Not a new post, but one that bears repeating with fall break and Christmas on the horizon! I am sold on Disney as a destination and here's why. Walt Disney World in Orlando has had high attendance, year round, since its opening in 1971. It has universal appeal. Visitors come from all around the world for the Disney experience - just listen for a few minutes to the people standing around you at any of the parks and you will hear a multitude of accents. For that matter, look at the Disney employee nametags and you'll be awed by all of the different countries represented.
Disney service levels are the highest in any industry and EVERY person who visits Disney has a consistent experience. It is unbelievably clean & offers a safe, controlled environment for families. Plus, they have literally thought of everything. Rain? Every few feet you'll find a vendor selling ponchos. Don't want to wait in a long line? Try a FastPass. Don't like rides? See a show! I guarantee you won't be disappointed. There is something for everyone.
Is it expensive? I'll answer that by saying that it is not cheap, but you definitely receive excellent value for what you spend. It is NOT just another amusement park - it is educational, while still being super fun, with first-class entertainment and unique memory making opportunities.
There truly is magic when seeing Disney through the eyes of a child. That being said, I personally believe that both very young children and parents with very young children MAY be happier waiting until their kids have the stamina to go from morning to night. I consider this trip an investment, a destination you probably won't visit every year, so make the most of it! On the other hand, don't wait too late - some teenagers may not be as enthralled.
Should I use a travel agent to book Disney? I strongly believe that a good travel agent can help you navigate through the myriad of choices of hotels, what parks to visit and what type of tickets to buy, meal plans and other extras. All of the agents in my office have attended the College of Disney Knowledge (how about that?), and therefore they know all the ins and outs about a trip of this magnitude.
Planning is key to an enjoyable trip to Disney. There are many review books available, but we prefer "Birnbaum's". Prior to my family's visit, we evaluate and prioritize the rides, shows, parades, etc. Decision making ahead of time ensures that everyone gets to see & do what they want.
A trip to Disney will mesmerize you and I think everyone should make a point to go at least once!
Frequent flyer miles make the world go round. Free airline tickets are great benefits – who doesn’t love FREE? Sometimes other factors may diminish the value of the free airline ticket. Availability can be scarce and you may have to change from your desired travel dates. If you’re going to go free, you need to be flexible.
Quite possibly you are going to need hotel accommodations and maybe a rental car or airport transfer at your destination. Some lofty travelers may be purchasing international air travel to coincide with their free domestic travel. Perhaps your frequent flyer miles are delivering you to a cruise port. At any rate, please plan ahead for all the possible hitches in your perfect and free plan!
In my business, unforeseen travel interruptions can and often do hinder our customers from taking their trips. And most of the time, these issues are outside of anyone’s control. For example, in the last 30 days, we received SIXTEEN “Travel Exception Policy” notifications from Delta Air Lines alone!
Here are the reasons that scores of Delta flights were delayed or cancelled this month: Amsterdam fog, Nicaragua civil unrest, Tropical storm Alberto, Hawaiian Volcanic Activity, National Call for Strike in France, New York City weather, Call for Strike by Italian Air Traffic Controllers, Power Outage in Amsterdam and Power Outage in Hamburg. These are events on a grand enough scale for Delta to enact a refund procedure, not taking into account the frequent everyday weather or mechanical delays for which you may not be granted any extra assistance.
If you can’t take the first step of your vacation and get to your destination, what happens to your non-refundable hotel reservations, planned and possibly pre-paid tours, or the cruise ship that is departing with or without you?
Is it really true that NOTHING will stop you from taking that trip?
It’s not fast food!
One of life’s guilty pleasures is often found in fast food. You probably have at least one go-to restaurant that can quickly satisfy your hunger, possibly selected for the quality of the food and probably for the speed in which it will surely find itself in your hands and mouth. You enjoy the meal, but it is soon forgotten. You are unlikely to recommend it to others, or really even think about it once the food is consumed and the paper bags are thrown out.
But there are other times when you truly prefer a sit down restaurant. You’d like to be seated at a table and be waited on, with a server to attend to all of your needs. You’ll likely hear about the specials, maybe the server’s personal menu favorites, you can ask for a wine recommendation. After your order is placed, you might anxiously wait in anticipation for your meal. It’s a different experience with a completely different result. The atmosphere of the restaurant, the service you receive, perhaps the company you are with, certainly the food, drink and yes, even the amount of time spent at this venue, will all contribute to your memories. If the experience is good, you may return again and again. You may endorse the restaurant by telling all your friends. But it’s not fast food and you wouldn’t want it to be.
This analogy occurred to me when it comes to buying travel vs planning a vacation. Anyone can buy an airline ticket or find a hotel room online. That’s fast food.
If you work with a travel agent, that course of action is comparable to sitting down for the nice meal. You want to talk to a “server” who will attend to all of your needs and make recommendations especially tailored for you. The very best travel agents will form a connection with you and really evaluate what you want to get out of your vacation. It will take longer to get your meal, as the “chef” is preparing it to meet your specifications. Food is too spicy or maybe a bit bland? You can ask for an adjustment! The same with your travel agent. We are getting to know you and your preferences, so please offer feedback on our proposed travel plans.
We live in a “fast food” society, where an overload of information is readily available on the internet. But the personalized meal with the chef’s fancy touches requires a bit of patience. Custom tailoring a trip is a complex process, especially when the agent is ensuring that you get the absolute best value for your travel dollar. Fabulous trips most often occur with a careful attention to planning.
If you prefer the trip that has been sitting on the shelf under the warmer, ready for anyone at a moment’s notice - then you might be better off with fast food and that is okay. The nice meal will be ready when you are!
Can travel for work be fun?
In the hospitality industry, the two very broad categories of travelers are those that travel for corporate and those that travel for leisure. The corporate traveler is traveling for business – generally due to meet a job requirement and not for pleasure. Traditionally, these business trips were all work and no play, often resulting in unhappy or burned out employees. Repeatedly missing family events and just being away from home can ultimately take its toll.
A solution that has been catching on is “bleisure”, a trendy buzzword combining business and leisure travel. Some companies today are turning to bleisure trips to make travel less stressful or even more enjoyable for their staff. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but only with the advance approval of your company.
One popular method, which is easy to justify and even easier to accomplish, is to tack on weekend days at the beginning or end of your business trip. Sometimes booking flights on a Saturday vs. a Monday morning or Friday evening, while taking advantage of weekend hotel rates, proves to be significantly cheaper than midweek business travel fares. The traveler can go a few days earlier to explore a never before seen city and rest up before making sales calls or attending meetings. This can solve the “road-warrior” mentality and enable the employee to experience another city on their own terms.
Another option is for the company to allow a spouse, significant-other or child to accompany the employee on a business trip. In this scenario, the guest’s travel expenses are the sole responsibility of the employee. The most successful plus-one trips occur when expectations are clarified on the front end. You are there to work and your companion should comfortably be able to entertain themselves while you are doing just that. However, it serves the purpose of sharing the travel experience with your loved one and with any luck, there is time for a meal or two or some sightseeing together.
As with all things millennial, the conventional ways of doing business are being challenged, while new and improved ideas are emerging. Bleisure is likely not appropriate or practical for every business trip, but it could prove to be an attractive, occasional benefit to those required to travel for work.
While at Memphis State, I landed a dream job at Omega Travel. It was M to F, 1 to 5 in an office, not a restaurant or retail. I knew immediately I was in job heaven! My first assignment was the “brochure room.” Literally. Back then, every hotel, resort, tourist destination, city, state and country in the world produced brochures and sent them by the hundreds to travel agents. Our boxes of brochures hadn’t been touched in quite some time. . I learned a lot that first semester. First, I got the travel bug. Secondly, I learned how a travel agency operates from the ground floor up. Upon graduation, armed with a PR degree, I joined the travel industry and have never looked back. I love it! Today, I handle HR & Operations for Travelennium (name changed in 1999). Travel agencies in general, and mine in particular, have changed drastically. But we are still here and going strong. Over the years, I have been privileged to work with the finest, most knowledgeable travel professionals around. Now I’m blogging to share some of the tips and insider information that I have picked up over the years. Please share your comments or any travel questions!