When I am asked “What’s your favorite trip of all you’ve ever taken?” I am dumbfounded. But one that floats quickly to the surface of my mind, as one of the best trips ever, was a cruise on the Amazon River.
I had always wanted to see the jungle. From watching movies as a kid, I had thought of the jungle as being in Africa. When I went on safari to see the Great Migration in East Africa, the environment I found myself in was not a jungle at all. It was the high plains, the African savanna, which means “treeless plains.”Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I spoke to Carol Dimopoulos, the founder and CEO of Learning Journeys, about the term “regenerative travel.” There’s another term she prefers when speaking about the Learning Journeys style of delivering service. She calls it “restorative travel.”
Learning Journeys offers “Journeys of Transformation,” educational experiences that take place while traveling to special destinations. The programs are based on specific interests, such as photography, wildlife, arts and crafts, dance, music or gastronomy, and include encounters with various kinds of experts and teachers.Read the rest of this entry »
Attention travel advisors! The latest threat of extinction is from artificial intelligence: AI chatbots are now predicted to take the place of travel advisors. This buzz was raised to a roar last Nov. 30, when OpenAI released to the public its ChatGPT, a technology that can carry on chats that seem uncannily human, and can answer questions on a wide range of subjects. OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public as part of its research and data collection, sort of crowd-sourcing its research and development.Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a new catchphrase going around now: Regenerative Travel. The New York Times baptized the new phrase last August, in a story called: Move Over, Sustainable Travel. Regenerative Travel Has Arrived.
The subhead asks the question: “Can a post-vaccine return to travel be smarter and greener than it was before March 2020?”Read the rest of this entry »
Croatia has been approved to join the Schengen area, becoming the 27th country to become part of the world’s largest free-travel area. The decision was finalized at a Dec. 8 meeting of the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Justice of the EU member states. The change will take place officially on Jan. 1, 2023.
The tour operators I’ve spoken to about this tell me the change is not expected to have much impact immediately, or directly, on American travelers. The US and Canada are already visa-free nations for entry into Croatia. But there are some good possibilities for positive long-term effects.Read the rest of this entry »
At the USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace in Austin in late November, I had the good fortune of running into Scott Nisbet, the CEO of the Globus Family of Brands.
As head of one of the most global of all tour operators, Scott Nisbet is a good person to talk to for reading what is happening in the global travel industry. The Globus Family of brands includes Globus escorted tours, Cosmos budget priced tours, Monograms independent tour packages, and Avalon Waterways river cruises. It’s about as broad a selection of travel products as is offered by any company anywhere. Based in Lugano, Switzerland, the company’s reach spreads around the world and touches every aspect of the travel business that is part of a tour, and that’s practically everything. The company offers programs on six continents and sixty-five countries.Read the rest of this entry »
One of the reasons many attendees consider the USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace the best travel conference of the year is because the tour operator members send their top people to the conference. It creates opportunities for unparalleled access to the heaviest movers and shakers of the tour industry. Because the tour segment connects and aggregates the products of all the other segments of the travel industry, the USTOA conference is a central connecting point for the entire global travel industry.Read the rest of this entry »
The Election is over. Hallelujah!
Election years are well known to be bad for markets, because they introduce an element of uncertainty, and markets don’t like uncertainty.
The midterm of a president’s first term is particularly troublesome. According to Jeff Sommer, in the New York Times, “Numbers going back more than a century show that the second year has generally been the weakest for the stock market in a president’s term.”Read the rest of this entry »
Though the world has taken on appearances that closely resemble the pre-Covid world, I am often reminded by events that the world has changed a lot more during the Covid period than we yet realize. It will take some time to sort out the changes, and the effects both good and bad. On the good side, travel is back. But like everything else, it’s changed.
The constraints imposed by Covid accelerated many trends: the trend toward remote working and meetings, toward more concern by consumers about sustainability, and toward making airports safer from disease. Many other trends were also accelerated.Read the rest of this entry »
Anything that happened before 2020, when COVID-19 knocked the world out of its orbit and made us all start over, is now ancient history.
For Collette, the Pawtucket, R.I.-based operator of guided tours worldwide, 2018 was its centennial year and marked a century since it was founded. Collette holds the title of America’s oldest existing tour operator.Read the rest of this entry »
After Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, announced her plan for tax cuts, the value of the country’s currency plunged. Now the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the British pound is outrageously good for American travelers. The dollar is now worth about £.90. That’s almost one for one. Considering that the pound was worth around two dollars as recently as the 2006-2008 period, that means the dollar has more buying power now in Britain than at almost any time in memory.Read the rest of this entry »
On Sept. 17, Dwight James, CEO of Delta Vacations, the airline’s vacation packaging operation, addressed the gathering of travel advisors at the Delta Vacations University in Atlanta about durable growth.
The agents had come to the event Sept. 17-18 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, at their own expense, to attend a learning conference built around a program of seminars and a trade show. The seminars were packed with specific information designed to enable them to operate their retail travel businesses more effectively and profitably.Read the rest of this entry »
Bruce Hodge, an Australian who met his South African wife in Europe, settled in Canada, and started a global tour operation in 1970, was not about to sit around twiddling his thumbs when the COVID lockdown paralyzed the travel industry. For Bruce, it was a chance to launch Goway 2.0.
“Goway 2.0 was Bruce’s vision of re-engineering the business from top to bottom,” said Craig Canvin, Goway’s senior vice president, in a conversation last week.
“Bruce’s plans for growth of the company are exceptional,” said Canvin. “It’s hard to keep up with them.”
The summer of 2021 tied with 1936 as the hottest summer in the 148 years records have been kept. This summer of 2022 hasn’t been quite as hot overall. It’s only the third hottest in history, but it’s had the hottest nights in US history, and multiple heat records set across the country. Climate is only one of ways the world is changing at a head-spinning rate. And it’s only one of the reasons to re-examine the conventional ways of looking at seasonality in travel.
Right now, as people are finally breaking free of the restraints of COVID, overcrowding at tourism sites has re-emerged as an issue to consider when making travel plans. This is a good time to consider traveling outside the historic summer vacation period.Read the rest of this entry »
“The Great Resignation” seems to have given way to “Quiet Quitting” at the worldwide virtual water cooler. It’s creating quite a stir, and a backlash too; but it doesn’t seem to me to boil down to anything too alarming. It’s got to be one of the worst slogans since “Defund the Police” or “Defund the FBI” in that it’s provocative, but doesn’t clearly communicate an idea. Such are the times.
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote that “What started as a quiet movement among office workers looking to draw firmer work-life boundaries after two years of pandemic overtime has grown into a rallying cry.” Getting out of hand, is it?
It was a post on LinkedIn that first drew my attention to Quiet Quitting. It was an article on the Moneywatch segment on CBS News, and it did not take a neutral stance. It sounded like someone was a little rattled by this new thing.Read the rest of this entry »
Ah, it’s mid-August! How did that happen? It’s still beautiful summer holiday time, but it’s slipping away by the moment, and attention is turning toward the fall season. That’s typically when the students go back to school and the adults get down to business, nicely refreshed from at least some easing up in summer, if not an actual vacation.
It’s time to bear down on all the things that have to get done in the fall. In earlier times for most people, fall was the time of harvest—time to put up stores for the winter. For people in the travel industry, it’s conference season. And for some, a number in which I include myself, the highlight and the grand finale of the fall conference season is the USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace, held around the end of November and the beginning of December. This year will be the association’s 50th anniversary, a huge milestone by any measure.Read the rest of this entry »
When Tourism Cares was formed in 2005, it was called Tourism Cares for Tomorrow. Now 17 years later, we find ourselves in that tomorrow. The environmental protection issues the organization was founded to address are no longer concerns for some distant future. They are extremely pressing issues that are right on top of us.
The vision Tourism Cares was founded on looks even better in hindsight than it looked at its inception. It was a mobilization based on the realization of people in the travel industry that environmental degradation, if allowed to go too far, would destroy their businesses.
It was the travel industry stepping up and taking responsibility to protect the environmental and cultural resources it depended on to operate its businesses. In the face of decades of inertia and failure in the public sector to take meaningful action to confront the problems of environmental destruction, it was an industry saying, “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”Read the rest of this entry »
For Marc Kavanagh, the founder of Journeys Connect, success in the travel industry is all about relationship.
“That’s how we built this business,” he told me earlier this week. “That’s the cornerstone. It’s built on relationships based on trust, and on making sure we deliver with integrity and trust. It’s different with B2B. The goal is long-term relationships.”
The 34-year veteran of the travel industry learned his trade through stints with a veritable hall of fame of travel providers in the Ireland travel industry. His career history includes years spent working for Ryanair, Brendan Vacations, Celtic Tours and Sceptre Tours, before founding Journeys Connect.
Kavanagh founded Journeys Connect in 2013 after building a group travel business called GCS Groups under DH Enterprise, the parent company of Sceptre Tours and operator of the Aer Lingus Vacation Store. Journeys Connect is all about custom group travel, creating itineraries and packages to order for groups as small as six or as large as thousands.Read the rest of this entry »
Do you believe you have the right to travel?
You may have taken it for granted that you are free to travel wherever and whenever you want for whatever reason you wish, but it may not be that simple. Legal reasoning can get very weird and can lead to some surprising places. And then there’s politics.
Dobbs v. Jackson, the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and the right to have an abortion, was based on the idea that the right to an abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” proclaimed Justice Samuel Alito, in the majority opinion. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”
This could raise a red flag for some, because the word “travel” is also not mentioned in the Constitution Read the rest of this entry »
For Collette, the century-old Pawtucket, R.I.-based tour operator, the removal of COVID testing requirements for entering the US was the opening of the floodgates for people to travel again. I spoke to some of the Collette people last week.
“As soon as testing requirements were dropped, we immediately noticed that our phones were ringing off the hook for international travel,” said Amelia Sugerman, senior manager of strategic communications. “Prior to that, 70 percent had been domestic. But when they dropped testing on June 12, in the five days following, the next Monday through Friday, 75 percent of the calls were Read the rest of this entry »
Tauck is experiencing a post-lockdown boom that is making Steve Spivak, vice president of global sales, very happy. “We’re seeing such a great resurgence in the type of travel we offer,” he told me, “not just luxury, but truly immersive, bucket list-type travel.”
Tauck has already carried more passengers this year than it did in all of last year. Its booking pace has exceeded that of 2019, the last year before the COVID pandemic. As unprecedented as the lockdown was, the bounce back for Tauck is also creating a novel constellation of market forces. The pent-up demand is across the board for cruise and land products, destinations around the world, and various styles of travel packages. Tauck’s customers are ready to travel, to make up for lost time. And there’s a greater sense than ever that time is limited, and so may be their opportunities to fulfill their lifetime travel dreams Read the rest of this entry »