Reducing costs is a top priority for both meeting planners and their attendees. One big area of concern is always transportation, especially when you have guests traveling in from distances that are just too far of a drive.
Though planes are the most frequent option, do you ever consider Amtrak service? Whether your are paying for event transportation for your attendees, or just need to recommend a mode of travel, riding the train can be a great experience. Why? Consider the following 5 benefits of Amtrak travel:
1. Schedule flexibility. The standard "Arrive two hours before your flight" can really put a dent into your day when traveling by plane. When taking a train, you usually don't need to arrive at the station until about 30 minutes before it is scheduled to depart (although risk takers could probably even show up right before.)
2. No packing restrictions or fees. One of the worst parts of plane travel in my opinion are the liquid restrictions and the new baggage fees. While most business travelers attending your two- or three-day conference won't need more than the one carry-on, I think it's really tough—and annoying—to stuff a small plastic bag full of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and all your other toiletries. And while we're on airport restrictions, let's just add that having to walk barefoot through security is another downside to flying.
3. Convenient access. Amtrak stations are generally in the heart of a city's downtown area. This makes them a much more convenient starting point for your guests to access convention centers and hotels, as opposed to airports, which are often 20 to 30 minutes outside the city. Take Chicago, for example. Its Amtrak Union Station is located 3.6 miles (or 12 minutes) from its convention center, McCormick Place. O'Hare International Airport is 20.7 miles (or 28 minutes) from the Chicago convention center.
4. Affordability. As another example, a one-way Amtrak ticket from St. Louis to Chicago starts at $23. A one-way plane ticket for the same trip starts at $60. Though such differences are variable, it's generally a safe bet that a train ticket will offer good deal.
5. Comfort. Often times airplanes can be cramped, crowded and overall uncomfortable. Trains offer roomier seats with plenty of legroom. Plus, guests can easily get up and walk throughout the train to stretch their legs.
And finally, one bonus benefit of taking Amtrak: it's green! As our eco-consciousness grows, business travelers and event organizers can rest assured that train travel is environmentally friendly, using less energy and producing less pollutants than car or air travel.