We've been fortunate over the past 24 years to enjoy introducing groups to one of the most exciting destinations in the United States......our 49th state....ALASKA!!! If you've listened to our radio show every Thursday on KWKC Talk Radio at 8:07AM with David Bacon, you'll know a little about our excitement when we talk Alaska. We also put the show on our website: www.thetravelfactoryabilene.com under our weekly blog. In fact, you can go to our July 19 show and see a report of this years Alaska trip.
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.
I'll occasionally tell folks, when they are talking about taking a cruise, if you didn't have to get there and get back, cruising would be wonderful. It's getting to the ports and returning that makes a lot of folks reluctant to take that great, relaxing vacation.
Back when I got in the travel business in the middle 70's, the hot spots to go to in Mexico were Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan.....even Mexico City received a lot of interest. I bet it's been 20 years since I sold a trip to Mexico City!! Back then, and even today, you have to be in possession of a United States passport to visit anywhere in Mexico, but that's ok...with a passport you can visit a lot of other countries too!!
As you can imagine, we have some real interesting encounters with potential clients. One recently came in and when asked if we could be of service, he said he would like to go somewhere. Well, for sure, he came to the right place for an answer!!!
Frequently we have folks who come in and want to talk about a trip to Hawaii. My eyes light up because it is one of the best trips we ever take. I've taken groups over there in years past where we just visited Oahu (Honolulu and surrounding area), and it was ok, fun and a lot of things to do, but I wanted to be able to visit the other islands too, but didn't have time. So, here's the best solution.
We could have probably had a shorter title, but I wanted to get your attention. According to the 10th annual Allianz Global Assistance Vacation Confidence Index, Americans who don't feel like they can take a vacation, despite wanting to, are nearly two times as likely to show signs of moderately severe to severe depression. So, the first thing to do is to realize that you do need to relax, then secondly, reach out to your travel advisor who will take the stress out of planning a vacation that will make you a more productive employee or owner. Taking time off is not a frivolous thing, it has real benefits to your mental well-being.
One of the travel websites that I visit quite often is posted by one of my favorite travel agent owners and writers, Richard Turen. The site is titled “Traveltruth.com”. He and his staff are very intentional in “telling it like it is”. They answer various and sundry questions sent to them by travelers, and one that I thought was interesting and wanted to share was the question about how to avoid getting sick while traveling on an airplane.
We just returned last Sunday from a great cruise experience, cruising the Western Caribbean out of the Texas port of Galveston. It was our 13th September cruise, and a good time was had by all!!!
NCL aptly named their newest ship in the fleet, Bliss. The dictionary defines this word as “great happiness”, and if you go on her and don't find bliss, I don't think it will be the ships fault.
One of my favorite websites to visit regarding regulations in flying on airlines today is the Transportation Security Administration website: www.tsa.gov. There is a world of information on there especially regarding what you can and cannot bring, along with some valuable tips.
Over the past 42 years since I've been in the travel business, travel sellers have had a variety of titles. Probably the most favored over the years is 'travel agent'. But there have been other handles like travel counselor, travel consultant, travel adviser, travel advisor, or as one in our office mentioned, travel slave based on the amount of money I pay her. Interestingly enough, the American Society of Travel Agents, after going by that name for 75 years, made the decision last week to rename themselves. That organization that represents those of us who work in the travel business have decided to name themselves, American Society of Travel Advisors....that's AdvisOrs. Obviously, they didn't have to change the initials.....still ASTA.
Occasionally we have clients who come in and want to talk about taking a flight to a certain destination. In fact, we had some folks recently who were totally unfamiliar with the flight process.....at 75 years of age, they had never flown in a commercial airplane. In this day and time, that is really unusual.....but not so terribly. I remember when I got into the travel business over 40 years ago, my parents who at that time were in their late 60's had never flown, so I got to accompany them on their first airplane flight.....a neat memory.
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.
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: