June 15, 2012
On Location at Disney California Adventure
|The Cars Land Opening Ceremony on June 13 drew thousands of media, as well as celebrities that included Larry the Cable Guy and Randy Newman. // © Deanna Ting 2012|
If you’ve ever seen “Cars” or “Cars 2” you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into each film as soon as you set foot onto Cars Land at Disney California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, CA. From the Radiator Springs Town Hall and Flo’s V8 Café to the thrilling Radiator Springs Racers and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree attractions, the detail you find wherever you go is simply uncanny.
I was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at Cars Land the day of its grand opening, June 13, and the next day, June 14, while it was open only to media and select guests. From what I can tell you, the new 12-acre area was well worth the more than five-year wait. Here’s a quick guide to some of Cars Land’s best attractions and rides:
|At the end of Radiator Springs Racers, your car races against another in an exciting drive filled with thrilling banks and curves. // © Deanna Ting 2012|
Radiator Springs Racers
This is the star attraction of Cars Land and it lives up to the hype. The largest attraction by acreage at Disneyland Resort, it combines clever storytelling techniques with a heart-pumping race to the finish in colorful automobiles—each of which seats six—that tour Ornament Valley on a scenic road trip, followed by a drag race on the track. The winner of each race is randomly chosen so it’s exciting to see how it all pans out.
I don’t want to spoil the ride for you or your clients. but I’d definitely recommend taking a spin on the ride at night, when the lights shine onto the hand-painted, hand-carved façade of Ornament Valley and the rest of the park glows.
There’s a height restriction of 40 inches on this ride and while the speeds of the vehicles do pick up toward the end, it’s a smooth and scenic ride throughout.
|The baby tractors from this ride twist you around. // © Deanna Ting 2012|
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
It doesn’t look like there’s a lot of kick to it but this ride, which features 22 individual baby tractors in training, has a bit more than you’d expect. Think “Mad Tea Cups” gone country, with original songs by Larry the Cable Guy (the voice of Mater from “Cars”) playing in the background.
|The entrance to Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction. It’s not uncommon to see characters from “Cars” parked—and moving—throughout the area. // © Deanna Ting 2012|
Luigi’s Flying Tires
The best way to describe this ride is like being on a giant, life-size air hockey arena. Guests sit atop inflatable tires that float across the floor. If you lean in a certain direction, the tire will also start to move toward there as well. There are also plenty of fun, oversize Italian-flag-inspired beach balls and plenty of Italian racing memorabilia to keep you occupied.
Flo’s V8 Café and the Cozy Cone Motel
If you love old-fashioned dishes and rotisserie roasted classics, you have to stop by this classic café in the heart of Cars Land. The Cozy Cone Motel, aptly named for its car safety cone-inspired architecture, serves up all kinds of “cone”-themed foods, from ice cream cones to chilli “cone” queso.
Shopping at Cars Land
There are three shops in Cars Land—Radiator Springs Curios, Sarge’s Surplus Hut and Ramone’s House of Body Art—and each is home to special merchandise your clients can only purchase here at Cars Land. Popular souvenirs include hats shaped like a tire from Luigi’s Casa Della Tires and a cars-themed rendition of the classic Mickey ears hat.
Simply put, whether or not your clients are fans of “Cars” or “Cars 2,” I have a feeling they’ll want to stick around a while in Cars Land. As for me, I’m hoping to take one more spin on Radiator Springs Racers before I leave.
Cars Land and the Grand Reopening of Disney California Adventure will open to the public officially on June 15.
Disney Travel Agents
By: Deanna Ting
November 03, 2011
On Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort
It’s been many and many a year since I visited Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, but after having my proverbial socks knocked off by Aulani in Hawaii (I say proverbial only because the place emphasizes barefoot luxury), I accepted an offer to accompany some members of the Fisher Travel team to see how the theme park is holding up.
I had forgotten how massive the resort is, and how many resort hotels are included within its boundaries. For the record, Disney owns more than 47 square miles in Orlando. That’s about two Manhattan Islands. It’s seriously big.
I’m staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, an homage to African game reserves. Having stayed in several game reserves in Africa, I can say that they got plenty of details right, and that there is something utterly breathtaking about watching a giraffe amble along right outside one’s window, whether that window is in the Serengeti or in Orlando. (Though I will admit that my first thought upon seeing the giraffe was “Oh, no, if a lion comes along right now the kids are gonna be traumatized…” Fortunately, there are no lions or any other dangerous animals in the “Savanna” area of the park, but it would certainly be a good way to teach kids about the circle of life...Or maybe not.)
My room at the lodge is quite nice—smallish, and not ideal for business travel (not a lot of electrical outlets, and a dining-style table in lieu of a desk), but perfectly good for a couple or a small family. (And I already mentioned the views over the savanna—those are tops.) Oh, yes, and while the beds in my room don’t have mosquito netting all around them, there is a decorative panel of netting at the heads of each bed. It’s a pretty touch (must remember to suggest it to my interior designer), and a fashionable nod to African necessity.
After checking in, I headed over to the Saratoga Springs resort, part of the Disney Vacation Club, for a spa treatment. Elizabeth did a wonderful job working out (most of) the knots in my back, and the spa facilities look lovely. (I was pressed for time, so I didn't get a proper tour, but there seemed to be a good number of rooms, and the women's lounge was very soothing. Might go back there just to unwind in the hot tub...)
For dinner, I went with my host over to the California Grill at the Magic Kingdom’s Contemporary Resort, which nowadays looks delightfully retro. (It has undergone an extensive renovation since its 1971 opening, but maintains a few early-1970s touches.) The restaurant is huge and rather noisy (not a great option for a quiet romantic dinner), but kids are welcome and can learn about fine dining while looking down over the Magic Kingdom. (Great touch: Guests who dine at the restaurant can keep their receipt and come back at 900 p.m. for unobstructed views of the fireworks show over the Magic Kingdom.) The food is delicious, and covers a surprising range of styles. We started with a Dragon sushi roll (tuna, shrimp tempura, bell pepper, avocado and a chili soy glaze) and then tried an artisan flatbread (BBQ-flavor, delish) before moving on to the formal first course (a single, huge goat-cheese ravioli) and the main course…which, by then, we were too full to eat. (Well, I was, anyway.) The grilled pork tenderloin was just wonderful—incredibly tender, and served over goat cheese polenta with a zinfandel glaze.
Tomorrow I’ll be going on a Wild Africa Trek around the Animal Kingdom—this is a new feature of the resort, so I’ll be eager to see what that’s like…
By: Jena Tesse Fox
September 23, 2011
On Location: A Visit to the Aulani Spa
Aulani celebrated its grand opening tonight with a beachfront ceremony that started off with a real rainbow stretching over the resort. I can only assume that Disney now controls the weather, too.
The day started out with more chances to talk with the Aulani team. Korri McFann is the worldwide marketing & business development director at Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons, and he is helping to create Aulani’s weddings and honeymoon packages. The first wedding at Aulani is scheduled for the first week in October, and four weddings are schedule for 11/11/11. Nice touch: For families who already have children, McFann says that her team is developing weddings that marry not just the couple, but combine two families into one. Naturally, the ceremonies include little Disney touches, like little Mickey Mouse crystals in the bouquets (below). While the resort doesn’t have any dedicated honeymoon packages set in stone yet, McFann believes a five-day honeymoon vacation should be around $2,000 per couple, and will probably include spa time, private beach cabanas, beverages and excursions.
Jeff Morosk is the director of landscape architecture for Disney, and he helped create the overall aesthetic of the resort. The finished product, he says, is “about the many facets of Hawaii—its history, its present and its future.” Native plants are featured throughout, little “menehune” (mythological Hawaiian characters) are hidden in the gardens, and animals are subtly carved into the rocks along the paths. Bo Bolanos, the principal concept designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, estimates that there are more than 300 of these hidden animals throughout the resort, and adds that even he’s not sure where they all are. “It’s a discovery for me, too.” One challenge Bolanos faced with designing Aulani was working on a significantly smaller scale than he might at any of the company’s other resorts. Instead of 300 feet of space to work with, he had to find ways to create the same effect in only 60 feet.
After chatting with the “Imagineers,” I headed over to Aunty’s Beach House, a dedicated children’s space at the resort. The house has many rooms with different kinds of activities for different ages and interests—board games, computer games, videos, toys, sports equipment…just about anything a kid could need to stay entertained while mom and dad unwind on the beach or in the spa. Coolest part: There's even a tool shed for arts and crafts. I get the feeling Aunty's will be a bit more inventive than macaroni pictures. (I didn't get to chat with Aunty, a new Disney character created for Aulani, but reportedly she and Uncle come by regularly to tell stories to the kids. Are grown-ups allowed to listen in?)
And then there's the spa. Laniwai (meaning “freshwater heaven”—water is a dominant theme) is fairly large as spas go, so there’s never a sense of over-crowding. Upon check-in, guests get a small stone with a word carved into it, and they are asked to meditate on that word during their stay. (Mine was “Balance.”) In the middle of the spa is a small pool, and guests can put their stones in the pool before heading off to their therapies. Design-wise, the real novelty at Laniwai is the co-ed hydrotherapy garden, which is included in all treatments but can be booked independently. The garden has six distinct motion-activated showers guests can wander through before jumping into either a warm Jacuzzi or a cold-water plunge pool (depending on preference), and several herbal soaking tubs. It’s a really lovely way to spend an hour or so before or after spa treatments, and guests should budget extra time to unwind outside. (Nice touch: Guests also get a custom-made scrub when they check in. I opted for a maile sugar scrub—it smells a little sweet, but not cloying. Quite nice.)
Inside, the sauna and steam room areas have little refrigerators filled with towels, making the heat much more bearable. And the main lounge has a full range of lotions and hairsprays and whatnot, so guests don’t have to leave the spa looking like they’ve just…well, left a spa.
Teenagers have their own dedicated spa at Laniwai. Painted Sky has special treatments just for younger guests, and kids can try their hand at making their own perfumes. (Be afraid. Be very afraid.)
I opted for a hot-stone massage, and largely passed out while my therapist did her work. Turns out, hot stones really are soothing. I can actually move my shoulders again.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more on the opening and the beach and the "Waikolohe Valley" pools tomorrow!
By: Jena Tesse Fox
September 20, 2011
How Cancun Replaced Spring Breakers With Families
As the annual Cancun Travel Mart Mexico Summit sets to kick off on October 12, agents and operators get set to do business in one of the best luxury, family destinations in all of Mexico.
That's right, Cancun is now both glamorous and family-friendly, a far cry from the once MTV-inspired party destination that it once was from the late '80s to 2005. The former mecca for drunken, college debauchery is now - and has been for the last six years - a haven for families and multigenerational travel, replacing the days of wet T-shirt contests with family picnics and wine-pairing dinners.
My first trip to Cancun was as a 20-year-old Spring Breaker in 2000 and my second trip was the following year. For those two trips, I was admittedly among the rowdy crowd of North Americans who pounded Coronas all afternoon, inhaled Jell-O shots by night and slept through all hours of the morning.
But every time I have gone back since, I have seen less and less evidence of this era. A hurricane in 1988 was responsible for the birth of the Spring Break phenomenon in Cancun and it was a hurricane in 2005 that washed it away.
It was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 that devastated all of the hotels in Cancun and, in turn, scared away every possible market except one, the Spring Break travelers. In many ways, the wave of spoiled college kids who crashed the destination, actually saved it and put in the forefront of Mexico tourism. But as time went on, this same clientele was responsible for driving all other markets away.
That was of course until Hurricane Wilma again swept away most of Cancun’s hotel product in 2005. But this time, instead of simply rebuilding, the hotels stepped it up a notch and upgraded as well. Now, with most hotels leaning toward the luxury side of the market (at least 80 percent of all Cancun hotels are now five-star in rating), the hotels were shutting out most of the Spring Break clients.
Whereas agents were booking packages for about $350-$400 for Spring Break clients, they were soon booking packages of at least $1,200 for families looking for a luxury experience.
Travel Agent is encouraging all agents to keep this destination in mind when booking family vacations this holiday season with hopes of keeping the Spring Break era dormid and the luxury, family market vibrant.
By: Joe Pike
July 09, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: July 6-9
Predators opens in theaters today. I hope the movie is to Predator as Aliens was to Alien— a highly entertaining sequel that does not complicate plot or toy with any franchise story lines. What does this have to do with the travel industry? Absolutely nothing (unless of course you want to send your clients on a vacation to the game preserve planet where the extraterrestial hunters stalk the characters played by Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne among others). But at least we are not discussing Lebron James' free agency decision to join the Miami Heat.
So now that you have some inspiration for what to do for entertainment this weekend, let's take a look at what agents and readers have been discussing as of late at TravelAgentCentral.com.
New Cruise Ship & Policy
It was a big week when it came to cruise industry news. Not only did a long-awaited ship make its debut, but one line is changing its advertising policy— which directly affects agents.
Norwegian Cruise Line's NCL Epic took to the waters of New York City last week, and our own David Eisen was on hand to check out the ship. While there, he spoke with Kevin Sheehan, CEO of NCL, about the new area for the cruise line. Although the focus of Eisen's story is Sheehan and NCL's future, one reader took the opportunity to comment about the new ship.
Rick Anderson wrote:
just got back from new york, crused over from london. it is the worst cruise ship i hav ever been on ! should be called pick your pocket. charges for everything,the only thing that saved 7 days of bordrum was the blues club and slam allen. pick anyother ship but this one.
That's disappointing to hear right off the bat about this ship. Are there any agents or readers out there who can report more positive news about the NCL Epic?
As much as Rick is none-to-pleased with NCL's new ship, it doesn't compare to the ire some agents are feeling about Carnival's new advertising policy. As Susan J. Young wrote, "the line won't tolerate any rebating or price inconsistency in any communications— whether mass media or in personal discussions or -emails to guests, effective August 1." In short, agents will no longer be able to provide discount rates in order to entice clients as the cruise line attempts to shift the consumer's focus from price to value. Needless to say, several readers are furious.
There will be many companies that will not honor this plan. They will offer after cruise "rebates" or some other form of discounting. When a company competes on it's service and reputation rather than the lowest price in town it will be a better world for all agencies.
Will this also apply to Carnival's Personal Vacation Planners who often go out of their way to contact our clients and then undercut us?
From the articel: “... the traveling public seems to have zero loyalty to an agency and will book elsewhere for a bottle of wine or an extra coupon booklet."
That _is_ the reality. Customers DO haggle. They DO shop around and often decide based on price. They do change their mind if they can book elsewhere for $5 less. (I've seen it happen!)
Carnival - NOT just agents - would be wise to invest in educating current/prospective clients on the VALUE of the cruises they sell, then shine a great big PR light on the effort.
Look to Apple's web site for a shining example, albeit for consumer electronics. (They also use level pricing across the board.)
Frustrated Independent Agent wrote:
Make no mistake: This _is_ being done in order to get direct business.
It is going to be very difficult for an independent agent like myself to offer perks up front (which customers continue to DEMAND - don't kid yourself). I don't care how often clients praise and refer me for my service and reputation. It means nothing if I have to use increasing amounts of out of pocket expenses in an abnormally cash-flow poor economy.
Bottom line, this does _not_ make it any easier for agents like me to sell, no matter how I slice it.
Very annoyed and frustrated, even more so because I really do like Carnival's cruise offerings. "Insert rock and hard place here!" :(
So Carnival listened to the 'big guys'. They have the deep pockets to book a lot of group space thus offering lower fares and perks, that we can't match unless we discount. This is just a way to weed out the little guys and strengthen the 'big guys' Sad.
Rich Skinner stated:
Relying on rebating is a sure formula for failure. Selling cruising as a commodity is also a formula for failure. Value added service is the only way to succeed. Carnival will sell direct, but let them have all of those money-losing 3 and 4 day cruises. We need customers not disloyal price shoppers.
Cruise rebating was a hot topic of discussion at TravelAgentCentral.com in December and it looks like the issue is back in the spotlight. Many agents have been discussing the issue in real time via a discussion thread at AgentNation and we encourage you to join in.
AMEX's New Benefits?
When we reported on American Express' new advertising policy that evokes the importance of travel agents, it seemed like a great thing for those who sell travel as a profession. However, one reader appears to be confused about the policy, citing the company's previous strategies.
Tharwat Abouraya, CTIE posted:
During Roger Ballou’s leadership at AMEX, the strategy was not to compete with travel agencies in selling travel. AMEX has two arms: 1) seller of travel products & services; 2) issuer of cards which travel agencies accept for payment. The thinking was that non-AMEX travel agencies pay merchant fees to AMEX Card, therefore, AMEX should not compete for their travel revenue at the same time. It is fine for AMEX to promote its card and its benefits, but the call to action in the new ad campaign should say 'book with your travel agent and use your AMEX Card,' not just 'book with your AMEX travel agent.' Was Roger wrong?
I don't know. But maybe a reader out there does and can shed some light?
So You Don't Have to Turn the Car Around
Summer vacations, which are supposed to take us away from the trials and tribulations of the real world, can be so easily ruined if unhappy little travelers invovled. That's why ASTA released tips on traveling with kids, to ensure a smooth journey. In response, some readers have provided extra advice and feedback on the topic.
Eleanor Anderson wrote:
Make sure to have snacks and your own water. I take empty plastic water bottle and fill up at water fountain instead of paying $2.50 a bottle especially when taking children. You never know if your going to get stuck on the tarmac.
Angela Miller shared:
We started traveling with our children when they were 2 and 3 years of age - first to the Virgin Islands where we took advantage of kids clubs - then later to Europe. By the time the kids were 10 and 11, they had been to Europe three times and were experienced travelers and we had learned how to be parent travelers. We had much happier travels once we gave them a chance to offer their input in the planning of the trip. Even as pre-teens they each had an idea of the kinds of sights that interested them. By giving them a chance to include these in our schedule, we were able to keep them both happy and interested. But we found it was also very important to include some down time and play time. A park visit, hike to castle ruins or rides on a merry-go-round can do a lot to make kids feel like they are getting in some play time. And some evenings with TV and room service can also go a long way. Traveling with kids can be rewarding, fun and educational for all.
Nice to see that Angela has mastered the process on traveling with little ones. Hopefully agents can take her story as a solid example when communicating clients. As for Eleanor (are you related to Rick?), great idea with the bottled water, especially regarding tarmac delays (a recent nightmare for travelers).
Safety & Security on Airlines
Since 9/11, and even more so since the attempted bombing of an aircraft this past Christmas, airline security has been a touchy subject among agents and consumers. We found a Travel Leaders study last April that claimed most travelers were okay with the security process, but apparently wimpie is not one of those travelers. He/she wrote:
I have traveled about 20,000 miles by car this year to avoid the TSA Gestapo and their Nude-O-Scopes of Cancerous Death machines. This represents about $5000 or lost revenue for the airlines, and I know I am not alone. TSA is gonna screw the airlines - Good for them.
Wow, someone really hates to fly, eh? I understand the frustration with the process and the concern about the invasion of privacy, but to compare this to the Gestapo is a little extreme. That's the same language politik nut jobs used during the health care reform debate, insinuating that people would be ripped from their beds and marched to death camps. You definitely have a point, wimpie, but take it easy on the paranoia.
On safety matters, not necessarily security matters, there's another story generating some buzz this week as Irish low cost carrier Ryanair is ready to launch flights where passengers stand instead of sit. Innovative or insane? Mj Lunden believes that latter, asking:
Are they crazy?
Yes, I think Ryanair is crazy. They've discussed charging for use of the toilet, offering smokeless cigarettes and have considered charging a "fat tax" to overweight customers. But are they crazy like a fox or crazy like a loon? You tell me.
Again, Back Up Your Claim
The ability to comment on articles here at TravelAgentCentral.com represents how the Internet can truly celebrate the right to free speech as well as accelerate conversations on meaningful topics. Of course, with great opportunity comes, well, open questions. When Meagan Drillinger recently reported on the new Eventi, A Kimpton Hotel, one reader appears to be upset at the information posted.
Your information is all wrong with regards to the restaurant and food parc may want to have the right facts before you run a story!!!!!
this coming from someone who actually knows what is happening..
Here we go again. A bold statement with no information to support it. Dani, maybe you are right about incorrect information. But, as someone who "actually knows what is happening," why aren't you sharing the correct information? You have an opportunity here to open up what may or may not have gone wronge by backing your statement with this insider's knowledge you claim to have. Yet, you don't provide any, which makes you look like a jackass.
I always invite feedback. But if you are going to make claims without backing it up, please don't waste our time.
As always, the conversation never ends here. Post comments below or at any of the cited articles (among others). Send a tweet to our Twitter page (@travelagentmag). Write us at our Facebook page. Join the conversation in real time at AgentNation, the only online social community for all kinds of travel agents.
Until next week...
April 08, 2010
On Site: Like Water? You'll Love Iberostar Paraiso Lindo Hotel
As one should expect, staying at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso in Mexico's Riviera Maya while covering Iberostar Hotels & Resorts' global campaign launch with Antonio Banderas has been quite the rush. But the fun has not stopped there.
Today, I took a brief tour of another one of five hotels at the Iberostar Playa Paraiso Resort and found the perfect place to bring my kids on a vacation (when my wife and I decide to have them, of course). While walking around the grounds of the Iberostar Paraiso Lindo, it felt like an aquatic paradise. Some portions even emit the feel of a bungalow in the South Pacific, not that the region's any better than Mexico. But the point remains that those vacationing at the property will truly escape within this microcosm of a place, especially if they are families.
The kids running with glee in the video above says it all. I believe they were hustling to the wave pool, which you can take a glimpse of for yourself in the video below.
In addition to the wave pool, there's a lazy river for tubing at a snail's pace, and plentiful opportunities for water sports, even a coaching in water polo. See more of the property in the photo gallery below.
September 18, 2009
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: September 14 - 18
This week was filled with angry behavior in the media. Serena Williams flipped out at a line judge (threatening to shove a ball down her throat), Roger Federer— usually a calm guy— was actually heard cursing on camera, and, of course, there's Kanye West's erruption at the Video Music Awards.
One would think that with the excrutiating heat of summer now behind us that people would be chilling out. Guess not. Though, fortunately, our readers seem to be keeping a cool head when sharing their opinions. Let's check them out.
Happy Times at Happy Places
We'll start with the most positive comment this week. When Travel Agent recently profiled Ecuador as an increasingly popular eco-tourism destination, the story appeared to strick a chord with one John Edwards, who wrote:
We went to the Galapagos Islands non-stop service into Guayaquil, Ecuador, we had the opportunity to visit the Historic Park which we found it very interesting and we love the structure of its ancient park, we spent three days on this beautiful coastal city of Guayaquil then we took our flight into the Islands and found the most unique experience ever in our life, this islands are magic and we have the opportunity to be face to face with mother's nature, awesome experience.
I assume this is not the John Edwards who ran for President and had an affair while his wife battled breast cancer. So, in that case, it's great to hear someone enjoying the fruits of the destination. However, if it is indeed that same John Edwards, I would like to know if he took that trip with his wife or mistress?
Keep the Kids Informed
Oasis of the Seas could very well be most highly-anticipated cruise ship to enter the industry in quite some time. It will have features never seen before on other ships, one of which is a nursery at sea for infants and toddlers, according to our report. But a reader, Diane Garrison, begs to differ, commenting:
Oasis does not have the first nursery. Disney has had a nursery at see since it first began sailing. They have increased the size twice and I believe they accept children three months old.
So, fellow readers and users, what is your take? Is Oasis the first to produce a nursery at sea or has Disney been ahead of the game the whole time? Throw us a bone, please.
Clean California Cruise Ports Sought
Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, and New York City are popular places on the East Coast from where travelers take cruises to the Caribbean and beyond, and it appears as if the West Coast is getting a little jealous. Two months ago, we reported that there's a chance that Los Angeles may get a billion-dollar cruise terminal sometime in the future, and it has excited some of our readers— particularly bfraz, who posted:
The Port should be involved in establishing better accommodations for the influx of cruisers - current choices in San Pedro are mostly dumps.
I've never been to San Pedro, so I can neither agree nor disagree with bfraz. In fact, I've never even heard of the San Pedro cruise port, and I was born in California. Perhaps that lack of awareness of the port is a testament that it may in fact be a dump. With that in mind, California would definitely need a cruise terminal in the City of Angels. Meanwhile, even if San Pedro is not a dump, an extra port to generate travel and stimulate the economy could be a fantastic thing.
Grinding Gears through Economic Woes
Not sure if you heard, but there's a recession going on and everyone is doing all they can to keep their heads above water until it seeps away. Agents face challenges in a lack of demand as many are holding back on vacations. But that apparently isn't the only major problem. Readers Joanne and Dave shared some insight into how commissions on cruises are affecting their business during the economic downturn.
THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL AND IT ISN'T PRETTY, ALL THE CONSORTIUM'S AND ITS MEMBERS NEED TO TEACH THE CRUISE LINES A LESSON AND LET THEM KNOW IF THEY KEEP RAISING OUR NON COMMISSIONABLES AND DIRECT MARKET OUR CLIENTS WHOM HAVE SAILED WITH THEM, WE WILL TURN THE FIRST TIME CRUISER INTO A LAND TRAVELER. IF WE DON'T STICK TOGETHER SOON IT WILL BE TOO LATE. THE CRUISE LINES ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS.
Case in point....I booked clients on a transpacific 15 day cruise this spring. Total price $4900....my commission $117. Of course on a long voyage my clients expect that I will gift them with wine for dinner or spa service. Subtract that expense from my earnings. Now something is really wrong with that picture!
Considering that cruises are supposed to be one of the best products from which agents can earn their dough, this is some disturbing news— especially considering reports we've been filing that cruise vacations are the best value for consumers. With that in mind, I agree with Joanne that something is wrong with the picture. If the best travel options for vacationers during a recession are cruises, and if agents are having trouble profitting from said cruises, what's going on?
I'd like to hear from more agents on this issue, as the recession does not appear to be going away anytime soon.
Until next week...
July 30, 2008
Adventures of the Traveling Single Parent
Amanda S. Klimak, CTIE, is vice president of Largay Travel Inc. in Waterbury, CT.
Three years ago, when I joined the world of single parenting, the idea of taking a vacation without backup seemed somewhat horrifying. How could I possibly manage two small children outside my beloved comfort zone of home sweet home? What if I lost one of them? What if they got sick while traveling or, even worse, what if they decided to throw a hissy fit in the middle of the airport terminal or on the plane? It all sounds somewhat silly now but, at the time, these were all very, very real fears.
Early explorations with my then five-year-old daughter, Courtney, and seven-year-old son, Tristan, were limited to short trips only miles from our Connecticut home. A day trip to a local museum or a weekend away in Cape Cod seemed like great choices, but I was wrong. Our journeys somehow transformed me into what I now refer to as the “24-hour entertainment committee,” which was unfamiliar territory for this working mom. Somehow managing a $20 million company seemed like a cakewalk compared to trying to contain two little ones on my own for an extended period of time. What seemed like a brilliant idea of a relaxing weekend away at a friend’s beach house in Cape Cod was an exhausting proposition, to say the least.
There we were, privileged enough to be in a beautiful home on the beach—the problem was it was quickly transformed into a prison in which I was locked up with the energy twins. There was no escape from the constant activity and I was a caged animal who returned home with what I now refer to as “post-traumatic vacation disorder.” I was fearful of our next adventure, but I would not be broken. For years I had witnessed my single-parent clients traveling all over the world in vacation bliss with their little ones and somehow I knew that this self-proclaimed “super mom” would prevail in the world of vacationing.
With much angst and deliberation, the decision was made to once again venture out alone with my two little ones. This time, however, I was jumping in with both feet and cruising the Caribbean on a Voyager Class ship. Convinced by Royal Caribbean Cruise Sales Rep Lisa, I booked our cabin. The pre-trip mental turmoil I was experiencing may sound somewhat strange for a 20-year travel industry veteran, but I was venturing out alone into unfamiliar territory and completely outnumbered by my little angels. Would they break me once and for all? I think not. This time was different, and I was determined and prepared for battle—DVD players, iPods, video games, crayons, notepads and snacks were all a part of my single-mom survival kit. As we left for the airport, I felt empowered and convinced that this would be the best single-mom vacation ever.
Our journey was incredible and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line could not have been more accommodating. Each day, Tristan and Courtney bounced in and out of the Adventure Ocean Youth Program, allowing this overworked mom a few hours of alone time by the pool or in the fitness center. Explorations on shore were exciting for the three amigos and included swimming with dolphins and long walks through Old San Juan. Even the dining experience was transformed into a single parent’s paradise. Each evening the kids and I would venture up to the Windjammer Café for a nice buffet dinner for Tristan and Courtney, then they would ditch their boring mom and quickly retreat to Adventure Ocean for a Pajama or Pirate Party. Meanwhile, I would enjoy a magnificent five-course meal in the dining room with other single travelers, which the maitre d’ gladly arranged. Each night, we retired to our cabin for some great snuggle time on our bunk beds while watching movies and reminiscing about the day’s adventures.
We returned home with a newfound appreciation for our non-traditional family. I had a confidence and feeling of success in my abilities as a single parent that could not be described. I had conquered my fears of being the sole provider, the lone ranger and the family cruise director, and I was ready for our next adventure. I was no longer “super mom” but now “super mom extraordinaire,” and I realized that traveling as a single parent does not have to be feared but can be a gift to be savored. I realize now that I have something that most married parents may never enjoy—uninterrupted, one-on-one time with my children. The truth of the matter is that, with a little bit of planning and the right vacation choice, life as a traveling single parent can be the best vacation ever.
Stay tuned for details of our next adventure.