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The Hottest Winter Destinations

by Lux Joseph 5. November 2014

As we enter into the winter season, Commercial Medical Escorts will see a shift in the destinations in which we are picking up patients. This happens several different times throughout the year and it is based primarily on travel trends and where tourists travel at different times throughout the year. To understand this upcoming winter travel destinations we took the opportunity to speak with CEO McNamara of Sky Cap Corp, a travel management company based in South Florida that specializes in travel for travel assistance, medical escort, and air ambulance companies.

Sky Cap Corp stated that based on bookings by members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Orlando is clearly the most popular domestic destination for the 2014-2015 winter season. Orlando was chosen by 41 percent of the respondents in ASTA’s 2014 Hot Spots for Winter survey, followed by Las Vegas (13%), New York City (6%), Miami (5%), Honolulu (3%), San Francisco (3%), Fort Myers (3%), Los Angeles 3%), Maui (3%) and San Diego (2%). 

 “Orlando and Las Vegas remain on top for winter vacation spots as warm and fun places to escape winter," said Mr. McNamara, Sky Cap Corp President and CEO. “Agents say both locations have a great variety of activities that can meet the needs of young people, extended families and couples.” The top 10 domestic destination cities for Winter are the same as the Summer top 10 with the exception of Fort Myers and Maui replacing New Orleans and Washington, D.C. When asked about the top state destinations, Florida, led by Orlando, topped with a 58 percent share. Rounding out the top five state destinations for winter travel are Hawaii (20%), California (10%), Nevada (3%) and New York (2%). Florida and Hawaii have a much stronger share in the winter compared to summer.

For those who look forward to international travel this winter, travel agents choose Cancun as the most popular international destination for the 2014-2015 winter season. Cancun was chosen by 24 percent of respondents to ASTA’s 2014 Hot Spots for Winter Survey, up from only 5 percent in the summer version of the survey. Rounding out the top 10 destinations for winter are Rome (16%), London (11%), Paris (9%), Sydney (3%), Barcelona (3%), Montego Bay (3%), Riviera Maya (3%), Punta Cana (2%) and Cape Town (1%).

 “Cancun came out as the clear winter vacation destination desired by our member’s clients for obvious reason,” said Mr. McNamara.  “Cancun is easily accessible from the U.S., has a plethora of all-inclusive resorts, a warm climate and beautiful beaches.” The top 10 international destination cities in the winter survey are the same as the summer top 10 with the exception of Sydney and Cape Town replacing Amsterdam and Madrid. Sydney and Cape Town, as Southern Hemisphere cities, are deemed best visited during the Northern Hemisphere winter.

When asked about the top country/region destinations, Mexico, led by Cancun, topped with a 24 percent share. Rounding out the top five country/region destinations for winter travel are Italy (18%), the Caribbean (12%), France (7%) and United Kingdom (6%).

Survey data was collected through the 2014 ASTA Research Family from July through August 2014. This survey has a 95 percent rate confidence with an error rate +/-5 percent.

The Unexpected Factor

by Lux Joseph 28. October 2014
Commercial Medical Escorts is privledged to have David E. Hogan, RN, EMT-P as a member of our medical escort team. David exemplifies one of the best medical escorts and has been with Commercial Medical Escorts since CME started. There isn't a month that goes by in which the office does receive a compliment or positive feedback from a patient that was transported by David. David has taken the time to share with us an experience he had on a medical escort mission to Tanzania and how he meets the challenges of this job with an open mind.
 
By: David E. Hogan, RN, EMT-P
 
Even with the best plans for every medical transport there are issues that come up from time to time.  I refer to these issues as the “unexpected factor” or, simply, the uF.  One has to remain calm, be flexible and communicate when they do appear.  This is the story of one such occurrence.
 
During a scheduled transport from Tanzania in Eastern Africa to Texas an unexpected factor occurred as a result of Mother Nature doing her thing.  Two days prior to my arrival in Arusha, Tanzania there was a heavy downpour of rain high in the mountains near the area of the Serengeti Plains.  Little did I know that this little event would directly affect my transport for the patient. 
 
The morning following my arrival in Arusha I was to be transported by ground to the patient’s location during an expected 3-hr roundtrip.  The trip began early on a beautiful morning in Africa.  After a brief encounter with an Arusha traffic jam, complete with cars, numerous motorbikes and herded animals including cows, sheep and goats we made our way out to the highway heading towards Karatu.
 
 
We passed miles of lush green farm and pastureland dotted with numerous Masai village homesteads. 
 
 

At approximately 2/3 of the way to Karatu my driver received a cell phone call notifying him that the one and only bridge to Karatu was washed away.  We immediately turned back to Arusha and I made contact with the company regarding this unexpected factor.  The driver had mentioned to me at this point that there was a small commuter airport near Arusha.  He then contacted his company to inquire about the availability of their services for our transport needs to reach Karatu.  During our return all the necessary arrangements were made and confirmation was received for my flight over and the return with the clients via the small commuter line.  We proceeded to the little Arusha airstrip and I quickly obtained a boarding pass for the flight to the Lake Manyari Airport, approximately 35-40 minutes from the medical clinic where the patient was being treated. 
 

After a short flight via a twin-engine prop plane I arrived to an awaiting driver.  He quickly made his way to the clinic as I noticed several areas where the flood waters had just receded.  Many of the streets were mud-covered and there was little traffic out. 

 
Shortly after our arrival at the clinic and my assessment of the patient we headed back to the Lake Manyari Airport for our flight, arriving some 10 – 15 minutes before the scheduled departure back to Arusha.
 

 

We quickly stored and secured their baggage and the medical equipment for the return flight and departed without delay.  During the short flight back we flew over the affected areas and could clearly see homes and roads washed away.
 
Safely arriving back at the Arusha Airport, we then made our way to the hotel for our overnight stay prior to an early morning departure the next day.  The original itinerary was resumed and we eventually arrived back in Texas many hours later.  Once we reached their home, which was the final destination, I assisted with the setup of the Oxygen Concentrator and gave instructions to both the patient and her spouse. She had a previously scheduled appointment with her doctor on the following day and she needed to have oxygen during the night.  That was the conclusion of a successful transport.   This with completed safely and without any further incidents after the initial uF regarding the washed-out bridge and roadway. 
 
The issue of this unexpected factor was handled calmly and without any delay in the remainder of the patient’s itinerary. In summary, even the best plans could have some unexpected factors appear.  One has to remember to exercise calm and proceed with due diligence, communicating the proper information so that a successful alternative can be reached.  This action is vital when our goal is to successfully complete our patient transports.
 
At Commercial Medical Escorts we do our best to prepare our escorts for any challenges or obstacles they may encounter during a journey, but as David has described to us, there are still things that happen our of our control. All of our escorts are trained to handle situations in a calm manner as David described. We believe in deliverying only the highest quality of service and this is accomplaished through excellenc training, high quality nurses, physicians, and paramedics, and an extremely effective operations team.
 

 

 

 

 

Airline Dining at its Best

by Lux Joseph 5. September 2014

No matter whom you speak to from any part of the world, food is always a conversation topic and certainly something travelers enjoy most when going to places outside of their home country. A satisfying meal remains a top point of interest when selecting hotels, venues for meetings, and even when selecting their airline carrier.

United Airlines was the first carrier to open an experimental airport kitchen in Oakland, CA back in 1934.  They started a trend that was soon followed by many of the other major carriers at the time and by the 1950s, meal service was an amenity that travelers were looking forward to when traveling by air. In 1969 Air France and British Airways introduced a new distinct level of culinary expertise, but a decade later the quality of food on planes took a back seat as customers were looking for low fares. Low cost carriers continued to offer food service, but for a price in addition to the airline ticket. Food service was seen as something that was “extra” and those wishing to have it, would pay the cost as opposed to including that expense into every airline ticket.

Nonetheless, in-flight catering is not a fast food product or products you would find at your local 7-Eleven. It is a culinary masterpiece and that is exactly how the major players, Gategroup, LSG Sky Chefs, and Serair, view their product.  All those participating in airline catering look for big names in the culinary world to highlight their array of services. These companies believe that having a well-known chef design and implement an in-flight menu will bring success to the onboard experience. When I traveled from Beijing, China to Hong Kong in First Class I had the opportunity to enjoy an award winning meal on Hong Kong Airways. While they did not utilize an established celebrity chef to highlight their menu, they did offer an enjoyable meal that included Filet Mignon.

As a traveler, you should become aware of the meal selections offered on planes especially if you are traveling internationally. As more and more individuals are becoming more health conscious, the airline catering services have to meet these high demands. When traveling internationally or in domestic first class where a meal service is offered you can request a special type of meal through your travel agent. If you did not book with a travel agent you can call the airline, but we encourage you to do this at least 72 hours prior to departure, as the airline needs to put the necessary requests in place.  Some of these requests include vegetarian, vegan, kosher, gluten free, low sodium, low fat/low cholesterol/low calorie, diabetic meal, and even a bland meal.

Each airline takes a different approach to delivering a high level of food and beverage services. In 2013 Turkish Airlines received the award of Best Business Class Catering in the 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards. They strive to deliver an authentic and elegant dining experience. Delta takes a different approach by partnering with top chefs to design their business class meals. Some of these chefs are Food Network stars and Delta believes these partnerships help providing a quality-dining program. Swiss Air takes the approach of sharing their culinary expertise by showcasing different regions of Switzerland. Every three months they bring on a different Swiss chef to focus on different local flavors throughout the country. Swiss Air has also taken it a step further by being recognized as the world’s first Allergy Friend Airlines. For British Airways they focus on the consumer’s feedback to drive their major decisions around food and beverage. They once focused on high end chocolates for the business and first class travelers, but the travelers have called for Cadbury so that is what they deliver. British Airways also partners with Twinings to design a blend of “altitude tea” for guests.

High-Flying Tastes is something airlines have to accommodate in order to meet and exceed consumer’s expectations. When consumers have the choice of different airlines, it is critical for the airlines to set themselves apart. As you fly, take the opportunity to observe the small details that each airline does to set them apart.


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