Check Your Points
You’ve clocked up plenty of frequent-flyer points with all those take-offs and landings, so make sure you don’t lose them. Some airlines will drop your balance to zero if you haven’t earned any new points in as little as 18 months. Others are much more jealous. (Here’s a chart that will help.) This is a good time of year check on your balances. You may have an upgrade in your future!
No, we don’t mean holiday gifts, although if you are still looking, our Gift Guide is a good place to start. If you need to make business purchases and would like to take the deduction in 2020, confirm with your tax advisor and then start bargain hunting. Conventional wisdom holds that the best deals on computers and other electronics happen on Black Friday and during post-Christmas sales, so research and be ready. Laptop manufacturers have also been known to announce new products before Christmas and put older models on sale.
The Six-Month Rule
Check your passport expiration date. Most countries only require it to be valid through your stay, however, some countries, such as Singapore, Thailand, Brazil, China, and the Russian Federation, require that your passport be valid until six months after your arrival date. It’s particularly important to check that before applying for a visa.
If your driver’s license has a star in the corner, great! You are good to go. If not, the bad news is that beginning October 1, 2020, you will not be able to use it as identification to fly domestically and will have to carry additional documentation, like a passport. The good news is, you don’t have to stand in line at your local Department of Motor Vehicles because you can renew online up to one year before the license expiration date. Despite the queues, one benefit of going to the DMV is that the eye test is free, and you don’t need an appointment. If you are hosting an event after the deadline next year, you might want to remind your attendees during registration so they don’t show up at the airport unprepared.
If you are a member of a trusted-traveler program like TSA PreCheck or CLEAR, check the renewal date. If you haven’t joined yet, here are some suggested ways to get TSA PreCheck for free, and if you think you might be taking your family on vacation with all your air miles this year, note that CLEAR offers membership to family members for $50 (regular price is $179) and children under 18 are free to participate.
If 2020 is the year you plan to get serious about your professional qualifications, now is the time to find out what support your company or organization offers. Talk to human resources or your boss about the courses you’re interested in, and their costs, and discuss whether they can put funding in the budget for you. The same goes for conferences, conventions, and trade shows; register when early-bird discounts are in effect and book time off early enough so you and your co-workers can prepare.
Be a Joiner
Many professional associations offer benefits, including discounts for education, job boards, and networking events. Although the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act restricted which type of professional association dues can be deducted (check with your tax adviser) if you plan on taking courses or attending events, the membership fee may pay for itself. If you are already a member, re-up your membership now as renewal rates are often cheaper than rejoining after a lapse.
In 2020, Global Meetings Industry Day is April 14. Start thinking about how to get involved in spreading the word about the enormous economic impact of our industry.