Monthly Archives: March 2022

Posted In: Top Headlines

Photo Credit: Dennis Ballesteros

The long-term investment sees Hurtigruten Group take a 24.9% share in the company with headquarters in Quito, Ecuador, and further demonstrates Hurtigruten Group’s global growth ambitions in the adventure travel market.

The strengthened partnership will broaden opportunities to further expand into more unique land-based programs and excursions.

CEO of Hurtigruten Group Daniel Skjeldam said: “This investment signifies our growth journey and we are delighted to invest in Metropolitan Touring, a proud South American company that mirrors our expedition heritage and sustainability values. It is a unique opportunity for us to contribute to a more meaningful partnership, where we can expand quickly, strategically, and deliver on our vision for the future together.”

The strategic partnership broadens Hurtigruten Group’s portfolio of products in iconic, natural destinations, reinforcing its position as a leader in sustainable adventure travel.

Hurtigruten Expeditions, the world’s largest expedition cruise company and part of Hurtigruten Group, is offering year-round expedition cruises, in close cooperation with Metropolitan Touring, visiting the fabled archipelago’s most spectacular sites on board the 90-guest Santa Cruz II.

Travel During Wartime

It doesn’t feel right to talk about business as usual when we are confronted daily with the destruction of lives and monuments of civilization in Ukraine. It seems unseemly to gush about good news while such a horror is ongoing among people who look like they may have been just like you and me a month ago.

Nevertheless, there is some good news, and it’s important to recognize it, and to feel gratitude, remembering that “there but for the grace of God go I.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

“Guerrilla Marketing”, is all about achieving the maximum marketing bang for the buck. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it needs to be creative. Today we are going to seek out three new tactics to tap into  groups of consumers and to spend our money in as leveraged a way possible: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Bellagio – Main Pool – Photo Credit Anthony Mair
Lounging by the pool is a quintessential Las Vegas experience. Daytime can get a bit hot, and pools become prime real estate in Las Vegas. In fact, many visitors to Vegas count pool time as important as casinos and shows! What follows is an exhaustive account of poolside venues in Las Vegas. Hang onto it for your next visit planning exercise.
With a wide variety of high-energy day life experiences and tranquil retreats, Las Vegas offers visitors abundant opportunities to soak up the sun poolside.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Cruise Ship in the Ocean with Blue Sky

For the first time in two years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has lifted its risk advisory for cruises, indicating that while their suspension of the advisory does not mean there is no risk of Covid-19 infection onboard, cruise travel will no longer carry a CDC risk warning.w

CLIA issued a statement applauding the CDC’s removal of the risk warning and reiterated the stance that the move recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships helps to level the playing field, between cruise and similarly situated venues on land, for the first time since March 2020.

The cruise industry, caught up in a series of unfortunate infection outbreaks at the beginning of the pandemic, often expressed frustration at the unfavorable attention cruising received from the CDC as compared with land-based resorts and accommodations. In reality, the major cruise lines instituted some of the travel industry’s most stringent precautions during Covid-19, requiring masks and vaccinations on the majority of cruises. CLIA’s statement went on to indicate its cruise line members “are sailing today with health measures in place that are unmatched by virtually any other commercial setting.”

The CDC is still advising those cruising to be up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations and to consult with their doctors about any precautions if immunocompromised or at high risk.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Tour operators in Ireland

Tourism Ireland indicates top international tour operators have been discovering Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and some of the destination’s other top visitor attractions, as part of a fact-finding trip to Northern Ireland. The tour operators were invited here by Tourism Ireland, in conjunction with Tourism NI – to participate in the annual Meet the Buyer workshop in ICC Belfast.

Indeed, travel to Ireland has increased dramatically. The number of international passengers arriving in Ireland increased by more than 1,300 percent this year in comparison with February last year. Before the workshop, the tour operators took part in an ‘Iconic NI’ themed tour. The tour operators enjoyed a guided tour of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and visited Hinch Distillery, Titanic Belfast, and SS Nomadic. They also traveled along the Causeway Coastal Route to visit Glenarm Castle, the Giant’s Causeway, and Glenshane Country Farm.

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: Tourism Ireland was delighted to bring 140 top international tourism buyers to Northern Ireland for Meet the Buyer 2022. As we restart overseas tourism to Northern Ireland, this event is a really important opportunity for our local tourism partners. The participation of these buyers from around the world is a strong indication that interest in visiting Northern Ireland remains high and that it can, and is, competing with the best destinations in the world.
“Tourism Ireland has an extensive program of promotions underway for 2022. We are taking every opportunity to leverage the many good news stories about Northern Ireland tourism this year – including the opening of the new Game of Thrones Studio Tour, the recent designation of Belfast as a UNESCO City of Music, the 10th anniversary of Titanic Belfast and the fact that The Open will return to Royal Portrush in 2025. We are also highlighting Northern Ireland’s screen tourism success, including the final series of ‘Derry Girls’ and the new ‘Belfast’ film directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh. Our message is that Northern Ireland is open for business again and we cannot wait to welcome back visitors from around the world.”

Posted In: Top Headlines

Pack your bags for that long-awaited vacation! Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) welcomes today’s announcement that Air Tahiti Nui will begin nonstop service to Papeete, Tahiti (PPT) on October 5, 2022.

The island of Tahiti is almost mythical in its beauty, and along with the rest of French Polynesia, is one of the world’s foremost vacation destinations.

“Seattle is honored to be only the second U.S. destination for Air Tahiti Nui,” said Lance Lyttle, SEA Airport Managing Director. “We’re excited that Seattleites will now have yet another magical destination to explore, whether that’s Tahiti itself or other nearby islands like Bora Bora or Mo’orea.”

Tahiti will be Seattle’s southernmost destination and the first located in the Southern Hemisphere. Air Tahiti Nui will operate the twice-weekly route using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Travelers to Tahiti can look forward to vivid turquoise lagoons, soaring lava-rock peaks, lush tropical forests, and hospitable people. These natural wonders of the islands fill the senses of all those that set foot in Tahiti. As the leading carrier to and from French Polynesia, Air Tahiti Nui’s 787-9 Dreamliner fleet and awarded service will make you feel like you are in Tahiti the moment you step onboard.

“North America is a key market for our destination. So, when we decided to open a second gateway on the West Coast, Seattle was a natural answer for us”, explained Mathieu Bechonnet, Air Tahiti Nui Managing Director. “I would like to thank our partners at Alaska Airlines and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for their warm welcome and support in making this happen.”

“Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting Bora Bora? We’re delighted to have Air Tahiti Nui join our array of global airline partners, further connecting the West Coast to the South Pacific,” said Nat Pieper, senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances at Alaska Airlines. “Our guests are going to love the convenience of a nonstop flight to this amazing destination on an airline that offers world-class service and amenities flying the beautiful Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.”

International Service at SEA

Travelers arriving at SEA from Tahiti will enjoy the soon-to-open new International Arrivals Facility, the most complex capital development project in the history of SEA airport. The IAF will dramatically improve connection time, efficiency, and service to millions of annual international travelers.

Air Tahiti Nui’s Tahiti service is the sixth new international service to SEA announced since 2020. Qatar-Doha, WestJet-Calgary, and Alaska-Belize City began service in 2021, while Air Canada-Montreal and Finnair-Helsinki will begin service in summer 2022.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Global tour operator Collette Travel, which recently announced as much as 90% of their travel itineraries are operating at pre-pandemic levels, is now booking travel to Australia and New Zealand for departures beginning in September 2022, following a nearly two-year-long pause due to Covid-19.  The South Pacific opened to travelers earlier this week after closing its borders for more than 700 days.

A variety of itineraries are being offered throughout Australia and New Zealand, including a brand new small group explorations tour.  Guests on the inspiring 22-day Australia and New Zealand Uncovered tour will experience the core of Maori culture in New Zealand and then dive into the unparalleled Outback of Australia, giving them the best of both worlds. Pricing starts at $5,899 pp.

For years, Australia and Zealand have both emerged as favorite destinations amongst our guests. We’re now offering six itineraries, including a variety of unique experiences, so that you can choose the right one for your client.” said Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, President of Collette.

Australia and New Zealand appeals to both the adventurous as well as those seeking a little relaxation. Guests can enjoy “the barbie” and fine wines, beautiful beaches, and scenic landscapes in the mountains.

Clients can book confidently knowing that when they add Collette’s Travel Protection Plan, they get a full money-back refund† if they need to cancel – up to 24 hours before departure. Travel advisors will also earn advanced commission.

Visit for more information.

Posted In: Point-to-Point

As a veteran of more than 40 international cruises, I used to turn up my nose whenever someone suggested that I sail from domestic ports. The only exceptions I ever made were a cruise to Iceland from New York City; a repositioning cruise to Japan that left from Seattle; one to South America that departed from Los Angeles; and two from Miami that sailed to Europe.

I reasoned that, if I was going to kill a night flying from LAX to a departure port and have an after-dinner drink and a Zolpidem tablet after dessert, I could just as easily wake up in Europe, Asia, or Australia as on the east coast of the US. Honestly, you don’t notice the difference—especially if you fly Business or Premium Economy.

After having two international jaunts canceled last year, and considering the possibility of the military crises in Europe broadening before I could sail again, I rethought these views. I booked a Fall Foliage Cruise from NYC to New England, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Montreal for a client and us. It’s only 12 nights, but with overnight stays in NYC and Montreal, the trip will be nearly the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

This week, TRO SMITH is paying homage to Jay Conrad Levinson’s “Guerrilla Marketing“, a manual for street-level marketing focused on achieving the maximum impact for the least capital expenditure. With the slim margins of travel consulting, guerilla marketing is particularly well suited for many travel agents. With that said, however, here is a warning about letting your marketing become a “shoestring noose.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

SOUTHFIELD — Sky Bird Travel & Tours has been in the travel business since 1976. Founded by CEO Mr. Arvin Shah and his wife, Jaya, Sky Bird Travel opened its first office in Detroit’s historic Book Building. In 1985, the company took flight and moved to the city of Southfield.

On Friday, March 18th, Sky Bird Travel celebrated their 45th Anniversary with a gala luncheon at its headquarters. In attendance was special guests Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver, State Senator Jeremy Moss, State Representative Kyra Bolden and Southfield Chief of Police Elvin Barren.

Mayor Siver presented Mr. Shah with a City of Southfield Proclamation of March 18th, 2022 as “Sky Bird Travel Day” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Many years ago, Jay Conrad Levinson coined the phrase “Guerrilla Marketing” to reference marketing tactics that business people could execute with a minimal expenditure of capital. Since that time, more than 1,000,000 copies of his book have been sold. The success of Guerrilla Marketing is in its mandate to develop a marketing mindset, to continually look for the marketing opportunity at every turn and to keep the necessity of marketing top of mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Regrets? I’ve Had a Few

This could be totally related to age, and there is a good chance many of you reading today’s article will not identify with what I am about to say. I am going to give it a shot anyway.

I am not calling them liars, but when I hear somebody say they have no regrets in their lives, I can’t help but think they are in the minority. I am fast to admit that I have had a memorable ride for the past 72-years, but I still have a boatload of situations where I would have played my cards differently. Full disclosure: I often wake up in the middle of the night asking myself, “what was I thinking!”

The truth of the matter is that the past cannot be undone, and hopefully we have learned something along the way that we would not have learned if Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Every day it seems that we are moving closer and closer to an endemic status with COVID. And this is a great thing. More people are vaccinated. People have built up immunity. The drug companies seem to be on top of things. New variants seem less and less severe. All great news! One of my favorite songs is The End by The Doors. But I do not see our business in quite as fatalistic of a light! Now is the time to get those clients in the door and keep them. But how?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Good examples of bad examples

In the past, I’ve written articles about how travel professionals can learn from really good companies and industries. An incident over the past week, however, reminds me of how much we have to learn from companies whose sense of customer satisfaction was apparently developed in a vacuum. On a positive note, because most consumers have to deal frequently with these bungled attempts at customer service, the cosmic bar has been lowered and good customer service is a very welcomed change you can deliver on with surprising ease. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to briefly study some good examples of bad examples: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

Onboard Viking Radgrid on the Seine — Monet’s Garden is not yet open and the cherry blossoms are just beginning to bloom. Even so, all of us in attendance were thrilled to kick off this year’s river cruise season in Europe, at the official Naming Ceremony of eight new Viking longships.

The actual ceremony was a joyful reunion of travel writers, travel advisors, Viking executives and Edelman PR folks, many of whom have not seen each other since 2020, when Viking decided not to launch these ships at all. Two years and five days later, we arrived on the very day France lifted most of its Covid restrictions, including pre-arrival testing for vaccinated travelers and masking at indoor venues.

Back then, Hagen noted, Viking had 10,000 employees, $3 billion in revenue and an annual Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Saying goodbye is the hardest part of any good trip—especially when faced with the reality of having to go back home and make your own bed. On a good river cruise there are wonderful accommodations and great ports, but the thing that makes the entire experience is the people that are there. Without fun guests the cruise is boring; without a good crew the cruise is awful. Fortunately, the people that I sailed the Rhône with on Avalon were one of the most glorious groups of people I’ve ever met. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas that will encourage you to keep Great Britain towards the top of the list of your must-sell destinations, and last Saturday’s ‘Excursions’ trade show at the Twickenham Stadium in London gave me a great deal of food for creative thinking. Organised by Tourism South East for the British domestic market, it showcased dozens of exciting travel experiences which when imaginatively pieced together produced several new ideas for clients flying or cruising in-or-out of the UK this summer. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

To ensure that your clients come to you each and every time they want to travel, for you to develop the kind of customer loyalty that ensures repeat business, you have to WOW them. Surprise your clients. The WOW factor is often best generated by something unanticipated. WOW happens when the client does not expect the special favor. Think beyond the standard fare.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Client retention is a big part of marketing, certainly as important as client acquisition. By retaining your existing clients, you stabilize your travel practice and provide a base onto which you can layer client acquisition and growth. WOW customer service is the way to retain clients, and a big part of great client service is accomplished by educating your clients. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Preview

In 30 years of involvement with the travel industry, I thought travel insurance was one product on which I could always count. My awakening occurred last year when one of my clients and I canceled a repositioning cruise from Japan to Alaska by way of Siberia.

Although Japan was closed entirely to cruisers, and the CDC said visiting Japan was unsafe, the cruise line wouldn’t officially cancel the cruise. This enabled them to defer providing refunds and permitted them to keep the $200 penalty guests had to pay if they canceled the cruise themselves. The $200 penalty caused our insurance company (one of the leading travel insurers sold by travel advisors) to deny our request to “roll” our insurance payments to a future cruise. The cruise line eventually returned our deposit, less the $200 fee, but the insurance company was adamant about keeping our entire deposits.

The insurance company representative argued that the $200 penalty exposed their firm to future claims I might make. I replied that neither my client nor I sought a refund on the insurance. I even said I would waive my rights to make future claims.

Everyone on this cruise who had bought insurance through this company and canceled the voyage had been charged the $200 fee. All those cruisers were being ruled Read the rest of this entry »