Monday, January 24, 2011

Why book a group? Let me count the reasons why!

There are so many reasons for someone to book a group, its hard to know where to start but the main reason is they are FUN!! Whether you're setting up a small reunion of friends at the lake for a day or taking 50 seniors on a tour of the holy lands, its the getting together, sharing meals, conversing and spending time with one another that makes the effort and planning well worth it.
The ideas to put together a group are almost limitless....class reunions, family reunions, business, educational groups, hobbies, workshops, church groups, theme groups the list goes on and on.
Not only is traveling with a group fun but you also get the benefit of group discounts and most group travel planners get to travel for free!
Whatever your incentive is, having the right person to handle the details of group travel is essential. It takes lot of experience and group travel knowledge to be an expert in this field.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Spring Breakers!

Thanks goodness it Friday! I've been working on spring break vacations all week! The good news is there is still space available the bads news is that you're going to pay a premium to travel at this time. But with that being said there are still plenty of affordable trips to get away with the family, the key is booking early...."the early bird gets the worm". #FollowFriday

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Specializing in the Group Travel "Niche"

As a travel agent who specializes in the group travel market I have to stay on top of the ever changing travel trends in this niche. Being a group travel specialist it is important to focus on each group individually to design and customized an itinerary to fit their needs and interests. You may have two groups going to the same place for completely different reasons and expectations. Customizing is the key for a group travel niche.

There is no end to the types of groups you can rally up. There are theme groups, adventure/adrenaline junkies, history seekers, hobby enthusiasts, foodies, work groups, reunions, just let your imagination flow! I love the group travel niche because its challenging and you get to form relationships with your groups.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What a Fantastic Experience!

Just recently returned from an 8 day Viking River boat cruise from Nuremburg, Germay to Budapest, Hungry. The cruise itself was a great experience but the climax of the trip was an easy inexpensive visit to the mineral baths in Budapest - what an absolutely relaxing, indulging treat. You cant visit Budapest without going to one of the many Baths. The experience not only revitalizes the soul but will be a memory you carry home with you forever.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Passport Panic

When booking trips to Africa you really have to dot all your i's and double cross your t's.
Last month I had planned a pretty involved trip to Europe/Africa for some really awesome clients. His wife and him are pretty well traveled, they have been on several cruises and international tours. This year they were combining a 28 day European/Africa cruise with a Safari land tour. After getting all their pre cruise land set up in Italy I started working on the end of their trip to Krueger National Park and Victoria Falls. I double checked all their documentation and sent them to an international vaccination clinic to get shot up for the trip. After reading through all the legal mumbo jumbo on entry requirements I see a paragraph that notes clients have to have at least 2 completely empty pages in their passport book. I high lighted this information and also told the clients that customs will not stamp on the page if their is another stamp there (I dont know why this is a big deal in Africa because they put several stamps on a page everywhere else). Their passports were only a couple years old so they figured this was not a problem.
Unfortunately, a couple days before their departure they got out their passports to discover they only had one page that was still completely blank, even though most pages only had one stamp and plenty of room for more. I called the consulate to see how strict this rule was and if the clients could get by with what they had. Of course they said they could chance it, but they could also run into to problems. So, after weeks of preparation and planning they had to make a last minute drive up to Seattle to have additonal pages added to their passport. After a six hour roundtrip drive and another $90 each they returned home with several new blank passport pages. The upside of this story is that they were close enough to drive to a passport office and they got the passport office to reissue the passports same day (they were original told they would have to come back the next day for them). To every story there is a silver lining, we decided that they would now be able to travel a whole lot more in the next five years.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wonderfully said!

Here are some wonderful sayings I read the other day that I would like to share....

Instead of living life to be rich, live richly!

Keep life simple, travel more, buy less stuff, seek more adventure!

I prefer to spend my money on travel, rather than buying more "stuff" that will end up collecting dust. But the travel memories will always endure.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Online Reservation Holiday Disaster

Over the holidays I recieved a call from a very good long time client. He explained to me his son had recently ordered a ticket through a random internet site to go to Xiamen China. The problem started when his son "sean" had some car problems and arrived at the airport an hour prior to departure instead of the customary 2hrs for an international flight. This would not have been a huge issue except that the flight was full and the airline had given his seat away. Well this too should have been a solvable problem at the airport. They could have rescheduled him in the next couple of days or gotten him on the next flight to Vancouver which is where his first connection was. "Sean" had shown up for the flight and checked in but the agent was unwilling to help with the situation, was overwhelmed with holiday traffic and basically said sorry and tough luck. The United ticket agent (this was a code share flight for Air Canada to complicate things even more) said he was a no show, which means that you lose the value of your ticket. Sean paid over $2000 for his ticket and was understandly upset. He no choice but to go back home and try to get help from the internet provider - Sean explained the situation several times to an agent that spoke very limited english but, the only solution they gave him was to buy a new one way ticket at $1500 to get there and he could use his original return reservation (this was almost as much as he paid for the whole roundtrip). Thats when I told his Dad I would call him and see what I could do. I can understand a change fee but losing the whole ticket....ridiculous!
After talking with Sean and getting more details and a copy of his original ticket, I could understand why the ticket agent was having such a hard time getting his ticket reissued for another day. Sean was booked on Air Canada for four legs of his trip and Southern Air China on the very last hop from Hong Kong to Xiamen. Well, any international ticket should be validated on the over seas carrier or at least the carrier for the majority of the carrier could reissue that ticket except (which they said they couldnt do) or Southern Air China which has only two airport locations in the USA, none in Portland Oregon. After several phone calls and frustrating conversations I was able to get ahold of an exteremly knowledgeable agent at S.Air China in Los Angeles. He was able to rebook the ticket and charge the change fee of $125.00. He couldnt understand either why the ticket would have been validated on So Air China when it was just one small hop out of five flights on Air Canada - I'm sure it was a commission issue for but it created a major disaster for the passenger. As it turned out Sean was delayed a couple days but arrived on Dec.24th and was able to spend Christmas with is wife.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weather Delays

Well, due to the Oregon/Auburn game today....very short weather post (GO DUCKS!).

The best advice I can give you today is please get to the airport earlier then the 1.30hr normal check in time and reconfirm your schedule before making the trip to the airport.....yes, we are over the holidays but we are in the thick of winter. With weather delays and cancelled flights across the country it causes the domino effect across the board. Just today I had two clients call me about delayed flights that were delayed over 2-3hrs and of course would not make their connection flight. I was able to get them rescheduled ahead of time and save them going to the airport to wait. They would have been sitting at the airport for a very long time and at the mercy of the airport ticket counter and all the other passengers battling for those few extra seats which fill up very fast when flights are cancelled.