Shameless Moochers

If honesty is good for the soul, after this post I should be no more than a couple of certified miracles away from sainthood.  I am going to make an admission about the travel industry which, while it is stating the bleeding obvious to travel industry insiders, goes largely unnoticed to the uninitiated.

Korean AirTravel agents, practically without exception, are all shameless moochers.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen an anorexic travel agent?  If you think the term moocher is harsh, I Korean Airactually toyed with the terms parasites, sponges and bloodsuckers before dialing it back a bit.  Without a doubt, one of the great benefits of being in this industry is the endless stream of supplier events.

Take last night as an example since my memory fades rapidly beyond yesterday’s breakfast.  I was invited by Stacey  Montgomery to attend a Korean Air event at a unique, edgy private venue called 7 Senses.  I mention her name because somewhere in the midst of the free-flowing adult beverages, I promised her I would subtly work into this post what an all around fantastic person she is.   Based on the quality of the event, I can fulfill that pledge with a clear conscience.

Korean AirThe purpose of this particular soirée  was to celebrate the increase in flights from DFW to Seoul from five a week to daily.  I gladly rejoice with them in this important announcement but my point is, my fellow attendees and I would have been there had they been celebrating Korean Independence Movement Day.

When you have labored in the travel vineyards as long as I have, you develop an intuition about who is going to sponsor a great event.   My radar did not disappoint last evening.  Given my legendary sweet tooth, it is not surprising that my favorite food station was the one pictured below.  The assortment included Bananas Foster shots, Triple Chocolate Mousse shots, Apple Caramel shots, Cheesecake shots, Tiramisu shots and Strawberry Shortcake shots.  Let’s just say if these were shots of alcohol instead of desserts, this picture would include me lying under the table!

Korean AirPerhaps the evening’s biggest surprise was being handed a very nice parting gift as I left and being told that there was even more food out in the parking lot!  Say what??  As I stepped out into the dusk to retrieve my valeted car, what before my wonderous eyes should appear (not Santa and his reindeer but almost as amazing), a bus with “Gourmet Korean Tacos” blazoned across the back.

Korean BBQLest the overly literal misinterpret this little tounge-in-cheek exposition, travel agents are among the most professional workers I know. They labor long hours orchestrating other people’s joyful experiences often with modest compensation.  Nice events such as the one last night are both productive investments of their time and richly deserved diversions from their daily stress.  I am merely having a little fun at our own expense.

So thank you Stacey Montgomery and Korean Air for a wonderful evening and good luck with your new flights.  It is reassuring knowing that in this turbulent industry where I ply my trade, I may well someday end up homeless but as long as I own a sportscoat, I will never starve!

A Vacation Without Golf? Say It Ain’t So!

Your reaction when you hear the phrase, “Say it ain’t so!” is a barometer of your interests and, perhaps too, your age.  If you are an aficionado of  baseball, you immediately think of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and the famous Black Sox scandal of 1919.  If you are a rocker, on the other hand, you will recognize the phrase as the title of a song written and performed by the American rock band Weezer.  I am appropriating the term, however, with deference to neither but rather simply to register my shock and horror at such a heretical idea.  A vacation without golf?  Please!

Even I am astute enough to recognize that the entire populace does not share this view.  Therefore, this post will attempt the impossible.  (Why squander our time on the merely difficult, right?)  I shall attempt to deconstruct and reprogram the minds of those of you whose opinion of golf tends to parallel a popular quip attributed to Mark Twain, among others. “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”  Whoever may have said it first, it succinctly sums up to the opinion of a multitude of non-golfers.

As seems to be the case ever more frequently in my advancing years, in this matter I am convinced my view is the proper one and all those of a contrary opinion are sadly misguided.  Having shed all pretense of modesty, let me begin to marshal my evidence before I lose your attention altogether.   Here are three incontrovertible reasons why golf should be part of every vacation.

1)  Golf Affords The Opportunity For A Fresh Beginning

I have a preacher friend who once told me that he loved preaching in black churches.  When I enquired why, he replied, “In black churches,  you get to start over every week.”  He did not mean this in any derogatory sense.  Quite the opposite.  He admired the black churches’ emphasis on forgiveness and manifold grace.

This may seem a bit of a stretch but golf is like that.  When you stand on the first tee, youQuestro Golf Cabo San Lucas have nary a blemish on your scorecard.  The card in your hand looks positively pristine, not unlike the closely mown grass under your feet.  You may have gouged and hacked your way through the previous round to the utter consternation of the groundskeeper but all those snowmen (8’s for the uninitiated) on your last scorecard are but a wispy vapor of the mind, melting into nothingness in the morning sun.

As you peer down the first fairway, in a moment of sheer delusion, you ask the starter about the course record.  You pretend it is idle curiosity but inwardly you are fantasizing.  You never know, right?  Sometimes that seductive mirage even lasts a hole or two.  I once started a round with two birdies.  If they could only bottle euphoria like that!

2)  Golf Is Played In Idyllic Surroundings

Questro Golf Cabo RealHave you ever walked the grounds of some palatial estate dreaming that some day your ship would come in (personally, mine broke apart on the twin reefs of poor judgment and bad advice several years ago) and when it did,  you too would finally live in such breathtaking environs?  My humble suggestion . . . in the meantime, of course . . . is to just take up golf.  I have strolled the grounds of the Palace of Versailles and I have ambled through London’s Kew Gardens.  I have also played the incomparable Pebble Beach and Maui’s stunning Plantation course and the former pair have nothing on the latter.

Golf by the seaIf you are a lover of nature, if you like beautiful panoramas and grand vistas, if you like endless variety, fresh air and the sound of birds chirping, if you like gently rolling fields and  towering pines . . . you get my drift . . .  may I gently remind you that the game of golf is played in the great outdoors where nature in all its grandeur is, at least  temporarily, your private estate.

3)  There Is No Such Thing As A Bad Round Of Golf.

OK, admittedly this blanket assertion assumes no freak accidents such as golf cart rollovers, lightning strikes or beanings of your fellow golfers.   Let’s dismiss those negative thoughts at the outset.  Barring such rare occurrences, golf reminds me of a comment I once heard about sex.  Even when it’s bad, it’s good.  As long as you go to the golf course with the right attitude, every round can be a pleasure.

I know what you are thinking.  Precisely because golf is played outdoors, isn’t it true that the vicissitudes of nature are always looming to spoil your outing.  Au contraire, mon ami.  As Oscar Wilde famously said, “There is no bad weather . . . only inappropriate clothing.”  That is precisely why they make rain gear!

Golf in bad weather

I once arose at six in the morning keenly anticipating my first round of golf ever in Ireland.  I flipped on the TV to catch the weather only to be told that I should expect rain and gale force winds off the North Sea.  When my friends and I entered the clubhouse, we were met by the club manager who made the sign of the cross muttering, “God bless you, my children” under his breath.  Not even the locals had ventured out.  True to the forecast there was steady rain and forty mile an hour winds all day.  Ever prepared, I was wearing the proper gear for the conditions.  This undoubtedly renders my sanity suspect, as if it took this final bit of evidence, but I have to say that experience is one of my favorite golf memories of all time.

We Get You. We Get You There.

As many of you know who follow this blog, our agency Travel Leaders / Main Street Travel is an associate of Travel Leaders, one of the travel industry’s fastest-growing and most robust networks of travel agents.  Just a couple of months back, at our national meeting in Dallas, a new marketing campaign was unveiled and I thought you might enjoy a little backstage view of the rationale behind this branding effort.

This campaign, “We Get You.  We Get You There” is anchored by a new shortenedWe Get You with Logo tagline “Travel Better”.  Please don’t ask me to share the older, longer version because I could never remember it which, I am told by savvy marketers, is not considered a strong selling point for a tagline.  Granted, I have the attention span of a gnat but even I can remember “Travel Better.” 

WE GET YOU

I recently wrote a post about the value of travel agents called “Travel Agents:  Dinosaurs or Crocodiles?”  in which I addressed the tremendous value travel agents add to the equation.  One of the primary tools we use is asking customers a series of discovery questions to better understand our clients’ specific interests, their personal budget, their previous travel experience, etc.

We prod and probe (in an ever-so-gentle manner, I hasten to add, and thankfully without ever asking you to disrobe or bend over), until a clear picture begins to emerge of you, the traveler.  As has been aptly pointed out . . . by me, I think . . . prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

Perhaps you are thinking at this point, “Sheesh, I didn’t come into your office to get psychoanalyzed.  I just wanted to go on vacation.”  OK, fair enough but here is an interesting thing I have discovered over the years, “People generally don’t care how much you know about them once they know how much you care about them.”  Once you realize our objective is not to sate our prurient interests (the National Enquirer and Star serve that purpose nicely, thank you), but to understand and thus serve you better, hopefully you will not care either.

It is when we get to know your preferences, your expectations and your aspirations that we well and truly “get you.”  It is then we are prepared to move to the next step.

We Get Your Priceless Moments

WE GET YOU THERE 

So you are probably thinking, “After I have confessed in front of God (and let’s not forget my spouse who is a little less forgiving), to every secret travel fantasy I’ve ever had, I hope to heck you are going to put that information to some good use!”   We are and trust us, all will be forgiven when you get back from the perfect vacation.

It is at this juncture that we take off our doctor’s lab coats and pick up the pins, patterns and measuring tape of a tailor to fashion a memorable vacation that is perfectly suited to your needs.  I like to think of it as fitting you to a T since that was my dad’s nickname for me and has nice associations.

Think about it.  Wouldn’t you much rather have us tailor a vacation that fits you instead of grabbing “garments” off the rack and trying to squeeze you into them?  I did that years ago with a leisure suit which may explain my uncanny ability to sing falsetto.

THREE COMMERCIALS

Now for a little entertainment.  I know, it’s about time!  Travel Leaders has fashioned  three clever thirty second commercials in support of this new campaign, all of which can be found on YouTube at Travel By Terry Videos.

Travel Leaders commercial

We Get You – Humor

Travel Leaders Commerical

We Get You – Heartstrings

Travel Leaders Commerical

We Get You – Aspirations

I would be very curious to know which one of these commercials most resonates with you.  Please take a moment and cast your vote below.

The Best New Travel Blog of 2012: Ta Da … Mine!

I think you will agree that what my title lacks in humility is more than made up for inBlogging award audacity.  What prompts such an immodest claim, you ask?  I blame it on the season.  No, not Halloween or Thanksgiving.  Rather, it’s that time of the year when all sorts of other bloggers with nothing better to do are starting to work on their 2013 version of lists such as these from last year:

15 Best Travel Blogs To Follow In 2012

12 Travel Bloggers You Should Read in 2012

Best Travel Blogs of 2011

The Best New And Not-So-New Blog Travel Blogs for 2012

This is just a modest sampling.  I have not linked to any of these because:

a)  The lists are now almost a year old and the new ones will be out soon and

b)   much more important, Travel By Terry is not on any of these lists.  Shocking, I know.  I attribute this, with irrefutable logic I might add, to the fact that my humble blog did not exist when these lists were compiled (having only started my blogging adventure this past June).

The purpose, therefore, of this post is to Blogging Awardget ahead of the curve by nominating myself for consideration on some of these upcoming lists.  After all, who knows me better or loves me more.

Here is my succinctly stated case for inclusion.

1)  My travel blog is HUMOROUS.

I should probably qualify that.  Let’s just say, I often find myself giggling like a school girl when writing and even rereading many of my own posts.  I acknowledge that my threshold for bemusement may be hereditarily low (which is certianly true of my taste, style and judgment, as you faithful readers will have long ago noted),  so that theory can’t be dismissed out of hand.  In my own defense, however, I have had readers, some not even biologically related, who also said that they find this blog . . .  droll was the word I believe they used.

2)  My travel blog is INFORMATIVE.

Had you started reading my blog last June without missing a post you would first of all constitute an army of one.  I confess, even I skipped a couple.  But had you exhibited the required fortitude to wade through them all you would have garnered all sorts of invaluable information.   For example, you would have learned that my brother is equally unhinged, further strengthening the genetic weakness theory above.

You would have discovered precisely Where Conoco Kisses Cuisine.  Be honest, I bet  you didn’t even know they were dating.  Who else would have taught you how to Build A Travel Bridge To Somewhere or suggested A Round-About Way to a Nervous Break Down?  I think it is safe to say no one.  No one on this side of a padded cell at any rate.

3)  My travel blog is ADDICTIVE.

Blog addiction

Photo by: Luis Louro

Really, addictive?  Yes, in the same way you can’t avert your eyes from a ten car pile-up on the interstate.  Would you like proof?  Unless you somehow miraculously stumbled across this specific post in the vast, uncharted black hole called cyberspace, you are a dreaded “return visitor”!  Now, now.  It is nothing to be ashamed of.  My brother once followed Judy Lollar all over our Junior High School in a hormonal rage with his tongue hanging out repeating “Ooo La Lollar”.  It happens.  Who is to say what genetic forces create the strange attractions that propel us through life.

The time has come, dear members of the blog rating jury, to rest my case.  I would say, without a trace of partiality,  that the evidence is overwhelming, incontrovertible, irrefutable and whatever else lawyers like to say about their case.  If my travel blog does not land on your list, than you are obviously just another member of the wildly biased, Trotskyite  mainstream media.  Either that or you went to college or something.

As for you my faithful readers, I would say “Keep those cards and letters coming” but as an old black radio preacher I used to listen to liked to say, “Just send letters. You can’t put cash or checks in a postcard!”

A Round-About Way to a Nervous Breakdown

Yesterday started off normal enough.  However, those of us with a little highway behind us  know all too well that normal can go all “pear shaped” very quickly.  Actually, in my case “all circular” but let me start from the beginning before I have you thoroughly confused.

ACT ONE

A couple of months ago I bought an excellent book called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.  This is an excellent roadmap for those seeking to increase theirPlatform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World visibility by building an online presence and I highly recommend it.

Shortly afterward, I learned Michael was going to be speaking at a fairly new venue in my home town of Fort Worth.  The facility which hosted the event is called the Cendera Center and is located on a very busy traffic circle.

I brought my copy of Platform to the presentation and made some notes in the margins as Michael spoke.  After the event, I returned to my car, hung up my sport coat, got a few things organized, jumped in my car and headed to lunch.  As I entered the “round-about” as the British like to innocently call these circles of death, I glanced in the rear-view mirror just in time to see an object sliding from the roof of my car onto the trunk.  You have probably guessed by now that the mysterious object was my copy of Platform which I had inadvertently left on my car’s roof when I drove off.

I thought I might be able to exit the circle before the book took the final plunge to the pavement below but no such luck.  I can promise you that centrifugal force is still alive and

Traffic Circle

Not the Benbrook Traffic Circle. Just felt that way!

well on the Benbrook Traffic Circle.   As soon as the book dropped to the ground, I threw on my brakes, threw my car into reverse, backed over the book with my right front tire, put my car in park, jumped out and retrieved the book.   Rest assured that all of these steps took less time than it takes to describe them.  They were also accompanied by the sound of blaring horns and drivers flashing single digits at me which I suppose was their way of indicating their IQ.

With my heart still pounding, I drove to La Madeleine for a quiet lunch where I could hopefully regain my composure.  Sad to say, though, my personal Greek Tragedy was only at the end of Act One.

ACT TWO

As I started to enter the restaurant, I realized I didn’t have my cell phone.  Like one of those whirling dervishes out of India, I tore through all my belongings to see if I could find the phone in my car but to no avail.

At that moment a very ominous thought crossed my mind.  I said to myself, “Self, you don’t suppose you placed your phone on top of the book?”  I instantly conjured up the image of my beloved iPhone lying in the middle of Benbrook Traffic Circle being pummeled by a Coors beer delivery truck.  I jumped back in my car, sped back to the scene of Act One filled with mortal dread.  However, after making a couple of circles, the phone was no where to be found.

I pulled back into the Cendera parking lot scouring the lot for the remains of what had once been my trusted personal assistant but nary a phone in sight.  I pulled into the same space where I originally parked, exited my car and took a few deep breaths while uttering a quick prayer to Steve Jobs, the new patron saint of cell phones.  I decided to give the interior one more search and to my utter amazement my prodigal phone was hiding under the front driver’s seat.  Unless you have ever misplaced a smart phone, you have no idea the childlike giddiness and sense of relief its discovery can produce!

Hopefully this fiasco was not captured by anyone on their cell phone camera but in this day and age, you can never be sure.  Just in case, you might want to keep an eye out on YouTube.  If it is there, I have no doubt it has gone viral by now.

Travel Tips, Part Deux

Last post, you may recall, we took a little stroll hand-in-hand down memory lane. OK, admittedly the lane in question was more of a private footpath littered with my tattered dreams of publishing stardom but, alas, such is often the fate of us literati. It should all be coming back to you by now provided you haven’t metaphorically washed your mind out with soap since your previous read.

At any rate, I wrote about the indispensable travel guide and collector’s item penned by my brother and me called, “Never Say ‘Hi, Jack’ In An Airport”. I will spare you a repeat of the sub-title. I thought this post I would share with you some of the rarer nuggets which were mined by readers with the patience to discard buckets of fools gold along the way.

The chapter on health, fitting titled “The Foreign Lesion (How To Stay Healthy When You Travel)”, opened this way. “If it’s true that most accidents occur in the home (and it must be because no less a source than the universally acknowledged authority figure known around the world simply as ‘they’ say it’s true, then the best possible way to stay fit, healthy and safe is to travel at least 350 days a year. But fairness (and the looming prospect of a class action lawsuit) compels us to admit that travel can present its own special threats to one’s physical well-being.” This was followed by such sage airplane advice as “To compensate for the lack of moisture in the air, drink lots of water – – up to eight ounces an hour. (You might want to request an aisle seat because you will be making more trips down the aisle than Elizabeth Taylor.”

Then there was the chapter dealing with money called “A Pound Of Franc Advice (Money Matters When You Travel)”. That little play on words was a lot funnier before the introduction of the Euro, I must say. This section answered such burning questions as “Where is the best place to change dollars into a foreign currency (excluding a magician’s convention)?”. Lest you think this work of art contained no serious travel guidance, this chapter offered up all sorts of practical advice about the use of credit cards, how to get the best exchange rate, and other practical tips all of which are grossly outdated twenty years later.

Another somewhat anachronistic chapter title was “Max Legroom (Ideas For Maximizing Comfort In The Air). For those not glued to their TV sets in the late 1980’s, this was a take-off on “Max Headroom“, a British produced American science fiction program featuring the world’s first computer generated TV host. The strange thing was that the character was actually not computer generated at all but an actual actor in makeup because such a feat outstripped the technology of the time.

I think the time has come to let our modest little tome recede into the annals of literary history. Thank you for indulging me this little stroll. It might be presumptuous to hope it produced a guffaw or even a chuckle, but at this point, I would consider merely a wry smile not a total loss.

If you enjoy this blog, I would appreciate a follow (see button below), a forward and a frank comment (not too frank as my psyche is quite fragile). If not so much, would you mind keeping that just between us? In either case, thanks for the visit and travel safe!

Travel Tips With A Twist Of Denton

In the mid-nineties, my brother and I must have found ourselves with considerably too much time on our hands because we decided on a whim to co-author a travel book. The progeny of the mating of our two warped minds was called (and still is I suppose), “Never Say ‘Hi Jack’ in an Airport: and 101 Other Life-Saving Travel Tips”. The fact that we conceived this title well before 9-11, the era of enhanced, if not intrusive, airport security and the age of humorless TSA bureaucrats shows just how prescient the Denton clan has always been.

Sadly, the book is out of print and the extremely modest royalties long since wasted in profligate spending (in the case of my brother, of course.) Since there has now arisen an entire generation who never had the dubious privilege of owning a copy, I thought for the next couple of blogs I would share a few pearls of wisdom from said literary masterpiece. The work was intended to be a series of humorous travel tips with an occasional sprinkling of sane advice for readers with a more somber bent. Whether we succeeded in either regard, I will leave you, the amateur critic, to decide.

Amazingly, the book is available all over the internet and in cobweb infested used books shops across the land. That so many of our dear readers were forced to relinquish these keepsakes for such a pitance (the average going price seems to be between eighty-five cents and a buck-twenty) only dramatizes the cruelty of the current recession. After you have already sold all your family heirloons, priceless jewelry and gold fillings, what else can you do?

Strangely, as I recall, the thing that garnered the most attention were the chapter titles. I have no idea why. They strike me as pretty straightforward. I even checked with my brother and he agrees. Here is a sampling:

Auto Suggestions (Don’t Let Car Rentals Drive You To Drink)

A Room With A Loo (Check Out Your Hotel Before You Check In)

Loco Motives (Not-So-Crazy Reasons To Take The Train)

Ship Happens (Hints For A Happier Cruise)

Kilroy Schlepped Here (Sightseeing On A Shoestring)

Now that I no doubt have your rapt attention, stay tuned for another installment of equally priceless gems coming soon to a blog near you! As a closing aside, if any book publishers out there accidently stumble across this blog and see potential for a reprisal, give me a shout.

Welcome to “Travel By Terry”

Those familiar with Greek mythology will recall that the nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus each presided over a different art or science. These nine muses are purported to have provided inspiration for writers, musicians and painters across the centuries.

I began this blog because I hope to provide a little inspiration and reflection for those who have a passion for discovering the unending wonders our planet offers the inquisitive and unafraid. I hope my ambition to be a sort of contemporary travel muse sounds neither immodest or inappropriate given the fact that I am neither female nor remotely divine.

What I do possess, and share with many of you, is an inate curiosity and insatiable wanderlust. St. Augustine observed, “”The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I have been given the opportunity to read many of those pages and hope to read many more before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

So if you would like to share my experiences, observations, and discoveries, by all means follow along. In the words of Ecclesiastes, “Two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor”. For me, travel is a labor of love and I welcome your companionship along the way.

Until next time, travel safe!