Seldom do travel agents extol the virtues of a driving vacation; they can't make a living talking about places where they can't realize a commission for their efforts. But, here in the middle of August, I thought it was about time I praised the efforts of the Texas Historical Commission, Texas Department of Transportation, and Convention and Visitors Bureaus of virtually every city in Texas to make our state a viable vacation destination.
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.
Three years ago, the owner of Viking River Cruises made the decision to return to ocean cruising, but with a different model currently employed by the major cruise lines. He took a hint from the popular features of the river cruising business and morphed them into a new concept of ocean cruising.
Quite often I get asked which cruise line or ship do I prefer, in fact that question was asked yesterday in an interview with a potential cruiser. They usually don't like my answer because I've never been on one I didn't like!!!
For some folks, that question was answered in a survey conducted by Cruise Critic which is an on-line cruise review site. This was a survey covering a lot of “Bests” from their loyal and opinionated website participants.
A couple of weeks back, one of my favorite travel columnist, Richard Turen, had a tongue-in-cheek piece with a little reality included in the Travel Weekly that I thought bears additional coverage. My guess is that he had received several phone calls from folks wanting him to help plan their vacation, but with the caveat that they wanted a “good deal”, and “good, but cheap” vacation.
Each year when we return from our outstanding trip with The Travel Factory Gang to Alaska, my blog always starts out the same.....you should have been with us!!!
We visited “The Last Frontier” again and it was an exciting trip again, beside all the beautiful scenery and wildlife, our group this year became part of the “1% Club”. That is a club made up of folks who were fortunate enough to see Mt. McKinley (officially now, Denali), and she was wide open all day long; no clouds, no fog, no smoke, just 20,320 feet of her!!!!
For over thirty years, we have planned group vacation travel. Most of our plans have been on cruises to different parts of the world, primarily because those types of vacations are easier to plan in addition to having a positive experience. In the past several years, we have limited our offerings to about 4 trips a year; the reason being when I'm escorting a group, I'm not selling!!
One of the more vexing quandaries facing a traveler today is the question posed above.....should I buy travel insurance?
To answer that question depends on several factors.....(1)how big is the travel investment? (2)health condition of the family? (3) how big a gambler are you or what are you willing to lose?
Piggy-backing on last weeks message about summer vacations, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about some trip packing reminders, whether you are going in the summer or any time of the year. Here's some things you might want to remember to pack with you:
Hopefully you are like some “travel smart” people and have already purchased your summer vacation airline tickets, and if so, you have been rewarded with a good deal!! The report came out last week that airline customers and travel sellers should brace up for a series of airfare increases because of the hefty hike expected in the cost of jet fuel.
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.
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.