Joel Cohen is a travel industry veteran, having worked closely with the President of New York City Vacation Packages, Barry Tenenbaum, for over 40 years. Both an accomplished author and speaker, Joel Cohen has appeared at many travel industry events. He was once named the Who’s Who of American Business Leaders, and with his customer first attitude it is no wonder why. Joel has helped to build great relationships with both travel agencies and industry suppliers.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Hello, Joel. How’s your new year going so far?
Joel Cohen (JC): 2020 has started off well. I feel that it’s going to be a great year for group business to New York City, and I’m sure for FIT as well.
TRO: We’ve done a few interviews with you over the years, one in 2013 and another in 2018. How’s your goal of traveling to every country on Earth?
JC: Ha! Well, I’ve slowed down a bit. I found out that as the years go on, I get older.
Last year I decided to see more of the USA, so we hiked into (and out of) the Grand Canyon and around several Utah National Parks. Exhilarating to say the least, but memorable.
TRO: New York City Vacation Packages (NYCVP) is a destination expert for an amazing city – which is obvious by the name. There are more than enough fun and interesting things to do around NYC, from Broadway plays to all-day-visit museums. Are there any newer sites in the city that NYCVP is looking to show travelers?
JC: We’re constantly adding new tours, new attractions and new experiences. Harlem has become very popular, so we’re offering Hip Hop Tours, walking tours and jazz and gospel experiences. And, of course, Brooklyn is still gaining popularity, so we’re giving travelers some true local experiences like street art (graffiti!) and food tours. We’re also excited about the ever-changing opportunities in Manhattan like new restaurants, and exciting neighborhoods like Hudson Yards and Chelsea.
New for us this year is a focus on sports. We have special arrangements to provide guests with tickets to the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks and the Rangers too.
TRO: Of course, technology is an integral part of today’s travel industry. How do you keep up with the consistent changes within technology to better be prepared?
JC: We’re trying to keep our website as fresh and up to date as possible, and we’ve begun a social media campaign aimed directly at travel advisors.
TRO: Running a successful agency can be a difficult task requiring quite a bit of adaptability. What have you learned are the core skills needed for this?
JC: Patience, organization and the ability to keep one’s wits and wit. Technology being what it is, and what it will be, the key to success is still relationships.
TRO: New York City is thriving city with a heartbeat and culture of its own. Though, it can be a bit on the chaotic side for those not used to such a large city. How does NYCVP help the traveler navigate it?
JC: Most of the leisure travelers that travel advisors book want to see the main landmarks and icons of the City – Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Statue of Liberty, Central Park and a Broadway show. We make it easy for them to enjoy those treasures and make it easy for the travel professional to book them, by helping select the accommodations that put them right in the middle of the highlights. Hotels like the Sheraton New York Times Square and the Marriott Marquis are central to the excitement and thrill that the city offers. Our Hosted Thanksgiving package also provides the best choice for travelers who might be a bit hesitant about visiting a big city at a very busy time. It’s hosted throughout, so guests are basically hand-held for 3-full-days of experiences.
TRO: NYCVP offers up different themes on vacations including romantic, shopping, entertainment, landmarks, and even harbor cruises. What are the more popular packages among the ones NYCVP offers?
JC: Number one is Broadway. Because these incredible hit shows perform eight times a week (year-round), our Broadway vacations are the top sellers. Then, of course, are the holidays that are so famous in New York City – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
TRO: Building relationships within the industry is vital, as connections create better opportunities for all involved. This is largely dependent on respectful communication between parties. How do you approach this with those in the industry?
JC: We love to meet with agents one-on-one. We attend trade shows that specifically allow us to do that. But most importantly, we have a call center reservation staff that loves talking to travel advisors, helping them book the perfect trip for their clients. Most of our business is still conducted via phone, and we really like it that way! We’re also inviting industry folks to visit us with our Independent FAM Trips program. It’s available almost all year long!
TRO: Does NYCVP have any big news or announcements coming up?
JC: “Yes.”, said in a quiet, hushed voice. Technology and product. Training opportunities. I can’t say more.
TRO: Thank you for your time, Joel. We look forward to talking to you again.
JC: Same here. It’s always a pleasure!
For more information about New York City Vacation Packages, please visit http://www.nyctrip.com/