Travel Tips from a Hospitality Manager

Ranked by Chicago’s leading hotels as the number one Chicago program for preparing students for hospitality management careers (ORC International – 2011 Survey), the Kendall College School of Hospitality Management is led by some of the top professionals in the industry.

As an expert in international hospitality, Jeffrey Catrett, dean of the School of Hospitality Management, would like to pass along some tips to make your worldwide travel as safe, enjoyable and economical as possible.

Transportation

If you are seeking to bounce around Europe, look for low-cost airlines such as Ryan Air, Easy Jet and TUIfly. But keep in mind, these airlines are not built for luxury as flights are often quick and they will charge 10 euro/kilo for excess baggage.

To avoid having to tear apart your luggage, bring a regulation size carry-on bag according to the specific airlines’ allowance, split the weight equally if you are traveling in a group, and make sure your personal bag will be able to fit in your cabin bag.

Additionally, traveling for 3-12 months will best be served if you invest in a train pass, as train travel is the premier way to navigate Europe or Asia.

Accommodation

When selecting a hotel, it is crucial to remember that Europe’s hotel star system bears no relation to that of the U.S. There is no unified standard as to what is a 3-star hotel, for example. Ratings are often provided by the government, which utilizes a quantitative measure to determine the price range of the hotel and the amount of tax the hotel pays annually.

However, you can qualitatively evaluate a hotel by relying on other sources such as a Michelin guidebook.

Food

Another important factor to consider is dining. To achieve the true local experience, you will need to wander off the beaten path. Speak to the locals about where they like to dine— avoid the tourist centers that overcharge! Sampling the country or town’s specialty dish is a must and oftentimes you can speak with a guide about the opportunity to enjoy a home-cooked meal from a local.

A tip for spotting traditional cuisine is to look for menus posted outside the restaurant that are small and in the local language. Avoid restaurants that post “tourist” menus printed in English. However, keep in mind that dining etiquette abroad is quite different than in the United States. Tipping at 5-10 percent is the norm and dining is typically two hours whereby individuals socialize and unwind.

Another point to consider is when dinnertime is wherever you are. Restaurants may not open until the traditional dinner hour – after 7:00 p.m. or even as late as 10:00 p.m. in countries such as Spain.

Safety

Finally, safety should always remain your primary concern. There are many products on the market, such as portable door alarms that somewhat resemble an iPod, that are easy to carry and affordable. Also, try to blend into the crowd by wearing clothing that does not advertise you are an American.

Kendall College School of Hospitality Management has generously offered its space to host our Chicago Meet, Plan, Go! Event on October 18, 2011.

Register now and be ready to you’re your bags!

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