A couple of weeks ago I announced our intention for The Travel Factory Gang to take a river cruise on the Elbe River, an itinerary that starts in Prague and ends in Berlin. That ship's capacity is only 98 persons.
The Travel Factory Blog
The Travel Factory employs 4 full time agents with 100 years total experience in the travel industry. Our agents specialize in cruise, tour and resort vacations as well as corporate incentive and school groups. Our mission is to provide the best, most courteous, most detailed, most informative service. Our slogan, "Building vacations to your specifications" says it all.
The past two Thursdays I've been visiting with you about the airlines and their problems. So as not to play favorites, I thought I'd visit with you this week about a cruise line...the largest in the world!!
Staying on the theme started on last week's blog, we'll visit today about the serious situation some of the airlines are experiencing......all because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. One writer said because of that situation, especially considering the upcoming busiest time of the year, that the airlines are looking at “scarce planes and booming demand”.
I have the hardest time defending the airlines........of course my main reason is that for the past twenty-plus years, they have not paid the travel agents who sell their product one red cent!!! We still provide that service, and for the longest time, we continued to provide that service without charge. Currently when we do sell an airline ticket, depending on whether it is a domestic or international ticket, we charge a very minimum service charge. But...most of the airlines do the same thing, charge a service charge to sell their own product.
I use that headline to make the point that when planning a vacation, wanting it to be the best for the least amount of money, the best tip I can give is to start making those plans early for the best rates.
The very best government-issued ID is a passport. You should have one, in case someone asked you to go with them at the last minute to Mexico, or London, or Finland (the happiest place on earth), or just about any other country.
The World Happiness Report just made their announcement recently and for the second year in a row, Finland stayed at the top as the happiest country in the world. Data came from the Gallup World Poll survey.
The explanation was that this country has a strong social safety net, including a progressive, successful approach to ending homelessness. It also has a high-quality education system and the only country in the developed world where fathers spend more time with school-aged children than mothers.
My goodness, what a crowd yesterday at Business Expo at the Convention Center downtown. In fact, they had all the booths sold out, over 220 of them, so there were a lot of folks trying to get your attention. It's a great event where there are a lot of connecting and re-connecting with folks and getting to know some new ones too. And, of course, getting to talk travel.....that is the object!!!
We have visited before about the value of having travel insurance especially when one has a significant investment in the trip. Most travel companies, if not all, refer to this as “travel protection”, with cruise companies especially using this title for coverage. Most folks take the travel protection to provide protection if they have to cancel the reservations. There are other coverages too including accident, sickness, lost baggage, and delays.
The above stated topic is one of my favorite places to travel....and for it to be so small, it gets in inordinate amount of world attention. Some say it was established in 1948, but in reality, it was established a long, long time before that. It has land borders on the north with Lebanon, Syria on the northeast, Jordan on the east, and Egypt to the southwest. Also the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip borders the east and west. There is so much written about that little country; it even takes up over 80 pages on Wikipedia!! They ranked 11th in the UN's World Happiness Report....whatever that is!! I looked into it and would still be reading it of all the information found.
For the past nine years, Princess Cruises has had a research company surveying folks about the benefits of cruising. Most of the other years they have limited their research to North American travelers, but this year they expanded the survey to include a global audience from United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and where our president has just been, Vietnam.
I remember when I first started in the travel business, and even before that when I was flying all over the U.S.with basketball teams, the dress for the day was coat and tie. We looked really good with a team of 6'10” and 6'8” guys and a few 6'3”- 6' guys.
Back in the late 90's, we started, really by chance, group cruises and tours. Every time we started to book a group the tour operator or cruise line always asked “what do you want to call the group?” So, not being the overly imaginative guy in the room, I usually just said “ just call it The Travel Factory Gang”. That sounded easy to remember and if you imagined, kinda exciting!!!
Many of the cruise lines as well as travel agents throughout the United States are “crowing” about cruise sales so far this year. Some say it is the best ever this early into “Wave Season”. Wave season has been traditionally between early January to the end of March. That's when the cruise lines really hammer out inviting promotions, like Royal Caribbean's 60% off the second person in the room, and some have even promoted third and fourth children in the room as free or deeply discounted.
Well....I was reading in one of our trade magazines that according to them, (supposedly they're in the know), that this year for the travel business is shaping up to be banner year!!! They are basing that on the clients increased wealth because of the tax help as well as the booming economy, and hopefully that will inspire them to book more vacations.
There are several things travelers can do when anticipating taking a business trip or a vacation that seem fairly easy but often overlooked in the planning. Most of the time we just get too busy to remember!!
Several folks are planning to travel outside the United States this coming summer or fall, and so they need to be aware of the electrical arrangements in those countries. Here in the United States, no problem, everyone uses 110V. But overseas in Europe, South America, or just about any other place except U. S. they have a different voltage. So, what do you do?
We get requests all the time regarding our interest and capability to handle groups---athletic teams, high school groups, musical groups, church groups, family travel, you name it. Generally speaking, we always answer with a big YES!!! In fact, that's where I cut my teeth in travel.
Several professions are becoming extinct, and some have been predicting for many years that the travel agent is quickly becoming a relic. One group asked this question: with technology, online, mobile and user experience all firmly entrenched in travel, where does the store-front travel agent fit in to the buying cycle?
Back in 2002, this program started out with the title of Thursday Morning Travel Tips with Russell Berry from The Travel Factory. Well, we will often offer some tips, but mostly it's an opinion or state of the travel business, or a trip that we are promoting. But today, I have some real tips!! I'm more or less copying them from a “Smarter Travel” website titled “Things You Should Never Buy At The Airport”. For example: