When Home-Based Travel Agent spoke with some of the hospitality industry's leading technology experts, most agreed that consumer trends and guests' evolving needs were driving many of the technological advances in hotels. "Until recently, property owners were more concerned about the return per square foot rather than guest comfort," says Fraser Hickox, head of Peninsula Hotels' Electronic Services Department. "But a greater awareness has forced change."
While some hotels and resorts concentrate their efforts on satisfying the parents, others know that the secret to a successful vacation lies with the little ones. After all, happy kids make happy parents.
If you're a frequent traveler, chances are you have probably found a hotel brand (or two) that made it into your must-stay list. Maybe it's the personalized service that has won you over, or the in-room high-tech touches that let you stay connected to the office. Or perhaps it's the luxurious spa facilities you crave on your vacations.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts: Though the brand has 51 hotels in 10 countries, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (www.fairmont.com) is showing no signs of slowing down. Its development team is targeting North America, the Middle East/Africa, Asia and Europe. While the brand has been focusing expansion efforts in Europe, with new additions in Hamburg, London, Scotland and Monaco, Fairmont recently announced plans for a luxury mixed-use resort on Anguilla. When it opens in 2010, The Fairmont Anguilla will have 140 rooms and suites, a 15,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa, beach club and Jack Nicklaus Golf Club.
Atlantis, Paradise Island: This mega-resort in the Bahamas (www.atlantis.com) teamed up with Johnson's to create the Gentle Travel program for families traveling with babies. Guests who request a crib will receive a kit with baby products, nightlight, lullaby CD and baby routine tips. Clients can also order extra items such as bottle warmers, strollers, crib sheets and bathtubs. More than 100 babysitters are trained in the Gentle Travel program as well as CPR and childcare. If parents want some quality time alone, they can enroll kids in the Atlantis Kids Club,which has morning and evening programs for ages 3 to 5 and an evening program for 3 to 12 year olds. Kids 6 to 12 can participate in the Discovery Kids Adventure offered in hourly, half-day and full-day sessions. In the afternoon, Club Rush is open to 6 to 12 year olds, and it turns into a nightclub for teens age 13 to 17 at 8:30 p.m.
So, you've decided to plan a family vacation. If this is your first time traveling with the kids, you probably have a list of questions running through your head. What equipment will we need to pack? How will we fit everything on the plane? Will we be confined to our hotel room once bedtime rolls around? And how will we ever squeeze into one room for so many days?
HomesAway: Primarily catering to high-end travelers, HomesAway (800-374-6637, www.homesaway.com) currently features more than 70 properties in Italy, France, Spain, Scotland and Croatia and is actively looking to expand into South America and the Caribbean. A preferred Virtuoso supplier, HomesAway provides a local host with each rental who serves as a translator, itinerary planner, concierge, guide and local insider.
Whether you're first starting out in the business or transitioning from a storefront location, your first priority should be setting up a functional home office.And even if you've been working from a home office for years, it's never too late to reorganize your workspace.
When Linda Schuller decided to go back to work in 1978, she couldn't have predicted that starting a travel agency business would lead her to the success she has achieved 29 years later. With two young children in school in the late '70s, Schuller met an outside commission agent who lived in her home town of Livingston, NJ. Though she didn't know anything about the travel industry, Schuller agreed to go into a partnership, as she was well traveled and knew how to manage an office environment. That was the beginning of The Great Escape. "I was thrown into the business and learned it by being totally hands on," she says. "We started trying to do our friends' business, and I learned who to call."