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!
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.
With graduation season upon us, the importance of travel as a life goal or “bucket list item” resurfaces in my mind as an ideal commencement speech topic! It seems a fitting time to revisit this post from a few years ago.
There's a great big world out there, with sights, people, cultures, food & climate very different from where you live. Getting out of our comfort zone to experience other places is always a good thing. You can appreciate all the good & even the not so good of your own city ("there's no place like home") after getting away to a new destination.
You can argue that there are many reasons NOT to travel, starting with not enough money or time, hassle of traveling, or being stranded with your family and away from your friends. But I submit that these are EXACTLY the reasons you should travel! There is never going to be the ideal time financially or at work to take a vacation and as we age, time becomes a precious commodity.
Kids will only be that certain age for a very, very short time and tackling an unknown destination together is a surefire way to create family memories that will last a lifetime.
I am not suggesting that you throw caution to the wind, mortgage the house and quit your job to travel! But schedule a few days or a week away from the office to gather your loved ones and go exploring. Right here in the United States are hundreds of must-see places to go - the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, California's coastline, Washington D.C., New York City, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the list goes on and on!
When you have a little more time and funds, a trip out of the country will WOW everyone. The history and charm of Europe, the beauty of South America, the wilds of Africa - the Taj Mahal in India, the Opera House in Sydney, penguins in the Antarctic even! It is eye opening, and part of an overall education, to see firsthand how others live.
With a little advance preparation and planning, your travel agent can make your trip happen within your means.
I've found that a good formula for my family is to see a new destination every year and every once in a while, re-visit a familiar one, i.e. our favorite beach. I keep a map that is marked with all the places I've been fortunate enough to see, attached to an even longer list of all the places I want to go! And as a parent, I feel a responsibility to my kids to show them how much more there is to the world than their tiny corner of it.
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!