Posted In: Point-to-Point
Let’s face it. Cruises are now commodity products. Everyone sells the same ships and itineraries for similar prices. So how do you stand out from all the others selling the same cruise—maybe for a few dollars less?
Try focusing on things you can add to the cruise package.Read the rest of this entry »
Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, the world’s largest active volcano, began erupting on November 27th after a dormant period of 36 years, joining nearby Kilauea which has been erupting for over a year. According to Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, lava has been observed overflowing into the southwest portion of the Mauna Loa caldera. This new volcanic activity follows a series of earthquakes that had been occurring near Puu Oo in Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone over the past few weeks. This area was also where a massive eruption occurred in 2018 that destroyed 700 homes and filled some areas with molten rock and steam. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Mauna Loa stands over 13,000 feet above sea level. Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843. It last erupted in 1984, sending lava flows up to 8 miles long into the sea.
The current eruption has not yet posed any significant danger to local residents, but officials remain vigilant as they monitor seismic activity around the mountain. If a major eruption were to occur, lava flows could reach populated areas and create serious public safety issues for those living nearby.
Mauna Loa is also noteworthy for its size, rising gradually to more than 4 km (2.5 mi) above sea level. Its submarine flanks descend to the sea floor an additional 5 km (3 mi), and the sea floor, in turn, is depressed by Mauna Loa’s great mass another 8 km (5 mi). This makes the volcano’s summit about 17 km (10.5 mi) above its base
Due to its huge size and potential for destruction, scientists have been studying Mauna Loa since 1912 with the help of modern monitoring equipment such as seismographs and tiltmeters. So far, tourists are still able to visit many places near Mauna Loa without having to worry too much about their safety; however, authorities recommend keeping away from any active lava flows or other hazardous materials associated with volcanic activity just in case things get more dangerous.
Social media has become an integral part of vacation for most travelers. Some of them simply can’t imagine a single day without sharing their holiday joy with friends and followers, forgetting what’s all about – relaxing, re-charging batteries, experiencing adventures, and communing with the different. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Mike's Monday Cup of Mo-Joe
I know you are good. I know you are smart. I know you have accomplished a lot. But I also know you can get better. I know you have a lot more to learn. I know you must get better.
Being receptive to constructive “coaching” is a sign of an intelligent person, regardless of age and/or experience. It is important to understand the difference between “criticism” and “coaching.” They are not the same. Criticism has no apparent benefit. It is a verbal attempt at headlining one’s shortcomings, usually for the enjoyment of the person doing the criticizing.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
Making mistakes is fine, ordinary and to a certain degree, expected—once. But when you fail to learn from them, you can be in a world of trouble.
So how can you prevent yourself from falling into the mistake trap again? Get out a notebook and pen or pencil and follow along: Read the rest of this entry »
Talk about a destination wedding. The biggest hotel company in the world and a family-owned resort company with 24,000 rooms, many of them all-inclusive, have tied the knot.
Beginning in December, Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC (IHG) will add Iberostar Hotels & Resorts properties to its distribution system and 100-million-member frequency program, offering guests all-inclusive beachfront vacations they can book with points for the 2022 Holiday Season.
“In what is a large and high growth market segment, demand for resort and all-inclusive stays has been buoyed by increasing traveler desire for high-quality experiences and stress-free holidays, particularly post-Covid, and the ability to access such stays as part of loyalty programme membership,” the company said in the press release announcing the deal. “The breadth of resort choices for travelers has also increased in recent years, with luxury and upper upscale destinations creating more well-being and sustainability-led experiences that tailor to changing guest expectations.”
Iberostar, based in Spain, will retain ownership of the 70 or so properties that will make up the new IHG Iberostar Beachfront Resorts brand. Resorts in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Brazil, and Spain’s Canary Islands will be on board by December, including Iberostar Grand Paraiso in Riviera Maya, Mexico; Iberostar Selection Hacienda Dominicus in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic; Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Iberostar Selection Anthelia in Tenerife, Spain.
“Further properties in Spain and other popular resort destinations in Southern Europe and North Africa are anticipated to join IHG’s system over the course of 2023 and 2024,” the company said.
IHG has 260 resorts across its Six Senses, Regent, InterContinental, Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Club Vacations brands, but fewer than 20 resort properties in the countries where the Iberostar Beachfront Resorts properties are located.
“The agreement, therefore, significantly increases and broadens IHG’s resort footprint” and “meets a clear desire from guests and loyalty members for more resort destinations and the option of all-inclusive stays,” the company said.
IHG and Iberostar also will work together “to create opportunities for joint sustainability initiatives that align with IHG’s 2030 Journey to Tomorrow responsible business plan.”
Travel advisors and Wall Street are watching
Travel advisors seem split in their opinion of the move, and many question whether it’s a positive thing for the channel and its traditional distribution partners.
“It’s nice to see IHG getting bigger—and Iberostar Hotels are great,” said personal travel consultant Jill Ragovin at Tzell Park Avenue in New York.
Kari Mollan Valley doesn’t care one way or the other. “It doesn’t make a difference to me unless they honor membership points with wholesale bookings,” she said. “I never book all-inclusive direct with the brand; AM Resorts is Hyatt owned, but when I book via Classic, for example, clients do not receive their Hyatt points. Still, we prefer our supplier bookings on many levels: pricing, commission, and sales support.”
Exactly the problem, said travel consultant Nina Sherman at Lada Travel LLC in Richboro, PA. She sees it as an important move for the two players—but bad news for travel advisors.
“Marriott and Hyatt have become such major players with partnerships, I think IHG and Iberostar see this as a necessity,” she says. “But it is a huge threat for agents because clients that want loyalty points will force us to book direct. And it also jeopardizes the future of tour operators.”
InterContinental is the third-largest hotel company in the world, behind Marriott and Hilton (10 Biggest Hotel Companies and REITs (investopedia.com). Just today, MSN.com named it to a list of Best Hotel Stock to Buy Now (7 Best Hotel Stocks to Buy Now (msn.com)—but noted that year-over-year revenue is still lagging 2019 because of the company’s “larger exposure to business and international travel than some other hotel chains.”
Adding 400 all-inclusive properties that book direct might just help that number.
Frontier Airlines, one of the most well-known budget carriers in the United States, has announced that it will no longer offer phone service to customers who want to speak with a live agent. Most major airlines still offer customer service lines for their passengers. In recent years, low-cost carriers such as Frontier Airlines have become increasingly popular, offering passengers more affordable flight options than traditional airlines at the expense of certain services that are considered non-essential.
This move by Frontier Airlines will make it harder for customers who prefer speaking directly with an agent when making arrangements or having inquiries answered. As part of this new model, customers will now be required to utilize their web-based self-service platform or contact customer support via email instead.
It’s worth noting that even though many major airlines still maintain a customer service line for its passengers, these call centers are becoming less effective and efficient due to rising call volumes and limited resources. The average wait time on airline customer service lines can range anywhere from five minutes up to two hours depending on the time of day and how busy the call center is at any given moment.
For future flights booked through Frontier Airlines, customers must therefore adjust their expectations accordingly, using other available means like email or web self-help portals in order to resolve their issues as quickly as possible.
Overall, while cutting out phone service may lead some people feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, Frontier indicates this move will ultimately benefit its passengers by allowing them quicker access to answers about their journeys without having to wait on hold for long periods of time.
Posted In: Crossings
Home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Oxford is an architectural, intellectual, and historical gem of England. This small city has the distinction of hosting every style of English architecture starting from the late Anglo-Saxon period forward… (Read More)
Posted In: Outposts
It is a land with little soil, where 96% of its mass is covered in ice, with no indigenous people, no indigenous government. No economic activity exists, except for that in small isolated encampments of scientists and from the incursion of tourism to the island continent. (Read More)
Posted In: Publishers Corner
Recently, I was speaking to a colleague about a new salesperson he had just employed. The salesperson was complaining the company did not have a presentation brochure. If only the company would produce a professional presentation, the salesperson assured his boss, the sales would come flying through the door. My friend wanted to know what I thought, and I told him.
Good sales materials are important, but more important are the clients’ needs. Company-produced literature, particularly in a 1:1 scenario like travel consulting, was secondary to speaking intelligently and compassionately with the client.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Departures
Solo travel has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more people are choosing to explore the world on their own. While it can be an incredibly rewarding and liberating experience, there are also certain considerations that need to be taken into account. The concept of solo travel is sometimes misunderstood (Read More)
Posted In: The Incessant Traveler
Perillo Tours, the company that has been known as “synonymous with Italy” for three generations of family ownership, is debuting a new tour program for Greece for 2023, and Steve Perillo, the company president, says the tour is flying off the shelf.
“This was not the big year,” he told me. “Next year is the big year. We’re seeing a gigantic wave. We’re about half sold out. Usually, you start selling in January. Prices are up, and nobody cares.”Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: The Rosen Report
Even as the first Prima-class ship rolled out, with five more in production behind it, NCL Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio asked his staff what they could do to upgrade the existing fleet—and anted up a $1.5-billion budget, NCL CEO Harry Sommer told the crowd at the Dream Vacations/CruiseOne annual conference onboard Encore last week.
The new Prima class, whose first ship just rolled out, shows NCL’s direction moving forward: elevating the product with upgraded menus, new entertainment, and more staff—and 10,000 travel advisors invited aboard so far to spread the message.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Deck Plans
Award-winning luxury river cruise line, AmaWaterways, tells us that travelers can now book unforgettable river cruise vacations on all 2024 itineraries on the iconic rivers of Europe, Africa, Egypt and Asia. With an added reward for early bookings and extended seasons on the Rhine, Danube and Douro rivers, guests have the opportunity to save now when reserving their much-anticipated journeys. Whether celebrating a milestone anniversary, a special birthday or a reunion with friends and family, river cruising with AmaWaterways offers the perfect variety of included tours and culinary experiences to please all ages and types of travelers searching for a more personalized way to reconnect with the world around them.Read the rest of this entry »
Princess Cruises debuted its fourth home port in California this week as the newly refurbished Diamond Princess set sail from San Diego.
With the addition of Diamond Princess, the line now offers four-, five- and seven-day itineraries from the West Coast, with some extending into Hawaii and the South Pacific, Princess cruises President John Padgett noted.
Diamond Princess on November 27 will sail a new 20-day cruise to Central America, round-trip from San Diego. Her regular schedule will comprise 5- to 16-day itineraries running from November 2022 through February 2023, calling at ports along the California coastline, Mexican Riviera and Hawaiian Islands.
The growing population of San Diego-based cruise ships has the city considering a $3.6 billion investment in the central Embarcadero waterfront, including Seaport Village.
For more information go to http\\www.princess.com.
Posted In: 60-Second Geography
Japan is known for its sprawling metropolises, cities that bask in the light of every color from signs and advertisements. Yet, outside these massive cities is an island country with natural beauty that shines bright on the pale petals of the cherry blossom—on the delightful purple of the wisteria tree. Adored by Japanese poets and painters is a sight that soars above them all, the UNESCO World Heritage Mt. Fuji.Read the rest of this entry »
Travelers are flocking to Europe again, advisors say—but just as the summer’s luggage issues seem to have settled down, activists and unions are eyeing airports in this strike-prone region. And they are not feeling jolly.
Finnair this weekend canceled 100 flights as a result of a 24-hour “pop-up strike” by cabin crew at Helsinki Airport that began at 3 pm yesterday and runs through today. The Finnish Cabin Crew Association (SLSY) said the strike was in response to Finnair’s work conditions and low salary. The airline also reportedly plans to scrap 450 jobs when it subcontracts inflight service staff on routes to and from Thailand and the United States.
Also this weekend, a three-day walkout by 350 ground handlers, airside transport, and cargoat London’s Heathrow Airport–threatening travel in general and to the World Cup in particular—was partially averted at the last minute after a new pay deal was reached. The strike would have affected Terminals 2, 3, and 4, and particularly Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Air Portugal, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Egypt Air, Finnair, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Swiss Air.
Earlier this month, Britain’s busiest airport said it is working with airlines and ground handlers to prepare for a Christmas peak, as so will not require any capacity cap.
In Paris, meanwhile, a transport strike shut down half the Metro earlier this month, disrupting travel to the airports, in a nationwide day of walkouts and protests to demand salary increases.
And in the Netherlands, activists of another kind stormed the runway at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to demonstrate against climate change. Six cycled across the tarmacs, and some chained themselves to jets in an “SOS for the climate” protest that led to hundreds of arrests.
The 2022 Antarctica season has kicked off with the worst possible news for Quark Expeditions, where a rare zodiac accident has left two passengers dead.
Seatrade Cruise News reported that the line confirmed that “a Zodiac carrying six passengers and two expedition staff overturned near shore, tragically resulting in two fatalities. The weather conditions were light winds and a smooth sea state, and indications are the accident was caused by a breaking wave. The other four passengers and two staff are recovering under the care and observation of our doctors and medical staff on board.” (Two die in Quark Expeditions Zodiac incident in Antarctica (seatrade-cruise.com)
The incident occurred near Cape Lookout, Elephant Island, on a World Explorer 14-night South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula Penguin Safari Cruise and Land Tour, sailing round trip from Ushuaia, Argentina.
One American passenger survived because she was in an air bubble, a travel advisor with inside information told TRO, only to be rescued to find that her husband did not make it.
The rigid-hulled inflatable zodiac boats were made famous by Jacques Cousteau and are extremely popular, because they “deflate allowing for storage in small spaces, can be tied against a ship without marking or damaging it, and because they’re filled with air, are the most seaworthy craft of their size. Inflatables can hold up to 10x their own weight, can float if one of their tubes deflates, are inherently stable, and offer on the water performance to meet nearly anyone’s needs,” says the Inflatable Boats Buyer Guide (Inflatable Boat Buyers Guide – Newport Vessels). Reports said the boat was overturned by a rogue wave – but travel advisors agree that Zodiac accidents are extremely rare and could not recall ever hearing of one. They also noted that the waters around Elephant Island are usually calm.
Earlier this month Quark Expeditions “celebrated the launch of its Arctic 2024 season” with “more ways to experience Greenland, Svalbard, and the Canadian High Arctic than are possible with any other operator in the region and a breadth of off-ship experiences.”
Interest in expedition cruising is soaring, travel advisors report, as travelers with higher budgets look for new destinations in more distant places.
Posted In: Mike's Monday Cup of Mo-Joe
In order for people to feel glad they know you, you must appear to be interested in them, their lives, their stories, their experiences, and their opinions. As you leave the safe confines of your familiar environment, you are going to meet hundreds of people in the months ahead.
Not every one of these new acquaintances will become a client. You would not want this to be the case. You do need to know, however, that when you meet people for the first time, only three things can result from this introduction.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
Where did the year go? No, it is not the COVID funk that has our collective sense of time all warped. It seems like yesterday it was spring, and we were all enthused with the glacial pace of the return to normalcy. I looked at the calendar and realized it was November. NOVEMBER!! I need to order my 2023 calendar and more to the point, I realized that Thanksgiving is this week! And let’s be honest, there is a lot to be thankful for! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” -Dalai Lama
In many ways, Thanksgiving is the greatest of holidays, a reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe to everyone and everything around us. It is always tempting to magnify our losses and minimize the ordinary, daily miracle. We long for big, outrageous fortunes and forget the small, mundane but truly astonishing gifts. One day of the year, however, is a reminder to contemplate the undeniably interdependent nature of our existence. How amazingly special is it when a client takes the time and effort to say “Thanks”? Being on the receiving or giving end of gratitude is a pretty special thing. Especially now.
Everything is connected. We don’t have to look far to find people and institutions deserving of our thanks. Every success we enjoy, every small achievement, is the result of an interplay of grace and circumstance.