.....in the beginning, I was impressed with the beauty, awesome handiwork of God and man, and had a desire to try to get others to appreciate a much different environment than the Big Country. I got that impression of Alaska on an educational journey through the Institute of Certified Travel Agents. That was on a 5-day trip from Juneau to Seattle with Holland America. The next year I took a little group on an Inside Passage from Seattle and back to Seattle on Norwegian Cruise Line.
The Travel Factory Blog
For close to 30 years, we have planned and taken groups on various trips around the world.....and EVERYONE is invited!!! For lack of a more imaginative name, we just named our group “The Travel Factory Gang”.
We enjoyed the Holy Land tour this past March, and was on one of the last planes to leave Tel Aviv before Covid-19 interrupted travel all over the globe. As a result, all our “Gang” trips for 2020 have had to cancel, so we are getting antsy to get back into the “traveling swing”!!
Planned for next March 11-20, 2021 is another great tour opportunity to travel again to theHoly Land.....sixth time!!! We have Pastor Stan Allcorn and our guide, Mike Tahhan booked to help with this fantastic experience, walking where Jesus walked. Everyone's invited!!!!
A real good blog or report that I often refer to is TravelSense. It gives some real good advice and tips on a daily and weekly basis, and one that they produced recently had some excellent information regarding this disease that has the travel world turned upside down....especially if one is traveling to China, Japan, Korea, or even Hawaii.
It's really frustrating for the travel suppliers that it seems that it's always something that crops up and threatens to scare folks away from traveling. If it's not some new illness, its a natural disaster, or threat of civil unrest or just plain disinformation that has folks nervous about going anywhere.
According to a Travel Impact Survey Report conducted by The American Society of Travel Advisors, 25% of all U.S .travelers have changed their travel plans because of coronvirus fears. More concerning is the 71% who had a trip currently booked to China say they will either “definitely” or “probably” cancel those plans because of coronavirus.
Talk about disruption......this disease has really got world-wide attention from travelers and non-travelers alike.....and rightfully so. You can quickly die if affected.!!
Where did it come from? Well, according to a good travel source, TravelSense, it is not a new illness; coronaviruses of one one kind or another have been around forever. This is a new strain identified first in December, 2019. This strain is a particularly nasty version of a coronavirus which spreads faster and is more dangerous. The early signs are a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever.
Just this past week, I had some folks come by for a visit and ask me where was I planning on taking a group in 2021. I hadn't totally thought about it much, except for the fact that I already had planned on taking a group back to the Holy Land in March of 2021, and we had planned to take a group on Viking's brand new ship, the Viking Venus to the British Isles in August of 2021. On both of those we have folks who have been very wise and made reservations already to go with us; wise because planning early makes sure you get on and not left behind wishing you had “pulled the trigger” earlier.
One of the more challenging tasks that a travel agent has is helping a client pick just the right seat on an airplane. That has proven to be more challenging since most of the airlines have gone to several tier pricing in the coach class section.
I get this very often, “Boy, you are so lucky to be in such an exciting business!!!” And for the most part, they are right, but......
If a poll, or one of those incessant surveys we get all the time were taken, and I'm sure there has been, I'm confident that 98% of those responding would declare they were interested in the prospect of traveling...somewhere...anywhere!!! It is an interesting, exciting prospect, whether it is to Grandma's house, to China (maybe not now considering all the circumstances), cruising, just getting away from the daily humdrum.
No, doubt in all professions there are times when we borrow ideas from others; I know it was like that when I was coaching, and it's been like that while in the travel agent profession. Of course I have had some travel adivsors (writers) that I gravitate to each week who have impressed me with their ideas and suggestions....among them Christopher Elliott of the Dallas Morning News, Richard Turen of Travel Truth, and Charlie Funk, a Nashville agent...just to name a few.
Some folks resistance to cruising is that “there are too many people on those big ships”...especially first time cruisers as well as some who have limited cruising experience. But really, it has been my experience on some of the largest cruise ships in the world, that after you get checked in and on board, there is really no feeling of there being a lot of people on board. Yes, a lot of people or not, the day of embarkation is typically a little hectic and chaotic, until you get on board.
Thanksgiving turns to Christmas, which means we need to begin thinking what kind of Christmas present we can give....or get!!! It's been true ever since I've been in the business, and that's a long time, that one of the best, if not the best present, is a life-long memory. And one of the best memories is wrapped around a travel product; a trip to Disney, a ski trip, an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, a Hawaiian vacation, a cruise experience......even a drive in the car for a week at Grandmas.
I keep getting requests from folks who have been to Alaska and those who have not. I'm reasonably confident that they have heard about our Travel Factory Gang trips for the past 25 years to that beautiful state and want to get on with us in 2020.
I'm sure our listeners and readers wouldn't mind a little personal privilege today. It just so happens that this is the day,(and I'll have to be careful), several years ago, a little girl was born in Anadarko, Oklahoma. She grew up in a family with one spoiled brother and two sisters, she being the middle sister. I'm sure psychologically that means something, but I don't have a clue what!! Her name was Paula Rowlett.
As many of you know, I've had the privilege of escorting groups to Alaska for the past 25 years....we started out calling our group “The Travel Factory Gang”, and have kept that moniker for all our other groups since.
I did a quick count this week of the number of guests we've had as a part of the Alaska Gangs, and it numbered over a thousand people. Probably 100+ more made reservations but for some reason or another could not make it with our group, but traveled later on their own.
Some of the best education you and your family can experience is through travel, getting away from your comfort zones and discovering new cultures and lifestyles. One travel contributor to the Dallas Morning News said, and rightly so, “the freedom to travel is something to savor”. That is an attitude or reality that we often forget or just take for granted, but when I see on the news and pictures of folks over in Syria or other parts of Africa in their day to day struggle just to survive, that's when the concept of “freedom to travel” becomes a reality for us in the United States.
Carnival Cruise Lines recently made the announcement that they were moving the Carnival Radiance to Galveston in May, and that will make the presence for that cruise line largest in the state. In fact, that will give them 4 ships in the Galveston market, and that is as many ships as they have in their Miami home market.
One travel writer commented that those mandatory resort fees that have cropped up all over the nation, especially in Las Vegas, New York and other resort communities are a “rip off”.
The month of October has typically been designated by the Cruise Lines International Association as “Plan A Cruise Month”. My opinion is that anytime is a good time to plan a cruise, but I can certainly understand why October is such a good time to start those plans.
We had a program on this topic several months ago, last March to be specific, but in light of some recent events in the past week, I thought it would be a good idea to visit that topic again.
A recent study of the U. S. Travel Insurance Association reported that in 2018, Americans spent almost $4 billion on all types of travel protection, and that was an increase of over 40% from 2016. Those policies were purchased through travel insurance providers, through travel agents, as well as on-line suppliers.
It's getting close to holiday time and we always get the question, “When is the best time to travel”, and I usually answer, “Whenever you want to go!!!”. Then their real question comes out, “no, when is the best price or what day is the best day to get the best price”. In this day and time, those are hard questions to answer in precise and definite terms.
The heritage of this agency started back in the late forties when the airline industry was just getting off the ground. Mrs. Ruth Gay who initiated the travel agency business back then was focused primarily on ocean travel, but air travel was beginning to make a little headway.
When I started in the business in 1976, travel agents were appreciated and loved because we were the lifeblood of the airlines business, 'course it was the phone and Official Airline Guide operation back then. To show their appreciation, the airlines paid the travel agencies a commission for selling and servicing their (our) customers.