All Aboard The AMRewards Express

If you are among those who eke out an honest living outside the travel industry and also possess a passion for personal travel, this humble little blog was created with you in mind.  The vast majority of the posts are intended to harmlessly entertain and painlessly educate you about various travel destinations.

However, as time goes by, I seem to have acquired a number of devotees to this blog who, like me, toil in the hot sun (not to mention soft sand) of the travel industry.  Many of those are front line travel agents spending their days . . . and likely a few sleepless nights . . . making their clients’ travel dreams come true.  (A few of them are almost as good as our own agents!  See “shameless plug”.)

This particular post is written with those folks in mind.  You who belong to the first category have my permission to jump off the train at any point that your eyes start to glaze over.  The good news for you is that this post is going to be shorter than one of Paris Hilton’s miniskirts if not quite as titillating.

Loco Motive:  Four Not So Crazy Reasons To Enroll In AMRewardsI was recently asked to contribute an article to one of the travel industry’s premier online trade publications called Travel Research Online.  The article I wrote recommends a new program for travel agents called AMRewards.   The title of the article is:

4 Great Reasons To Climb Aboard The AMRewards Express

I am not going to replicate any of the content here for two perfectly sound reasons:

  1.      It would only bore those of you who belong to my primary audience.
  2.      Equally important, if you know anything about how internet search engines work, you may know that Mr. Google (as well as his first cousins Bing, Ask, Yahoo etc.) frown upon duplicate content floating around in cyberspace.

Thus, if you are a travel agent and are dying to read my provocative article, you could buy a ticket, stand on the platform and jump on the AMRewards Express . . . or I suppose you could just click here.  I highly recommend you step on board this milk run to greater prosperity and higher customer satisfaction.   Don’t worry, there is plenty of time to thank me by way of a small but thoughtful gift later.

As for all my non-travel-professional followers, one quick clarification and I am done.  If you are worried in general that any rewards earned by a travel agent are going to compromise their objectivity in selecting the right vacation for you, let me drive a silver stake right through the heart of that old vampire.  In the first place, several of the items referred to in my article accrue directly to the benefit of you, the consumer, not the agent!  Secondly, travel agents live and die on happy repeat customers.  No agent with half a brain would trade loyalty and trust for a trunk full of trinkets.

Come back soon and I promise you more tantalizing travel tales, all written to the same impeccably high standard you have come to expect from this space.  No, really, I’m serious!

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Hanging Ten In 2015: The Hottest Trends In Travel

Even if you have never surfed a day in your life and find yourself slightly older that your average backyard topsoil (OK, that would be me), you are still likely familiar with the term “Hanging Ten”, if for no other reason than you lived through all the surfing songs of the sixties.  According to Wikipedia, where we all turn when “remotely close to the truth” is good enough, “Hanging Ten refers to having both feet on the front end of the board with all of the surfer’s toes off the edge, also known as nose-riding.”

2015This blog post is dedicated to those of you who love to live life out on the end of the long board.  You are in a constant quest for the hottest trend and the “new next”.  You scoff at the idea of visiting last year’s destination . . . so utterly passé and embarrassingly démodé!

However, if the paragraph above describes you, you face a rather large dilemma.  How do you find out what are the hot travel trends for 2015?  Make one little misstep and you will find yourself drummed out of the army of the avant-garde faster than Bradley “Chelsea Elizabeth” Manning found his/her way to federal prison for violations of the Espionage Act.

Not to worry!  Here is my very practical suggestion.  Simply ask 1,226 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents.   But what if you are pretty sure you don’t know 1,226 travel agents, at least not well enough to grill them for detailed travel booking data?  Again, not a problem!  My wonderful friends at Travel Leaders Group do and, would you believe, they have already asked them!   How fluky is that?

If I tell you where you can find this treasure trove of timely information, will you promise, scout’s honor, not to go there until you have trudged through this entire blog post?  If you want to see the results of the entire survey, you merely have to click on the image below.

Travel Leaders 2015 Travel TrendsOK, now that was very, very naughty.   Don’t imagine for one moment I can’t tell that some of you have already clicked on the link.  There will be coal in your stocking come next Christmas . . . assuming Santa can still find any coal by the end of next year.  Since you obviously are intent on scouring the entire survey for yourself, I will just point out a few highlights and send you scurrying on your way.

1)  If you want to be hip in 2015, you would be wise to cast anchor for Alaska rather than venture to Vegas.  Why is that?  Cruising to Alaska has dethroned perennial winner Las Vegas as the number one domestic destination for 2015!  There is no better way to see Alaska than on with Un-Cruise Adventures.  Click the image below to see a very neat video.   Un-Cruise Alaska video2)  If you really want to be way cool, tune in to the brand new season of Downton Abbey, not for the riveting production but for the commercials.  One of the main sponsors is Viking Cruises which has helped to put river cruising on the map.  According to the survey, river cruising in Europe jumped another spot among international destinations in 2015 to #4!

Viking - Budapest3)  Finally, for those who really want to get all ten toes wet, try one of these hot, up-and-coming destinations:  Croatia, New Zealand (visit the farm where The Hobbit was filmed), Costa Rica or Vietnam.  When you return from one of those destinations, you will be the envy of even your snootiest friends.  After all, what is the point of having a snooty friend if not to make them jealous!

The time has come when you can jump from here to the survey without feeling the least pangs of guilt.  The ones who have already clicked obviously have long since seared your consciences, so you may disregard this absolution.   Have fun discovering the hot new trends and, when you are through, don’t forget to reach out to your old friends here at Travel Leaders to begin planning for 2015.

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WOW . . . Royal Caribbean Style

I seldom, almost never actually, resort to a direct sales pitch on this blog.  My  theory is tocartoon cars alesman so dazzle you with my razor wit and effervescent charm that you won’t be able to resist checking out our stellar travel offers (a theory not yet validated by actual evidence but I remain undeterred).  However, seeing as I pretty much make up the rules as I go along around here, I am going to grant myself the travel equivalent of a special papal dispensation with this post and be blatantly and unabashedly commercial.

My rationalization is simple (again, not that I really need much of one).  I recently started a new category on this blog called “Hear It Here First” where I promised to share breaking travel news thus ensuring your status at cocktail parties as the “Seer of Syracuse” or wherever the heck you call home.

One of our valued travel partners, Royal Caribbean International, promotes a giant, three-day blowout sale just twice a year they call their WOW SALE (hence the title of this post).  As special partners, they have given us a little heads up on this offer which does not launch until this coming Monday, February 25th and ends Wednesday, February 27th.

Royal Caribbean WOW Sale

Here are the basics of the offer:

1)  Book any sailing departing on or after May 1, 2013.  3-Day WOW Sale includes cruisetours and sailings on their entire fleet!

2)  Deposits are reduced by 50%

3)  Up to $200 of Onboard credit

Royal Caribbean WOW Sale

* For a fuller explanation of terms and conditions, click here.

Now that you are armed with this advance notice, you can reach out to one of our trusty cruise specialists who will in turn gather information regarding you, your preferences and your immediate travel aspirations.  Then come Monday, our agent will pounce like a ravished Bengal tiger and secure the best possible cabin and price before the other hapless rubes out there have finished their morning coffee!

Here is a list of some of our cruise experts.

Sandy DuVall  *  Lila Tapp  *  Velma Tollison

Damon Webb  *  Judy Richardson  *  Elaine Goad

Cheryl Lobo  *  Linda Matthews  *  Lana Elpiner 

When you click on the agent’s name, you will be provided a robust profile and contact information for that agent! Check out a few agents and when a particular agent’s cruise experience strikes your fancy,  just reach out to them by phone or email.  It really is that easy!

If you have been thinking about taking a cruise and have been waiting for the perfect value to come along (we don’t offer deals), act immediately.  Hey, I had a root canal this week. This little sales pitch has to be less painful than that!