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Timing is everything

The year is slipping by quickly. The holiday of the autumnal equinox, traditionally called Harvest Home, came to us all in September and traditional Autumn is close behind. Long ago, humanity lived by such agricultural markers. But your clients, and all of the potential clients “out there,” have their own schedules. They travel when they are ready. Their travel plans have nothing to do with your preparations, business plans, or agendas. But someday, Ms. Client will look at Mr. Client and say something like, “Let’s go to Ireland off-season this year.”  Before they next think of price or plans or preparations, will your clients’ thoughts turn to you? Read the rest of this entry »

(Caution: there’s some science and math ahead. But Norwegian solves the equation for you—and in so doing, offers a lot of hope for the future of selling cruises during a pandemic.)

Question: Is 100% really that much better than 95%?

Answer: Yes.

It’s a math problem Norwegian Cruise Line has been tackling for months, and the result is a little painful.

When we set sail earlier this month on Norwegian Encore’s first post-Covid cruise to Alaska, many lamented that the strict vaccine mandate meant families with small children could not sail—a big loss for a family-friendly cruise company and its loyal customers and partners. Read the rest of this entry »

It Matters Who You Travel With

I noticed recently that Expedia is using the slogan, “It matters who you travel with.” I found that to be a curious choice for the mega online travel agency. I agree with the statement wholeheartedly, but applying it to Expedia is a mismatch. It would be appropriate if you applied the slogan to the American Society of Travel Advisors.

ASTA used to use the slogan, “Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.” And it was, ironically, Expedia who taught me the truth of that statement. It was a hard lesson.

It’s surprising to me that after so many years Expedia still has customers. I have to think that the people who still book with Expedia have never had anything go wrong on a trip. Because if you book with Expedia, and something does go wrong, you really are on your own. At least that was the case in my experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Over the past few weeks, we have seen some exciting announcements from Europe about travel regulations for international travelers. Greece was the first European nation to announce that it would allow international travelers to visit, if they can show proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. Then, Italy announced that it would be opening immediately to international travelers, who also can show evidence of immunization. The announcement by Italy and Greece marks a huge milestone for international travelers who want to frequent Europe.

On the domestic side, New York has announced that it hit its COVID-19 vaccination milestone, which allows it to end all restrictions put in place during the pandemic. You can now travel to New York City and enjoy all of the activities the great city has to offer, without any restriction. Read the rest of this entry »

When AmaWaterways invited me to the Christening of AmaSiena, I said yes immediately. The prospect of going on a river cruise for the first time since the summer of 2019 excited me so much that I agreed to come on the trip without giving any of the details a second thought. But, as my cruise approached, I found myself questioning my decision to cruise during Covid: What happens if I test positive for Covid on board the ship? Do I need to pack anything extra? What do I need to do to be cleared to fly to the Netherlands and, on the way back, to the United States? And, most importantly, how will my cruise experience differ to the cruises I’ve taken in the past?

I realize that many of you are considering river cruises as well but traveling during the pandemic leaves you with similar questions, which I want to share with you how I prepared for my return to Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Beware of What You Read

“All Indications Point Toward a Banner Year For Travel Professionals According to James T. Bigelow”

How do you feel after reading this good news? How do you feel after reading any favorable forecast depicting a promising future?

You don’t know the writer, and he or she doesn’t know you. Yet, I am quite certain that you are feeling better about your travel business knowing a bright light at the end of the tunnel is being forecasted.

Things are looking up, according to some person known as an “authority.” In this case, his name is James T. Bigelow. Read the rest of this entry »

How are Toasters and Travel Related?

Remember back in the good old days when banks and savings and loan companies gave away a free toaster for a minimum deposit? Then, if you added a bit more to your deposit, you became the proud owner of a free bakeware set too! I furnished my first apartment kitchen this way!

All the bank had to do to acquire a new customer was give away a freebie: a $20 toaster. Pretty easy.

Fast forward to the age of social marketing, and savvy travel marketers are providing freebies as a way to acquire new prospective clients. I’m not talking about toasters, nor free travel; I’m talking about a lead magnet that’s so valuable people will provide their contact information.

The result of gathering contact information from as many people as possible is that you’ll have a way to grow your email list, target your social ads more effectively, and potentially book tours for these people. Read the rest of this entry »

As We Come Out of COVID, Focus on the Handles

When COVID sprang onto the scene in March of 2020, we had no idea what to do and had so many questions. Mask? Stay inside? Stay outside? Do we wash the groceries before putting them away? How often should we wash our hands? Where the hell did all the toilet paper go? What do you mean there is a beer shortage? And as we come out of COVID (yes, I believe we are…it may not be as fast as anyone wants, but I believe we are), there are more questions and concerns. Read the rest of this entry »

A Week at Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a destination perfect for a getaway, provided you appreciate skiing or hiking or nature, golf, shopping, gambling, fishing, boating, or dozens of other outdoor activities.  Straddling the border between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe often exceeds the expectations of first-time visitors. Its natural beauty, crystal clear waters, towering Jeffrey pine trees, and mountains are stunning during any season.

But there is more. Lake Tahoe surprises with its casinos and city life. It is by no means a bustling metropolis, but part of it is in Nevada. The state is well-known for its casinos and gambling opportunities, so there is a subtle hint of this lifestyle infused into the otherwise tranquil destination. Places like Harrah’s and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino have a home here. These establishments have slot machines, table games, nightclubs, entertainment, and fine dining to accommodate guests. Read the rest of this entry »

Editorial Note: This article has a completely inaccurate statement which we have indicated by a “strikeout”. We consider the “strikeout” as a more honest edit than just “removing” the inaccuracy by deleting it. We apologize for the inaccuracy.

 

I jumped on a call Monday morning, which involved travel advisors from all over the nation speaking to the execs in our agency. The #1 topic was: Why is the EU recommending against Americans vacationing in Europe?

The Council of the European Union has just removed the United States from the EU’s Safe Travel List. American regulations already don’t permit Europeans to vacation here.

The travel advisors on the call wondered if the EU recommendation would generate a new round of vacation and cruise cancellations. Asia and Oceania are already tightly closed to Americans, and Hawaii’s governor is pleading with tourists not to visit. The loss of Europe as a vacation destination will only leave Latin America and the Caribbean as the major international destinations in which Americans are still welcome.

With many Caribbean nations now imposing strict vaccination requirements Read the rest of this entry »

Times Square and Beyond

As the vaccine rollouts increase, destinations are beginning to plan the grand opening of travel once again. The excitement is palpable, an electrical current moving along that has started the idea of planning getaways and seeing the world. It is guaranteed New York City, one of the most popular cities in the world, will be on the traveler’s list. And this is where Beyond Times Square comes to the rescue. Read the rest of this entry »

I know that during November and December, thoughts turn to either staying closer to home or heading for sunnier climes. Given the pent-up demand for UK-bound travel among many of your anglophile clients, use some of these ideas to start conversations about spending a few days in the UK, either side of Thanksgiving.

Several of them might be tempted sampling their favourite single malts among other aficionados at the Malt Whisky Festival in northeast Scotland, while others (like me) will be attracted to the baroque tones at the Mozartfest in the Georgian city of Bath. Others will like the of combining great stately homes and castles imaginatively dressed for the festive season with gluhwein, bratwurst, and mince pies at Christmas Markets in historic settings. Families will certainly enjoy taking a spin in some pretty spectacular locations in and around London.

Look closely. Think carefully. Opportunities to sell these brilliant ideas have been missed in the past. Don’t let them happen in the future. With so much to choose from, let’s fine-tune your choice, add a few more bells and whistles, and gift wrap it for your customers. Read the rest of this entry »

Khartoum: Where the Nile Meets Itself

Located where the Blue and White Nile Rivers converge into one great river, Khartoum-proper is a city moving quickly into modern times. This metropolis is the capital of Sudan, which did not gain its independence until 1956. It is now a center for trade and economics in North Africa, but still holds onto its traditional roots just outside of the glass and steel of its center. Markets, mosques, and Sudanese culture await the traveler. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. He attended Northern Illinois University where he received a BS in Biological Sciences. It didn’t take him long to realize the routine of scientific testing work didn’t match with his personality.

Following a 29-year career working for the airlines in increasing sales roles, Michael joined Sky Bird Travel & Tours in 2015 as Sky Bird’s first Business Development Manager. As the sales team grew, Michael took on the role of Director as well as overseeing the Customer Service division. He is often the face of Sky Bird at industry events and the voice of Sky Bird on webinars featuring our WINGS booking engine.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Luxury in New York City

From movies to shows, novels to photos, New York City is an iconic setting known around the world. Being the most populous city in the US, and considered to be the cultural capital of the world, it can seem chaotic to those unfamiliar with the rhythm of such a diverse city. For the luxury traveler, though, NYC is a playground ready to be explored—one that offers up the best of the best in luxury enjoyment. And now, with this metropolis fully opening up (as of July 1), the opportunities are endless. Read the rest of this entry »

Prague’s Day Trips

In the center of the Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is Central Bohemia—a region that surrounds the city limits of Prague, and covers almost 14% of the total area in Czechia. Thick forests, towns that are photo worthy and castles all around, Central Bohemia is a charming land for a relaxed trip into Europe’s historical settings. Read the rest of this entry »

The Healing Waters of Poland

Stress seems to be an inevitable part of life. Our jobs, which can often be a source of fulfillment, demand our attention and keep us on our toes. Add in taking care of family issues that may arise and the plumbing getting backed up and the air conditioner going out… stress seems to always be knocking at the door of attention. Medical issues pop-up without warning, and may be daunting at times. Fortunately, Poland has plenty of ways for travelers to relax and truly enjoy life once again with spas and health resorts – as well as help people with issues that may be affecting their daily lives. Read the rest of this entry »







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