I was reminded again the other day when a person came in talking about a vacation that they had “won”, but had not been able to make the arrangements to travel on the days they wanted to travel. I was someone they knew and trusted, and I got to help her crystallize their vacation plans, just as she wanted it.
Travel Factory Blog
Thanks to the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, we have a “new” word.....well new to me anyway......”vog”. That's volcanic smog, or air pollution created by vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide gas released from Kilauea. It reacts in the atmosphere with oxygen, sunlight, moisture and other gases and particles creating a haze downwind from Kilauea. One person who lives over there and grew up in Southern California compared it to “Los Angeles-like smog”.
Just looked at the weather in Alaska today and they were showing at 1PM the temperature to be 60F degrees with 37% humidity. Doesn't that sound inviting? Well, The Travel Factory Gang is going to be going there in about a month, and with 100+ degree weather like this in Abilene, it can't come too soon!!
Several weeks ago the travel magazine, Travel Weekly, had a special supplement regarding one of the most visited domestic cities in the United States. It won't quite rival Orlando in annual visitor count, only because there are not as many children who visit there. On the other hand, for the past several years Las Vegas has done their best in trying to make that destination a more family-friendly place to visit.
And......they have much to crow about!!! Tourism officials announced last week that they became the first United States destination to surpass 70 million annual visitors. They greeted 72 million visitors in 2017 which is a 5% increase over the previous year.
One of the travel columnist that I refer to quite often, Richard Turen, recently had an article regarding the plethora of travel apps in the on-line environment. According to him, “the figures are staggering”!!! They are estimating that 30% of all travel sales in the U.S. will be made on a mobile device.
Three of the last four weeks we have been visiting with our listeners and readers about cruising. It's a great vacation subject....one of my favorite items to sell in our multi-varied catalog of vacation options. One of the reasons I enjoy selling it is because I vicariously travel with them on their vacations, especially planning some of the details. Another reason is that very rarely, over the 40+ years, I haven't had a dissatisfied cruise customer. That's a real plus in our business!!!
Last week we talked about Royal Caribbean's new ship, the Symphony of the Seas, and since our Carnival sales rep was in for a visit, I was reminded that they too have some “big” ships to boast about. One of them, the Vista, is being re-positioned to Galveston.
A couple years ago, we took the family on a cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale on a Royal Caribbean ship named Allure of the Seas. At the time, she and her sister, the Oasis of the Seas, were the largest passenger ships that have ever been made. They topped out at 225,000 tons and had a passenger capacity of 5400 passengers.
Every time I turn around, someone is sending me a survey to complete on-line. Is that the same with you? As if I had all the time in the world. They always say that it will only take 10 minutes, but when I melt down and start one, I'm only halfway through in 10 minutes!! And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has the same experience. So, I'm always a little suspect when I read about survey results.
Did you see in our Abilene Reporter News last week the announcement from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line about their newest ship coming into service? The Symphony of the Seas had her maiden voyage last week over in Europe where she will be until next fall when she will re-position to their home port in Fort Lauderdale.
Most of the group bookings that I escort or host are associated with a cruise of some sort---Alaska, Mediterranean, Hawaii, Europe, etc.. Occasionally I'll take a group on a land-based tour with a guide. That's the kind I've just got off of....a guided tour of the Holy Land.
In my talk last week, I tried to debunk the notion of there being a lack of security and concern for the safety of visitors to certain parts of Mexico, especially the area around Cozumel and the Mayan Riviera. The government relies too heavily on the tourist trade for them to experience trouble.
We reported back in January about a revised travel advisory system unveiled by the U. S. State Department with 4 levels of designation as to the security and risks to travel to various countries. Some countries had different designations within that country. Mexico was one of those countries.
It's been a few months since we've mentioned DisneyWorld and DisneyLand in our weekly comments, so since they have notified us of some changes they were going through, or putting their customers through, I thought this would be a good time to mention it. Planning for cruising and especially for anything Disney needs early, can I emphasize enough, EARLY attention.
We mentioned in an earlier message about the success that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line had last year, and really in the past 2-3 years. We reported in that report that Royal Caribbean and their sister Celebrity reported in the third quarter $1.3 billion in profit from a revenue of $6.8 billion. That represented a 19.7% profit margin. Thirty years ago, their annual profit was $14 million.
Christopher Elliott, the Dallas Morning News Travel Troubleshooter had a very good column several months ago, so good that I'm going to take the liberty to pay him a compliment by referring to some of his “stuff”.
If you've taken a flight lately, the rush to get aboard as quickly as possible is not only to get to your seat, but primarily it is to get to an empty overhead bin to place your carry-on. Of course in this day and time, the airlines have to shoulder the blame by putting on the checked luggage fees that have caused travelers to pack the carry-ons to the gills. They can barely zip them up, and then they try to stuff them in the overhead bin that is too small for their overstuffed carry-ons. So what do they do? Well, they turn them sideways instead of rollers first, and in doing so keep someone else from being able to slide theirs in properly.
I don't know whether other travel agents in Abilene get this publication or not, but I get a weekly “tip” sheet for travel agents from The Travel Institute. That is an accredited institution that certifies travel agents after going through an educational process. It took me two years to get my Certified Travel Counselor designation back in 1985, and I'm proud to say that I am the only CTC that has ever been based in Abilene, TX.
You probably didn't need to know all that introductory information, but that's the background to my “tip” today. That institution produces a weekly “Hot Tip” for certified agents, and occasionally I choose to use some of their suggestions. Today is one of those days. Their tip today addresses a guide for tipping those service personnel who attend to your needs while traveling....who do you tip, when and how much?
A recent article in the January issue of the Travel Agent talks about the travel trends expected in 2018. A Dallas Morning News section of the January 14 issue gets real specific in describing “52 places to go in 2018”. Both issues indicate that this is going to be a good year to go somewhere!!
Now, that's the kind of prognostications we can live with!!!
Both the travel agent consortiums of Travel Leaders and Virtuoso report that from their research and surveys, Italy was the most desired location to visit in the coming year. Having been there several times, I couldn't agree more. Among the top travel trends were multigenerational travel, active or adventure trips, river cruising, and anniversary/birthday/wedding arrangements.
For several years now, the State Department has had a system of indicating which countries were unsafe, and for consumers, travel agents, and most airline personnel, it was a confusing and mostly unclear system. What was the difference between a “travel warning” and a “travel alert”? Is a travel warning mean you can go but be careful, and a travel alert means you can travel there? Or is there any difference at all?
Recently the State Department revealed a new, and according to them, a more understandable system. Under the new system, every country in the world has a travel advisory ranking from 1 (“exercise normal precautions”) to 4 (“do not travel”). On their website they also have an interactive map that color-codes each country by its ranking; red for 4, orange for 3, yellow for 2. Countries with a level 1 ranking such as Canada, Sweden and Mongolia are not color-coded.