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Wanted: Local Experts

North Americans are in love with their cars, and this year, that is a good thing. During the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the travel industry largely ground to a halt and few people were venturing beyond their local grocery store and pharmacy. Now, travel shows signs of awakening, and we are seeing it first in journeys made in automobiles, trips to the mountains, national parks, lakes, rivers and to see autumn leaves.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

The COVID pandemic has put the kibosh on in-person conferences, and forced trade associations to devise some sort of virtual event as a replacement. So where does that leave the U.S. Tour Operators Association, whose Annual Conference & Marketplace has been its number one attraction since soon after the association was founded in 1972?

In surveys of USTOA’s membership, its annual conference always comes in on top, hands down, as the most valued service the association provides its membership.

The annual meeting creates an opportunity for the association’s active member tour operators to have invaluable face-to-face meetings with associate members Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Agent Success Stories in the Time of Covid

 

2020 may be the worst of times for the travel industry, but some advisors still are having a pretty good year—thanks to new niches, new marketing and even new offices.

In Pennsylvania, for example, president Jennifer Doncsecz and the team at VIP Vacations are celebrating a record year in destination weddings that had the phone ringing through the pandemic.

They moved all but five of the 100 groups that were on the books for 2020 to 2021—and then booked even more every single month during the Covid crisis. By July and August, they were booking 25% more groups than in the same two months of 2019. Read the rest of this entry »

Testing… Testing…

 

While the travel industry waits for a viable, widely available vaccine, testing remains one of the crucial elements for both preventing the spread of COVID-19, and in helping increase the confidence of consumers that they will be relatively safe traveling again.

Throughout smaller nations – including most of the Caribbean – producing a negative COVID test is a requirement for traveler entry. Members of the Royal Caribbean/Norwegian Cruise Line Healthy Sail Panel called “an aggressive testing regimen” the best way to mitigate transmission risk, “regardless of where an individual is from.”

In their report, they call for “a minimum of 1, and preferably 2, preboard negative SARS-CoV-2 test results for guests” Read the rest of this entry »

COVID-19 Has Made Travel Insurance a Necessity

 

Before COVID-19, many travelers felt that purchasing travel insurance was an added fee that was not needed. They were not worried about their non-refundable deposits for airfare, tours, or accommodations being affected by something out of their control. With the ongoing pandemic, travelers now seek protection more than ever for the non-refundable portions of their trip. What caused this behavior change?

In a word, uncertainty. The world we live in today is filled with questions that didn’t exist a few months ago. Will my travel provider be in business? What happens if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs at my destination? What if I get COVID-19 on my trip? Read the rest of this entry »

Crystal Updates Crystal Confidence 2.0 Program

As travelers look forward to exploring the world again, Crystal is updating its Crystal Confidence 2.0 program to extend the no-money-down deposit window until January 5, 2021, for new and existing bookings. Crystal Confidence 2.0 is combinable with the company’s Easy Book program, which offers reduced deposits of just 15 percent (normally 25 percent) and waived admin fees. For departures through the end of April 2021, final payment has been relaxed to 60-days prior to first date of service. Read the rest of this entry »

Persist Until You Succeed

 

… it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner.” – Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

I miss being alone on center stage. I miss the sharpness of the spotlight and the vastness of the venue. Most of all, I miss the people in their seats curious with anticipation. They think, ‘who is this guy, does he have a clue about the challenges in my world and will I feel any different when he’s done?Read the rest of this entry »

Are you blacklisted? Do you even know if you are? It might not be the end of the world for the Canasta Club you just joined, but in today’s business environment, in today’s pandemic, if you get your domain blacklisted your agency has a major problem! Recently, I got a few bouncebacks and I looked into it and lo and behold, one email account was blaklisted! So, what do you do? Read the rest of this entry »

Expedia Partner Solutions is now offering travel agencies enhanced rates, availability, and promotions for B2B hotel bookings. Expedia TAAP partners now automatically get access to higher margin B2B rates from Marriott, as Expedia Group is the preferred global distributor of Marriott’s B2B rates. Expedia TAAP partners have full access to Marriott’s global portfolio of more than 7,400 hotels  across 30 brands. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Imagine this scene on your next cruise:

Every few days, you’ll be met by a staff member who will spray your hands with disinfectant and give you a small device to blow into. Within a minute, it will tell you if you have become infected with COVID-19.

The results will be sent to your smartphone and the ship’s computer. If you’ve tested Positive, an appointment will be made for the Infirmary to see you immediately. They will retest you using a more sensitive but invasive test. If you test Negative this time, the warning notifications will be removed from your phone and the ship’s computer. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Let’s overcome barriers to entry. It’s time for you to start enjoying good audio content. This is the first network of podcasts built for the travel professional. I’m extremely proud of our content and the feedback has been outstanding. I want you to enjoy it too. Let’s bust some podcast myths and get you tuned into podcasts too! Read the rest of this entry »

Cunard’s recent announcement of their new series of Mediterranean cruises set me thinking about some of the short programmes I can offer as pre- and post-cruise extensions from their main UK port of Southampton. The collection I’ve created includes Downton Abbey, the Cotswolds, Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Morse, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, and the Beatles.

Given your knowledge of your client’s interests, generate some extra commission by offering them something that’s closer to their heart than a straight Southampton/London transfer!

Covid-19 has stalled UK-bound travel, but it hasn’t destroyed our historic sites, great cathedrals, abbeys, castles, and stately homes – or prevented Mother Nature from the annual refurbishment of our great gardens, both large and small.

Keep making plans for spring 2021 and beyond.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday’s Gone

 

I like the musical singing group Fleetwood Mac. I like their sound and the words to their songs. I like everything about them. I find myself feeling good when I hear them on the radio. Many groups I can take or leave. This group hits a chord with me.

One of my favorite songs is Don’t Stop. If you are prone to jumping to conclusions, you are probably saying to yourself, “Marchev is about to remind us of the power of persistence, or the importance of not quitting too soon.” I could. I’m not. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Things to Know Before Visiting Costa Rica During the Pandemic

 

Costa Rica announced the reopening of its border to visitors from all the U.S. states starting on November 1st.

The country began the first phase of its reopening on August 1st after almost 5 months of closure due to the pandemic. Since that day, Costa Rica opened its airports, the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), and Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR), to citizens from Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

Arriving visitors must follow the entry requirements established by the government that are negative COVID-19 test and travel insurance. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Born and raised in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Brad has more than 20 years experience with the travel industry. He joined our team as Regional Director in 2016. Combining his study of engineering and technology with his travel expertise, Brad oversees systems, fraud mitigation, automation, distribution platforms, and the emerging NDC (New Distribution Capability). Brad is based in Valencia, Spain with his wife and two girls. Read the rest of this entry »

La Fortuna and Arenal in Costa Rica

There’s a reason that La Fortuna remains one of the most visited areas in Costa Rica. Simply put, it is paradise. This small town, located in an area named the same, is a fortune of relaxation and allowing the richness of life to wash over the traveler. With a magnificent volcano as a backdrop, La Fortuna’s lush natural surroundings and laid-back atmosphere lets the traveler settle into a worthwhile vacation.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Return of the Riviera Maya

 

It’s a classic sight of a resort area lined by white sand beaches and bathed in consistent sunshine. The waters along the coast are as blue as the luxury pools of resorts that take care of almost every need—and want. The Riviera Maya in Mexico has always been a close (and safe) destination for those seeking a getaway from the daily grind.

While many countries around the world remain closed off to travelers due to COVID concerns, there a few that have been accepting the traveler for a while now. Mexico is a destination that has remained open to air travel for Americans Read the rest of this entry »

Countries Open to US and Canadian Citizens

Eager to get out of town? There are now more opportunities to travel internationally than you may realize. The following is a list of international destinations important to the tourism industry now open to US travelers. Canada, being deemed a medium to low risk country, is allowed visitation to more countries than appear in this article. The list is current as of the date of publication, but many nations are updating their requirements on a continual and very fluid basis and travelers and their travel advisors will do well to monitor for any changes up to the point of departure and during the entirety of the trip.
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