personal information needed to complete these screenings for their corporate travelers. This hesitancy is not due to fear that their employees will not pass the screenings, but rather protection of their employees’ personally identifiable information. Drivers License numbers, date of birth, and even social security numbers are often required for these screenings. International travelers may even be asked to provide copies of their passports.

“The most important thing for corporate travel and mobility managers to understand when it comes to resident screening requirements is that we must abide by the community requirements when placing your employees in our furnished apartments,” said Margetusakis. “Because of Fair Housing and other local laws, we do not have the ability waive these requirements on a case by case basis for any guest or employee. What we can offer are secure ways to provide the required personal information that doesn’t violate the company’s PII policy and/or place the employee at risk for PII exposure.” said Margetusakis.

Tenant screening, background checks, criminal history review…they are all here to stay, and it is highly-likely that their inclusion in rental approval processes will continue to gain popularity throughout the country. Corporate Travel and Mobility Managers should be prepared to counsel their employees on this requirement and talk through best-practices and safe methods for providing the necessary personal information for these screenings.

Post-Vacay: How to Get Your Groove Back

Monday, July 6th, 2015

back to work

Even if you love your job as much as we love ours, getting back into the groove of things after a vacation can be quite challenging, especially if it was after an extended holiday. From the email backlog to nonstop “catch-up” meetings and events, sometimes your body is present at the office while your mind is still enjoying the sandy beaches and pina coladas! Everyone needs a break now and then to decompress and forget the duties and responsibilities of business, but the key to making the most of your stress-reducing vacation is knowing how to effectively get back in the swing of things after taking time off. Here are a few tips to ensure your return to work is smooth sailing:

1. Check out…but Check-In – A recent Harris poll of 2,071 US workers showed that 6 out of 10 people said checking their emails while on vacation made it easier for them to ease back into work. Staying in touch with the office, even if just to keep a watchful eye from afar, helps relieve that anxious feeling when its time to return.

2. Use that last day of vacation as a “rest and recovery” day – Take the last day off to rebound from your vacation. Relax and enjoy some quiet time. Turn in early and get a good night’s rest. Don’t wait to sleep on the plane or use the last few hours to down the remaining shots of tequila. Use the last day to transition back to the reality version of yourself so you’ll be prepared for the next day to work.

3. Keep your mood upbeat – If you just left the Mexican resort of your dreams, why not listen to the music that reminds you of all the fun you had while you’re on your way in to the office. Throw in a quick cardio workout to get the endorphins flowing and help you rebound from all the guacamole and margaritas. Start your day back to work in a great mood and hold on to it as long as possible.

4. Keep things simple and stick to a game plan – Not all 280 new emails need to be answered within the first hour of your arrival back. Prioritize by importance/urgency and don’t get overwhelmed. Follow up, in detail, with the people who have an immediate demand, and for those who don’t, send a quick email saying you will soon follow up.

5. Reassess your goals – Chances are, that tropical vacation and whatever took you out of your groove is probably still on your mind. Get your mind back to the present by writing out your goals for the upcoming week. Reassess what you want to accomplish now that you’re back in the swing of things, and you may even have a fresh perspective now that you’ve had a chance to clear your head.

How to Stay Sane Post Vacation

Monday, July 21st, 2014

work after vacaySummer vacations are awesome! Whether you’ve taken a summer getaway to an exotic island, a family trip to one of the Disney parks or even a “stay-cation” in your own backyard you know that coming back to work after time away can cause enough stress to need another vacation. A colleague of mine said, “Coming back to work after a vacation is like a Monday on steroids.” Not only are your emails and daily tasks piled up, but if you’ve just spent the last week laying on the beach sipping pina coladas, its pretty hard to switch back to the office chair/cubicle mentality. Here are some tips to help you ease back into reality and productivity after your summer vacation.

Give yourself time to decompress
When you are planning your trip, schedule an extra day off on the back end of your vacation before returning back to the office. Give yourself time to unpack, do laundry and grocery shop. Taking care of these types of chores will make you feel better prepared to return to your routine. And if you can’t take that extra day off, don’t overbook yourself with meetings and commitments on your first few days back. Easing back into work mode from vacation mode can help save you from being distracted or unmotivated.

Plan your return
Even without a vacation, returning to the office on Monday after the weekend can be stressful. If Mondays are usually tough days for you, try returning from your vacation in the middle of the week instead. All the craziness of Monday will be long gone and it will be easier to ease back into your routine.

Beware of multi-tasking
When you’ve been gone from work on vacation, coming back to the office can be jarring. You have an inbox full of emails, backlogged tasks that need completing, clients that need attention as well as all your other usual day-to-day responsibilities. Your first instinct is to try to get through everything as quick as possible, but all the multi-tasking will only stress you out more. Use the Now/Soon/Later technique to prioritize your tasks and complete them accordingly. Take things one step at a time as to not to get overwhelmed. Focusing on a singular task will ensure you complete it correctly so you don’t have to revisit it later.

Get back into your routines
The best way to get back into work mode is to get back into your work routine. If you go to the gym every morning before heading in to the office, start that back up as quickly as possible. If you have scheduled weekly meetings, don’t put those off till you get caught up. By postponing your regularly scheduled activities, it will take you longer to get caught up, and it will be more difficult to get out of vacation-mode.

Tell the story all at once
If you were fortunate enough to visit an exotic destination, visit long-lost relatives, or just have an interesting vacation story to tell, you’ll probably want to share it with your co-workers. And they’ll probably want to hear it. To avoid telling the story over and overagain, offer to share your story and pictures at lunch. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, but you’ll save them a lot of time too.

7 Tips for Safe and Stress-Free Holiday Travel

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Everyone knows that winter and holiday travel can be extremely stressful, and like most, I tend to forget basic common sense when I am in extremely stressful situations. The team at Preferred Corporate Housing want everyone to enjoy their holiday trips, so we’ve compiled a list of tips for those of you who will be leaving home during this time of hustle and bustle.

1. If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, consider hiring a home-sitter. If you have trusted neighbors who will be home for the holidays, enlist their help in keeping an eye on your place while you are gone. If you live in an apartment, contact your PCH Account Manager to let them know when you will be away, and also speak to the onsite office staff as well. Many communities offer complimentary plant watering and dog walking services, so check in with them before you leave.

2. Lock up – This seems so obvious, but hey…we’ve all got a lot on our minds during this season of hustle and bustle. Locking your home makes it less attractive to opportunistic burglars. If you don’t make it easy, there’s a better chance that when you get home, your house will be in the same condition as when you left it.

3. Be cautious with your social media posts – Don’t broadcast your whereabouts on Facebook or Twitter at every stop you make. Although we would like to think that our connections on social media are friends and acquaintances, we don’t need everyone to know that we are away from our home.

4. If you are traveling by plane, plan to leave your home at least an hour earlier than usual. Winter weather, holiday shopping traffic and forgetting to pack Aunt Mildred’s gift can all result in delays to your schedule. If you start out with extra time, you are less likely to turn into a super stress ball when something unexpected pops up.

5. Stay hydrated for your journey – Another one of those tips that seems so simple, but is often overlooked. Even slight dehydration can lead to fatigue and decreased alertness which sounds like a recipe for disaster on your holiday trip. Remember to drink plenty of water as often as you can.

6. If you are driving to your holiday destination – pack a winter car safety kit. Cell phone, car charger, ice scraper, tow rope, jumper cables, cat littler (helps to provide traction in the snow), blankets, crank-powered flashlights, matches, emergency candles, first aid kit, portable radio, granola bars or other snacks and a good book in case you do get stuck. Recent unexpected snow storms in Dallas caused people to be stuck in their cars on the freeway for 30+ hours. Make sure you are prepared if something like that were to happen to you.

7. Don’t forget to pack a smile! This is one of those rainbows and flowers type tips, but it really does help. If you start your trip with a smile and try very hard to keep it there, you are more likely to enjoy yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff, find humor in every situation and enjoy the journey!

From all of us at Preferred Corporate Housing, we wish you safe travels and Happy Holidays!