Know Thy Success – Trisept Solutions

first_imgWritten By: John Ische, President and CEO, Trisept Solutions  We’ve shared how you can better know your customer, your business, your technology solutions and your future. Now, you will know your success. A blog post from Skift, the travel industry’s largest intelligence platform, says that “success for travel agents moving forward rests on continuously learning more and more about their customers,” and that “smart travel agents are evolving to better meet the rising needs of today’s traveler…more emphasis is being placed on building long-term relationships.”1 Meeting (and exceeding) the needs of your clients can be achieved by doing two things: knowing your clients and deciphering data. Those two things can be combined into one action, according to Skift. “The most important data will be collected through human interaction. In-depth conversations and post-trip debriefs will give advisors an advantage that online booking sites can’t replicate. New technology can be a major key for travel agents, as long as the human element is put first,” because even more important than asking the right questions to get the exact data you need is “the unstructured data obtained by in-depth conversations.”1 Don’t be so wrapped up in asking data-focused questions to have a genuine conversation with your client. To run a successful business, a lot of information is needed, and this is especially true if you are a travel agent or agency owner. You not only need to know how to run a business, but you also need to know your clients, know who to network with to grow your business and, most importantly, you need to know travel: the suppliers, the destinations and the products. That is a lot. But don’t be overwhelmed and think you have to manage it all on your own because, as Bernard Marr, a leading business and data expert suggests, “…since computers can process information far faster than we could ever hope to do ourselves, might it be more efficient to simply give them all the data we have available, and let them work out the best method of solving problems for themselves?”2 And he’s right – it is more efficient to have a computer or technology platform find solutions for you. Especially when the platform you use is powered by a cognitive computer system (like IBM Watson) that has the ability to learn and develop using the data you provide it. Data is so powerful for so many industries. But even more so for the travel industry, which is uniquely positioned to use data to its advantage since there are many types of data involved when travelers research and book their vacations. What kind of room a client prefers to stay in on a cruise ship, whether they like direct flights or don’t mind a connecting flight, who they normally travel with – these are all travel preferences that should be used by agents to show that you can customize trip plans down to the smallest detail for your clients. That customization can be automatic when you use a technology platform that can do all of that work for you, with just a quick entry of your client’s data. Now it may seem tedious to enter all of your client’s data into a technology platform, execute a search and sift through all of the results. You may also think that the results you’ll get won’t feel personalized or found with care and understanding, which is what you put into your results each time you send vacation recommendations or quote to a client. But sometimes having results that are unaffected by emotions (like recommending a certain resort or destination that YOU love but may not be right for your client) can be beneficial: “[The computer] will…work through this process in a far faster, more accurate and repeatable fashion, unhindered by emotion, fallibility of logic, or ego.”2 By letting technology find the answers for you, you can make recommendations much faster streamlining your process and giving you time to connect with more clients. With the powerful cognitive computing technology that is available today, travel agents finally have access to 21st century technology to help meet the demands of their 21st century business. Trisept Solutions is the company giving agents that access to IBM Watson, the most powerful cognitive computing platform. Next month, Xcelerator by Trisept Solutions will be launching Discover, a cognitive search feature powered by Wayblazer, an IBM Watson Ecosystem partner focused on travel solutions. The initial launch of Discover will enable lightning-fast searches with cruise lines and hotels based on your client’s vacation requests. It combines a robust inventory of travel product data and current client trip needs to arrive at a detailed itinerary in less time and with more precision. During the third quarter, the full power of Discover will be launched, adding guided and escorted tours and river cruises to multi-modally shop, all integrated with your rich client profile information, making your researching and booking efforts more streamlined and efficient than they’ve ever been. And it’s all powered by your client profiles, so the more information you include for each client, the more accurate and relevant your results will be. If you want to secure your future and set yourself up for success, visit triseptsolutions.com/xcelerator today to start your free test drive and see the impact Xcelerator can have on your business.last_img read more

Romance Travel at Wyndham Grand Rio Mar

first_imgWritten By: Brian Postle, Director of Romance, Wyndham Grand Rio Mar  The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa in Puerto Rico continues to expand its offerings. In addition to the recent multi-million-dollar guestroom renovation, the resort continues to enhance its guest experience options with its New All-Inclusive Offer! Guests that stay 4 nights or longer enjoy a hassle-free vacation and value through the resorts All-Inclusive Program where breakfast, lunch, dinner, beverages and more are included. Five hundred magnificent acres with spectacular ocean, rainforest and lush tropical views serve as backdrops to 400 newly renovated guestrooms and suites and exclusive renovated 48,000 square foot Oceanfront Conference Center; and improvements to all public and recreational areas inspired by Puerto Rico’s rich cultural heritage. Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa provides an exceptional tropical getaway for clients from booking to checkout. The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar is a haven for fun, sun and forging memorable experiences. From sun worshiping on a mile stretch of golden beach to sea turtle nesting encounters, there is much to explore and experience at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa – and since Puerto Rico is a US Commonwealth, no passports or visas are required for US citizens. Essential amenities of the resort remain an attractive feature to guests, including the property’s Greg Norman river golf course, Tom and George Fazio’s oceanfront golf course, two beachfront swimming pools, a 7,000-squarefoot casino, multiple lounges and entertainment venues, and much more. DINE & PLAY IN PARADISE 10 on-site restaurants and lounges provide a world tour of flavors, with ocean views and impeccable island service. Between meals, indulge your gaming fantasies at Rio Mar Casino OUR UPSCALE AMENITIES INCLUDE Rio Mar CasinoAirport Shuttle ($)Complimentary Wi-Fi (excluding Meeting Rooms)Concierge (Lobby & Poolside)Gift Shop, Golf & Tennis Pro Shops ($)24-Hour Front DeskChild Care Services ($)Express Check-in/Check-outPoolside and Oceanfront Cabanas ($)2 Oceanfront Pools – Adult Pool & Activity Pool with Waterslide & Children’s Wading PoolOceanfront Poolside Bar2 Hot Tubs ON-SITE RECREATION3 & 5-Mile Jogging RoutesTwo (2) 18-hole Championship Golf CoursesGolf Driving RangeTennis Complex-11 Har-Tru Courts, 2 Layered Hard CourtsSea Turtle Nesting (seasonal)Dive-in Movie NightsSnorkeling & Scuba Diving (nearby)Kids ActivitiesCultural & Nature ToursWEDDING, MEETING & EVENT SERVICESProfessional Event PlanningCustom CateringDedicated Wedding Team48,000 Sq. Ft. Ocean Front Conference CenterOver 60,000 Sq. Ft of Outdoor Venue Options MANDARA SPA IN PUERTO RICO Wyndham Grand Rio Mar is home to Mandara Spa, a 7,000-ft. facility dedicated to the utmost in Balinese-inspired relaxation techniques Choose from a restorative menu of spa services, including facials, massages, rituals and wraps using indigenous island ingredients. We also offer steam rooms, a full-service hair and nail salon and complete fitness center.last_img read more

Learn from Your Industry Peers at Travel Weeklys CruiseWorld

first_imgBy Mary Pat Sullivan, Content Director, Travel Weekly Events  Travel Weekly has a long-standing partnership with The Travel Professional Community. Bringing members of this community to CruiseWorld each year is critically important to the success of the event and to the caliber of travel advisor attendees. Both Joanie and Tom Ogg have been supportive of CruiseWorld from its inception and last year they brought their son, Andy Ogg, into the CruiseWorld mix. This year’s CruiseWorld will take place November 9-11 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The event will include three days of jam-packed general sessions, more than 30 breakout sessions, a selection of 11 ship inspection options, hosted meal functions and significant networking opportunities. A one-day Exhibitor Showcase will be held on Thursday, November 10 with more than 150 suppliers on hand representing every segment of the travel industry. Today’s travel professionals are often working at home and don’t have the chance to interact in person with their peers and with their supplier partners, so we want to be sure they understand the amazing, dynamic industry of which they are such an important part. We have made it our mission to bring the industry’s leaders to them and let them feel the energy, hear the plans and be reminded that they have, in fact, made a fabulous career choice. Attendees at this year’s event will be able to earn CLIA credits with two new courses available. They’ll also have the opportunity to complete Special Needs Group certification, Hawaii Specialist certification and gain hands-on workshop training from nearly a dozen suppliers including, Avalon Waterways, CCRA, Fathom, Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, Carnival Cruise Line, Exclusive Group Travel, Israel Tourism Board, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and VAX Vacation Access. Travel advisor peers will lead a series of four tracks of sessions on Friday including: Mastering a Market Segment, Marketing Your Business, The Business of Selling Travel and The Awesome Side of What You Do. The Travel Professional Community will be represented by several members as session presenters and moderators. You’ll hear from experts like Donna Alkarmi, Lisa Fletcher, Geoff Millar and Craig Satterfield about their roads to success, along with tips on how to bring your business to the next level. And, of course, Joanie and Andy Ogg will be leading sessions as well. Andy will team up with Marilyn Macallair of Passport Online Inc on Friday for a dynamic session, “Promoting the FUN Factor through Social Media & Websites.” You’ll learn from two of the industry leaders (one from the boomer generation and one from the millennial generation) about how to use websites, emails and social media to excite and engage customers and ultimately build business. Joanie’s session on Friday, “Do What You LOVE, LOVE What You Do, LOVE Working from Home” will explore the myriad of choices and decisions to be made as you begin and manage your travel business. Understanding the options and opportunities will enable you to drive your business on the road to continuing success and make your dreams of owning your own business a reality. Nearly 20 cruise, tour and hospitality executives are set to share their insights on the CruiseWorld stage. Travel Weekly Editor-in-Chief Arnie Weissmann will lead one-on-one discussions with Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. and Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Panel discussions will bring additional industry leaders to the stage including presidents of host agencies, cruise lines, tour operators, river cruise companies and senior sales and marketing executives from throughout the industry. Exclusive to CruiseWorld this year is the private Viewing Launch Party onboard the Harmony of the Seas. Royal Caribbean is inviting CruiseWorld travel advisor attendees to actually be on board the world’s largest cruise ship when she is officially named. Space is limited to the first 500 RSVPs. Once you register for CruiseWorld you will receive more information about how to RSVP for the Viewing Launch Party. To find out more about Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld, the ship inspection roster and the full conference program, visit www.cruiseworldshow.com.last_img read more

Are you looking for Independence Community and Support – Travel Society

first_imgWritten By: Gina Philp, Director Operations, The Travel Society, LLC  The Travel Society has over 30 years of experience as a host travel agency. We were one of the first to facilitate travel professionals working independently while supporting them with 100% dedicated administrative and accounting services. Our full-service host agency is headquartered in Denver, CO and includes over 180 independent travel advisors nationwide including the UK, Bermuda and Sweden! Today, The Travel Society continues to be an innovator and a leader by providing the vital services travel professionals require so they can focus on what they do best, providing memorable experiences for their clients. With our longstanding supplier relationships and impressive sales volume (over 100 Million annually), The Travel Society is able to provide an unparalleled level of service for our travel professionals and their clients. This includes features from seat upgrades, waivers and favors from many airline partners, Net fares and up front airline commissions ranging up to 25%, complimentary spa and golf packages, reduced hotel negotiated rates, free breakfast daily, free transfers and more. WHAT SETS THE TRAVEL SOCIETY APART  Our travel professionals enjoy what some call “the best of both worlds”. The Travel Society affiliates maintain the freedom, flexibility and independence of agency ownership while using the buying power and resources of an international corporation, especially with our membership in Virtuoso. Travel agencies and independent travel professionals with our company are able to focus their attention on sales, customer service, and growth of their own travel business. The Travel Society takes care of the tedious and time consuming details of the day-to-day agency operations and accounting. We offer a variety of options that can be customized to meet each professional’s individual business needs. These options include maintaining an independent store-front business, working remotely from the location of your choice, or working from one of our two Colorado office locations. Regardless of the option you choose, you will enjoy some of the highest commissions available in virtually every aspect of travel planning as well as the benefits of well-established supplier relationships. Our Affiliate Program is perfect for travel professionals who want to operate their business from any location with internet access. The Travel Society provides complete access to what is needed to support those businesses. Whether you choose to work from the comfort of your own home, or a location half way around the world, we are here to support you. Affiliates Enjoy             Flexibility of working from a home office or location of your choiceBook suppliers of your choicePreferred Supplier Partnerships offering you and your client significant additional amenitiesWaivers and Favor Programs to include business and first class upgrades, club passes, penalty waivers, advance purchase waivers, free airline tickets and moreNo charge Seat Checker/Low Fare Finder/Ticket Expiration Reminders and moreHighest commissions in the industryIATANCLIAPATHClientBase OnlineElectronic interactive Itineraries branded and custom personalizedOnce a day email communication reviewing industry and supplier updatesNo long-term contractsLead Generation ProgramCommissions paid every two weeks with backupIBank ReportingAbility to retain business identity and ability to BrandNon GDS -users Proprietary online booking engine for air, hotel, and carNo charge Intranet siteNo charge Website PresenceAfter Hours 24/7 supportFree Personalized email and direct mail MarketingSecure Message boardDedicated vendor ManagerTravel Advisor Orientation1 year Mentor ProgramHelp DeskMonthly In-House Educational WebinarsIn Depth Supplier WebinarsVirtuoso Training AcademyTours (Supplier FAM Trips) One-on-One Supplier Meetings Available Dedicated, exclusive annual meeting “Society Summit” including over 80 suppliers and educational opportunitiesAffiliate members to include Religious Travel International and Planning Partners International THE TRAVEL SOCIETY PREFERRED PARTNER PROGRAMS Through years of selling travel and developing relationships and partnerships with our suppliers, The Travel Society preferred partnerships allow our travel professionals a competitive edge when setting up travel with their clients. The Travel Society’s preferred vendor programs include over 30 airlines offering generous commissions, lodging partners, tour operators, cruise lines, car rental companies, and more. Some of our preferred vendor programs include:Abercrombie & Kent 100 ClubUnited AirlinesAmerican AirlinesApple Vacations Platinum Apple ClubBritish Airways Preferred Selling Agent (PSA)Four Seasons Preferred PartnerFunjet 500 ClubRegent Seven SeasPrincess Cruise LineHertz Agent Gold RewardsMarriott Paradise Elite ClubBelmond Bellini ClubThe Ritz Carlton STARS ProgramRosewood EliteStarwood Luxury PrivilegesPeninsula Pen ClubMarriott AccoladesAnd more! What our agents are saying: “There is no better place for an experienced agent to be than with Travel Society. The support, affiliation, staff and organization of this company are second to none. This is a “host agency” for dedicated professionals. As travel advisors with Travel Society, we are able to totally dedicate our efforts and expertise to excellent service for our clients.” Tom S. “Being a member of The Travel Society and Virtuoso gives my clients VIP status around the world – qualifying them for upgrades, special amenities and one-of-a-kind experiences that are not available to the everyday tourist. It gives me unprecedented access to local expertise.” Dana W. Additionally, all travel professionals at The Travel Society are screened by both a credit and criminal background check, conducted at no additional charge to you! We understand you have a number of options to choose from when it comes to finding the right host travel agency for you.  Our programs are designed to support the experienced travel advisor in maximizing their revenue potential by way of high commission levels, incredible supplier programs, and top-notch technical and marketing services. At The Travel Society, we are 100% dedicated to you and the success of your business and we guarantee you will truly feel like part of a family! Gina PhilpDirector OperationsThe Travel Society, LLC650 S. Cherry St Suite 200Denver, CO 80246303 321-0900 Direct Line 303 563-6223Email ginap@travelsociety.comlast_img read more

Surfing the South Pacific Any Questions – Waterways Travel

first_imgWritten By: Sean Murphy, President, Waterways Travel  Well, as you can see by my “Head Shot”, I am not your typical agency executive.  Born into the Travel Industry, son of James Murphy and brother to Gary Murphy (Brendan Tours / AMA WaterWays), travel is in my blood; but not the sort of travel pioneered by my role model  father; the kind of travel people make a life passion – SURF ADVENTURE TRAVEL! In 1994 WaterWays Travel was established to cater to the needs and desires of the traveling surf community.   Much like people who grew up skiing eventually want to take a Heli-ski trip to Canada, surfers that grew up to be doctors, lawyers and advertising executives now want the equivalent experience surfing around the world; often with family in tow. There is a lot to surf travel; it is not just choosing which river you want to cruise, the details run deep.  As with any semi-extreme adventure travel, the participants often know more than t agents – but this is not the case with WaterWays, all our agents live the lifestyle; so when potential travelers ask: What is the surf season for Fiji, and of those months, which are best and why?Does the wave break left or right?Is the wave soft or hollow?I normally surf around San Diego, can you compare the waves to any of the breaks in my area?Is the bottom structure live coral, dead coral, rock or sand?Is there much of a current?  Does it run up the point or down the point?I’m 5’10” tall and weigh about 180lbs; been surfing most my life, what sort of boards do you suggest I bring on this trip? Well, we have the answers to every location we represent.  And just like standard travel, if they want to know the room configurations, meal plan options and best travel itineraries; well, we have that as well.  These trips are as much about the surf as they are the healthy lifestyle and cultural travel experience.  When not surfing there is always time to take in the sights, visit local villages, do some yoga, fishing, diving or just relax in a hammock or at the bar.  Do it all or nothing at all! And more than ever these surfers are traveling with families so the accommodation options are getting better and some resort properties offer affordable child care. Having taken a chapter from my father’s book, we are always happy to work with travel agents and offer commission on our entire product line.  In addition, we are available to travel agents to assist in closing the sale by working directly with your passengers to cover the “surf specific” details and keep you in the loop to finalize arrangements. The South Pacific is as synonymous with Adventure Surf Travel as Whistler or Blackcomb are with Heli-skiing.  Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti see the bulk of surf travel in the South Pacific and have the best connectivity from the continental United States with carries like Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti Nui.  But of all the South Pacific, Fiji is Mecca and Tavarua Island Resort is The Grand Mosque. A bit on some of the more popular locations: Tavarua Island Resort, Fiji: https://waterwaystravel.com/destination/surf-fiji-tavarua/ The Mother of all world-class surf resorts. Located in the Mamanuca Island chain, about 15 miles southwest of Nadi, Tavarua is a 24 acre heart shaped island. Tavarua offers world class comfort and perfect conditions for surfing, kite-surfing, SUP, diving, fishing, or just getting a tan and reading. Tavarua Island faces south by southwest into the South Pacific and is perfectly positioned to catch all swells coming up from the Southern Ocean. Tavarua comfortably accommodates 36 adults in 16 private bures. They are beautifully made in a traditional island style that is still thoroughly modern in comfort.   The bures are there to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, for the next surf, kite, sailboard, dive, snorkel or SUP session. The food at Tavarua is legendary and tailored to meet the appetites of hungry guests who are playing hard in the ocean and the sun. The buffet is loaded with fresh, healthy foods in generous portions providing energy to restore and reload. Tavarua began as a remote island camp offering the basics to those who love the ocean but today, Tavarua has become a family friendly resort and is finding more and more guests who come as much for the wonderful amenities as for the surf. Namotu Islnad Resort, Fiji: https://waterwaystravel.com/destination/surf-fiji-namotu-island-resort/ Namotu Island is a South Pacific fantasy that is considered world class for surfing, diving, sailboarding, kite surfing, fishing and standup paddle boarding but what really sets Namotu apart is the service and atmosphere. No matter what activity you may be interested in, Namotu’s attentive “can do” staff are there to make it happen on your schedule. Boat transfers go where you want, when you want, and if you want a round of golf, no problem! Helicopter tour? No problem! Scuba diving? No problem! Feel free to do nothing at all but relax in the shade with an icy cocktail, enjoy the company of friends, or rest under the beach palapa in the solitude that only a private island accommodation can deliver. Matanivuis Resort, Fiji: https://waterwaystravel.com/destination/surf-fiji-matanivusi-surf-resort/ Matanivusi Surf Resort is an eco-friendly enclave built specifically to accommodate surfers and family members that are looking for secluded accommodation and challenging waves breaking in crystal clear waters. The Coral Coast of Fiji is the south coast of the main island of Viti Levu, between the Sigatoka River mouth and Suva. Popular with tourists from around the world, the Coral Coast is about 60 miles of coves and isolated jungle with pristine beaches protected by barrier reefs that are anywhere from a quarter mile to a mile wide. The reef pass at the entrance to Vunaniu village has a series of right reefs that Australians Brian and Donna McDonald came across around the turn of the century. With permission from village elders, the McDonalds were allowed to create an eco-friendly surf resort along a stretch of beach about three kilometers from Vunaniu. The resort was built in harmony with the natural terrain and water supply to build 6 duplex bures. Each bure has two king size beds with mosquito nets, comfortable chairs, en suite bathrooms and ceiling fans. The windows are fitted with louvers and glass allowing guests to regulate how much sea breeze flows in and heat flows out. Salani Surf Resort, Somoa: https://waterwaystravel.com/destination/surf-samoa-salani-surf-resort/ Located on the Southeast coast of Upolu, where the spring-fed waters of the Mulivai Fagatoloa River meet the blue South Pacific you will find a small enclave for surfers and their families located near the traditional Salani Village. Salani Surf Resort is for travelers looking to experience the best surfing Samoa has to offer, heartwarming culture, tropical weather and natural beauty. Although Salani is a dedicated surf resort, guests are encouraged to bring along non-surfing partners and families as there are many activities for all to enjoy. A 12 surfer maximum capacity allows every guest to have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience. Salani has access to a number of breaks around the island with the Left and Right being only a 5-minute boat ride straight out front from your accommodation. With moorings in the channel of each spot for safety, it can be an ideal position to shoot photo and video while at the same time maintaining the health of the reef. And for Tahiti, book your passengers into any resort property on Tahiti or Moorea and let our knowledgeable surf guides do the rest.  Our local guides are available to pick up your clients in the morning and get them into the best surf each day with transportation by truck and boat to the off-shore reefs; and back in time for lunch or dinner depending on family and surf conditions.  Photography services are available upon request. https://waterwaystravel.com/destination/tahiti-surf-guides-and-hotels/ In the end, please feel free to use me as a source of information whenever needed.  Call or email me directly and I can get you started; and am happy to provide details on any property we represent, or even those we do not.  I have been surfing everywhere and love to share the information.last_img read more

Top Travel Insurance Myths and Trends for Sellers to Know in 2017 –

first_imgWritten By: Robert Gallagher, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, AIG Travel  It should come as no surprise to sellers of travel that over the past several decades, the travel industry has become of one of the most universally dynamic industries in the world. In fact, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, 284 million people – or about 10 percent of the global job market – are in some way employed by the travel industry. Those who aren’t selling travel, are consuming it, taking full advantage of the affordability and  the increase in air, cruise and hotel capacity.  Air traffic has reached record heights of late. For many experts, 2016 underscores the staying power of this trend as travelers around the world demonstrate their resilience and a continued commitment to travel despite a heightened perception of challenges to travel affecting a variety of destinations, including terrorist activity, outbreaks of infectious disease and instances of social unrest. Accompanying the explosive growth in travel are an ever-increasing number of new destination, accommodation and technology options for a new breed of travelers.  Adventurous travelers are enjoying changes in government policies and now visiting destinations, such as Cuba and Myanmar, which were previously more difficult to visit.  The sharing economy has provided travelers the means to “live like a local” and venture “off the beaten path” at their destinations of choice. While exciting, these developments have also introduced unprecedented “unknowns” into the travel equation; for which many travelers, are inadequately if not entirely unprepared to manage. According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, one in six travelers will have their travel plans adversely affected by medical situations, natural disasters, severe weather occurrences or transportation delays and cancellations; however, less than 25 percent of those travelers will have purchased travel insurance to help them deal with the financial and logistical impact of unexpected events. Those without travel insurance are left to fend for themselves, at risk of the smallest mishap or significant event, all of which can dampen if not ruin their long-awaited trip. One can attribute this relatively low adoption of travel insurance in large part to a general lack of awareness about the value of travel insurance.   Many travelers don’t necessarily think about the multitude of things that can go wrong.  In addition to interrupted or cancelled trips and lost or delayed luggage, many travel insurance policies include coverage for medical emergencies caused by sudden illness or an accident, and medical evacuations (which internationally can cost upwards of $50,000).  Many travel insurance plans also offer travel related services such as 24/7 travel assistance to help with the re-booking of flights, hotel accommodations and more.  Even those travelers who do appreciate that an endless number of circumstances could trigger a need for travel insurance benefits and related services, may have other misconceptions that prevent them from purchasing a travel insurance policy. Sometimes, exposing and dispelling “myths,” such as those listed below, is all that’s needed for a travel seller to convince a reluctant customer of the significant benefits to travel insurance and ensure that customer is well positioned to get the most out of their travel plans: Their credit card covers them: Many consumers don’t purchase travel insurance because they believe coverage from other sources fully protects them in the event of a travel emergency or mishap. For example, credit cards, which often promote their travel protection benefits, typically offer more limited coverage. While they may offer base coverage for lost or stolen items or trip cancellation (assuming your customer purchased their travel with the card in question), many have low coverage limits, and very few offer any sort of coverage for medical emergencies or evacuations abroad (often, the priciest contingencies travelers may face).Their medical coverage travels with them: Many consumers don’t realize that while they may have great health insurance here in the U.S., many or all of those benefits may not apply the moment they leave the country. Even plans that offer some level of coverage abroad are unlikely to cover emergency evacuations in the case of a catastrophic event. Passengers who think coverage for this scenario is only necessary when undertaking some risky activity, such as mountain hiking or zip lining, should think again.  Travelers may need to be evacuated for even relatively minor issues if proper medical staff isn’t readily available.A basic travel insurance plan will cover everything: Many travelers don’t realize that not all insurance programs are created equal.  Many basic plans don’t include a full range of benefits which cover extraordinary instances.  In addition, some basic plans may carry exclusions that would surprise travelers.  Travel sellers should encourage their customers to read and review their policies, and if additional protection is desired, encourage them to consider upgrading their coverage.  For example, a “Cancel for Any Reason” plan, as the name suggests, allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason that is not otherwise covered by a basic plan.Travel insurance is expensive: For many consumers, travel may already be an expensive proposition and tacking on added expenses like travel insurance can feel prohibitive. While the cost of travel insurance can vary significantly depending on the provider, the desired coverages and services, and the cost of the trip, there is one common element of travel planning in that accidents and unforeseen events happen, and for the one in six travelers who experience them, travel insurance may very well pay for itself. Those lucky enough to not need their travel insurance coverage, may still experience added benefits, such as 24/7 concierge services, offered by some providers, as well as the freedom of knowing that, if the worst were to happen, they’d have financial protection and the guidance and expertise of someone who’s likely dealt with the situation before. While dispelling travel insurance “myths” is a key to successful selling, smart travel professionals may also want to look ahead to the following four travel trends, and consider how they – applied to a strong existing sales strategy – may have the potential to boost their revenues and selling power in 2017: Limited Lines Travel Insurance Model Act: In 2012, a coalition including the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA), and insurance regulators and legislators introduced the Limited Lines Travel Insurance Model Act, designed to reduce the licensing barriers travel sellers must overcome in order to offer travel insurance to their customers – for example, the act would remove the requirement that agents who sell travel insurance must be licensed in the state in which the policy is sold. The law has been passed in a majority of jurisdictions, enabling more travel sellers to offer travel insurance to their customers, albeit subject to a number of limitations. Travel sellers should weigh the pros and cons of full licensure versus this easier but more limited option and make the best decision for themselves and their customers.Travel Risk Management: While travel risk management has long been a widely-discussed trend in the business travel sphere – where globalization has spurred companies to send more and more of their employees overseas, often for long periods of time and to potentially risky locations – the concept is now also making its way to the leisure space. On the business side, the general idea is that businesses have a “duty to care” for their traveling employees by offering value-added benefits, such as travel accident and assistance insurance, to minimize their personal risk. This translates to the consumer side via the thought that travel sellers have a duty to inform their clients both of potential risks they may face abroad and of ways to mitigate those risks. Not only is this thought of as the right thing to do, but it’s also increasingly necessary to minimize potential legal liability resulting from not making such options clear enough to customers. In 2017, travel sellers should be aware of this evolving trend, and consider value-added services – such as pre-trip advisories, real-time incident tracking and other alerts offered by travel insurance partners to minimize their clients’ risk.One-Stop Solutions: It’s no secret that rapidly evolving online and mobile platforms have – for better or for worse – forever changed the travel selling landscape. What it’s also done, however, is accustom customers to immediate and integrated solutions for just about everything. When evaluating potential travel insurance providers, travel sellers and their customers should be looking for a service that “does it all.” Some important items on the check list include: Knowledge and expertise in the “business” of travel insurance – a consultative partner who can structure your travel insurance program.A full range of trip types and travel styles.A track record of service excellence (after all, the service your partners provide your customers is an extension of your own).Universal capacity to pay claims.Global infrastructure to take care of your clients anywhere in the world.Sustainable travel: Otherwise referred to as Ecotourism or Green travel. Whatever term you use to describe it, travelers are increasingly expressing an interest in making sure their travels have a neutral to favorable impact on the cultures, economies and geopolitical structures of the places they visit. However, according to a recent AIG Travel poll, while 52 percent of travelers say it’s important to travel sustainably, more than one third (35 percent) report difficulty doing so. In response, AIG Travel recently partnered with Tourism Cares to help travel sellers respond to this trend.  The new online training and certification program for travel agents, launched at the ASTA Global Convention in Reno, Nevada on September 26, educates travel sellers to “help travelers give and volunteer better, creating powerful experiences and connections while improving the impact of their contributions.” Similar to an offer of travel insurance, knowledge from this course when shared elevates the travel seller’s value proposition and in turn, strengthens their relationships with their clients. Robert Gallagher is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AIG Travel. In his role, Robert assists with the development and execution of AIG Travel’s global business plan. He also manages AIG Travel’s relationships with Travel industry organizations and serves as the business leader for Travel acquisitions, joint ventures and other corporate development matters.last_img read more

A Look into IGLTA

first_imgWritten By: LoAnn Halden, Communications Director, IGLTA  The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association began in 1983 when a small group of travel agents and gay guesthouse owners united in South Florida with the idea of creating a networking organization that would help them to provide safe vacations for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients. Despite its small U.S. base, they called it “international,” and IGLTA has lived up to its name. Today, the association has member businesses in more than 70 countries on all six inhabited continents who are united in their desire to providing and promoting LGBT-welcoming travel. IGLTA members are travel agents, tour operators, accommodations, destinations, airlines and other transportation companies, events and travel media. IGLTA was also the first LGBT organization to become an Affiliate Member of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and has partnerships with the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), the European Travel Commission (ETC), the European Tourism Association (ETOA), National Tour Association (NTA) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), among many others. What the early IGLTA founders couldn’t have imagined, two decades before marriage equality was on the table anywhere in the world, was that the LGBT travel market would become such a vibrant and substantial part of the tourism space. The combined buying power of the LGBT adult population in the United States for 2015 is estimated at $917 billion, according to an analysis by Witeck Communications in Washington, D.C. This figure reflects roughly 6 to 7 percent of the adult U.S. population as willing to self-identify as LGBT. San Francisco-based Community Marketing & Insights, which has researched the LGBT travel industry for over 20 years, estimates that the annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is more than $75 billion in the U.S. alone. Given that there are still more than 70 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal, global data on the size of the LGBT community remains elusive. But even applying a more conservative 3 percent LGBT population estimate to the 2015 international tourist arrival figures from the UNWTO means that approximately 35 million overnight visitors who traveled to international destinations around the world last year were LGBT. For any travel agent interested in expanding their client base, this is a valuable segment of the market that should not be overlooked. IGLTA can assist your business as an informational and networking tool and also with promotion to LGBT consumers. Marketing & OutreachIGLTA members receive a dynamic online profile on iglta.org that links to their business website and social media platforms. We encourage engagement with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and use these platforms to showcase our diverse array of LGBT-welcoming members, from large mainstream companies like Delta Air Lines and Hilton Worldwide to independent tour operators and travel agents. These online resources are always available if you want to get an idea of the types of businesses that are supporting LGBT tourism. We also conduct a variety of consumer giveaways throughout the year that showcase travel packages from our members. Staff is available to answer questions and provide guidance from our Fort Lauderdale headquarters or our Washington, D.C.-based membership office. We have a team of volunteer ambassadors in more than 20 countries and regions who can answer questions that are destination specific. The IGLTA rainbow flag logo, a globally recognized symbol for an LGBT-friendly business, is available for all members to use on their websites or marketing collateral. But, it’s not enough to add a logo to your website and then sit back and wait for the LGBT business to roll in. We often meet business owners who say, “Of course I’m gay-friendly,” but consumers can distinguish between someone who is after the so-called pink dollars and someone who is genuinely interested in making everyone feel welcome. If you’re a travel agent (or any type of tourism business) interested in the market, there are three key things you should keep in mind:  Be inclusive. You don’t need to offer only LGBT trips, but showcasing some LGBT events and packages alongside mainstream offerings goes a long way. Also, think about the language and imagery you use in your marketing materials. Does it only show heterosexual couples or do you see same-sex couples, families and groups mixed in? Do your romance packages use gender-neutral language? Everyone wants to see themselves in the mix. When you’re handling bookings, don’t make assumptions. Most LGBT couples can share a story about checking into a hotel and being asked if they’d like two beds instead of one, or receiving a welcome card addressed to Mr. & Mrs. You need to feel comfortable having conversations about the needs of your LGBT clients if you want to successfully represent them.  Do your homework. It’s important to understand global LGBT rights because they directly impact tourism and the safety of your clients. Do you know which countries still have laws criminalizing homosexuality? Which countries allow same-sex non-residents to marry while on holiday? IGLA, the International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association is a good resource for worldwide laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Seek out LGBT media outlets with travel coverage, such as Curve (for lesbians), Passport Magazine, OUT, GayCities or ManAboutWorld to keep on top of market trends. There are a number of LGBT travel blogs that offer great insight into the millennial mindset, such as Dopes on the Road, Two Bad Tourists, Travels of Adam and the Nomadic Boys. IGLTA maintains calendars of LGBT events and tour offerings on its website, so you’ll be able to tell your clients that World Pride 2017 will be held in Madrid and the next Gay Games is set for Paris in 2018 without missing a beat. As acceptance has grown, so have the number of destinations that court LGBT travelers and the options for LGBT travelers seeking group tours. In the early days of LGBT travel marketing, there were two types of destinations: cities with sizable LGBT populations and large Pride events such as Sydney, New York, Toronto, and Berlin or resort towns with a concentration of gay-specific guesthouses. Now, we’re seeing less obvious locales getting engaged. Yokohama, Japan celebrated Pride for the first time in 2015 with its Rainbow Festa. Monaco is one of the most recent destinations to join IGLTA.  Be engaged. Get involved with your local LGBT community or chamber of commerce. Attend Pride and other LGBT events. Network with IGLTA. When LGBT travelers have positive experiences, they are known to be loyal, repeat customers. “It’s important to recognize that the LGBT market is not a one size fits all market,” said John Tanzella, IGLTA President/CEO. “We’re interested in many kinds of travel experiences – culture, gastronomy, shopping, sports, adventure – just like our heterosexual counterparts. We travel in couples and with groups of friends, solo and with our families. What we all share is the need to feel safe and welcomed.” Networking & EducationIGLTA participates in a variety of travel trade shows around the world each year, including those hosted by our organizational partners and some large global events like World Travel Market in London and ITB Berlin. (Our weekly eNewsletter provides updates.) At many of these we host networking events to benefit our IGLTA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of our association, which funds research, education and leadership development opportunities for LGBT tourism professionals. Whether you are new to the market or have been selling LGBT travel for many years, the best way to build industry connections and receive news of the latest trends is to attend IGLTA’s Annual Global Convention. Our 34th edition of this global educational and networking event will be held 4-6 May 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Renaissance Vinoy St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club and registration is now live. Roger Dow, President/CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, will deliver a welcome address at the conference, focusing on data from the U.S. travel market. Applications are also open for our Buyer/Supplier Marketplace, the only global appointment-driven LGBT networking event of its kind for LGBT tourism. Held in conjunction with the IGLTA Annual Global Convention, it creates one-on-one timed meetings between leaders in outbound LGBT tourism bookings and LGBT-welcoming travel providers. Approved buyers receive free registration for the three-day IGLTA convention, including all educational sessions and evening networking events, in addition to the marketplace. Buyers who complete registration before December 31 are entered into a drawing for one of three $200 American Express gift cards. “Our Buyer/Supplier Marketplace has proven to be an extremely popular addition to the convention as our members are always looking for more ways to generate direct LGBT business,” Tanzella said. “We expect the 2017 marketplace to be the largest yet.” For more information on IGLTA and the benefits of joining, please email membership@iglta.org or visit our website at iglta.org. Follow us @iglta. Complete details on the IGLTA Annual Global Convention are available at iglta.org/convention. Information on the IGLTA Foundation can be found at iglta.org/foundation.last_img read more

An Interview with ACTA

first_imgTravel Professional NEWS® speaks with ACTA.  What was the original purpose for the formation of this association? The original purpose of the formation of the association was to become autonomous from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). To that point Canadian Travel Agency retail interests were represented by ASTA and known as ASTA Canada. Recognizing that it was becoming a challenge to represent our own Canadian interests, in 1977 the decision was made to form our own association, initially named the Alliance of Canadian Travel Associations. Our purpose was to serve as the focal point for the retail travel services industry. To provide effective leadership in a number of key strategic areas on behalf of the retail travel industry members, where ideas and resources are pooled into initiatives designed to create and maintain a healthy business and legislative environment in where the retail travel agent industry will thrive and consumers receive professional and meaningful travel counseling. Does that purpose still have a role, x years later?YES. ACTA is extremely active with purpose. Proudly representing and defending the interests of the retail travel agency services industry to keep it well equipped to face the challenges of a constantly evolving travel industry. Despite our “purpose” remaining the same, our strategy and work plans have not. We have an active Board of Directors that oversee carefully considered strategies and the plans to achieve our goals and objectives. The ACTA board of directors approves the strategic direction that aligns its resources around the following four pillars to ensure membership dollars are effectively utilized. ADVOCATE – In the interests of the retail travel industry to government, suppliers and organizations through one strong voiceEDUCATE AND ELEVATE – Industry standards and professionalism through certification and other learning opportunities.PROMOTE – The value of retail travel to the consumer and actively position the travel agent as the authority in travel.CONNECT – Our members with the information, contacts and programs they need to be more effective. Specific projects and initiatives under these pillars have been developed and you are invited to contact your ACTA regional office to find out more! How has your organization changed over the last 10 years to meet the changing demands of travel agents? ACTA has remained agile in a forever changing landscape. We fully recognize that times have changed and we have and continue to change with the times. A decade earlier ACTA did not have the same relationships we have today with sister associations, suppliers, and retailers. ACTA’s involvement globally and locally, both in leisure and corporate gives ACTA a clear view and long reach into issues that affect travel retailers and the Managed Corporate Travel Industry markets. ACTA understands that the requirements of Travel Agencies and suppliers do not always correspond. However, it is critical to remain transparent with both sides if we are expected to work together and be well equipped to thrive during major economic cycles and to face the challenges of an evolving travel industry. All sides play enormous roles in the professionalism, service, and protection for the travelling public and are critical in the sustainability of our lobby and advocacy efforts while ensuring the costs to our members remain reasonable. ACTA believes that the supplier should always play a role in supporting the travel agent community. And, of course, what travel agents want to know: what have you done for them lately? Advocate:Travel Health Insurance:Working with the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) toward an objective of one standard for selling travel insurance across Canada. Contributing to the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) recent review of any existing misalignment between consumer’s expectations and industry practices. Engaging the Alberta Insurance Council in fruitful dialogue on the importance of our involvement in decisions surrounding the sale of Travel Health Insurance. Government and Regulation: ACTA was nominated and accepted for a seat at Québec’s OPC stakeholder meetings.The Ontario government has opened the Travel Industry Act for a full review and ACTA is closely involved in this process on behalf of our members. The Ontario government is also reviewing the Employment Standards Act which ACTA responded to and will continue to monitor next steps in this process. International Air Transport Authority (IATA): ACTA sits on an IATA joint committee with equal representation between retailers and airlines. Of upcoming importance is the review of the Local Financial Criteria which can impact your financial requirements if you hold an IATA appointment. ACTA is evaluating concerns related to credit capping under IATA’s new generation of their settlement systems which facilitates the distribution and settlement of funds in between travel agents and airlines. IATA formed a Working Group to look into Agency Debit Memos. ACTA will continue to advise members of their progress. Educate:ACTA Learning Campus: Certified Travel Counsellor and Certified Travel Manager prep courses are now available online.All Air Canada Global Sales University modules are now available.Supplier specialist programs are now available for your continuing education requirements. Promote:ACTA contributes as an expert resource for consumer facing media on topics allowing us to promote the value of a Travel Agent to consumers. ACTA promotes our members at consumer shows (in cities including Halifax, Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton) and through our websites and directories.  Connect:ACTA provides successful opportunities for members to learn, network and share ideas including: conferences (Travel MarketPlace, Educator’s and Student), golf tournaments and seminars (fraud).ACTA offers a Member Discount Program to reduce operating expenses including: Insurance, savings on Canada Post pre-paid envelopes, and savings on credit card merchant services to name a few. ACTA’s strategic focus for 2016 – 2018… Over the next three years, ACTA Board members agreed that there will be additional emphasis put on the following areas:Enhancing the ACTA Value Proposition – Build awareness and understanding of ACTA’s value proposition to the Travel Agency community as well as consumer understanding of the value of purchasing travel services from travel professionals.Enhancing Industry Education and Professionalism – By designing, creating, and executing a strategy for certification and education to increase professionalism and ultimately support the brand promise.Enhancing Member Benefits – Making the ACTA Membership Card as the “card of choice” within the Canadian Travel Industry – Requested by Agents and Acknowledged by Suppliers.last_img read more

SmallGroup Luxury Takes Flight on New Wings Over the World Journeys

first_imgAbercrombie & Kent announces two new itineraries to Australia and the Mediterranean, featuring the convenience of privately-chartered flights  January 13, 2017- Abercrombie & Kent has expanded their Wings Over the World portfolio for 2017 to offer four regional journeys that combine the advantages of A&K luxury small-group travel with the comfort and ease of privately-chartered flights.  First introduced in China and India last year, A&K developed two intriguing new itineraries for 2017: Wings Over the Mediterranean, which reveals ancient and modern wonders from Portugal and Spain to Italy and Croatia, and Wings Over Australia, which offers the best of the continent, including mystical Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef. Wings Over the World journeys feature privately-chartered flights between destinations. This not only offers guests the convenience of visiting remote places with less time spent getting there, but a more enjoyable travel experience on the ground and in the air. From hassle-free flight departures and arrivals and the ability to avoid long waits at airports due to commercial aviation schedules, to separate terminals and faster check-in procedures. In the air, the experienced crews aboard the chartered planes offer personalized in-flight service, in a comfortable, sociable atmosphere. “The greatest luxury for our guests is time – especially when spent with family and friends or doing something they’re passionate about, like travel. Our Wings Over the World itineraries are so expertly planned and seamlessly executed that they enable travellers to get the absolute most from their journey,” explains Abercrombie & Kent President, Phil Otterson. “Whether on a complex itinerary, visiting cosmopolitan cities and rural villages, or traversing a continent, every minute saved flying between destinations means more time on the ground to experience them.” These journeys offer exclusive insider access only possible for a small group of travellers; from private museum openings to visits with local people in their own homes and stays at one of-a-kind hotels that can’t accommodate larger groups. The group size reflects the size of the plane, from 13 in China and the Mediterranean to 20 guests in Australia.  Each departure is led by an A&K Resident Tour Director® who has lived for decades, or their entire lives, in the destination, and provides insights into the culture that can only come from being a local. NEW! Wings Over the MediterraneanImmerse yourself in iconic and storied locales surrounding the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, from Lisbon and Barcelona to Monaco and the Amalfi Coast, and on to Dubrovnik and the Elafiti Islands. Discover the wonders of Portuguese royalty during a day exploring the castles at Sintra. Explore the life and works of surrealist master Salvador Dalí on a day trip to Figueres. Enjoy a two-night stay in Monaco, where you have an exclusive after-hours visit to the Prince’s Palace. Explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii and relax along the incomparable Amalfi Coast. Tour Dubrovnik and visit a traditional silk weaver, before cruising the verdant ElafitiIslands by private yacht. Limited to 13 guests; 14 days from $29,995 (May 23–Jun 5; Sep 12–25, 2017) NEW! Wings Over AustraliaExplore Australia from Melbourne to the Outback, the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney, staying in the very best accommodations in every location. Discover Melbourne, privately visiting a family sheep ranch and enjoying a full day of touring in the Yarra Valley winelands. Relax with a two-night stay at Longitude 131° — a five-star, tented eco-camp with stunning views of majestic Uluru (Ayers Rock). Experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day private excursion. Discover the best of Sydney, touring the Sydney Opera House, cruising around Sydney Harbour, viewing native Australian species firsthand at Taronga Zoo and exploring the famed Rocks District. Limited to 20 guests; 13 days from $25,495 (Sep 25–Oct 7, 2017; Feb 19–Mar 3, 2018) Luxuries That Make a World of DifferenceExperience locally inspired moments crafted by A&K’s experts, such as a charming neighborhood visit by horse-drawn carriage or rickshaw when you Ride Like a Local, or a refreshing cocktail — a Scenic Sundowner — set in an unforgettable location against a breathtaking sunset. Guests also appreciate Traveller’s Valet®, complimentary mid-journey laundry service, Travelling Bell Boy® service to transfer luggage from hotel to hotel, along with private arrival and departure transfers and most gratuities included. The authentic taste of local cuisine can be the highlight of any journey. A&K provides a balanced mix of planned group meals — including celebratory welcome and farewell dinners — and mealtimes left unscheduled. Guests can also experience favorite local restaurants, join a Chef’s Table experience featuring a culinary demonstration, and enjoy an à la carte dinner at their leisure, on A&K. For more information and a full list of departures, please visit www.abercrombiekent.com, call 800.554.7094 to speak with an A&K Travel Consultant or contact your travel professional for more informationlast_img read more

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Announces New 201819 Voyages Aboard Worlds Most Luxurious

first_imgMIAMI, Jan. 25, 2017 – Set forth on a luxurious journey of a lifetime with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The most inclusive luxury cruise line today announced its summer 2018 through spring 2019 voyage collection, comprising 113 alluring itineraries aboard Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator, and the newly launched Seven Seas Explorer. These four ships will call at some of the most fascinating destinations in the world, among which are 28 maiden ports and 23 breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage sites. Guests will immerse themselves in cultures, cuisines and traditions with the line’s free unlimited shore excursions on all voyages and through included three-night, pre- or post-cruise land programs on Asia and Africa sailings. Throughout, each staff and crew member delivers exceptional, personalized service to every guest, for which Regent Seven Seas Cruises is renowned. Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ summer 2018 through spring 2019 voyages are now open for reservations. For more information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises or specific itineraries, please contact a professional travel agent; visit www.rssc.com; or call 1-844-4REGENT (1-844-473-4368). “We’ve created a highly impressive array of voyages worldwide that will delight and awe our guests,” said Jason Montague, president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “For the intrepid traveler, we also introduced a new Grand Voyage that delves into the Northern Atlantic and Arctic Circle, as well as our 13th annual World Cruise. There is no better inclusive-luxury experience than Regent and we look forward to sharing the world with our guests.” World’s Most Luxurious Ship Returns to Europe and Inaugurates Africa VoyagesLaunched in July 2016 and recognized as the most luxurious ship ever built, Seven Seas Explorer returns to Europe for a second consecutive summer season in May 2018. The ship will sail throughout the Mediterranean, North and Baltic seas on seven- to 12-night voyages and make maiden calls at Portimao, Portugal; Lysekil, Sweden; and Bodo and Haugesund, Norway. Seven Seas Explorer then commences its maiden Africa season on two epic voyages that showcase the continent’s west coast, a 24-night, Lisbon (Portugal)-to-Cape Town (South Africa) itinerary, followed by a 15-night, round-trip New Year’s voyage. The ship then heads west to South America for its vibrant rhythms, colors and cultures as it rounds the horn to Los Angeles via the western coast. Chic Mediterranean and Authentic Caribbean Seven Seas Voyager also will sail the Mediterranean in summer 2018, with many seven-night itineraries that include calls at some of the region’s most chic destinations, as well as maiden calls at Korcula and Hvar, Croatia; Saint-Raphael, France; Lipari, Sicily, Italy. The ship will winter in the Caribbean, alternating seven- to 12-night, Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, which travelers can combine to immerse themselves in the region. New Caribbean ports-of-call for the line are picturesque Port Antonio, Jamaica, as well as Charlestown, Nevis, the birthplace of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Remote Wonders of the Pacific and Australia Seven Seas Mariner will offer a variety of adventures throughout the Pacific, starting with Alaska in summer 2018. The ship then charts the South Pacific in the autumn to Asia and Australia, presenting the grand cities and historic, cultural landmarks of the Pacific Rim and Southeast Asia, and calling at Broome, Australia, and Oarai, Japan, for the first time. From Sydney, travelers can join Seven Seas Mariner on the Grand Aussie Adventure, a new 36-night circumnavigation of the continent, sailing Dec. 15, 2018. Grand Arctic, Canada and New England, and the WorldRegent Seven Seas Cruises’ most intimate ship, Seven Seas Navigator, will offer three very distinct programs, starting with an 89-night, Grand Arctic Splendor voyage that begins and ends in New York. The Grand Artic Splendor voyage is comprised of six sailings that call at 63 non-repeating destinations in Canada and New England, Greenland and Iceland, North and Baltic Seas, as well as into the Arctic Circle to reach the White Sea. On this adventure, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and Archangel, Russia, will be maiden ports. The ship will then sail a range of unforgettable Canada and New England cruises between New York and Montréal to showcase the autumn foliage and exciting cities of Quebec and the Northeast U.S. To kick off 2019, Seven Seas Navigator will embark on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 13th World Cruise, an epic 131-night adventure that calls at 62 unique ports across the Hawaii Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, Asia and the Mediterranean. Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 2019 World Cruise is comprised of seven distinct itineraries, calling at 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and making maiden calls at Kingfisher Bay (Fraser Island), Australia; Makassar (Sulawesi), Indonesia; and Puerto Princesa, Philippines. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 425 destinations around the globe. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is currently undergoing a $125 million fleetwide refurbishment that will elevate the level of elegance found throughout the fleet to the standard set by Seven Seas Explorer, which entered service on July 20, 2016, and has since been recognized as the most luxurious ship ever built. A leader in luxury cruising, the line’s fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, exquisite cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, gratuities, ground transfers and a pre-cruise hotel package for guests staying in concierge-level suites and higher. Beginning in summer 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises also will include Business Class air for all intercontinental flights. For the latest news about Regent Seven Seas Cruises, please visit www.rssc.com/news, and follow @RegentCruises on Twitter.last_img read more

Viking Ocean Cruises Takes Delivery Of Third Ship

first_imgViking Sky will be christened under the midnight sun in Tromsø, Norway  Los Angeles (January 26, 2017) – Viking Ocean Cruises® (www.vikingoceancruises.com) today announced it took delivery of Viking Sky®, the company’s third ship. The delivery ceremony took place this morning when the ship was presented at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Ancona, Italy. On February 25, Viking Sky will set sail from Rome’s port at Civitavecchia and will make her way through the Mediterranean on her maiden voyage. After sailing spring itineraries throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Viking Sky will make her way to officially be christened under Norway’s “midnight sun” on June 22 in Tromsø – a nod to Viking’s Norwegian heritage. Following the christening, Viking Sky will continue her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic before crossing the Atlantic in September on her way to the Americas and the Caribbean. “In the past two years, we have been encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response our first two ocean ships have generated among our guests and travel industry partners. Today we mark an important milestone in welcoming the third ship to our fleet. By the end of 2017 – our 20th year in business – we will also welcome our fourth ship, doubling our fleet in less than a year,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “With our fast-growing fleet and innovative design, we look forward to introducing even more experienced travelers to The Viking Way of destination-focused itineraries in the years to come.” Classified by Cruise Critic® as a “small ship,” the all-veranda Viking Sky is a sister ship to the award-winning Viking Star and Viking Sea, which launched in 2015 and 2016, respectively, to customer and industry acclaim. In its first year of operation, Viking Ocean Cruises was named #1 Ocean Cruise Line in Travel + Leisure’s 2016 “World’s Best Awards.” Viking’s ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 staterooms and accommodate 930 guests. In November 2017, Viking will also welcome Viking Sun®, which will spend her maiden season sailing the company’s first-ever World Cruise, which spans 141 days, five continents, 35 countries and 66 ports. Viking Spirit® will join the fleet in 2018 and will sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019 and will mark Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line. The Viking Difference Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port, more overnights and fewer days at sea. Onboard, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. All-veranda ships mean that guests experience every day with a new, expansive vista. With the most al fresco dining at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking’s guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences. In addition, Viking Inclusive Value provides a small ship experience at a big ship value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than $200 per person, per day for an average cruise. Media Assets For more information, images and b-roll for Viking Ocean Cruises, contact vikingpr@edelman.com.  About Viking Cruises Viking Cruises, the leader in river and small ship ocean cruising, offers destination-focused itineraries designed for experienced travelers who have an interest in geography, culture and history. In its first year of operation, Viking Ocean Cruises was rated the #1 ocean cruise line in Travel + Leisure’s 2016 “World’s Best” Awards, which came on the heels of being rated the highest of all cruise lines in the 2015 “World’s Best” Awards. Viking currently operates a fleet of 61 vessels, offering scenic cruising along the rivers and oceans of the Americas, Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, and Southeast Asia. By 2019 the company will operate six 930-guest ocean cruise ships and will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, North America and the Caribbean. In addition to the Travel + Leisure honors, Viking has also been honored multiple times on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” as well as recognized by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Itineraries,” with the entire Viking Longships® fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s Editors’ Picks Awards. For additional information, contact Viking Cruises at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464) or visit www.vikingcruises.com.last_img read more

Travvys 2017 And The Luxury Hotel and Resort Nominees Are…

first_imgThe Travvys, presented by travAlliancemedia, will once again recognize the highest standard of excellence in the industry today, honoring travel companies, products, and destinations for their outstanding achievement. This year’s event will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 at New York City’s Gotham Hall, a return to the venue that 2016 event goers said was the perfect setting to match the glamor and top-notch prize that is the golden Travvy statuette. Voting has concluded and we can now announce this year’s nominees. In the luxury hotel category, the nominees are: Best Luxury Hotel/Resort – MexicoVilla del Palmar at the Islands of LoretoGrand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach CancunHyatt Zilara CancunME CaboSecrets Akumal Riviera MayaThe St. Regis Mexico Citylast_img read more

Travel Planners International Announces February Partner of the Month Norwegian Cruise Line

first_imgORLANDO, FL – February 1, 2017 – Travel Planners International, a top travel host and sales, marketing and support agency for the travel professional, has started a new program – Partner of the Month. The all-new, exclusive initiative highlights preferred supplier partners each month. POM is a great example of how the organization strives to bring new initiatives and events to engage preferred partners with the TPI family. February’s Partner of the Month is Norwegian Cruise Line, an innovator in cruise travel with a 49-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising. They revolutionized the cruise industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal cruise vacation on their schedule. Today, Norwegian invites guests to “Feel Free” to explore the world on one of 14 purpose-built ships, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed, resort style cruise vacation on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea. Travel agent Nelson Ivan Rochet Roam said, “In the year 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line, became one of my best allies and sales partner in the Caribbean. NCL fulfilled my clients’ expectations; such as: fun and entertainment, value, attractions, cuisine and elegance, with its unique, trendy and modern Freestyle Cruising policy offering Amenities Free at Sea, and all this with the strengths of his competitors without losing its personality as a cruise line.” It’s no surprise that in 2016 Norwegian Cruise Line was name “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the eighth consecutive year, as well as “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” for the third time and “World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line” for the fourth straight year by the World Travel Awards. “TPI and NCL together represent one of the best partnerships. Both companies are ground breaking innovators who are not afraid of change. And the relationships between the two sales organizations are outstanding. We are happy and proud to partner with our friends and colleagues at TPI,” said Clark Reber, Director, Independent Travel Professionals, Norwegian Cruise Line.  ABOUT TRAVEL PLANNERS INTERNATIONAL:Travel Planners International is a marketing and support agency for new and experienced travel professionals. Travel agents partner with Travel Planners International for their profit-generating marketing programs, consumer connect options, negotiation power, small-business training events and time-saving back-office support. Being an advocate for the travel industry as a whole, Travel Planners International educates and connects consumers directly to their collection of specialized travel agents and preferred industry suppliers through their interactive consumer-facing website, strong social media presence, direct consumer marketing, as well as their collaborative ventures with complementary industry associations and consortia. For more information, please visit http://www.travelplannersinternational.com. Jenn Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing Travel Planners International 407-331-3888, ext. 8226 jennl@tpionline.comlast_img read more

Travel Professional Success Stories – Danny Genuine

first_imgTravel Professional Name: Danny GenungAgency Name: Harr Travel Inc.Location: Redlands, CAHost Agency Name: NexionYears as a Travel Professional: 12Specialization or Niche: Cruise and Private Guided Custom Guided Groups  What led you to be a Travel Professional?  Growing up my grandfather had a small agency that specialized in incentive travel but did a little leisure as well.  I started cruising at a young age and immediately fell in love with exploring the world. When I was a teenager my first job was at my grandpa’s office sorting brochures, putting together documents and checking the fax machine.  I spent thousands of hours learning and dreaming about destinations, cruise ships, cruise itineraries and exotic travel.  It was the experiences that made me dream about traveling though.  I will never forget going to Europe with my grandparents when I was 16.  I had just finished an AP European History class and then I got to see castles, cathedrals, the Vatican, Louvre and the Hermitage.  History came alive and was real on this adventure. At which point did you know that this was the career for you?  When I was in college I had the best study abroad experience possible where spent nearly 6 months visiting every corner of Europe.  I met my wife in Austria and we both knew that travel would always be central to our lives.  I started teaching full time and travel became my second career that I did on nights and weekends for 10 years.  About 18 months ago when my wife and I found out we were going to be parents, we made the decision together that I would go all in and pursue my dream of owning and running a successful travel agency.  With the mentorship of Jackie Friedman, Nexion President, I hired a full staff and took off running full speed ahead.  Now I work a job that I love every day and get to be with my daughter throughout the day.  She is with me right now sailing the Mexican Riviera while I work. Did defining your Specialty or Niche increase your business? If so, how did you find your Niche?  My niche is creating, marketing and escorting private custom groups.  When I was teaching full time, I starting taking my middle school students to Europe.  I developed an educational program that started 6 months before the trip and prepared all travelers with info on what to pack, how to travel in a group, geography, history, culture and more.   While traveling, I was able to tie this information to what we experienced to make a long lasting experiential memory.  After a few years, I was able to translate that the level of service and preparation I was providing to leading alumni, friends and family and promotional groups.  I started with student groups as well as university alumni groups, but now it has branched to include just about any group one can dream up.  In our business, the scariest part of the process is completing a perfect booking and then having to trust the supplier to provide the experience that the customer expects. By escorting my travelers, I can help monitor and make sure that they get the experience that they want.  If something goes wrong, then I am also there to boost morale and handle the details.  By leading these groups my clients really get to know me, my knowledge and usually become lifelong customers.  They become better travelers and I become a better leader.   It also gives me access to friends and family of travelers who would not be my clients otherwise.  There is no better way to get to know someone than to travel with them.  I also have the ability to bring my wife and little one along most of the time and we create lifelong memories.  I have now escorted close to 1500 passengers on adventures and experiences around the world. By growing our group business, we have now had 2 consecutive years of 50+% growth.  Many of these customers then come back to us to book any and all of their travel.  One of the things I love the most about the travel industry is that most of my friends and peers have specialties that are completely different than what I do, but they are all successful.  Many times, narrowing the focus can make your business explode. Have you always worked with a Host Agency? If not, can you share how working with your Host Agency has helped you?  At the very beginning of my career I did not use a host.  My grandfather never had and I didn’t quite understand the value. Once I found Nexion, everything changed for me.  Having the negotiating power that the Travel Leaders Group provides, I have all of the tools that I need.  I would never have been able to do it on my own.   Nexion is a family and as someone who generally works alone, this is huge.  The staff and fellow agents are my work family and have given me the confidence to succeed. What three things about working with your Host Agency has been the most useful and helpful?  Increased commissions, block space, training, accounting and networking are the biggest pieces. At the Nexion events I have access to industry executives, reps and fellow agents who make me a better travel agent.  I also have a network of Nexion agents who are all experts in what they do.  We share information daily and help each other out whenever we need it.  This in turn makes me an expert for my clients in so many more destinations and products than I would ever be able to on my own.  Nexion has my back and that is beyond valuable. What aspects of your Host Agency led you to your decision to join their programs?  The way I was treated from the very beginning. When I joined Nexion I was 23.  Age and experience didn’t matter to them the way it did to other consortia and hosts that I looked at.  To this day I can honestly say that I am proud to say that I work with Nexion and my friends and fellow colleagues feel the same way. The other main aspect is the marketing and technology.  I can access just about everything I need for work every day with excellent tools provided by Nexion. What advice would you offer to someone looking to join the Travel Industry?  I would sit down with them and discuss why they want to join.  You have to be a businessperson first and foremost.  We do get to travel, but enjoying travel does not always translate to being a good travel agent and consumer advocate.  You have to love the time behind a computer screen as well or you will burn out.  The perks can be amazing, but you have to get into the business because you want to run a business. What advice would you offer to someone looking to work with a Host Agency?  Do your homework, but try them out.  Try to match up with a host that shares your values and specializes in the business you want to grow.  Nexion has a really amazing combo of services for Corporate as well as Leisure.  Since I have both corporate and leisure departments this was the best of both world.  Speak with agents as well as the host’s staff.  Many hosts are owned by other companies and it is important to know who you are really working for.   Finally, when working for a host you are an independent contractor.  If they don’t do right by you and aren’t able to give you want you need, leave. Many articles and studies have shown that the Travel Professional is becoming more and more important, how do you feel about that? Do you see the increase in awareness from your clients as of now?  I feel this every day.  When I was an ASTA chapter president almost 10 years ago I had the opposite feeling.  Attendance at ASTA events was way down and almost every day I heard the dreaded “do travel agents even exist?” Businesses were merging or shutting down and people were afraid of the internet.  Over the last year or two I really haven’t heard this much.  I have to spend a lot less time convincing clients that they get value from using my services.  I would absolutely say that it feels like we are entering a renaissance. Please share a couple of things have been the most important to your success so far?  I feel that the most important secrets to my modest success are being authentic and trying to always treat people well.  I really do love what I do, love what I sell and most importantly love it when my clients are satisfied.  Things don’t always go right, but I have seen so many times that if I keep a positive, upbeat attitude, my clients have a better experience and respect me more than if I lose my cool.  I get more from supplier relationships when I go out of my way to treat them as people who usually didn’t make the rules.  We are all human and if you are really nice, you can usually get what you need quicker than if you are rude.  Be solution oriented, not problem driven. What are your plans to grow your business in the next year?  I have hired a staff of 4 this year that will help with growth for 2017.  We are expanding our social media presence and trying to enhance our client experience from inquiry to a gift/follow up on return.  We are launching our multi-gen family groups using the same model I use for my other groups.  So far sales are going really well with these groups. Do you feel that getting yourself out there and traveling is important for your business? If so, how do you make yourself get out there and take those trips? I think it is essential.  Experiential learning is a buzzword that is very popular in the education world.  What I sell is an experience and what better way to sell it to a client than explaining your own personal experience.  I am currently sailing aboard the Holland America on the Westerdam as I am typing this up.  I have been on nearly 100 cruises, but I learn something new every time I have a new experience.  It has been over 10 years since I have cruised on Holland and things are different.  I have heard that at conferences but I didn’t get it until I took the cruise.  I am LOVING the experience here with my wife and daughter and when I get back I won’t hesitate to book other families. I make myself travel when I believe the experience is a worthwhile investment in my business.  I don’t see clients every day, so it is not a huge deal for me to be on the road.  I also have gone out of my way to make sure that my staff can cover me, but that is a new experience.  In the last 12 years I have been on over 80 cruises, visited over 70 countries and I am a MUCH better advocate for my clients because I have taken the time to make the investment.  I created my own credibility which in turn allowslast_img read more

Travel Planners International Receives Top Awards from Cruise Lines for 2016

first_imgORLANDO, FL – Travel Planners International, a top travel host and sales, marketing and support agency for the travel professional, won five awards for 2016 from Carnival, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line. Travel Planners International has made improvements to our branding, in our messaging inside and outside the industry, and launched many new marketing programs including a consumer-facing website in 2016. All these things and our industry-leading agent support are driving sales growth with these companies. List of awards:Carnival Cruise Line – Outstanding Marketing ExcellenceMSC Cruises – Southeast Account of the YearRoyal Caribbean International – Home Based Partner of the YearCelebrity Cruises – Field Sales Account of the YearNorwegian Cruise Line – Home Based Partner of the Year It’s the first time Travel Planners International has been recognized by these partners, with the exception of Carnival. We won an Excellence award in 2015. “We are beyond thrilled to receive these recognitions (we literally squealed, hooted, and hollered when we received the phone calls from each one!). For us, it’s all about the agents we serve and doing whatever it takes to help our suppliers be part of their success. We’re obsessed with ensuring our marketing, training, and support programs go beyond the norm,” said Jenn Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing, Travel Planners International. “It’s a testament to the caliber of agents who have been part of TPI for years and to those who are just now entering the industry. It is their entrepreneurial spirit that drives all of us.” We want to keep earning these awards with these awesome partners, and earn even more recognition in the industry going forward!\  ABOUT TRAVEL PLANNERS INTERNATIONAL:Travel Planners International is a marketing and support agency for new and experienced travel professionals. Travel agents partner with Travel Planners International for their profit-generating marketing programs, consumer connect options, negotiation power, small-business training events and time-saving back-office support. Being an advocate for the travel industry as a whole, Travel Planners International educates and connects consumers directly to their collection of specialized travel agents and preferred industry suppliers through their interactive consumer-facing website, strong social media presence, direct consumer marketing, as well as their collaborative ventures with complementary industry associations and consortia. For more information, please visit http://www.travelplannersinternational.com.last_img read more

Goways Splendours of India to Delight Passengers on their India Travels

first_imgGoway Globetrotters’ India travels reach new heights as Splendours of India returns for 2017.  Goway’s extensive India program returns in 2017, led by the company’s HOLIDAYS OF A LIFETIME® flagship tour, Splendours of India, which enhances the passenger’s India travels with the “promise of something special.” Goway offers a range of quality touring options to India, including fully-customizable independent journeys, economical group tours such as the 6-day Essential Golden Triangle, and Goway’s Holiday of a Lifetime, the 17-day Splendours of India. Goway’s thirteen HOLIDAYS OF A LIFETIME® come with the “promise of something special”, and every year Goway Asia’s General Manager Diane Molzan works to deliver on this promise based on continued research and passenger feedback. “We never want to get stuck in a rut or provide passengers with a slightly flat experience,” says Molzan. “For instance, in Agra we like to include a visit to a community project, and now we visit a very special place called Sheroes Hangout, a café run by women marred by acid attacks. The café allows these women to tell their stories, move past their shame and rebuild their lives.” Other added touches beginning in October 2017 include high tea with a local family near the ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri, a visit to an Indian wrestling school near Varanasi, and a custom sari fitting in Jaipur. In addition, two special departures overlap with two of India’s most radiant festivals — Diwali (the festival of lights) and Holi (the festival of colours). Travellers who join the 5 October 2017 departure will get the chance to celebrate Diwali in Delhi, including a night out with dinner, drinks and fireworks. The 23 February 2018 departure coincides with the Hindu spring festival Holi, and travellers will enjoy a celebration lunch including costumes, water guns, water balloons, herbal colours, and traditional music. “Splendours of India is part of Goway’s commitment to offer the highest possible quality escorted journey for globetrotters who want to explore the world safely and comfortably, yet still gain an authentic experience in an exotic part of the world,” says Molzan. Splendours of India is priced from US $6999 / CA $8499. For more information on Splendours of India, or on any of Goway’s twelve other HOLIDAYS OF A LIFETIME®, call 1-800-387-8850, or visit Goway.com.last_img read more

Paul Gauguin Cruises Wildlife Discovery Series Features Scientists Darling and Mangubhai

first_imgBELLEVUE, WASH. – February 28, 2017 – Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is pleased to announce, in partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), that guest scientists Emily Darling, Associate Director of WCS Global Marine Programs, and Sangeeta Mangubhai, Director of WCS Fiji, will lecture as part of the new Wildlife Discovery Series program aboard The Gauguin. The Wildlife Discovery Series is a lecture program where guests of The Gauguin have the opportunity to learn about marine wildlife and habitats from some of the world’s most fascinating scientists, oceanographers, and conservationists. Darling and Mangubhai will share their research and expertise on coral reefs and climate change, conservation challenges and opportunities in Melanesia, and WCS conservation approaches in Fiji, during The Gauguin’s June 7, 2017, Bali to Fiji voyage. Darling is a dedicated coral reef ecologist, passionate about sustaining tropical corals in a changing climate. In her role at WCS, Darling coordinates a coral reef monitoring program across Melanesia, Indonesia, the Caribbean, and Western Indian Ocean. Her research focuses on fisheries management, community ecology, and coral responses to climate change. In addition to publishing in scientific journals, Darling has contributed to popular science blogs for major media networks. Darling earned her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University and doctorate at Simon Fraser University. She completed a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship and was recently bestowed a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.  She has lived and traveled in southeast Asia, Africa, and the northern wilds of Canada and currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is an expedition diver and underwater photographer and also enjoys hiking, paddling, rock climbing, and exploring the natural world. Mangubhai has worked for WCS since 2014 and is currently based in Suva, Fiji. As the Director of the WCS Fiji program, she has empowered local communities to make informed decisions about their natural resources. Mangubhai specializes in designing marine protected areas, assessing coral reef resilience, monitoring fisheries, and evaluating the return on investment of conservation action. Throughout her career, she has studied ecology and advised policy in Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Indonesia, and East Africa. Mangubhai completed her education in Australia, earning an undergraduate degree at The University of Queensland and her doctorate at Southern Cross University. She has served as an adjunct scientist for the New England Aquarium, editor for Pacific Conservation Biology, and committee member for the Women in Fisheries Network. Mangubhai is fluent in Indonesian and conversant in Fijian and Swahili, and she enjoys drawing and painting in her free time. Paul Gauguin Cruises is proud to partner with WCS to offer the Wildlife Discovery Series program on select sailings in 2017. For additional information on the Wildlife Discovery Series, please visit www.pgcruises.com/WCS. For more information about Paul Gauguin Cruises, please contact a Travel Professional, call 800-848-6172, or visit www.pgcruises.com.last_img read more

Viking Sky Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage

first_imgThird Ship for Viking Ocean Cruises Expands Award-Winning Destination-Focused Exploration  Los Angeles (February 28, 2017) – After dominating the Cruise Critic® 2017 Cruisers’ Choice Awards earlier this month, Viking Ocean Cruises® (www.vikingoceancruises.com) today celebrated the maiden voyage of its third ship, Viking Sky®, from Rome’s Civitavecchia port to Barcelona. Sister ship to the award-winning Viking Star® and Viking Sea®, Viking Sky will begin her maiden season sailing itineraries throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean before heading north into Viking territory to sail Scandinavian and Baltic itineraries in the summer. Viking Sky will cross the Atlantic this fall and will finish out the year sailing itineraries in the Americas and the Caribbean. “As we officially welcome our third ship to the fleet, it is a proud moment for the entire Viking family. We continue to see a positive response from our guests and the industry, which makes us confident in our future growth,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “We started in the cruise business 20 years ago, and our philosophy is still the same – we do not try to be everything to everyone. We are a destination-oriented small ship cruise line, and as we prepare to introduce a fourth ocean ship by the end of 2017, we look forward to introducing even more guests to The Viking Way of exploration.” Classified by Cruise Critic as a “small ship,” the all-veranda, Viking Sky, like her sister ships, has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boasts 465 cabins and accommodates 930 passengers. Viking’s fourth ship, Viking Sun®, will be delivered in November and will spend her maiden season sailing the company’s first-ever World Cruise. Viking Spirit® will join the fleet in 2018 and will sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019; the arrival will mark Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line. The ocean ships are designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. The Viking Difference Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port, more overnights and fewer days at sea. Onboard, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. All-veranda ships mean that guests experience every day with a new, expansive vista. With the most al fresco dining at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking’s guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences. While every cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port, Viking’s optional excursion program was designed to provide guests with enriching experiences that go beyond the iconic and the expected, for example:The Hermitage Behind Closed Doors, St. Petersburg, Russia – Offered on the 15-day Viking Homelands itinerary, guests receive a Privileged Access view of the vaults of one of the world’s greatest art collections at the magnificent Hermitage Museum.Vistas, Vikings & The Village Woodturner, Torshavn, Faroe Islands – Available on the 15-day In the Wake of the Vikings itinerary, guests can gain insight into daily village life and the rich Viking heritage as they explore the village of Kvivik, site of a 10th-century Viking settlement.A Taste of Provence, Toulon, France – Guests on the 17-day Catalonia to Greece itinerary can enjoy a private cooking lesson at a magnificent 19th-century house in the scenic Provençal countryside from Michelin-star rated Master Chef of France, Monsieur Bérard.Nazareth & The Sea of Galilee, Haifa, Israel – Offered on the 15-day Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land itinerary, guests can choose to visit some of the most important places in the life of Jesus on this fascinating excursion through Canaan, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum and Tabgha.King Crab Safari, Honningsvåg, Norway – Available on the 15-day Into the Midnight Sun itinerary, guests can set off in a deep-sea raft into the pristine waters of Sarnesfjorden to catch their own king crab in this thrilling excursion.Evening Concert on the Island of Our Lady of the Rocks, Kotor, Montenegro – On the 10-day Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary, guests can embark on a boat for the island of Gospa od Škrpjela, or Our Lady of the Rocks, to enjoy an exclusive and intimate guitar recital by two eminent Montenegrin musicians, Darko Nikcevic and Srdjan Bultaovic. In addition, Viking Inclusive Value provides a small ship experience at a big ship value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than $200 per person, per day for an average cruise. Media Assets For more information, images and b-roll for Viking Ocean Cruises, contact vikingpr@edelman.com. Booking Details From now until February 28, 2017, Viking is offering U.S. residents 2-for-1 cruise fare and air – plus a new “choice” offer, allowing guests to choose between a free beverage package, $400 shipboard credit per stateroom or prepaid onboard gratuities – for all 2017 sailings of the Viking Homelands itinerary. Viking is also offering 2-for-1 cruise fare and free air from more than 150 U.S. cities for all 2017 and 2018 sailings of the Panama & Central America itinerary. Contact a travel agent or call Viking toll free at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464).  About Viking Cruises Viking Cruises, the leader in river and small ship ocean cruising, offers destination-focused itineraries designed for experienced travelers who have an interest in geography, culture and history. In its first year of operation, Viking Ocean Cruises was rated the #1 ocean cruise line in Travel + Leisure’s 2016 “World’s Best” Awards, which came on the heels of being rated the highest of all cruise lines in the 2015 “World’s Best” Awards. Viking currently operates a fleet of 61 vessels, offering scenic cruising along the rivers and oceans of the Americas, Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, and Southeast Asia. By 2019 the company will operate six 930-guest ocean cruise ships and will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, North America and the Caribbean. In addition to the Travel + Leisure honors, Viking has also been honored multiple times on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” as well as recognized by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Itineraries,” with the entire Viking Longships® fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s Editors’ Picks Awards. For additional information, contact Viking Cruises at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464) or visit www.vikingcruises.com.last_img read more

An Interview with Viking River Cruises

first_imgTravel Professional NEWS® speaks with Michele Saegesser, Vice President of Sales, Viking Cruises  With 2017 upon us, what new things can we expect to see this year?  Viking is already seeing record breaking sales for the 2017 season.  Europe is back and in force.  Agents should be calling their clients to offer their expertise in river cruising.  “Have you considered a river cruise?”  Great question to open with! What do you expect to be your most popular ships in 2017? The Viking Longships set the bar high in river cruising.  From full two room suites to staterooms with Verandas, Viking’s accommodations are of the highest standards and with the most choices of staterooms.  With the youngest fleet in river cruising, the Longships have become the most popular choice for ships on the rivers. What do you expect to be your most popular itineraries in 2017? For first time river cruisers, the Rhine and the Danube are hands down the most popular itineraries this year.  These two rivers show off what river cruising is really all about.  Castles, small towns and villages, exciting cities-all a part of the experience you not only see from your Longship but also visit and experience the cultural enrichment of each area. With Travel Professionals on the rise, will you be offering any new training or incentives for Travel Professionals to focus on your line? The Viking Travel Agent Academy is the most recognized and only awarded river training program for travel professionals.  The Academy is an in-depth look at what there is to experience on each itinerary and awards you a certificate to become a River Cruise Expert by each river.  Vikingrivercruises.com/agents What three things do you feel set your product apart from the competition? Viking owns and operates our fleet, so no detail is missed. This is the biggest difference between the Viking experience and the competitors.  Viking insists on the best and by owning and managing we can ensure everything from food quality to service to the land experience are all to our high standards. Staff.  Hands down the best staff on the rivers.  Viking is the employer of choice on the rivers so we are able to hire the very best staff in each destination. Small ship experts.  Whether it is our river or our ocean programs, Viking has the largest expertise on managing a small ship program that focuses on the destination and the cultural enrichment side of a journey. There has been a big increase in active River Cruising, what activities are currently being offered on your line? What may be next? The Viking passenger is asking an even more intense cultural enrichment program.  Many additional experiences have become available AND if a travel agent pre-books this before the client sails, we pay commission on the tours. What generational market do you see your line focusing on as the capacity continues to grow? Do you have plans to focus on any specific market segment of River Cruise passengers? The point?  Viking stays focused on the one market that fills ships and continues to grow!  There will be 98 million Americans by 2020 that will be in the 55+ market and of that many that fit the demographic guest that travels on Viking. Many of the Rivers in Europe are being said to be a bit crowded, what are your plans to overcome that? Are there new itineraries and or destinations that you are looking into? Freight travel still remains the main source of traffic on the rivers in Europe.  But yes, river cruising is growing and with that come more travelers.  Viking has added many new experiences including longer itineraries that include some land programs. What three things would you like to share with our Travel Professionals to assist in selling your line? You can never follow up with your clients too much.  If you aren’t contacting your client in one way or another every 60 days, you will lose your client to another agency.  Use Vikings self-mailer DVD to send to clients who fit the Viking profile with a little note “John and Edna, thought you would enjoy seeing some interesting itineraries from Viking.  I know you were thinking of a river cruise.”  I challenge all of your to just send one a day.  JUST ONE A DAY!  You will be very surprised to see how much business you can generate when you follow up a few days later. Learn all you can.  If you haven’t taken the Viking Travel Agent Academy courses, you are missing out on really understanding how to be more profitable and find the right client for the Viking product. The one question that you should always ask your client:  “Are you traveling with another couple?”  As easy as this sounds, you likely aren’t asking this question.  Over 40% of the Viking guests travel with another couple.  You might as well get that booking too! Many Travel Professionals have found their niche in River Cruising, what advice can you offer to a Travel Professional looking to break into this niche? River cruising is not a niche.  So if agents think of this as a niche product, they will never realize the potential they could have.  Think of river cruising as the ultimate experience for guest and agent alike.  For the Agent:  Viking is the ONLY river and ocean line to offer No NCFs (we pay commission on all parts of the booking).  Viking even pays commission on port charges; shipboard credits you buy your clients; pre booked shore excursions.  If an agent focuses on the Viking product, they could make a living on just selling Viking. Again, learn all you can.  Put time into your day to become better with all the products your sell Don’t try to be everything to everyone.  Viking became successful because we focused on the same clientele since the beginning (55+ market; looking for a cultural enrichment experience; wants to be immersed into the communities they visit).  Make sure you are focusing on the clientele you want to be working with.  A passenger looking to book a $20,000 cruise is not looking for an agent who only advertises $499 cruises.  Be aware of how you market your own business. Predicting the future is difficult, but what do you think is next for the River Cruising market?  Viking will remain the leader in the river cruise market with our Cultural Curriculum programs and curated experiences through Privilege Access.  We will build the finest ships to give guests the most choices in accommodations and with exceptional service. Viking never stops looking for more in-depth experiences and that will continue to be our outlook for new product.last_img read more

Travel on Your Own – But Never Alone with Abercrombie Kent

first_imgIncrease in solo travel inspires largest solo offering with savings on 40 journeys across seven continents  March 08, 2017- More and more luxury travellers are leaving friends and family behind and exploring the world with Abercrombie & Kent as their solo partner. The luxury travel company reports the number of solo travellers has increased by more than 15% over the past two years. In response to the growing demand for solo travel, we are introducing unprecedented solo savings on more than 40 journeys on all seven continents,” announced Phil Otterson, President of Abercrombie & Kent USA. “This is the first time A&K has offered solo savings across all of our product lines.” Abercrombie & Kent welcomes solo travellers with significant savings – reducing the single supplement by 50 percent – on It is important for travel advisors to understand that most solo travellers aren’t single,” emphasizes Otterson. “They often travel on their own because their significant other doesn’t share their enthusiasm for a particular destination — or they simply can’t get away. Sometimes they want to pursue a personal passion like history or photography.” Solo travellers save 50% off the single supplement on bookings made by May 31, 2017. Featured destinations include:Luxury Small Group Journeys in Tanzania, Kenya, China, Bhutan & Nepal, Tibet, Southeast Asia, Croatia, Central Europe, Spain & Portugal, Scotland, Jordan & IsraelConnections Boutique Group Journeys in Italy, Spain, France, China, Croatia, Central Europe, Morocco, the British Isles, the Baltics, and CanadaConnections European River Cruise Journeys in France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Holland & BelgiumLimited edition Marco Polo Journeys in Britain, Namibia & Botswana, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia & the Atacama and ScotlandLuxury Expedition Cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia, & the Falkland IslandsSelect Wings Over the World itineraries to Australia, China, India or the Mediterranean with privately-chartered air Peace of MindA&K’s 52 local offices are small enough to offer personal attention, yet, as a group of companies, we are large enough to secure the best guides, accommodations and transportation at significant savings over what travellers can arrange on their own.  It’s also possible to include unique experiences for a group that would be prohibitively expensive independently such as a private demonstration of Shaolin kung fu by resident monks, a private visit to one of the world’s leading museums before or after hours, a private tour of Badminton House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort (otherwise closed to the public) or a behind-the-scenes tour with a museum curator. An A&K Resident Tour Director accompanies all escorted journeys, from beginning to end, to offer insider expertise – in addition to being a friendly travel companion focused on ensuring each member of the group enjoys the trip to the fullest. Call 800.554.7094 to speak with a travel specialist or go to www.abercrombiekent.com/solotravel to find more details on solo travel with Abercrombie & Kent.last_img read more

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