Selling Summer Vacations

Summer is almost here and that means it’s time for vacation! Summer vacation possibilities include road trips, island getaways or a luxury spa vacation. Whichever summer vacation your clients are taking, we’re sharing how to take their summer vacation to the next level and enrich their travel experience.

Including tours for your clients is a great way to enhance their vacation. It may cost a little extra, but the possibility of gaining more information about their destination and skipping lines is well worth it (especially if they’re traveling with children).

Since no family or travel group is the same, customizing trips for each client can really pay off. Remember to pay special attention if your clients are visiting multiple destinations and make sure each flight and hotel meets their expectations.

Now for the budget! If your clients are looking for a cost-effective trip, villas and home rentals can be a great option. In addition to a great price, they are great for families or large travel groups.

Another way to create great memories for your clients is to add adventure! If your clients are up to it, activities such as rafting, hiking, biking and boating can take any vacation to the next level.

In the end, make sure your clients communicate their wants and needs, communicate in return, and the trip is sure to be a success! And don’t forget the travel insurance!

Now it’s your turn. Tell us – what’s your tip for planning summer travels? We look forward to hearing from you!

Lost Luggage Tips

 

Did you arrive at your destination, but your luggage did not?  Unfortunately, we hear many stories about lost luggage and the stress it can add to a vacation.  There’s nothing worse than arriving at the resort and not having your swimsuit to enjoy the sun or arriving at the golf course without your golf clubs.  Wherever or whenever your luggage is lost, we have tips to help you know what to do (or not do!) if your bag is lost.

 

  • Stay calm. It is easier said than done, but keeping your cool is important in these situations.  When you are reporting your missing luggage, remember that they are not the person who lost it.  In fact, they are the people that can help you reunite with your precious cargo, so be kind!  Plus, if you’re calm, you’ll be more likely to provide clear and correct information that can help locate your bag.
  • Include details. If you provide details about your luggage and the contents inside including colors and size, there is a better chance it will be located and returned to you. Moreover, a photo can save the day in this type of situation. Snap a quick photo of your luggage (and a picture of the contents packed inside) on your phone so that  you can provide that to the airline as well.One more thing – if you create a packing list, that type of information can be very helpful when filling out airline and travel insurance claim forms.
  • Travel insurance, travel insurance, travel insurance! Travel insurance can provide an important safety net in many situations, but it can be especially helpful when your baggage is delayed. You can receive up to $250.00 if your baggage is delayed for 12 or more hours with our Travel Safe Classic Plus plan.If your worst nightmare comes true and your bag is lost, the same TravelSafe plan provides up to $2,500 for your baggage or personal effects.  In this case, make sure to keep your receipts for the replacement items you purchase and have a copy of the letter or email from the airline confirming that your bag was lost.  To view the complete plan details, click here.
  • Don’t give up! A common mistake many people make is to leave the airport and “deal with the next day”. No matter how tired or jet lagged you may be, it is important to report the bag as lost immediately. The airline will likely require you to file an official report (some airlines within 24 hours), and it will be the most effective if you file it at the airport.It is important to note that you can also file a report if your bag was damaged instead.
  • Leave your valuables at home (or at least in your carry on). Even though travel insurance and the airlines can help you with the cost of replacing your lost luggage, no one can replace your grandmother’s pearl necklace or anything that has sentimental value. If you have items that you would describe as “priceless”, leave them at home. If you must bring them on your trip, pack them in your carry on so that you can be sure they are not lost.
Now it is your turn to tell us, have you lost your luggage on a vacation? What is your tip for dealing with the airlines? Sound off in the comments below, post on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

London Airport Receives Massive Upgrades

London City Airport is aiming to create an “airport of the future.” The airport’s goal is to eliminate the annoyances that come along with flying.

Their lofty goal includes shortening security lines and making missing luggage a thing of the past.

These experiences will be delivered by technology called Internet of Things (IoT). This technology allows a variety of devices and machines to communicate and has proven to be the foundation for ground-breaking technology. For example, the technology has helped create “smart lights” which detect when you’ve woken up to turn on and “smart cars” which are said to avoid collision.

The London City Airport is the first airport to use this technology for commercial aviation. Over the next year, the airport will integrate different technologies to provide a picture of what’s possible.

A few of these possibilities include tracking luggage and passengers and a system that would allow passengers to pre-order food through their smartphones and have it delivered to their departure gate.

Overall, the airport is combining date to create a better customer experience. So now it’s your turn to tell us — would you welcome these types of changes at airports or are you considered about privacy and safety implications of this technology? Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Furloughs cause flight delays and cancellations

Air travelers are experiencing delays the government warned us about a few months ago. The delays are reportedly caused by forced federal spending cuts. On Monday, New York City-area airports reported delays for all incoming flights because air traffic controllers were forced to take unpaid time off.

Overall, furloughs kicked in on Sunday for 47,000 Federal Aviation Administration workers, including 15,000 air traffic controllers.

“Throughout today, the FAA has put in place a series of traffic management initiatives around the country to manage both reduced staffing as a result of employee furloughs and weather related issues,” Department of Transportation Press Secretary Justin Nisly said in a statement.

The FAA said there were 400 furlough-related flight delays on Sunday alone. Examples of the flight delays occurred on two Alaska Airlines flights destined for Los Angeles International Airport. The flights were diverted 60 miles away to Ontario International Airport Sunday night due to furloughs and bad weather. Due to the delay, the airline had to bus passengers to LAX. However, the airline waived rebooking fees through Tuesday, citing furloughs.

These delays are the only beginning. FAA workers are required to take a total of 11 days off by the month of September. The workers must take off at least one day every two weeks which means 1,500 controllers could be off the job per day.

“The best indicator of what this is going to be like is (that) we ran delays on Sunday — not one of the busiest days of the week — … on a perfect weather day,” said Stephen Abraham, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative in JFK.

In addition to delays, there were another 400 flights canceled Monday and 50 flights canceled Tuesday cancelled as of 5 am ET.

So what is your best bet for dealing with the delays? Be sure to check your flight status before heading to the airport. Be sure to purchase travel insurance to make sure your travel investment is protected against delays, cancellations and many other unforeseeable events.

We’d like to hear your thoughts about the recent flight delays and cancellations. Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Kindess shining through tragedy for Boston travelers

Here at TravelSafe, we continue to keep the Boston Marathon bombing victims and their families in our thoughts. In the midst of the pain and heartache, stories of heroism and kindness offer a glimmer a hope.

We wanted to take a moment and share some of these stories – inside and outside of the travel industry.

  • All of the major airlines and several hotel chains are waiving some fees and penalties for travelers looking to change their Boston travel plans after Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon.Here’s a summary of airline waivers as of early Tuesday:AirTran: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights up to three days after their original scheduled departure date.American: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 20. The ticket reissue fee will be waived for one change.Delta: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 20. Ticket reissue fees will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.JetBlue: Boston passengers with flight booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 21. Both change fees and fare differences will be waived. For travel beyond April 21, the change fee will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.Southwest: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights to within 14 days of the original travel date. Southwest has a standard policy of not charging change fees.

    United: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights to within one year of the date of ticket issue. The change fee will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.

    US Airways: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 21. The change fee will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.

    As always, check with your airline directly for any changes to the issued waivers.

  • Sandra Sukstorf had only recently watched her husband cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon when she heard the explosion. As she and her husband wandered the streets, he so exhausted he could barely walk down the stairs, another hotel opened its lobby to the tired runners. When they couldn’t get back to their room, Sukstorf posted a message online and, within half an hour, heard from more than 200 strangers offering a ride or a place to stay.
    • El Pelon Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant with locations in Boston’s Fenway and Brighton neighborhoods, promised free Wifi, outlets, food and drinks to people who needed it. Owner Jose Torres said on Twitter that he was only repaying the kindness Boston showed him in 2007 and 2009, when his restaurants burned down twice in electrical fires.
      • Each of these acts remind us that when humanity is in the midst of an inhuman tragedy, it rises to show that kindness and compassion is all around. Tell us, what acts of kindness have inspired you during this tragedy?

    Travel to Cancun on the Rise

    According to the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, more than 2 million visitors will be visiting Cancun this Spring.

    Throughout the past month, families, students and friends are selecting Cancun for their vacation destination. In fact, Easter week saw more than 500 daily flights and an approximate 90 percent occupancy rate. The vibrant city held events like Oasis Dance U brought together a variety of performers from the worlds of electronic music, hip hop and dance, as well as top DJs from around the world that attracted thousands of vacationing college students and other audiences.

    Now it is your turn to tell us – is Cancun a popular spot with your clients? Has anyone shared safety concerns about traveling to Mexico? Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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    Get Featured as the Most Social Travel Advisor

    Are you a travel agent who connects with their clients on Facebook and Twitter? Do you pin exciting destinations on your Pinterest page? Do you share interesting travel tips and articles on your Google+ page? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be featured as the Most Social Travel Advisor in Travel Agent Central.

    The publication is reaching out to travel professionals who are on top of their social media game. If you are using social media to answer your clients’ questions on Facebook or boosting sales through Twitter, they want to hear how social has worked for you.

    Make sure to nominate yourself here by April 30, 2013 and share your agency information along with your proudest social media moments and tips for other agents.

    Please pass this along to friends and other travel agents who may want to enter as well, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck to all!

    Travel Insurance Available for Canadian Residents


    We are excited to announce that beginning April 10, 2013, US travel agents may now protect Canadian residents and citizens with the most popular TravelSafe travel insurance protection plans – Basic, Classic and Classic Plus (Quebec excluded).

    Each plan offers distinct advantages depending on your customers’ needs. For coverage highlights, see the chart below.

    Coverage Highlights for Canadians Basic Classic Classic Plus
    Max Trip Cost/Days $10,000/30D $100,000/30D $100,000/30D
    Max Age 79 80* 80*

    *For passengers age 80, max eligible Trip Cost is $15,000.

    In addition, when purchasing Canadian plans for your customers, a final purchasing stage will require you to complete an enrollment with the assistance of Northbridge Insurance Co., our Canadian underwriter.  Since US travel professionals are not licensed in Canada, we are required by Canadian Provincial regulations to complete enrollments in the following manner.

    After entering and submitting the customer’s information, you will receive the following notice:

    “To complete this enrollment, your client, or you and your client, must call the following number for verification purposes: 1-877-851-4523.”

    Please have your client’s Enrollment ID available when you call.

    For additional information, please see the Canadian TravelSafe Travel Agent Guide. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below or call us 1-800-523-8020. We’d be happy to speak with you.

    Thank you for your continued support!

    TravelSafe team

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    Report: FAA to allow Kindle use during takeoff

    Reports are circulating that the Federal Aviation Administration may allow travelers to use Amazon Kindle devices during takeoff.

    The FAA’s Portable and Electronic Device Advisory and Rulemaking Committee is reviewing current policies and will end those deliberations in July. The committee has more than two dozen members, who include representatives of the FAA, Amazon, airlines, pilot and flight attendant unions, aircraft manufacturers, the FCC and the Consumer Electronics Association.

    The current guidance is that travelers have to turn off everything while below 10,000 feet, but that may all change.

    Over the past few years, the FAA has been under mounting pressure to either allow passengers more electronic freedom onboard aircraft, or provide solid scientific evidence why they can’t. Critics point out that pilots now employ iPads in the cockpit for navigation purposes.

    So tell us what you think — should passengers be allowed to use electronic devices during a flight? Leave a comment below, post on our Facebook wall or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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    Top 5 Family Travel Tips

    Traveling with kids can present challenges, but with these tips your trip will be smooth sailing!

    Traveling with children adds another layer to your travel plans. You have to be prepared for all kinds of situations, so we’ve compiled five tips you can use while traveling with your family:

    1. Don’t forget necessities! Make a packing list before you travel to ensure you don’t forget anything. Be sure to add these things to your list:

    Medicine – Children’s Tylenol, Benadryl, cough syrup and allergy medicine

    Baby wipes – You can use them to clean surfaces, hands and faces. They are also great on a hot day to cool the kids’ hot faces, too.

    Snacks –  Nuts, granola bars or oranges are great to have on hand for both road and air travel.

    2. Choose the right departure time. If you have little ones, try leaving at night as you might get lucky and have your children sleep the whole way!

    3. Be prepared for airplane travel with these tips:

    Pre-plan. Check out the airplane seat diagrams and try to plan where you want your family to sit. You can sit across the aisles, near the bathrooms or divide and conquer if fighting siblings is a battle you know you’ll have to fight.

    Pre-board. Check with the airline to see if they allow pre-boarding for families with small children. If that is not an option, send in one parent with the luggage first, and have one parent stay behind with a child (or two) so they can move around until the last possible minute.

    4. Choose your distractions wisely! Bring along books and toys that are easy to pack, don’t have a lot of loose parts and are entertaining. Forgot to pack the toys or they’ve lost interest already? No problem. Simply find some paper and pens, pencils or markers and ask your children to draw you a picture.

    5. Lastly, relax and cut yourself some slack! If you expect there are going to be a problem or two, you won’t be disappointed when they arise. If you get stressed when you can’t find your hotel, your kids will get stressed, too. When you think of it as “exploring the neighborhood,” everyone will feel better. Simply go with the flow and everything will work out!

    Share with us – what’s your best family travel tip? Leave a comment below, post on our Facebook wall or Tweet us. We can’t wait to hear from you!