Island vacations are a true escape, one that feels the furthest from our everyday lives. Nothing but you, the beach, and long stretches of ocean to create distance from the daily grind and worries of life. About 870mi west of Lisbon, Portugal is the opportunity to visit just that place—the Azores Islands. A place that not only provides a remote getaway, but prides itself on sustainable tourism.
Officially named the Autonomous Region of the Azores, the Azores is an archipelago of 9 islands. Being volcanic in nature, the fertile earth of the islands sprang up a paradise. Lush green fields, forests, and mountains cover the terrain. Particularly São Miguel, the largest island in Read the rest of this entry »
With interest in UK-bound travel gathering pace, I’ve put together a collection of commission-generating ideas for you to offer your clients.
As some of them might have been hoping to go to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, entice them with a tour that includes the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show at Wisley along with Downton Abbey and the royal garden at Highgrove House.
I’ve created a programme based around the hugely popular Jane Austen Festival in Bath (think of all those clients who are riveted by the many costume dramas on the TV) and a Girls Getaway which brings together a major Antiques Fair with London’s Markets.
Meanwhile, in Scotland Read the rest of this entry »
As Spain and Portugal rise in popularity for travel, Petrabax has been showing the Iberian Peninsula to travelers for almost 40 years. With an array of ways to take care of the traveler, they have created tours from a unique point of view—one that originates from the owner and operators hailing from the northwestern region of Galicia. From life-changing paths to a future one-stop shop for agents, Petrabax has one foot firmly set in showing the past and another stepping into the future of travel.
Petrabax is family owned and operated. The founder, Jose Zuñiga, was from the region of Galicia in northwest of Spain; while its current director and nephew of Jose, Marcos Roel, is also Galician. This lends perfectly Read the rest of this entry »
I had been eagerly looking forward to interviewing Robert Drumm, CEO of Alexander + Roberts, to hear his views on current events from his perspective as head of the company that has done more than any other to promote American tourism to Russia since the 1950s.
As explained elsewhere, Alexander + Roberts, under its previous name General Tours, was the first American tour operator to offer tours into Soviet Russia in the 1950s. It began in the early years of the Cold War, while there was a Red Scare blazing in the United States. Popular figures at the time were being blacklisted, prevented from earning a living, for even the suspicion of sympathies with the Communist Party at any time in their lives. It took a lot of courage for Alex Harris, the founder of General Tours, to launch tours to Russia in that climate.
Bob Drumm started working with Alex Harris in the ‘80s, and in the 1990s Harris passed the baton to him to head General Tours. Drumm continues to head the company today Read the rest of this entry »
As the European country with the oldest consistent borders, Portugal is a multivariate experience. The cultural influences brought on by this 900 years of existence have added to the flavor of Portugal. And, though a smaller nation, it is busting at the seams with a lively culture and sublime scenery for the traveler to explore.
They say the stomach is the window to happiness, and Portugal is well on its way to being the perfect portal. The cafes and restaurants that line the streets are well known around the world for their culinary treats. These are often simple and delicious dishes: fresh baked bread with olive oil or cheese, or both smooth red wines and crisp, green wines (vinho verde). But, far more often, Portuguese dishes feature Read the rest of this entry »
Every travel advisor has a few great stories to tell. But last week, Allison Sodha showed the world what she’s been up to while her agency business stalled due to Covid. She tells some of her very favorite tales, in a new book about travel to India.
It’s the eighth installment of “Go! Girl Guides,” a series dedicated to travel by and for women—and released, appropriately, on International Women’s Day.
Since March 2020, when “we literally shuttered overnight, then had a little break in December when India and Thailand reopened temporarily,” Sodha has been “developing YouTube channels and writing this book, which was a great distraction. It’s my love affair to India.”
And now travel is back; in the past three weeks, bookings have quadrupled. And her book is out! Read the rest of this entry »
I am one who believes that travel is one of the last, best hopes for a world wracked with war, prejudice, hatred and greed. I embrace the quote by Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
I see travel as more than a business. It’s a mission, a striving for world peace and harmony. In the age of nuclear weapons and Mutually Assured Destruction, it is needed more than ever. It’s hard to meet people in other countries, see how much their concerns are the same as yours, and still think it’s okay to kill them.
So here we are in the midst of a terrible tragedy in Ukraine that was brought about as an act of choice by one man with too much power. No one knows where it’s going, how far it will go, or how much of the world will be Read the rest of this entry »
Have a group that’s concerned about traveling in a time of Covid? Why not have their questions answered and their concerns put to rest by a concierge doctor who will go over everything they need to know—or even come along with you?
That’s the newest business venture of ER physician Yvette McQueen. She heard the concern of so many travel advisors, meeting planners, and frequent travelers that she set out on a new business venture as a private travel health consultant.
McQueen has been scratching her own travel bug for the past 14 years as a traveling ER doctor, going from one hospital to the next to fill in for staffers who were on leave, or when there was a staffing shortage. As a frequent traveler herself, she had a particular interest in safe travel, and quickly became an expert in how to avoid getting sick—and what to do if Read the rest of this entry »
“Keep calm and visit Ukraine,” says one travel insurance supplier’s recent marketing campaign, in a tone-deaf call for travel advisors to become evangelists for travel to Ukraine (Visit Ukraine – INFORMATION PAGE FOR FOREIGN TOURISTS).
And indeed, travel advisors report that many clients are holding steady on their planned cruises and FITs in the region, if not to Ukraine itself. Still, though, as final payments come due, politics and the drumbeat of military operations are beginning to take a toll.
“I sell cruises only, and I’m a top producer for Virtuoso, so I have lots of people going to that region—and surprisingly few have canceled,” says Linda Speer of Cruises by Linda in Harrison, AR. “Still, I have a group of seven cabins booked on a Baltic cruise in September that’s looking instead for something to do domestically. Between omicron and this Ukraine business, it was just too much uncertainty.”
Of course, that’s something Speer has gotten used to of late Read the rest of this entry »
I’m always on the lookout for living history experiences and new attractions that can add bubble, fizz and pleasant surprises to UK tours. This week, I’m introducing you to six of them that fit that requirement.
York’s annual Viking Festival has been moved from February to June, which means that many more of us can enjoy this mighty celebration of the city’s Nordic origins. This is then followed by the staging of the medieval Mystery Plays, a once in every four years event. In Manchester, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Bridgewater Garden is fast becoming one of the UK’s must-see gardens which, when coupled with the stunning estates in Cheshire and North Wales, will be of great interest to green-fingered customers. Meanwhile, in Liverpool, the brand-new theatre modelled on Inigo Jones’ cockpit-in-court 17th century masterpiece will throw open its doors in the summer.
Read on and let’s be creative about Read the rest of this entry »
Offering up the best of the best in travel isn’t easy; this takes tenacity, an open mind to the traveler’s wants and needs, and a healthy perspective on what a destination has to offer. And Intrepid Travel is a supplier that prides itself on these attributes. They have been a tour provider for 30 years with sustainable travel focused on local perspectives, an expansive list of countries, and even a not-for-profit foundation that has raised millions of dollars.
Intrepid Travel offers up more than 1,150 trips, in 23 countries, on every continent. These include family-friendly vacations, wildlife and polar tours, a journey through local foods, adventure cruising, and adventures like cycling and touring. The destinations of these tours span the world, from seeing Read the rest of this entry »
With interest in travelling to the UK steadily growing, so are the number of ’email conversations’ I’m having with enterprising travel advisors who want to offer their customers some different aspects of their old friend Britain. Some of the customised travel experiences were hallmarked by a selection of the On Location visits highlighted a couple of weeks ago. If you missed them, you can see them again here.
One of the most recent email exchanges was for a family looking for an imaginative countryside and London tour. They didn’t want to travel far, and what has emerged is an action-packed programme that starts in Royal Windsor, travels to Oxford before heading for London, where with jetlag parked, they will be able to get the maximum out of their four nights in the capital.
If this sequence appeals to you, discuss it with your clients and let’s start our own email conversation. Read the rest of this entry »
Although your anglophile clients have been unable to fly to the UK since the end of March 2020 (!), aspects of Britain have been appearing frequently on their/your TV screens with reruns of Endeavour, Morse, Lewis, Poldark, Doc Martin, Father Brown, Keeping up Appearances, Grantchester, Downton Abbey, The Vicar of Dibley, All Creatures Great and Small—along with a whole host of irresistible movies, dramas, and sitcoms.
They’ve done a huge job of waving the GB flag, and I think you’re missing a trick if you’re not talking to some of your frequent UK travellers about how you can customise a tour that blends together leisurely On Location visits for their favourite TV shows with other must-see visits to castles, stately homes, cathedrals, literary shrines all washed down with some memorable meet the locals, pub lunches and suppers.
Here’s a handful of travel-less, see-more suggestions for you to consider. Read the rest of this entry »
Lilly Ajarova, the CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, visited New York last week in preparation of Uganda’s rolling out of a rebranding campaign.
The slogan for the country will change from “Uganda, the Pearl of Africa” to “Exploring Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.”
It’s only one word changed, but as Mark Twain said, the difference of one word can be like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
More important than the change of slogan, the tourism department is changing its idea of how to market itself and to whom.
“We’ve been able to define who our audience is,” Lilly Ajarova told me. “We are looking for travelers, not just tourists, people who are more responsible, more mindful, and travel in a responsible way, as opposed to Read the rest of this entry »
Budapest, with its wonderfully varied architecture, is getting a revamped look of an important part of its history and culture. Buda Castle has been a staple of the landscape of Budapest for 750 years. But, starting in 2019 and continuing into well into this year, Buda Castle and the surrounding district of Budapest is getting a well-deserved upgrade. Dubbed The National Hauszmann Program, this restoration and improvement project has had a substantial impact on what the traveler will witness in an already vibrant destination. Read the rest of this entry »
I LOVE Backroads. What’s to love? The company layers its active adventures, primarily cycling, on top of cruises, both ocean and river. That layering provides the perfect adventure: You spend your days being active, exploring Europe the way many Europeans do, straddling a saddle. Your floating hotel is your oasis for rest and replenishment.
In 2016, I had what turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve had on the rivers, cycling with my son while cruising on AmaWaterways. Check out Backroads Bike Trips & River Boating: A Winning Combination For Active Travelers. Rinse and repeat. In 2019, we cruised Ponant and pedaled Croatia, a wonderful trip that I summed up Read the rest of this entry »
If you are a frequent reader of my Agent’s Perspectives, over the past 19 months or more, you will have seen dozens of bright ideas that will appeal to clients interested in castles, gardens and stately homes, on location and bookshelf tours, and the visual and performing arts. This week, the focus sharpens on a short stack of imaginative ideas for Women Only travel, which hopefully might strike a chord with you. There are more themed tour suggestions in the works!
Read on and let’s release the potential for some Girls Getaways to Britain. Read the rest of this entry »
Known as the gateway to Africa, the country of Morocco is situated in the north of the continent and shares close ties to Europe… culturally and location-wise. With just 8 miles of sea to cross before reaching Spain, the mixture of sometimes vastly different places has created an exotic and exciting location. The busy streets of major cities like Marrakech and Tangier are perfect for people watching from cafes. The mix of cultures that has come together has a way of diversity seldom known around the around. Read the rest of this entry »
With transatlantic flight restrictions being lifted NEXT MONDAY 8TH NOVEMBER, it’s really encouraging to see that United is adding five new flights to London’s Heathrow, including two more flights from New York/Newark, additional trips from both Denver and San Francisco, as well as an all-new direct flight from Boston. Hopefully, this confidence-boosting step will see other carriers following suit in the not-too-distant future. With UK flight connections slowly but steadily being resumed, take a closer look at some of the festivals and events that can become the foundations for a customised tour in June and July. Read the rest of this entry »
With transatlantic flight restrictions between North American and the UK being lifted on 8th November, let’s talk about developing some itineraries that will really appeal to clients who, by next spring, won’t have been to the UK for over two years!
Culturally minded travellers will relish what I can offer them when using the internationally famous festivals in Brighton and Bath as the hubs for 3-4 nighters before reaching London. Murder Mystery fans will enjoy rubbing shoulders with top crime novelists and some pre- and post-Father Brown/Inspector Morse ‘On Location’ visits. Similarly, green-fingered clients will immediately want to know the dates of travel for the Chelsea Flower Show, especially when you share with them the video I’ve included from His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, patron of the National Garden Scheme. There are four more you can use, which you can show to customers to promote your ideas.
Email me and let’s start developing some UK-bound ideas for next May Read the rest of this entry »
When I was in India I took an elephant ride. It’s an attraction that is offered tourists in countries such as India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The elephants were decoratively adorned with colorful weavings. I sat over the shoulders and rocked with the movement as the elephant walked up a hillside toward a temple. It was a thrill to be on the back of such a big, wonderful animal that was generously allowing me to ride on his back. I felt gratitude and friendship for the gentle giant.
I admit, I didn’t give it a lot of thought. It was just a few moments of one day on a 10-day tour. I took the ride, enjoyed it, and then moved on to the next thing on my itinerary. Then one day I met Stephanie Shaw, the corporate liaison for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and I realized what should have been obvious to me in the first place. Of course. Why did I ever think that an elephant would work a day job carrying humans around on his back constantly of his own free will, hour after hour, day after day?
When I learned the story behind the elephant rides, I felt ashamed of myself for being so insensitive to the animal. I was sorry for having participated in it, for helping to perpetuate the practice of selling elephant rides, which requires a kind of captivity and treatment I can hardly bear to imagine.
I assume others who take the rides are like I was. They saw the elephant ride attraction and went on it, not thinking that much about how it came to be that the world’s largest land animal would be submitting itself to serving as a taxi at a tourist attraction Read the rest of this entry »