The Presidents of every major cruise line and tour operator such as Tauck, Classic Vacations, African Travel, Insight Vacations, Trafalgar Tours, and major cruise companies and hotel chains from around the world were in attendance. This conference draws all the heads of the major travel industry companies.
Our gala dinner was at the Library of Congress which was a once in a lifetime experience, great atmosphere, beautiful gowns, reception, and history all in one night. The keynote speaker at the Conference was Pulitzer prize-winner David McCullough who talked about his books including the best seller “John Adams”.
STN, having the power of volume purchasing behind them, enable members to provide clients tremendous benefits when booking. These benefits include discounts on airline tickets and car rentals, and other hotel amenities which vary from property to property, i.e. children stay and eat free, free breakfast for adults, room upgrades and more. Free breakfast alone can save you $25 to $50 per person per day, as is the case in Hawaii.
The value savings from the Cruise Industry was amazing this year. For certain companies, not only is there free economy class air, highly reduced business class air, two-for-one pricing, plus free transfers and a free pre and post sailing hotel nights. In many cases they are providing shipboard credit, pre-paid gratuities, free selected shore excursions and all inclusive features.
For hotels booked, clients get free breakfast, room upgrades, and other amenities. In major cities such as London, these extras can amount to substantial savings during a stay. Signature has 37 major hotels in London alone which gives clients this ultimate value.
Another outstanding speaker at the meeting was legal counsel Paul Ruden of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). He told us that the DOT and FAA are monitoring closely a scheme where the airlines would charge business travelers who book themselves on the internet a higher price than those booked by the travel agency who use a GDS (Global Distribution System) reservation system. He also mentioned that top destinations are Africa, Europe and River Cruises (Worldwide), and there is great interest in booking villas.
Al Merschen, President of Myriad Marketing conducted a survey which showed that people who book travel themselves, spend more money than if they used a travel consultant. Some other facts were 52% of parents are willing to take their children out of school for an overseas holiday and 33% of grandparents want to take the entire family on an adventure vacation with Africa and Australia being their key destinations along with River Cruising. Cruise lines, both ocean and river, are building many new ships to include adjoining state rooms, which are in great demand by the above family travelers. Free telephone calls and WiFi are also being offered. More than 42% of those surveyed, say they are planning on spending more travel dollars in 2014.
Travel Agencies sell dreams, what’s on your bucket list?
Maureen Jones is president of All Horizons Travel at 160 Main Street. Members of her staff are experts in business travel, cruises, and all types of leisure.