Leah just got back from London. This is her story, and she’s sticking to it.
Pets are an important part of the lives of many people. According to the CDC, there are many health benefits to having a pet in your life. Pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and your feelings of loneliness.
In honor of Take Your Pet to Work Day we present…..the Dogs of Legacy Travel:
This is Mike Tyson Beckford McKee. Tyson for short. He belongs to Briana, our office assistant. Reportedly a big baby with a sensitive digestive tract, he is afraid of heights and won’t jump off a bed without help.
Next up, we have Lucy and Taz, who own Marty Boehlke. Lucy is really more like a cat than a dog in that she will only play when she feels like it. Taz is reputed to be a high energy dog (Marty calls her “Taz the Spaz”).
This is Lucy – pictured above.
Next up is Roxanne Rominger (Roxy), who runs Terrah’s house.
Our next dog owns the heart of Nicki. He is the newest of the Legacy Travel dogs. His name is Charlie. Charlie is a bundle of energy and is almost housebroken.
And, finally, Kingston Lacy Banks. Lacy is a Golden Retriever who was originally a Christmas gift to the Banks children, and now lives every day as a gift to the whole family. She is kind and gentle and well behaved unless there are socks involved.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Yes, like a bridge over troubled water
I, I will ease your mind
We call every customer when they return from a trip. We keep all of the feedback in a database because it is helpful to us to have a record of how people like different resorts and different aspects of their trips. The most frustrating thing to hear is when a guest has a problem on a trip and we can immediately see how, if it had been handled differently, it would have had much less impact on the vacation.
So, how can you handle bumps in the road during your vacation in such a way as to have them resolved quickly and with as little impact as possible?
First of all, don’t cause a problem. Be early to the airport. Have all of your paperwork in order (travel documents, passports, etc). Think about the weight of your luggage. Think about what you’re taking through airport security. Have a clear understanding of what you’ve booked, what your assigned seats are, what room type you have, everything along the way so you won’t be surprised. Many problems can be avoided completely with just some simple preplanning. As much as possible, as far as it depends on you, take steps to make your trip smooth. (This includes the purchase of travel insurance.)
Sometimes, though, unexpected things happen. What then?
Be nice. When you’re facing a problem on a trip, the first thing to remember is to be nice. Have you ever watched that television show “Airline” that used to be on A&E? It was a show that featured Southwest Airlines operations at several airports. Watching that show or even just people watching at an airport it seems like people become raving lunatics when they travel. Rather than being one of the lunatics, just be nice.
Being nice to people makes them more eager to help you. Your mother was right, you do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Use that to your advantage when you encounter a problem.
Use accountability. Find and record the names of the people you deal with along the way who assist you during a problem. Record the names of the people who helped you, the names of the people who weren’t so helpful or who maybe even caused a problem for you. This will serve several purposes. When you have someone’s name, they feel more accountable for the things that they say to you and do for you. Also, later when you’re writing about what happened, it will help substantiate your account of the situation and will make it easier to follow up. (Ask for the names politely, of course. Don’t be obnoxious.)
Find authority. Many problems can be resolved by someone with enough authority and the will to do so. Front line, entry level clerks often only think in terms of what the policy is. “When ‘A’ happens, I do ‘B’.” So, if you’re not getting results, ask politely to speak to a supervisor. By watching what goes on behind the counter you can sometimes identify the person with either formal or informal authority.
Use Local Representation. On many of the vacations we sell, we have a local representative present at the resort. One of their functions is to intervene when one of our travelers has a difficulty. If your work with the front desk doesn’t bear fruit, bring the local rep into the situation.
Call us. If you’re not getting any satisfaction from people in the destination, call our office. We would much rather be able to do everything possible to resolve a situation during the vacation than try to make up for it later. Our email@example.com email is monitored even on weekends and holidays. You can also tweet me @cathibanks.
Now, go have a great vacation!
And although it’s always crowded,
you still can find some room.
Where broken hearted lovers
do cry away their gloom.
Did you know that there really is a Heartbreak Hotel? There is! It’s apparently in Memphis near Graceland.
Here are some things to keep in mind so that your vacation doesn’t become somewhere where you cry away your gloom.
Your Hotel Matters
Your hotel is your temporary home. It is the basis for everything else you do on your trip. The amenities and location of your hotel will affect your itinerary for each day. The process of getting up and out in the morning is affected by your hotel room. How rested you are can depend on your room.
If you’re vacationing in an urban area (say, a European city) the proximity to what you came to see is very important. In most cities you can get a much better price on a hotel in an outlying area, but then you have to drive or take public transportation every single day to get to and from what you came to see. You’re adding extra expense for that transportation as well. Time is money!
I’m not saying that you have to spend top dollar for your hotel, but I am saying that you need to be mindful and informed about your choice.
Your room matters
Something people tend to say to me on a regular basis is, “We’re never in the room”. Now, depending on the type of trip, that may be true. If you’re touring European cities, your room is your home base, but you don’t sit in your room ticking the hours away. You’re out, hoofing it from one notable attraction to the next. If, however, you’re at a beach resort you might find that you would really enjoy that Oceanfront room because laying in your bed reading a book while being able to gaze out onto the beautiful ocean is actually quite nice. (You can’t lay IN the sun all the time!)
The people who sell the excursions at resorts in beach destinations will tell you that they make lots of sales at the low end resorts because people have no desire to spend time at the resort. The nicer the resort, the more people enjoy their time there and don’t feel driven to get away. Why not choose a resort and a room that will actually be an asset on your trip instead of something you endure?
What’s the difference?
I’ve spent alot of time in high end resorts and in more mainstream resorts. A while back I wrote a post about the differences between a higher end resort and a mainstream or low end resort. I need to try to dig that up and repost it, but I had a thought the other day that kind of summarized the whole thing. High end resorts take less steps to protect themselves from tacky people. That’s pretty much it!
For instance, think about the hangers. In nice resorts, you have nice hangers where the little hook thing actually comes off the rod along with the hanger. In lower end resorts, you have that full round part permanently installed on the rod and you have to wiggle the other part of the hanger loose so that you can actually hang something up.
Another example are wrist bands and towel cards. Now, some really nice all inclusives still use wrist bands, this is not one size fits all, but many higher end all inclusives have done away with wrist bands. Bliss!
Towel cards are issued to you at check in so that you won’t be stuffing untold dozens of beach towels into your suitcase to take home with you. At check out you either need to present your towel card….or a towel. (I wonder what effect having to pay to check your bags has had on people stealing things at resorts…that’s a blog post for another day.) At higher end resorts, they just put fresh beach towels on all of the lounge chairs so that they are there when you need them and you don’t have to walk around looking for the towel exchange hut.
So, your hotel really does matter. It is your home base, and the basis for everything you’ll do on your trip. But what happens if something goes awry? What happens if your hotel really does turn in to the Heartbreak Hotel? Our next post will cover how to handle issues that arise on your trip. We’ll call it “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”
Welcome to the first post in the series “Smart Traveling – Elvis Style”. The King of Rock and Roll tucked untold wealth of wit and wisdom into his melodies. This week we’ll dig deep and unearth Elvis’ best tips for traveling in style. In 1954 Elvis recorded “Tryin’ to Get to You”. Can’t you just hear him in these lyrics stuck in a terminal somewhere with a delayed flight?
I’ve been traveling over miles
Even through the valleys, too
I’ve been traveling night and day
I’ve been running all the way
Baby, trying to get to you.
At the beginning and the end of every trip is transportation. Usually air transportation. Anyone who has taken even one airline flight in the last 20 years would agree that this is not usually an great part of the trip. (What would The King think if he were alive today?) These days, airline travel is something more endured than enjoyed. A means to an end. With rare exception, the best you can hope for is to arrive where you intended to at more or less the time you intended to.
Toward that end, there are things you can do to help assure that you do get to your destination and back to your own Graceland relatively unscathed.
Reconfirm your flight times the day before the flight. Unfortunately schedule changes are a way of life. Airlines change flight numbers and flight times constantly. In a perfect world, you’re supposed to be notified. The world isn’t perfect. Call and reconfirm your flights.
Arrive to the airport early. The biggest objection I hear to arriving early at the airport is boredom. What will you do with all of that extra time when you’re through security and sitting at your gate waiting for your flight? I’ll tell you what you’ll do… practice looking superior over the poor fools running breathlessly to the gate with a look of alarm because they are afraid they’ve missed their flight. (Or, even better, you can count the money you saved by not having to pay airline fees for catching a later flight because you actually missed your flight!)
Be mindful of luggage/carry on items. The whole issue of luggage and carryon bags has gotten complicated. (Imagine how much one of those studded jumpsuits would have cost to check today. The overweight charges alone would have boggled the mind.) In the summer of 2008, American Airlines started charging for checked baggage. United Airlines soon followed, then the rest of the airlines followed along behind just like a row of dominos lined up ready to fall. (With the notable exception of Southwest Airlines.) Of course, since now we have to pay to check bags, overhead bin space in the cabin has become a hot commodity. More than ever, we have to think about what we need to bring and what we need to leave behind. Check the baggage guidelines for your airline and go ahead and measure and weigh your luggage to make sure you won’t be surprised with unexpected fees at the counter.
I took my son to New York City in February and traveled with a suitcase that I’ve taken all over the world on a variety of airlines. As it turns out it was 2 linear inches too big for the AirTran baggage guidelines so I had to pay not only the $25.00 to check the bag, but also a $45.00 excess size fee. (Not excess weight, I had weighed it before I left home. This was $45.00 extra because the bag was TWO INCHES too tall.)
Check tsa.gov to make sure of what you can and cannot take through airline security.
So what if, despite your precautions, you find yourself in the midst of a delay, cancellation or some other delightful situation? Again, planning ahead is your friend.
Always make sure your cell phone is fully charged before heading out to the airport. In case you have to make changes, contact someone or find information you don’t want that battery on redline.
Be nice to everyone you deal with. In a delay situation the airline personnel deal with scores of really frustrated, often rude, people. Be a ray of sunshine in the darkness and you could find yourself with help you might not have otherwise received. At the very least you’ll keep your wits about you when everyone around you is losing it. That’s cool.
Two years ago my husband, his sister, and some close friends were flying back to Dallas from Cabo San Lucas. They were on Continental Airlines and therefore were connecting through Houston, Texas. Believe it or not, they got snowed in. In Houston, Texas. The four of them had to spend the night in the terminal on seats pushed together. My sister-in-law did something I thought was very smart. As soon as it became evident that they were going to be bunking in, she went to one of the airport shops and bought a supply of water and snacks. That was brilliant because of course those shops didn’t stay open all night. Because she thought ahead, they had resources for themselves as well as others they befriended during the ordeal.
Now, if they’d been very smart, they would have let me reserve the room I had found available at the Marriott earlier in the evening when it looked like things were going south. Unfortunately the choice was made not to risk the $125.00 (non refundable) that it would have taken to secure the room. Things did indeed go from bad to worse and that $125.00 was looking like a bargain before the night was over.
So, if you don’t have a private plane like Elvis did, some pre-planning can help get you where you’re going.
Well if I had to do it over
That’s exactly what I’d do,
I would travel night and day,
And I’d still run all the way,
Baby, trying to get to you.
Have you seen one of these? I was in the ladies room at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. It’s a hand dryer! Its made by the same company that makes those wonderful expensive vacuum cleaners. You stick your hands into it then pull them slowly out. Your hands dry in just a few seconds, which is must less annoying than standing there for 2 minutes or more and coming out with your hands really not quite dry.
What’s the most unique thing you’ve seen in an airport recently?
It’s a familiar sight in the lobby of most resorts. Eager vacationers perched around desks looking at wrinkled pictures of various attractions in the destination trying to decide which excursions they’ll take. What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you what’s wrong…the minutes of their vacation are ticking away and they are inside a hotel lobby!
I think it’s smarter to do all of the considering and planning in advance so that all of your time in the destination can be spent actually doing enjoyable things rather than contemplating buying decisions.
In many destinations there are so many choices that it would be wise to do your considering ahead of time rather than when the pressure is on to make a decision. When considering the 18 different ways to go see the Mayan ruins, wouldn’t you like to be able to think about it for a while before choosing? When you’re huddled over the desk in the hotel lobby, you need to make a decision right away because your vacation time is slipping away before your eyes.
Not only that, but I think that the anticipation of a trip is one of the most enjoyable parts of that trip. When you consider the choices of excursions, the anticipation of the trip is greater. Imagining flying through the jungle on a zipline, or horseback riding through the jungle, or gazing at brightly colored fish while snorkeling adds to your excitement about your vacation. Having your excursion in place adds to your excitement.
Not to mention, some of the most popular activities such as golf, diving, and swimming with dolphins book up early. So, if you don’t prebook, you could miss out. What a disappointment!
There is also the matter of dealing with reputable people. If you’ve been in a resort destination before, you’ve seen how many choices there are of places to buy tours. Which one should you work with? You’re handing your money over and hoping that they actually deliver the tour. Not only that, but most times you’re trusting them to pick you up at the hotel and transport you safely to the location of the activity. How do you know who to trust? Booking your activity in advance through your trusted travel agent assures that you will be dealing with reputable people and you can relax in knowing you’ll get what you paid for. Also, you’ll have recourse if something doesn’t go according to plan.
Finally, on most activities you’ll be able to get a full refund if you get to the destination and decide not to take it. So, that removes the “I’ll get there and see what I feel like doing” objection.
Truly, there is every reason in the world to address the issue of excursions prior to your departure. It’s the smart thing to do. Also, when you see those people huddled around the desks looking at wrinkled pictures you can stick your nose in the air and walk boldly past them assured that you are one smart traveler.