If we could dial up every single one of our readers to chat about issues of interest to travel agents, and share this information in as many stories as possible, we would. But tight schedules and long distance phone charges can stand in the way.
Fortunately, there's our Facebook page. We've been asking a lot of questions and sharing a lot of trends with our fans lately, and many have responded with valuable insight. Here's what's been happening.
Rae Carol West Harris said:
Another port in Texas would give Galveston some much needed relief. It also may provide a little price competition in the summer monthsand Holiday periods as Galveston cruises are very high when the kids are out of school and the boats are packed!! I think it is a great idea!!!
Jean Geisinger Hopkins added:
I say the more homeports we have, the better for the industry. Airfare to Florida has gotten not only expensive but seats are hard to find on the weekends when most ships depart. More homeports help relieve that problem.
But the conversation did turn to a cruise port some agents would like to see brought to Texas: Houston.
Jason Coleman initiated:
What about Houston? Why aren't more ships using this port? I talked to a Texas client this weekend who says it's so sad to see the money they invested in the port of Houston, and no one is using it.
Suzette Suzy Cruisy Poulter would probably like a port at Houston as well, or something closer, writing:
I'd take anything that was closer to a major airport (Houston). The worst thing about Galveston cruises is the long distance to/from airport!
Tarmac Rule Works, for this Agent
It's been a few months since the Department of Transportation's (DOT) tarmac delays rule went into effect, so we asked our friends about their experience. And we were happy to see that, for Laura Small Avital, one instance was handled well.
I was on a Delta flight and after only 30 minutes at the gate all passengers were asked to deplane due to a cargo door malfunction. I assume that in the past everyone would have been sitting for hours.
We asked her how efficient the deplaning process was, and she responded:
Actually it was quite easy. We were lucky, we had access to the lounge. But they didn't cancel the flight until 3 hours later and rescheduled for next day.
So, does this incident boost Delta's reputation? According to Laura:
I was actually impressed with the way Delta handled everything. All luggage remained on board and everyone who needed was given transportation, food and hotel vouchers. When we arrived on board the next day an announcement was made that all passengers were being given travel vouchers. Economy class passengers received $100 and business passengers received $200 per person.
Value in Vacation Rentals
Every now and then, we share reports about the business opportunities for travel agents in the vacation rental market here at TravelAgentCentral. So we wanted to see if any of our Facebook friends were generating sales in this niche, as the Vacation Rental Managers Association predicting vacation rental bookings to increase by nearly 11 percent this year
Martina Steen booked in Playa Del Carmen with agency Vimex Vacation Rentals while Melissa Sutton sent two couples to Hawaii's Big Island with privately owned condos and Joseph Lang booked one to Destin where his clients had a great time at the beach and restaurants.
Destinations of Interest
A TV show or a film can do a lot for a destination, right? Maybe it depends on the content. We asked our fans about two of the riskier shows on the tube these days, "Jersey Shore" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and if they feel the shows help or harm the destination.
Ty Tylandtravel Wilson chimed in first, saying:
That's like suggesting several of the New York based shows or movies from the past, help or harm potential travel. Everyone knows the silver screen have little influence on NYC travel. We agents make sure to show our clients the BEST of these cities/destinations. At least I do.
Although admitting that she "never watched either of these shows," Alice Gerschler added:
You have to remember to, not too many people know exactly where these cities are and the shows help, either good or bad. Now if they are avid watchers, they would be interested in going there.
Meanwhile, Jason Coleman (making his SECOND appearance in our Follow Up) cited one destination that is definitely benefitting from its TV spotlight, citing:
In Southern California, you should see how many people come to town to have their pictures taken in front of the 90210 sign in Beverly Hills or at various locations in The OC. Those two shows are huge for tourism -- among all the others!
In addition to TV, we know movies can influence one's interest in travel as well. It appears the soon-to-be-released Eat, Pray, Love flick starring Julia Roberts is already generating interest, as our Facebook friends Huma Curtis and Lisa Almaz Corey gave it a shout out. Alice Gerschler (SECOND appearance in our Follow Up) cited the film as well, and added that Lord of the Rings has made New Zealand more desirable
Patricia Heil mentioned The Da Vinci Code, Out of Africa, A Room With a View, Under The Tuscan Sun, Roman Holiday, The Beach, To Catch a Thief, Lost in Translation, and National Lampoon's European Vacation.
Meanwhile, for Mike-Michelle Davis, Into the Blue inspires Caribbean travel, 50 First Dates is great for Hawaii and Crossroads (yes, she admittedly loves that movie) makes her want to go on a road trip for a girlfriend getaway.
Screen time has apparently influenced some agents' picks as "up and coming" destinations as well. When we asked our fans to name some, here's what they had to say.
Martina Steen (SECOND appearance in the Follow Up) cited Tulum.
Trent Webster is waiting patiently for Cuba.
Donald Weintraub mentioned Loreto, noting that the final season of "The Bachelor" was filmed there.
Meanwhile, Phyllis R Chambers added:
One place is hard so many so hard to pick however people copy and a lot of interest in what they see on Tv. Iceland and St Lucia cause it was on the Bachelorette lol. in reality Jamaica Mexico and Europe Cabo.
There will be more to come from us and from agents at our Facebook page— and don't forget about our Twitter page (@travelagentmag) as well as AgentNation, the only social community online for all kinds of travel agents. Keep em coming, friends and fans.