Our story this month on the trend toward more unstructured cruising (see "A More Relaxing Cruise,") got me thinking about structure on leisure trips.
On one hand, you want to see what you can when you're in a foreign place, but on the other hand, you're on vacation—you're there to relax.
I know travelers at each extreme. One person has his air and hotel booked four months in advance and everything down to his lunch reservations confirmed two months before he boards the plane. He knows when the museums open and what exhibitions will be on, exactly how long it will take to get from the hotel to the restaurant and even which route to take. He knows the name of the person who takes each restaurant reservation and asks each for a specific table. This way, he gets to see everything he wants, ostensibly at times when there are fewer crowds, and also has a table with a view. He schedules free time.
Another traveler I know gets a plane ticket and shows up without any reservations or set itinerary of any kind. In Paris, she looks for the Eiffel Tower and walks toward it, not knowing if it will be open when she gets there. She stops along the way if a shop or café entices her. This traveler might never get to the Eiffel Tower, but to her, the sightseeing and the best table in a restaurant are not important. It's more about experiencing a place and its people in a relaxed, casual way.
I have traveled with both people. The Drill Sergeant is actually my father and the Wanderer is a friend of a friend. I have had many extraordinary experiences and generally smooth trips due to my father's research. The Wanderer split with me and my friend in Paris, when we went to the Loire and stayed in pre-arranged chateaus while she headed south and spent much of her time stressed, scrambling to find a place to stay.
I personally go for the middle ground—I do just enough planning so I'm not stressed when I arrive, but not so much that I have to worry about only having four more minutes in the Louvre before I have to be at the restaurant.
If you have Wanderers for clients, tell them enthusiastically about a hotel or tour that they'd love. Perhaps they'll let you book it for them—then they'll see the real advantages they get from working with you. The trip will be more lucrative for you, and you might get their repeat business as well.
See You in Vegas
Our Home-Based Travel Agent Expo and Conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas is coming up Dec. 5-7. See for the programming line up and information on how to register. Don't miss it!
Anastasia (Stasha) Mills Managing Editor [email protected] 212-895-8251