Category Archives: travel

How I Achieved Maximum Success with Resources

Read These Great Travel Tips

When you need to travel, there is a lot you should to know. For you to have a lot of experiences, you need to travel. For you to attain your plans, it is important that you get to know how to make it interesting. For you to make travelling interesting, it is important that you look at a number of things. You need to make some priorities when you are traveling to any place of your choice. It is important that you get some priorities in order to have a chance to achieve your plans.

You can as well plan to occupy more time in those few places you can succeed to go. You do not need to go to all places when you plan to travel. You will not attain the plans that you have by doing this. It is good if you can plan well if you expect your best. You will have the best if you get the guidelines that are set. You will have traveling very interesting if you are keen to observe this.

You need to have it in mind that things will not be like those you normally encounter at home. you need to expect changes when you are traveling. You will not have it as you wish it to be. It is great if you can have all this in mind as you may take to be. If you do not have expectations, you will have the very best in life. You need to adhere as per what you see in new places where you are to go. If you can get the best it will be good.

It is also true that your travelling should not stop from going with your kids. When you plan to travel, it will be good if you can manage to go with the kids to some place.Even what is shown in Andrew Berke Insider Trading, shows that it is nice also to plan travelling with your family. Your kids as well as your wife must also enjoy the traveling. You need then to know how you will make it a success as a way of getting your level best with time. For you to have the best, it is important that you get to know what you have to do.

You need to make travelling a priority for you to have a chance to have the best experience.In doing this, you tend to be keen on some issues that will help you. In case you need to trade, you need to plan well. When you are able to consider this, then it will be easy or you to go where you want. You will have the best in you choose to. When you need to make travelling easy, you will have the best.

Why Traveling Aren’t As Bad As You Think

Best Tips for Ensuring a Great 420 Friendly Travel

Over the year’s many marijuana consumers are getting comfortable, and Marijuana tourism is gaining momentum in many states in the US with the legalization of its consumption in eight states. Explorers and travelers filled with adventure whose trip includes tours, hotel accommodations, and other cannabis-related experiences, there are favorable spots available. When making travel arrangements and booking it is critical for the travelers to identify the different Marijuana friendly hotels as they are popular in many towns. For easier navigation and identification , hotels have gone a notch higher and defined their policies where they have publicly declared themselves as 420 friendly lodging. With the clear disclaimer during bookings, as a result, many guests can find them and choose to rent either a single bud or breakfast accommodations to all marijuana-friendly guests.

First-time Marijuana users have an opportunity to explore the 420 friendly lodging they prefer to settle in as many state laws have allowed both hotels and private rentals to decided either based on their policies to either admit guests who consume marijuana or not. It is critical to point the guests who are non-smokers are not affected profoundly, the hotels have provided many of the rooms with balcony and also have designated smoking areas. For all to be comfortable, additionally, in a bid to ensure there are little smoke and very little odor many 420 hotel properties advise their guests to buy a vaporizer pen as they are recommended to have very little smoke and a slight smell.

It is important to point to the fact that one feels great to finally unwind and take a break from a hectic week at work, and what a better way than to enjoy what the best hotels have to offer, especially when it a 420 hotel that allows legal smoking of weed. Allowing an adult to make their own decisions is the right way to go, especially when this involves their happiness and this is exactly what the best 420 hotels try to achieve all the year round. Moreover, it is important to note the many medicinal qualities of weed, especially when it is recommended by a medical practitioner in a bid to try and alleviate pain to patients with painful ailments.

Fortunately for all those passionate about marijuana or have medical reasons, they can easily visit their online platforms and search for the best 420 services near them, where they will be assured of receiving great service and have a time of their lifetime. These hotels ensure that they employ highly skilled personnel, who are courteous and understand how best to serve all their clients, thereby ensuring that they provide them with the most amazing time of their lifetime.

6 Facts About Tips Everyone Thinks Are True

The Travel Mistakes That You Can Avoid

During the holiday seasons, everyone is always looking for the best destinations that they can spend their holiday. Failing to plan for your trip can cause a great disaster. You need to be properly informed about the destination that you are headed to. The following are some of the ideas that you can use to have the best vacation according to Andrew M Berke.

Check Out For The Different Travel Agencies

Andy M Berke Insider Trading advises that the new visitors need to find the best travelling agencies for their travel needs. Maintaining the conversation with the traveling agencies ensures that you give them your specifications and for them to identify the best locations. It is time-saving to have the professional and you will also get the information that you need about that certain place.

Deeply Understand The Travel Agency

The best vacation does not end in employing the travel agent. You should do a background research on the company that you intend to hire for the services. You should check on their review site of any company to check on what the clients have to say about them. You should settle for the company that has a good reputation. According to the travel expert Andrew M Berke

Select The Areas That Are Close To Your Destination

You need to properly advise the travelling agency about the location of the hotels. The travel expert Andrew M Berker Insider trading companies understands the importance of security and says that the tourist should value their security more than the price that they will pay for the services. Your travel experience will be cheap if you maintain the locations that are within the areas that you intend to visit.

Have The Needs Of Your Kids In Mind

You need to be sure of the needs of your other family members of it is a family vacation. A journey will only be successful if all the group that you traveled with have the best moments. You should ensure that the hotels are kids friendly to ensure that their needs are met. The places that have the onsite nannies and camping tents are the best to ensure that your kids can be catered for.

When you intend to travel for the vacation, you need to ensure that you are updated about the different destination. You should decide on whether you will travel alone or in groups. Some of the leading companies in the different destinations such as the Andrew M Berker Insider Trading have their offices in most of the destinations to give advice to the travelers.

The Art of Mastering Tips

Benefits of Taking a Vacation

Vacation also means to be in a holiday; it mainly involves taking time away from regular activities and spending time on a place that is far from your usual residence. Since people who are on vacation mostly visit unique places, the problem comes in choosing a destination and planning for the trip. As stated earlier, most travelers do find it difficult to plan their trip especially when they want to travel oversee; as a result, such travelers do end up hiring tour operators to plan for their trips.

The following are the essential tips to planning vacation trip to any destination around the world. If you ever thought that taking a vacation only assist in having fun, it has numerous health benefits. Vacation assist people to forget about the stressful events that may be harassing them, hence lowering the stress levels. In addition, it plays a vital role in boosting the mental and physical health of those in a vacation. In addition, taking vacation enable people to stay healthy as it improves their heart conditions. The results are according to a study conducted that showed taking an annual vacation can lower heart disease. People who have certain mental disorders, need to be taken on regular vacations if they want to their mental health to improve.

Lack of sleep is a common condition nowadays, however, it can be treated by taking a vacation, this is practical since when people are on a holiday to new place, they tend to be relaxed hence getting more chances to rest and sleep. Taking a holiday is proved to be a non-medical cure for poor sleeping habits that are brought by people’s activities such as working late night, t watching movies or music videos all night long, by taking a holiday, you are free from your daily activities hence you have time to rest.

Besides, people who go on holidays tend to be happier than those who do not; holidays are believed to entertaining experiences that makes people have a good time and once the holiday is over, they tend to be happy when they remember the past events in the holiday. For people who find it difficult to plan for their holiday trip, the following guide will assist them in the planning process. First, you need to choose your preferred destination.

In addition, travelers need to have an itinerary which will guide them in the places that they need to visit according to their level of importance. Furthermore, it is essential to keep in mind the people that you are travelling with to the destination. In order to make the vacation enjoyable and memorable, people who are planning to visit the destinations need to sit down and share ideas and places of interests that they would like to visit. Also, in order to have a memorable and enjoyable tour, it is vital to select a destination that offers the type of experiences that one needs. It is essential to book flight and destination in advance.

Panama hotel votes to drop Trump, but his company won’t go

Panama hotel votes to drop Trump, but his company won’t go
By Jeff Horwitz, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The owners of a Trump-branded hotel in Panama sued President Donald Trump’s family-owned company in federal court Tuesday, alleging that the namesake business committed mismanagement and fraud.

The lawsuit includes previously confidential arbitration filings before the International Chamber of Commerce. It alleges that Trump Hotels tried to “bully, intimidate and harass” its way out of a $15 million arbitration claim. The owners, led by investment firm Ithaca Capital Management, are seeking to fire Trump’s company and abandon the Trump brand.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was intended to terminate Trump’s 20-year contract, and alleged “gross negligence and potentially fraudulent conduct” by the Trump Organization, including “looted” bank accounts. The hotel currently carries a $1.9 million deficit in its reserve accounts, Trump’s opponents allege, because of improper use of funds.

Trump’s hotel company, meanwhile, alleged in arbitration filings that Ithaca and other hotel unit owners committed fraud and racketeering. That claim on behalf of Trump International Hotels Management argued that the owners acted in bad faith and lacked the authority to terminate the contract.

The Trump claim also alleged that Ithaca’s managing director, Orestes Fintiklis, falsely promised to support the hotel’s management before undertaking “a lawless coup” in the building.

At stake in the dispute is control over the operations of the Trump International Hotel in Panama City, a 70-story luxury waterfront high-rise. The hotel has been struggling, with occupancy in recent days — a period considered peak high season — ranging from just 26% to 28%. Ithaca and its allies among the unit owners blame that performance on mismanagement and damage to Trump’s brand since he assumed the presidency. Trump attorney Alan Garten, meanwhile, blames a widespread downturn in Panama’s hotel business.

Earlier Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that staff at the hotel ran off a team of Marriott executives invited to visit the property as part of the owners’ search for a company to take over the hotel’s operation from Trump. The head of Trump Hotels later called the head of Marriott to discuss the visit. Garten said the call was friendly.

“We have a great relationship with Marriott,” Garten said. “They were appreciative that we let them know that we have a valid contract.”

Marriott generally steers clear of properties facing ownership and management disputes. But the call from a senior Trump executive to the CEO of Marriott, which manages more than 6,000 hotels, raised the awkward matter of how American companies interact with a business owned by the president.

Marriott, like most major international companies, has significant business and public policy interests before the Trump administration. Federal employees who travel and hold government conferences pay to use its properties, and Marriott has been lobbying the administration and Congress over U.S. tourism, trade and legal restrictions against property ownership in Cuba, disclosures to consumers about resort fees, and other issues.

A spokeswoman for Marriott declined to comment.

The dispute between Ithaca and Trump’s hotel business was previously known only due to the feuding parties’ communications with individual hotel unit owners.

“Our investment has no future so long as the hotel is managed by an incompetent operator whose brand has been tarnished beyond repair,” Fintiklis, the managing partner of Miami-based Ithaca Capital Partners, wrote in a letter.

Trump Hotels accused Ithaca of deceiving its fellow hotel owners and illegally terminating the Trump contract.

“Unfortunately, it is YOU, the unit owners, who will ultimately be the ones to bear responsibility for the bad acts of Mr. Fintiklis and his cohorts,” Trump Hotels executive vice president Jeff Wagoner said in an earlier letter to the owners last week.

The effort to remove Trump hotels from managing the hybrid condo-hotel units on the property began last year, after Ithaca Capital Group purchased 202 unsold hotel units from the building’s struggling developer.

After buying the units in August with Trump Hotels’ blessing, Ithaca quickly turned sour on the brand.

Fintiklis did not respond to emails from the AP seeking comment.

Al Monstavicius, a retired Nevada doctor who owns a penthouse hotel unit in the building, said Trump’s statements regarding Mexicans and his determination to strip hundreds of thousands of Central Americans in the U.S. of protection from deportation have made Trump’s brand toxic in Panama.

If the owners in Panama succeed, it won’t be the first time Trump has been ousted there. In 2015, amid the early months of Trump’s presidential campaign, the owners of apartments and other businesses in the same building voted to fire Trump’s management company over budget issues and allegations of misspent funds.

Since then, the property’s overall finances have improved. Its annual deficits, which exceeded $1 million, have since turned into a surplus, according to financial documents provided to the AP by an owner.

With simpler visa process, Brazil expects influx of U.S. visitors

With simpler visa process, Brazil expects influx of U.S. visitors
By Johanna Jainchill

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro

NEW YORK — Brazilian officials estimate that its new eVisa program will boost tourism from the U.S. by at least 25% and possibly as much as 50%.

Brazil introduced its electronic visa program in the fall, making it cheaper and easier for citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan and the U.S. to travel to Brazil.

The program enables tourists to apply online with an estimated approval time of 72 hours. They are no longer required to visit a Brazilian consulate or visa center. For Americans, the visa price dropped from $160 to $40.

Brazil minister of tourism Marx Beltrao said at an event in New York promoting the eVisa that the ministry originally estimated a 25% increase, but now thinks it might be closer to 50%. He said that Brazil issued 2,400 visas to Australians last month, a 30% increase from a year earlier.

Talking about the huge untapped potential for Brazilian tourism, Beltrao said that only 0.7% of American tourists go to Brazil, totaling around 570,000 last year, leaving “a lot of room for an increase.”

“We will do whatever it takes to foster foreign tourism in Brazil,” Beltrao said. “Any American who wants to come to our country will find it a lot easier to do so. We are rolling out the red carpet.”

Beltrao is not the only travel bigwig anticipating such lofty numbers. U.S. Tour Operators Association chief Terry Dale, also at the event, predicted that the number of Americans traveling to Brazil has the potential to double over the next decade thanks to the new eVisa program.

“This is a happy moment for all of us in Brazil,” said Vinicius Lummertz, head of Brazilian tourist board Embratur. “We have achieved a status that we fought for — tearing down one of the bureaucracies that keeps our countries apart.”

Southwest CEO: Expect fierce response to United expansion

Southwest CEO: Expect fierce response to United expansion
By Robert Silk
United and Southwest are the top airlines in Denver.

Southwest is prepared to battle United and its aggressive growth plans in Chicago, Houston and Denver, CEO Gary Kelly said Thursday.

“We have all the tools we need to continue to perform well in all the markets that are impacted,” he said during the carrier’s earnings call.

Earlier this week, United said it would bolster mid-continent hubs at Denver, Chicago O’Hare and Houston Bush. United maintains it will increase profits by offering more regional connectivity. The carrier plans to offer 21% more connecting options through Houston and 15% more connecting options through Chicago and Denver by the end of this year.

Although Southwest runs a point-to-point network unlike United’s hub-and-spoke network, United’s strategy could elicit a counterpunch. Denver is Southwest’s fourth-largest operation in terms of daily departures. Southwest’s largest base is Chicago Midway and Houston Hobby is home to the carrier’s seventh-largest operation.

Outlining United’s strategy during Tuesday’s earnings call, United president Scott Kirby said that the airline had shrunk capacity in Denver, Chicago and Houston by a combined 8% between 2011 and 2016.

On Thursday, Kelly said that during the same period Southwest had grown consistently. The carrier launched service in Denver in 2006 and is now the airport’s largest mainline operator. Southwest’s Denver share was 30.8% for the 12 months that ended in October, topping United’s share of 30.3%. (The United share, however, doesn’t include United Express-branded flights that are operated by contracted regional carriers.)

Kelly said that when United adds capacity at its hubs, there will be an impact on Southwest. He characterized United as an airline that was unprepared to handle trying times in the 2000s, having to declare bankruptcy and cut routes. Now, United is trying to reclaim what it has lost, Kelly said.

“That will be a very, very hard battle,” he said.

Southwest’s net income for the fourth quarter was an enormous $1.89 billion, up from $522 million a year earlier. Driving that figure was a $1.15 billion reduction in tax liabilities, a benefit from recently passed tax reform legislation. The bill reduced the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Southwest’s net income before taxes was $737 million, down 8.9% from a year earlier.

For the full year, Southwest reported net income of $3.49 billion, up 55.4%. Taking taxes out of the equation, the carrier earned $3.25 billion in 2017, down 8.3% from 2016.

Southwest brought in $5.27 billion in revenue during the fourth quarter, a 3.9% increase that topped analyst forecasts by $20 million, according to the website Seeking Alpha. Operating expenses climbed 6.4% due to higher salaries and fuel costs.

The carrier’s earnings per share in the fourth quarter was 77 cents, in line with expectations.

The Truth About Mexico

The Truth About Mexico
How to separate fact from fiction and get the word out to your clients

Mexico is a perennial favorite with vacationers and a reliable source of sales for many travel agents. But with recent headlines putting the issue of safety and security in the news, it’s more important than ever for travel agents to address concerns, quell fears and educate their clients about what’s real and what’s sensationalized.

The timeline has presented shifting and potentially confusing viewpoints about safety and security in Mexico. In July, after newspaper reports of tainted alcohol being served in some Mexico resorts, the U.S. State Department updated Mexico’s Country Information page on travel.state.gov with a section under Safety and Security. The statement, which still remains, reads: “There have been allegations that consumption of tainted or substandard alcohol has resulted in illness or blacking out. If you choose to drink alcohol, it is important to do so in moderation and to stop and seek medical attention if you begin to feel ill.”

In a separate move, in August, the State Department also updated a previous Mexico Travel Warning issued on December 8, 2016, advising, “The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas.” For the first time, the update added the states of some of the country’s most popular resort areas, such as Baja California Sur, which includes Los Cabos, and Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya and Tulum.

The State Department’s warnings note that most of the violence appears to be criminal organization assassinations, and that tourists are not targets. But some travelers are still concerned—exacerbated, perhaps, since TripAdvisor recently began flagging some Mexico hotels where reviewers have claimed they were sexually assaulted.

In short, travel agents who sell Mexico have a lot to address.

Keeping Perspective
First, the good news: Mexico continues to enjoy healthy growth in tourism, with international visitation up by more than 9 percent between January and July of this year, compared to 2016.

Second, more good news: According to several top-selling travel agents, experienced travelers aren’t deterred by recent U.S. State Department Travel warnings, most of which refer to isolated incidents in locations not frequented by most international tourists.

“It’s not even an issue right now,” says Sandy Anderson, owner of Riverdale Travel, a Signature agency in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. “We’re actually up in sales to Mexico. We’ve had some questions about the areas mentioned in the warnings, but generally our customers aren’t concerned. They understand you need to use common sense and travel smartly, wherever you travel.”

John Werner, president and COO of MAST Travel Network in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, is similarly positive, and reports that Mexico continues to be his company’s biggest-selling foreign destination. “The majority of clients are not concerned,” he says. “They have traveled to Mexico in the past. They have had fun. They enjoy the food and drink. They like the service. And they do the activities. Clients who may not have traveled to Mexico at all, or very few times, may be more concerned. Mexico is less familiar to them.”

Claudia Murphy, co-owner of Imagine Travel in Greensboro, North Carolina, agrees that less experienced travelers are those who are more likely to be hesitant. “The clients who have been to Mexico before realize that Mexico is safe,” she says. “It’s those that have never been who tend to worry more. I blame it on the news media. Maybe if the news outlets were more educated about how to report the news regarding incidents in Mexico, it would help.”

Until that happens, of course, it’s up to travel agents to educate clients about the realities of safety and travel to Mexico. Here are some of the ways that successful agents handle those issues.

Educate Your Team
A knowledgeable staff is better prepared to sell. “We have discussions concerning customer feedback and talk about how we are to respond to customers’ concerns,” Anderson says.

Werner encourages on-going agent education to address safety and security issues. “Training includes having knowledge of the geography of Mexico,” he says, noting that agents should also attend trade shows and seminars presented by travel organizations and companies that sell Mexico.

Putting things into perspective can also aid understanding. According to figures from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, for example, the murder rate in Mexican destinations like Los Cabos and Cancun is far below that of many U.S. cities, including Washington D.C., Baltimore and Detroit.

Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group, recommends adding context to any discussions about misperceptions in Mexico. “Travel agents have to combat misperceptions with data,” he says. “For example, I have some friends, who live in Chicago, who told me they were thinking of going to Cancun, but that they might change their trip to Jamaica because they think it’s safer. So I said, ‘Did you know that there’s a travel warning about Europe, and about Chicago, where you live?’ I asked them if they would go out for dinner or drinks in Chicago and they said, ‘Yes, of course.’ You’ve got to put things in context.”

Rely on Resources
Government reports, research studies, tourism organizations and suppliers can all serve as valuable partners for travel agents looking for the most accurate information about Mexico.

“We receive updates and talking points from our consortium, Signature,” says Anderson. “The airlines are involved as well. They send out updates about what they see in other countries.”

Werner’s company relies on a variety of sources as well. “We keep our 220 offices informed of any news or stories about Mexico that we receive in the dozens of newsletters and news bulletins we read daily,” he says. “These sources of information include the Mexico Tourism Board, hoteliers, tour operators and cruise lines serving Mexico, but also sources such as the U.S. State Department, USA Today, major city newspapers and other media outlets.”

Be Prepared for Questions
When it comes time to interact with clients, agents should be ready for questions and concerns. Werner says his agency follows the clients’ lead when it comes to introducing the topic of safety, but his team always provides travelers with information they need to make decisions and stay safe.

“If a customer comes in and says ‘We’re ready to do our Mexico vacation again this year and we know where and when,’ then the safety conversation doesn’t take place,” he says. “But if someone comes in and says ‘We want to go somewhere warm, but we’ve heard about stories about Mexico,’ then we’ll have that discussion.”

“I think among the big misperceptions is that Mexico has lots of poverty, making poor areas high crime areas,” Warner adds. “Mexico has its share of poverty, but it’s ranked in the top 20 economies in the world in terms of GDP. It is the number-one country in Latin America for meetings and conventions. Mexico has an advanced infrastructure of roads and bridges. And Mexico City is on the list of the top 20 metropolitan regions in the world that will have the most important economic impact by the year 2025.”

Anderson says her clients’ most common safety-related questions about Mexico have to do with recent reports about tainted alcohol. “There is a misperception that in Mexico the alcohol is bad,” she says. “Well, if you drink too much, it is bad. Anywhere. There have been some very sad situations from Mexico that were alcohol related. Not to make a tragic situation not tragic, but misuse of alcohol is a problem everywhere. You always have to use common sense.”

Have the Right Responses
Well-informed travel agents know how to educate customers about Mexico’s overall safety and security. “Travel advisors keep maps of Mexico handy, to show clients where resort areas and popular vacation spots are located in relation to areas known to have more gang activity,” says Werner. “In some cases, several thousand miles separate the two areas. And travel advisors who are very familiar themselves with the resorts and surrounding neighborhoods advise their clients where to go and have fun, without fear of being in a bad area.”

Werner notes that commonsense guidelines apply in Mexico as much as anywhere else. “Just like in the U.S., most neighborhoods are considered relatively safe, but even in low crime areas, things happen,” he explains. “Just watch what you are doing and don’t take chances. Eat and drink in moderation. Don’t overdo it. And don’t put yourself at risk by doing things you would never do at home.”

Anderson says that, in addition to sharing positive travel stories, her agency also emphasizes the value of good partnerships. “We have relationships with our tour operators, such as Apple Vacations, to make sure that clients have back-up in destination, if they have any issues or questions,” she explains.

Murphy’s agency also aims to help consumers make informed choices about travel south of the border. “We try to educate them on the different areas of Mexico, and let them know that the problems in Mexico typically lie along the border with the United States—and that not wanting to go to Cancun because of violence and trouble in Mexico is like not going to Chicago because there is trouble in L.A.,” she says.

Equip Your Clients with Confidence
An educated traveler is a confident traveler. So the more information that a travel agent can provide, the more confident customers will likely feel about planning a vacation.

“A lot of agents pass out travel tips in the documents, but that goes to every client going everywhere,” not just Mexico, says Werner. “If there’s a State Department Warning or alert out, it’s common to pass that on to the customers.”

Anderson also gives clients a link to the U.S. Department of State’s Traveler’s Checklist. “We also recommend customers traveling internationally register with the STEP Program,” she says, referencing the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which is operated by the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Visit Mexico Yourself
Agents are generally better able to represent and sell a destination when they’ve been there themselves. And that’s especially true for Mexico, since agents may be better prepared to allay client concerns by recounting their own personal—and positive—experiences.

Werner says that agents’ trips benefit the business in a number of ways. “They go to Mexico, they take pictures, they share their stories, they come back home and show clients, family and friends,” he explains. “It gives that first-hand experience and proof that it’s not unsafe to go here; that there’s no reason to be overly fearful. Fam trips or personal vacations give agents the opportunity to meet the people in the resorts or at the attractions. They get names, they get contacts, they get assurances and they gain a comfort level that their customers won’t be disappointed.”

Anderson says that supplier partners can be especially helpful in this regard. “Apple Vacations has been so good in helping us to get our team down to Mexico to show them first-hand how they have backup there and how wonderful the Mexican people are, and how important tourism is,” she says. “They’d do anything in their power not to have issues at their resorts, and the tourism offices are the same.”

Consider the Legal Aspects
Very few visitors to Mexico encounter problems, of course. But travel agencies should still fully comprehend the legal aspect of errors and omissions insurance and how it might apply to your client interactions and sales.

“Your policy generally provides coverage for your alleged negligence in the failure to warn, or in the negligent selection or recommendation of a vendor, resort or accommodations, subject to the policy conditions and exclusions,” says Murphy.

“From a risk management standpoint, we would encourage some degree of written disclosure or warning, pre-booking and pre-departure, regarding these recent revelations,” she adds. “Your failure to disclose a commonly known risk to a particular area could potentially result in a legitimate basis for a court to find you partially responsible for any terrible mishap. The most effective way to warn your clientele would be to inform them in writing, or in your terms and conditions of this danger, and direct them to the U.S. State Department’s website.”

To that end, Murphy’s agency recently sent emails to clients regarding travel to Mexico, and updated its terms and conditions that appear on all invoices. She reports there was almost no negative response. “I, personally, only had one couple cancel going to Mexico after I disclosed the information.”

Apple Leisure Group Empowers Agents to Sell More Mexico

To get an idea of the breadth and depth of Apple Leisure Group’s experience in selling Mexico, just take a look at its diverse brands—a portfolio that includes Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions and AMResorts, among others. It’s no wonder the company is an ideal partner for travel agents looking to stay informed and sell more of the destinations.

“The biggest advantage we offer is our knowledge,” says Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group. “With the amount of time that we’ve been in the market in Mexico and the Caribbean, we know how to operate better, how to be safer, how to help people enjoy more. We have the know-how and the research we invest in training, and we share that knowledge with the travel agent.”

Indeed, Zozaya says that Apple Leisure Group’s various brands are designed to be reliable partners—in education, marketing, sales and service. “We give more tools to the travel agent to sell the destination more accurately,” he says. “We’re putting the facts in front of the travel agent and the customer. We put things into perspective, with real data.”

In addition, Zozaya notes that working with well-recognized brands like those in the Apple Leisure Group provides an extra level of comfort for agents and their clients. “The specific measures that we have in our hotels are not unique to us; a lot of destinations are doing it. We should all know what the government and the private sector are doing. We’re not in denial; we’re not just sweeping it under the rug. We have more cameras in public places. We use more scrutiny with our staff and more scrutiny with our vendors. The government is spending a lot more money on intelligence and on public defense to ensure safety.”

In addition, Apple Leisure Group’s brands are well versed to provide support to travel agents, with everything from sales tools to up-to-date information and efficient complaint resolution. From packages to hotels to tours, Apple Leisure Group is in a unique position to provide what the company calls “collective power” to growth-minded travel agencies. For more information about working with Apple Leisure Group’s top brands, visit AppleLeisureGroup.com.

River Cruising for Your Passion

River Cruising for Your Passion
Tap into special interest sailings to boost your river cruise business

River cruising has grown as a travel trend for more than a decade, picking up major steam in recent years to become one of the most sought-after experiences in the travel market today—and it shows no sign of losing its appeal.

Among the evidence of the market’s rising appeal, Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA), reported that passenger counts on river cruises rose 11 percent between 2015 and 2016, and European river cruising was the top trend in Travel Leaders Group’s 2017 luxury travel trends report. What’s more, the 2018 Luxe Report from Virtuoso ranks river cruising third among the top five travel trends for the year ahead.

This ongoing popularity has spurred huge traveler demand along with impressive growth from river cruise providers, who continue to find new and innovative ways to attract travelers and distinguish their product. One of the most interesting recent developments? The rise of themed river cruises, which tap into special interests to offer unique itineraries and attract travelers with specific tastes.

What’s behind the growth of themed river cruises? There are a couple main drivers, according to Terri Burke, MCC, CTC, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “Around the globe, there’s a tremendous interest in wellness and in all kinds of enrichment activities, yet we are all time-starved in our busy world. The themed cruise experience is an opportunity to grab onto a passionate interest and really explore it in a unique way in a particular destination.”

The Rise of River Cruising
As Beth Schulberg, owner of Cruise & Travel Specialists, points out, the river cruise travel trend began with the opening of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in 1992, which opened up river travel in Europe from the Black Sea to the North Sea and created a new way for travelers to explore 2,200 miles of local experiences.

Since then, the sophistication of river cruise ships and the experiences and luxuries passengers can enjoy have grown exponentially, upping their appeal even more.

“I sell a ton of river cruises,” says Schulberg. “It’s a unique travel experience. Before, people were motor-coached all over Europe to see the interior cities. Now, they can wake up every morning in a new place and enjoy beautiful scenery and cruise ship amenities along the way.”

Though modern river cruising spans destinations from Asia to North America, the Amazon and beyond, Europe remains the most popular market, with 1.36 million passengers cruising on the continent’s rivers in 2016, up 2.7 percent from 2015, according to Seatrade. Almost 39 percent of these passengers came from the U.S. and Canada, making for a highly lucrative market for U.S. travel agents.

When it comes to demographics, Baby Boomers continue to be the largest target market for river cruises, thanks to their collective purchasing power. But the lure of river cruising is drawing a growing number of millennials and Gen-Xers as well. Some 36 percent of millennials would like to take a river cruise, according to a 2017 MMGY Global study—and river cruise companies are taking note.

For one thing, growing demand is resulting in increased capacity: CLIA cruise line members have 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017, an increase of about 7 percent for a total of 197 ships. River cruise lines are also enticing guests with new destinations and itineraries, expanding their offerings on less-traveled rivers such as the Elbe in Europe and throughout Asia, the Amazon and North America. Other tactics include upping the luxury factor with larger cabins and more high-end amenities, increasing the opportunities for active travel (carrying bikes on board or offering active excursions, for example), and even creating sailings for a specific target market, such as millennial-only river cruising.

Spotlighting Special Interests
One of the most noteworthy elements of river cruising’s evolution is the recent focus on itineraries that revolve around a particular theme, such as art, music, history, beer, wellness, or food and wine. These themed river cruises not only help lines differentiate their itineraries from other offerings on the market, but also attract repeat cruisers who have already enjoyed the more standard sailings—and even draw travelers who might not normally think of themselves as cruisers.

“Themed cruises are very appealing because individuals no longer need to go out and create an itinerary around their passion,” says Kim (Schott) Steiger, CTA, a member of Travel Leaders. “These niche-based itineraries are being crafted by the river cruise operators around a specific desired experience that can be shared in a group. An individual with a passion for oenology, for example, has an opportunity to meet multiple vintners and share their love of wine. A person with a passion for food has an opportunity to cook with an international chef on the vessel. Cooking experiences may also be offered at ports of call, and opportunities to experience exquisite restaurants along the journey is icing on the cake.”

Cultural immersion and experiential discovery consistently rank as top preferences for today’s travelers. River cruises deliver those experiences in spades, but themed itineraries are laser-focused on areas that are personally meaningful—and enhanced all the more by being shared with others who have the same passion or interest.

“The opportunity to travel with a professional sommelier or a well-established art historian or composer offers incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” says Lisa D. Fitzgerald, CTIE, owner of Fitzgerald Travel and a member of Travel Leaders. “Everyone on the themed cruise is there to explore the same interest, providing easy conversation and the excitement of sharing discovery together.”

Wine, food, music, art and history are among the most popular themes of river cruises on European rivers, but there are also options focused on beer tastings, gardens, Jewish ancestry and holiday seasons, to name a few. One fast-growing niche of themed river cruising is the active/adventure cruise. Here, the focus is on discovery through activities that can range from bicycling and hiking excursions to interactive local experiences such as helping out at an orchard.

Selling Themed River Cruises
When it comes to selling themed river cruises, qualifying a client for the correct experience is key.

“I ask a series of questions to ensure that I have matched the client with the appropriate river cruise experience,” says Steiger. “For example, the Danube is one of the most popular rivers, but if the client is looking for a cruise that focuses on wines, I would recommend the Seine.”

Fitzgerald goes through a similar process. “When I meet a potential river cruise client, I schedule an hour-long meeting with them in person, on the phone or through Skype. I ask a lot of questions and take a lot of notes. You have to know your clients and what’s out there in the market to marry them to the cruise company and experience that fits their particular passion, personality and expectations.”

Selling themed river cruises to groups—while fruitful—takes an even bigger time investment, according to Steiger. For wine-themed tours, for example, she cultivates relationships with select area wine retailers. Once a relationship is established, she will set up and market an event at the winery, inviting a river cruise vendor to attend and share a short film on the company’s vessels while the group enjoys wine and cheese. Or for a culinary group, she says, “I will reach out to chefs and fine-dining establishments, as well as places that offer cooking classes. For history or architectural groups, I ask clients who are interested in such cruises if they know of others who may also be interested in this type of cruise.”

Fitzgerald makes an annual business plan for the upcoming year with a few different river cruise companies. She produces a “River Cruise Talk” quarterly newsletter during the year. She also works with local wineries and high-end restaurants for presentations. In addition, she says, “I always do a launch party to introduce people to the idea of river cruising, and I do a slide presentation of what Fitzgerald Travel has planned for the year. At the end of every presentation, I offer a group option. Last year I offered a Christmas Market Cruise on the Danube. I have 10 couples sailing this year and I am hosting that group.”

Whether it’s an individual or group sale, the river cruise niche is a lucrative one for travel agents. It’s a premium sales market, and one that calls for expert travel advisory services, notes Schulberg, adding that river cruises that bring people together to explore a shared passion can only fuel the growth of what is already one of travel’s hottest trends.

Avalon Waterways: Ahead of the Curve

Avalon Waterways is leading the way in creating themed cruises, with the introduction over the past two years of 14 special interest/themed cruises on European rivers—more than any other cruise company. These run the gamut from wine- and culinary-themed cruises to trips focused on music and jazz, art and impressionism, golf, history, Jewish heritage, and gardens and nature. Next year’s Legendary Danube Author Cruise, an 11-day trip from Prague to Budapest, will be hosted by Diana Gabaldon, best-selling author of the Outlander novels.

In 2018, Avalon will also be adding to its Active Discovery Danube and Rhine cruises, launched on the Danube River in 2017 to great success. These cruises explore off-the-beaten path experiences and give travelers a choice of activities at each destination, with something for every activity level. They feature different points of interest and more time in port for exploring the destination than other types of river cruises.

“The really cool thing is that the line’s special interest cruises are priced at the same level as Avalon’s other cruises,” says Terri Burke, MCC, CTC, managing director of Avalon Waterways, “so travelers can have all the built-in programming and experiences around their particular passion at no extra cost.”

Additional factors that differentiate Avalon Waterways from other river cruise lines include their exclusive Open-Air BalconiesSM featuring beds that face wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows in their Panorama SuitesSM—one of the company’s signature features that provide the feeling of “relaxed luxury” that passengers enjoy.

For travel advisors looking to better market and sell Avalon’s themed river cruises, Burke makes a number of suggestions:

“Nothing sells like video.” Take advantage of Avalon’s new video showcasing its themed river cruises from an onboard perspective.
For leads, look to your clients who book premium ocean cruises.
Keep in mind that Avalon ships offer two decks of Panorama SuitesSM, so groups can all be housed in similar accommodations.
Ensure you are an Avalon Waterways Specialist. This newly redesigned program gives agents all the tools they need to prospect and sell river cruises effectively.

Agents can also watch for new special interest cruise options from Avalon to offer their clients. “We launched a 2018 cruise featuring Diana Galbaldon of the popular Outlander series, and it sold out in a week,” says Burke. “We are expanding these offerings, especially the Active Discovery options. They are very popular.”

For more information on the multitude of river cruise offerings from Avalon Waterways, visit the travel agent portal at .

Selling the Mexico Experience

Selling the Mexico Experience
How to maximize the sales potential of immersive travel in Mexico

According to the latest Virtuoso Luxe Report, the desire to be a “traveler rather than a tourist” is one of the top trends for 2018. In other words, the days when travelers were satisfied with nothing more than a cocktail by the pool are long gone. Today’s vacationers crave unique and memorable experiences.

In the North American market, Mexico is especially well positioned to capitalize on the demand for experiential travel. The nation’s proximity, attractive exchange rate and accessibility enhance its diverse culture, traditions and natural attributes. And Mexico-savvy travel agents know how to put it all together to create irresistible packages for their clients.

“Without a doubt this is a growing market, surprisingly for all age groups,” says Elly Sterlacci, president of All Inclusive Reservations in Windsor, Colorado. “For many years, I have made a point—while on business or personal trips—of not only seeing resorts, but also experiencing local history and culture, and local, authentic Mexican foods. My clients love when I share my knowledge and excitement with them. Most clients are looking to get away from their everyday ‘normal’ life.”

Sally Jane Smith, president and CEO of TravelSmiths in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, agrees about Mexico’s appeal for immersive vacations. “Experiential travel is incredibly important, especially when we’re talking about Mexico,” she says. “Mexico is filled with rich culture, incredible ruins, and their fabulous indigenous food. Our clients love having all of this right in our backyard. The proximity to these immersive experiences only helps to grow our business there.”

Increased demand for tailor-made, immersive activities is partly due to social media, according to Kim Goldstein, president of Journeys Inc. in Richmond, Virginia. “Just like everything in life, clients want customization,” she explains. “Social media is a big driver in this new trend, because anyone can easily see what others are experiencing. Many millennials rank their vacation on how they can showcase it on Instagram.”

Suppliers also report an increase in demand for unique experiences. “Today’s travelers are more sophisticated in terms of their desire to really embrace the history and culture of Mexico, and they love adventure,” says Timothy Mullen, president of Apple Vacations. “While ten or twenty years ago, our most popular excursions were snorkeling and catamaran tours, today’s travelers love whale shark programs in Playa Mujeres, Mayan eco-adventures in Cancun/Riviera Maya, swimming with stingrays in Cozumel, zip lining in Vallarta, and outback and camel safaris in Los Cabos.”

While immersive experiences are plentiful and easily accessible throughout Mexico’s most popular vacation spots, it’s up to the travel advisor to help clients choose the ones that will have the greatest impact on their vacation and create a seamless experience for those clients in the process.

Know Your Audience
The potential client base for experiential travel is wider than ever, and transcends stereotypes, according to agents who sell a lot of Mexico. Sterlacci, for example, says, “Automatically your thoughts go to the over-fifty crowd, but lately my thirty-somethings are asking for the unique and unusual.”

In addition, she says, “Today’s millennials want to be one up on their friends, so these authentic experiences give them bragging rights. And today’s younger parents, who have been able to travel with their own parents, now want to take their children to Mexico, so their kids can see, feel and understand what others are like.”

Goldstein has also seen an increase in families seeking immersive experiences. “The parents want the children to see how other cultures experience life and that not everyone lives like them,” she says. And she notes that newlyweds are among the clients who most seek out immersive vacations.

Smith, too, sees a desire for experiential travel crossing all age groups. “Everyone wants to take advantage of experiential travel,” she says. “It’s multigenerational. It’s not just the millennials. It’s parents and grandparents who want their children to experience the world. A lot of times, clients want to expand their world view through travel; they just need to know these trips are safe and authentic experiences.”

This is where travel agents have a chance to shine, suggesting experiences that will tie into their clients’ individual interests and desires.

Assess What Clients Are Seeking
To that end, of course, qualifying clients to help determine what will make their vacation most memorable and impactful is crucial. In fact, Scott Wiseman, president of Travel Impressions, notes that for today’s travelers, it’s no longer a question of if they are seeking culturally immersive experiences, but what kind and to what degree. “There’s such a wealth of options in Mexico that it’s more about finding your client’s most comfortable level of immersion, rather than a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ ” he says.

Indeed, Smith says that travel agents need to understand what an immersive vacation means to each client. “Experiential travel does mean different things to different people,” she says, highlighting just some of the possibilities: “It could be a total immersive experience, like going to a town and helping to build a home, dig a well or assisting with the elderly. For other individuals, it could be immersing themselves in the history of Mexico, visiting Chichen Itza and/or Tulum, going swimming in the cenotes or visiting Xcaret or Xel-ha. Some folks just want to swim with the dolphins or ride a camel. Or it could be as simple as going to a taqueria to have tequila or enjoy a Mescal tasting.”

With all the various options, the role of tour operators and packagers becomes even more important. “The tour and land operators are now designing trips and packages to appeal to those travelers,” says Smith. “They know that’s what is selling.”

Experience, too, can help an agent make recommendations that are spot on. For example, Sterlacci has seen that among her agency’s clients, culinary experiences appeal to nearly every age group, while other immersive elements are more dependent upon generation: Food and history, for example, are big sellers for the 50-plus crowd; ruins, water parks and food are top sellers for parents with children; and “in-depth history” attracts single travelers.

And location is another driver of what kinds of immersive experiences are good recommendations. “In Riviera Maya, my clients love going into Playa del Carmen or visiting the Tulum ruins along with the many eco-parks,” says Goldstein. “Travelers visiting Mexico want to experience the vibrant culture and see the history—they love going to the Mayan ruins to learn about the past.”

Mix It Up
If variety is the spice of life, then combining immersive experiences with other activities makes perfect sense—especially in a country like Mexico, where culture, history and nature are complemented by stunning hotels, nightlife and other excitement.

“My clients are looking for a few down days to relax and enjoy a resort, then they want to leave the resort to see and feel what their destination is like,” says Sterlacci. “I find clients who are away for seven nights tend to purchase two to three sightseeing tours. They mix their tours with adventure—maybe snorkeling, ATVs and zip lining—and history, including Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza.”

Smith says her clients are apt to mix and match a variety of diversions. “Some of the immersive experiences that complement all vacation types include scuba diving, ATV tours, speedboats, snorkeling, sailing, riding a camel, zip lining, museum tours, visiting Xcaret … the list goes on,” she says. “You can do just about anything in Mexico, and it’s very cost-effective.”

The ongoing appeal of such experiences provides travelers with good incentive to book tours and activities at the same time they book their air and hotel. The benefits are multifold: travelers can do their research and explore their options ahead of time; they are ensured they can book the experiences they want; and travel agents can increase their commissions.

Sterlacci has already seen that the surge in popularity of experiential travel means that more travelers book extras in advance. And to better serve that need, she says, “I recently worked with Amstar DMC to create a private label website for my clients. It features all kinds of tours, in several Mexico locations.”

Make It Personal
For all the attention that experiential travel has attracted within the industry, clients may not be aware of the concept by name—even when that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

“I do not feel the phrase ‘experiential travel’ is widely known, and maybe that’s OK,” points out Sterlacci. “It gives me the chance to ask questions and respond to my client with ideas. There’s nothing better than sharing with your client something you experienced and enjoyed. Clients can hear the excitement in your voice. I’m so excited that Americans are finally traveling to various Mexican destinations and asking for ‘experiences’—not just the beach and drinking.”

Smith’s agency also relies on personal experiences to generate excitement about immersive travel. “We are very well educated on Mexico,” she says. “We go there at a minimum four times a year—we meet the hotel managers, the tour operators and the people.”

This in-person experience helps Smith to better connect clients with the most appropriate activities outside the hotel properties. “Mexico has so much to offer; however, most guests just don’t understand that it’s right at their fingertips,” she says. “We fully educate our clients about what is available. We interview them to see what their likes, dislikes, passions and their comfort zones are, in order to fit the perfect adventures and experiences into their vacations, because we truly believe that we create memories that last a lifetime.”

Apple Leisure Group Connects Clients with Unique Experiences in Mexico

With its high-profile brands including Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions and AMResorts, Apple Leisure Group is one of the nation’s top sellers of all-inclusive vacation packages, and ranks as one of the top in terms of leisure travel sales to Mexico. That puts the company in an especially strong position to help travel agents who sell experiential travel.

“As interest in eco- and adventure tourism continues to mount, many travelers are exploring the land beyond their resort gates,” says Scott Wiseman, president of Travel Impressions. “We’re fortunate in our partnership with Amstar DMC to have a wide variety of tours for every activity level in our portfolio, and highly recommend taking advantage of ‘only in Mexico’ experiences—for instance, swinging off a rope into a cenote, walking through Mayan ruins from Chichen Itza to Tulum, being blessed by a shaman before taking off on a zipline. The list goes on and on, because the possibilities in Mexico do, too.”

Gonzalo del Peon, president of AMResorts, says his hotel brands—all-inclusive properties including Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now, Sunscape and Zoëtry—are ideal for clients looking to go beyond the usual. “Our guests are definitely interested in learning of activities they can enjoy on-site and off-site, especially throughout Mexico’s beautiful beach destinations, which are known for their local culture and outdoor activities,” he says. “From award-winning quality dining showcasing organic, farm-to-table cuisine to traditional Mayan rituals like the Temazcal ceremony, travelers who desire authentic experiences that feed the body, mind and spirit will find a vast range of enriching culinary and wellness activities.”

Del Peon adds that AMResorts helps travel agents to sell more experiential travel in Mexico. “We provide our agent partners with all of the tools they need to effectively sell our resorts,” he says. “Our robust travel agent loyalty program, AMRewards and Master Agent program make matching travelers to the ideal resort easy, by guiding agents through the six brands’ differentiating factors and identifying key selling points to match clients with the right resorts.”

Apple Vacations also provides travel agents with valuable sales tools. “Amstardmc.com provides a list of all available excursions in each destination with complete descriptions, commissionable to agents when booked prior to departure,” notes Timothy Mullen, president of Apple Vacations. “Amstar DMC is one of the largest destination management companies in Mexico, and all tours are vetted by local experts to ensure that they are operated by the most reliable vendors, with safety standards closely monitored.”

For more information about working with Apple Leisure Group’s top brands to create immersive experiences for your clients, visit AppleLeisureGroup.com.