JAMAICA opened its borders to international travelers on June 15. So why, on June 16th, were there 30 people stranded at the Miami airport, denied boarding onto their ticketed flight to Montego Bay? Because they didn’t know about a newly implemented Travel Authorization form, a medical clearance that must be applied for online prior to travel, that is collected by the airport staff BEFORE passengers may board planes bound for Jamaica.
Why did I start off my article with that discouraging story? Because it’s- a great example of why using a professional travel advisor is MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER, as travel begins to rebound post-COVID-19. If those 30 disappointed passengers who were left behind at the airport had booked through their trusted advisor, they would have been informed of the new requirement, and given the information necessary to apply for and print the new Authorization form well before departure. It’s among the many services we provide!
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. So, here are my top 5 reasons why you need a professional travel advisor as a trusted partner when you are ready to travel:
The State of Travel After COVID-19
The coronavirus situation changes daily, but there are moments when a post-COVID-19 future begins to take shape amidst the turmoil. Although we may be ready to imagine what it would be like to socialize as usual or to board a plane for a much-needed vacation, that doesn't mean that the post-COVID world will be the same. Travel will be different than what we've grown accustomed to, and the changes that the travel industry has already begun to implement may be here to stay.
Before we can speculate on the future, let us first examine our current situation. Political leaders have felt pressure to restart the economy. Consequently, most states have developed phased reentry plans, and are monitoring infection rates to identify the resurgence of the virus quickly. Some public recreational spaces have opened with limitations, and companies in the hospitality and tourism sector have developed rigorous cleaning routines.
Despite some progress in implementing social distancing and upgraded cleaning protocols, the US still has much to do to control the virus and minimize the scope of its impact on our day to day routine. The EU recently announced that its member states would not be admitting US citizens, for the time being, a decision the EU will review every two weeks.
Those of us fortunate enough to be working from home during quarantine look forward to returning to a state of normalcy.
And "normalcy" includes the desire to travel.
Not immediately, and not the same way - but wanderlust is returning.
Google Trends Search Term Data
To illustrate this returning demand, we've consulted Google Trends, a tool that shows the popularity of a search term relative to total search volume in a given time frame. For ease of comparison, Google converts search volume into an index ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest possible interest for a given term. You can compare trends over time or analyze the popularity of search terms to one another. Below, we've done both.
WHAT IS WAVE SEASON?
The New York Times describes Wave Season as an "annual deal-making ritual," during which "cruise-goers can snap up savings that generally aren’t available the rest of the year." USA Today says: "wave season remains a peak time for cruise lines to include free upgrades, onboard credit, and other incentives."
Wave Season coincides with the winter months after the new year when a full year beckons, and when those living in colder climates long to catch some rays, this time of year is typically one of the busiest for booking travel. During Wave Season, extra incentives or special promotions are offered to encourage would-be travelers to book. Offers may include upgraded staterooms, free air, reduced deposit amounts, beverage packages, prepaid gratuities, or generous discounts.
While promotions are offered year-round, Wave Season offers to tend to provide travelers the most benefits and the best value. Wave Season promotions are provided by all sorts of cruise companies, from Ultra-Luxury to Expedition - and frequently apply to cruises scheduled through 2022. Booking early has its advantages - best choice of staterooms and extended-time period to pay for a trip.
My consortia, Virtuoso LTD, has put together a helpful list of Wave Season offers, which I've summarized below. I'd love to help you plan a special trip AND a great value - please let me know when you're ready to book!
Rich and I were in Fort Lauderdale last week and we took the Water Taxi around "The Venice of America" - this house is one of many elaborately decorated along the canals.
Happy Thanksgiving! Late November through the New Year's Holiday is one of my favorite times of the year. In my family, the season kicks off with birthdays just before Thanksgiving and eases into end-of-year holidays, many of which center on gatherings of friends and family, celebrations, and traditional holiday dishes. Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday shopping season. Merchants have adopted "Black Friday" as an opportunity to offer tempting promotions with a built-in sense of urgency – due either to limited inventory or a small window of time to buy. For many families, the Thanksgiving meal is lunch, to allow shopping fans time to visit retailers starting their "Black Friday" sales Thursday evening.
Black Friday sales are not limited to brick and mortar stores – many e-commerce retailers also offer "Black Friday" sales. Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is one of the busiest days of the year for online purchases. Travel companies have become very active participants in Black Friday promotions – attractive offers are already being previewed.
So while your family and friends are together for Thanksgiving, why not have a conversation about planning a trip? Alternately, have you considered gifting a travel experience? And it goes without saying that it would be my pleasure to be of service to you and your family to plan a trip. Please reach out to me – I would be happy to help you find a "Black Friday" trip to match your travel wish list. For that "Traveler's Guide" - I've listed below a handful of offers hitting my inbox this week.
Have I Got A Deal For You!
Virtuoso Travel Week On Tour - Los Angeles
We are back home after a few days in Los Angeles at Virtuoso's Travel Week on Tour, during which nearly 150 professional Travel Advisors met with 80+ travel suppliers, in a "speed-dating" format - followed up by a day of professional development (with a good measure of fun in the mix.)
One of the questions I frequently am asked is "Are there any good deals out there?" So fresh from meeting with so many suppliers, many of whom are currently offering promotions, here you are!
Let Hawaii Happen
Something Free in Waikiki? Absolutely!
Aloha - today is a day that has been anticipated by many for a long, long time: Southwest Airlines is now selling flights from the 8 California cities to Hawaii; the new destination has rolled out with remarkable sale fares - and other airlines are matching the special rates. So if you've dreamed of visiting Hawaii (and chances are, you have!) why not contact me now to plan your visit to this American Paradise? As a certified Hawaii Destination Specialist, I would be delighted to help you plan!
With so many free things to do in Waikiki, there is really no reason to fork out a lot of cash on activities. From torch lighting and hula shows to hands-on classes in Hawaiian arts and crafts, this visitor “Mecca” has a lot of offerings to keep you busy – and entertain and educate at the same time!
Here are some of my favorite “free” or inexpensive things to do in Waikiki...
Giving Through Travel
Recently a group of colleagues visited a luxury Jamaican resort for a corporate event. Prior to their meeting, the resort asked the group leader to consider asking travelers to bring school supplies to help a local school with which the resort had a sponsorship relationship. Great idea, right? This group was happy to contribute, and collected quite a nice stash of supplies for the local kids. When we travel, we can indeed help others. Depending on the destination and the need, there are many ways to do this. Today, I will cover several ways to help:
You are likely aware that ocean cruising, with bellyflop contests and buckets of beer, has an alternative, more "civil" competitor in the cruising arena - River Cruising. While most of the river cruise itineraries are in Europe, including the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Rhone, Douro and even the Po Rivers, river cruises are offered as well in Asia, India and Africa, and here in the US - although river cruising outside of Europe is a very different offering.
Many European river cruises are focused on a theme or special interests, such as wine regions of France, Jewish heritage, beer tasting in Germany and Austria, "Sound of Music" Tours, Tulip Time in Holland and, in November and December, visiting Christmas Markets, many of which are held in European river cities. Here are several reasons why many travelers are choosing river cruising - and why many choose to river cruise again.
Do Travel Agents Still Exist?
Do travel agents still exist? Because, you know, the Internet! This is the number one question I’m asked when people learn I am a Travel Advisor. Here are five benefits for clients choosing to use a Travel Advisor to help plan their trips:
First, Travel Advisors help clients choose a destination and how best to experience it. I’ve been to many destinations – but if not, I’ve got trusted colleagues who have, as well a host of research resources to draw on for my clients’ behalf. In order to match my clients with a great experience, I take time to get to know them. I hate to see people spend money on an experience they don’t enjoy, or have a subpar vacation, even if it was presented as a steal of a deal.
Second, Travel Advisors save clients time and hassle. The Internet is called the Information Highway for a reason, but it’s a double-edged sword, and it may be difficult to know what's accurate. My knowledge and experience allow me to quickly assess available options. I love sitting on hold (said no one, ever!) – but as their Travel Advisor, my clients can outsource this time consuming and sometimes frustrating task to me.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.