Join us for a fascinating journey with travel industry titan & ALG Group President Ray Snisky. Ray shares his personal travel favorites, like Italy’s Lake Como, and delves into ALG Vacations’ growth and strategy post-COVID, highlighting the shift towards unique and daring traveler experiences. We also explore ALG’s integration with Hyatt, the potential of AI in enhancing travel, and Tulum’s emerging allure. Plus, get insider tips on uncovering local hidden gems and travel hacks for air travel and hotel stays. To top it off, we celebrate the announcement of the Virgin Voyage Cruise giveaway winner!
Transcript[0:00] Hello everyone, I’m Mike Putnam. And I’m James Serara and we are live from a, beautiful Omni Resort somewhere near Orlando today.
A championship golf resort apparently.
I know you don’t know anything about championship golf.
Yeah, they got a couple of nice golf courses here and they have a father-son PGA event which normally happens in December during kind of the slow period So we should see that coming up.
Actually, I guess it’s this month. It’s either this month or next month The father-son like Tiger Woods plays with his son and they have a big time But yeah down here in a little bit warmer, Florida, although this conference room that we’re meeting in is ice-cold, I’m afraid to I’m afraid to sneeze because it could Send out frozen projectiles, but you know, I’m glad to be here and and glad to have a special guest with us.
Mr Ray Snisky, who is the group president of ALG and ALG Vacations and Amstar.
So welcome Ray. Thanks for joining us.
[1:09] Thank you, Mike. Thrilled to be here. And Ray is, uh, an old friend, uh, one of our most important, uh, partners at my company and, um, a very well liked and respected man in the industry, Ray.
So that that’s quite an accomplishment to have such an important position and and still be like.
A Boston Red Sox Fan with Family in Northeastern
[1:33] You’re too kind but I appreciate the compliment, thank you very much.
It’s good to say you’re a Boston Red Sox fan based on your What’s behind you?
Well funny story my daughter is going my book my daughter’s going to Northeastern right now And I told her, listen, enjoy Boston, love everything about it, wear the Red Sox jersey, you’re paying for college.
My son goes to Northeastern too, Ray. So there, we have that.
Small world. Now I know I’m on the right track.
Well, good. So, Ray, we like to start off the conversation with a few personal rapid fire questions where we try to find out a little bit more about you as a traveler and your personal travels and corporate travel.
So, just the first thing that comes to mind, just real quickly, we’ll run through a few questions.
Favorite hotel brand: Hyatt Inclusive Collection’s Impression brand
[2:24] First of all, what is your favorite hotel brand or an individual property?
Well, I could tell you that I love new, fancy and innovative.
And so it’s the new Impression brand that’s part of the Hyatt Inclusive Collection.
These are a few resorts that have just kind of blown the doors off of the inclusive segment and would be rivaled any other resort in throughout Mexico and the Caribbean, other parts of the world. Just really, truly spectacular brand.
Excellent. And then what is your favorite destination? You know, what a hard question for people like us that are travel lifers.
I guess if I just had one day to spend somewhere, it probably would be Lake Como in Italy.
That, you know, the Swiss Alps overlooking it. And my wife and I, part of our honeymoon, we spent there and it’s just a magical place.
Beautiful choice. It’d be a long way to go for one day, if that was just your one day trip.
Depends on how important the day is. Yeah, that’s true. And how fast you can get there.
[3:25] If there was one trip that you’ve done in Destination, and I’m thinking about a day trip, or a day tour, or possibly a short excursion if you would have been on a cruise.
[3:37] Can you, does one come to mind, something that just stands head and shoulders above everything else?
Another tough question when you travel as much as we all do, but I think the one that jumps out at me is I took a helicopter with my wife and at the time my four-year-old son and we landed in the Jurassic, the Jurassic Park waterfall scene from the movie and landed and went out there and took some pictures and then we actually on the big island I had planned a day where we actually We landed on maybe the infield of a baseball field on the cliff overlooking the ocean off of the big island.
And I had set up, or someone had set up, champagne and cheese board and everything.
And so it was really spectacular. We landed in this little grass area, went over, overlooking the ocean and had a little champagne and cheese.
It wasn’t, I think I got credit for being romantic, but we had our four-year-old with us.
So it wasn’t really the most romantic experience I’ve ever had, but those two probably jump out of the pack. Well, certainly adventurous.
You’d be surprised how many times helicopters figure into the answer to this question.
Helicopters as memorable but scary mode of transportation
[4:41] We get a lot of helicopters to the glaciers in Alaska and stuff, so something about helicopters is very memorable.
I find them very memorable because I’m scared to death in them.
[4:54] They are the least aerodynamic vehicle possible. If something happens, you drop out of the sky like a rock.
So that’s why I find them memorable. Absolutely.
[5:07] I think the thing we all look for, to do something that we haven’t, we don’t do regularly.
So that’s why I think those excursions, it’s fun and so unique and I’m really glad James, I didn’t have the same thought process with you when I was with my wife.
[5:21] Well I can tell you some stories. Uh, as many, as many airplanes as I’ve been on, I’ve been on one helicopter in my life and I was, I was petrified.
Uh, and you know, flying is second nature.
Clearly we do not have a, a helicopter company sponsor.
Um, so, uh, just a couple of more. Are you an hour window guy?
I’ll 100%. All right. Good. And, uh, you need the spillover, you know?
[5:53] How about carry on or checked bag? Checked bag when there’s no other option available on the planet, otherwise everything’s a carrier.
Good man. Good man there. Well, great. I’m going to keep it zipped because I have three bags over in the corner.
Yeah, James just flew in today and he’s got quite a bit of, he has an entourage that has to help him with his luggage when he travels. Yeah.
Well, great. Well, great. Well, can you just tell our listeners just a little bit about ALG and what the brand stands for and all the different products and areas that you cover?
ALG Vacations: Eight brands, focus on all-inclusive segment
[6:33] Sure. You know, it’s, it’s ALG vacations and we have eight different vacation brands that all have different value propositions for the customer.
And you know, we really focus our, our largest focus is on the all-inclusive segments. And so heavy emphasis into Mexico and the Caribbean from a business, but continuing to expand.
We expanded much more focused on Europe.
And so we’ve grown over 200% in Europe in the last 12 months, which is fantastic. And I think the thing we’re also seeing is one of the outcomes from COVID is customers are a lot more daring than they were previously.
And they’re looking for different experiences from their, what had been their repeated run of the mill, you know, vacations.
And I think you’re seeing things, for example, we had, I just looked at a report about two months ago that showed we had 5,000 room nights at the Rio in Dubai with no marketing, no promotion, just people. I think people are looking at it and saying, look, I trust IntelliTravel.
I trust ALG Vacations. I trust Ryu or another hotel partner.
I don’t mind going to a place that I’m not really familiar with because I feel like I’ll be well taken care of.
And so we’re seeing business pop up in all parts of the world and we’re adjusting our product delivery accordingly.
Beyond Europe and the Caribbean, are there other markets that your brand serve?
[7:51] Really everywhere around the world. You know, we’re real big drivers of business to Vegas, we’re a preferred Disney company and driving business to those resorts as well as Universal Studios, but really all around the world.
In addition to our brands that we own, we also manage the vacation programs for United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, so their entire route network is available. But we work with, you know.
Probably over a hundred or 200 different schedule there carriers all around the world. So lots of options for customers.
ALG serves markets worldwide, partnerships with airlines and resorts
[8:21] You know, Ray, Apple leisure group, vacations, it’s not, um, a household name to consumers.
Uh, and yet one of the largest leisure organizations in the world, maybe the largest, I don’t know.
I’ll go out on a limb. I’ll say that, you’ll take me to school.
But so why is it that our listeners, our customers, travelers are not so familiar with that name when you guys have such a profound place in the marketplace, your brand’s Fun Jet, Travel Impressions.
[9:04] Hyatt Inclusive Collection?
And, you know, why don’t they know who Apple is?
Yeah, that’s a great point. I guess it’s somewhat analogous to General Motors and all their different car brands, in that our forward-facing brands are the vacation companies, and you, it’s based on some of them, in addition to, you know, United Vacations and Southwest Vacations.
We have Fungit Vacations, Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, and Blue Sky Tours.
And all of those are bookable through IntelliTravel, and we have a preferred relationship with IntelliTravel. And so, we continually work on enhancing those brands to make it easier for IntelliTravel to provide great experiences for their customers.
[9:45] So, it’s that you don’t really sell directly to the public, right?
You sell through partners like IntelliTravel or others.
And I think… That’s our primary focus. Yeah, our primary focus is through things like IntelliTravel.
You know, when we’re doing vacation brands for airlines and so forth, we have to have… That’s different. Yeah. Options.
So we do some consumer direct business, but our number one focus is is being the engine behind you know really great travel advisors like yourself.
Yeah, you’re like the man behind the curtain, and that’s what I want our listeners to understand, you know, this incredible reach and incredible expertise.
[10:25] We rely on it. As travel professionals, we rely on the expertise of your amazing teams, and you don’t always get the credit.
So I like talking about it a little bit here. Tell us about the Hyatt relationship.
Acquisition by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in November 2021
[10:41] That’s a great question. And I think that, you know, we in the past have been a family-owned business and then we merged, you know, two family-owned businesses merged together.
The two largest tour operators or wholesalers in the United States merged together in 2018.
And then we were owned by private equity for a few more years.
And then our forever home was when Hyatt Corporation, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts acquired us in November of 2021.
And during that time period, it’s really been a fantastic experience.
If you were to look at kind of the DNA, everything from purpose and values and, and, and focal points, it was almost if the two companies, if you had taken the names off the top of the circles, it was almost the same exact blueprint.
And so it really has been amazing.
Uh, you know, led, led by Mark Hoplamazian, who’s the CEO of Hyatt.
Um, you know, came in with a mindset of respecting the business that we were doing, respecting our leadership and how we were conducting the business.
And sometimes when people buy somebody, and sometimes it’s subconscious, they just think, well, I must be smarter than you because I had the money to be able to acquire your company. And that’s not always the case.
And so Mark was very respectful on, you guys know about this business and he wants to learn and so forth, which is why we’ve been so purposeful in integrating into Hyatt and really making sure we’re doing the right thing.
And we don’t jeopardize the DNA that had been in place.
And so it’s, it was a springboard for Hyatt to be the leader in the all-inclusive space.
[12:04] Our sister company at the time, AIM Resorts, was one of the largest all-inclusive companies in the world, and certainly from a U.S.
Customer base, very, very strong with brands like Secrets and Dreams and Breathless and Zoetree and so forth.
So, we’ve really been able to leverage the best of both worlds.
Hyatt’s acquisition brings out the best in collaboration
[12:23] We get a lot of the infrastructure and the accelerant of Hyatt’s security, cybersecurity, their HR, their other business processes and things along those lines, but really keep our own DNA and how we have that bit.
So, they’ve really been an accelerator for us, really bringing out the best that we had to offer in this collaboration.
So, that doesn’t happen too often in acquisitions.
Quite often, somebody comes in and says, hey, I don’t really know a lot about your business, But I want you to start doing this and that and doing things differently.
And we really haven’t had that. And I think, you know, from that standpoint, it’s been an absolute home run.
[12:56] So Ray, as you’ve become more vertically integrated with the wholesale company, now the air component and excuse me, the hotel component, and, and I think there’s some markets that you’re running charters out of still, is that, is that correct?
Absolutely. We do about half a million charter seats from the U S to different points in Mexico and Caribbean.
But as you’re becoming more and more vertically integrated, what are the benefits to the end consumer from having that kind of one company that provides, and I know it might be subsidiaries, but one person looking after you through the whole experience?
Well, I think it really comes with a primary focus of the customer’s end-to-end experience.
We’re not doing a bunch of handoffs, you know, certainly if they’re, you know, booked on American or United or Delta or something, you know, that’s a little different, but our ability to really serve the customer and be able to have good information on the customer’s needs and wants and so forth.
So if you look at our ability now, we can book someone with IntelliTravel, they can book one of our vacation brands, they can book one of our hotels with our vacation brand.
When they get to destination, it’s our company meeting them and greeting them.
[14:04] Amstar, destination management company, transfers about 40,000 people a week, so it’s quite the operation.
It’s the largest in Mexico and Caribbean and so that allows us a lot of ability to service the customer and have some leverage in buying power for excursions and things along those lines.
And, you know, many of the most experiential parts of travel are the things they do when they’re there.
What’s the authentic experience they have, whether that be swimming with the dolphins or, you know, having a sunset cruise with their spouse.
And so it’s really important for all of us to make sure the customer is, they look at us to provide them relevant choices and provide them some of the buying power to get them good deals and so forth, but that’s what our role is, is almost to be a sage advisor in the destination on, if you’re gonna be here for seven days, here’s the best things that you should do while you’re here. Here’s a property that fits your needs.
I think more times than not, customers are more worried about making a mistake and booking the wrong hotel or not knowing the absolute best things to do when you’re there and so forth.
That idea of I’ll just land and I’ll figure it out sometimes is limiting.
And so the more we can get good information to the customer to really understand what appeals to them is kind of vital for all of our success.
Yeah, that’s a wonderful view, actually, of how.
[15:18] Vacationing has evolved and so I got to ask you, a man in your position, where do you see it going?
Future of vacation experience: AI, personalization, and listening to customers
[15:27] What’s coming next in the vacation product, the vacation experience?
What’s on your sort of planning schedule for the next couple of years?
[15:38] Yeah, to me, I think there’s that old phrase, stay close to people that are smarter than you.
And I’m spending a lot of time with some of our really, really bright people on our team, understanding things about artificial intelligence and chat GPT and all these new tools that, that how do you take what the customer is looking for and put it in the consumable environment so that they can really ensure that they’re getting the best of their trip when they’re there.
And, you know, they’re, you know, and sometimes it’s even just bringing it to the basics of there’s a reason why we have two ears in one mouth, that we’ve got to spend more time listening and understanding instead of just trying to sell a customer that is the most popular thing that we like to sell.
Um, I think where you secure yourself going into the future is providing the right matchup of the right products and services and experience for that particular customer.
And so working through with your organization, James is vital for us to give you the tools and be able to do things much more quickly than you did in the past.
And so, you know, we have a, an AI bot that we’re, that we’re rolling out where, you know, when you’re, when your advisors on the phone with our advisor asking a few questions, I don’t have someone scrolling through help screens, they start typing in some of the information and all this stuff gets queued up.
And so, the ability to provide that experience and that knowledge and the right answers to the right questions as quickly as possible, building confidence with the customer is a big focal point for us.
That is, that’s really important and certainly makes a big difference in the customer experience.
[17:04] Ray, is there any undiscovered destinations or any new destinations you see
Tulum as an undiscovered destination with new airport opening
[17:10] opening up in the coming year or two.
[17:13] You know, I think the amount of undiscovered destinations is, you know, getting smaller and smaller as years go by, but I’m excited about a relatively unknown destination. That’s Tulum, south of Cancun.
And really it’s widely referred to as one of the more authentic Mexican experiences and lots of great environments for the customer, lots of fun, you know, day music and, you know, enjoyment and those kinds of things and lots of unique, authentic shops and things.
But it’s a haul from the Cancun airport. So I’m thrilled that the new Tulum airport is opening up and it actually is opening up in December.
But we’re excited that United, Delta and American have all announced nonstop service at a launch in March.
And so we’ve already got a footprint at that hotel, our Amstar business is there, and we’ll have that as another option.
So you’d be able to tackle that growing Riviera Maya from the South or from the North in Cancun. And so I think that’s going to open up a lot of experiences that some people just thought, gosh, I’m not sure I wanted to drive an hour and a half or two hours from the airport to get to that place.
And so you’ll be able to cover the, the Fort will be surrounded with new ways to get there.
And this is a great service and all the hubs of those major carriers.
So I think a lot of opportunity to explore some places there, which is going to be fun.
[18:31] Really glad to hear you mention Tulum and the new airport.
I think it’s really important too. I was there earlier this year.
There’s a great archaeological site, Mayan archaeological site in Tulum to add to the experience and it’s just naturally very beautiful.
[18:50] No, I think when you look at that is, you know, the Camp Kunin Airport is getting pretty saturated and so, you know, with that being the single point of entry for all these fantastic resorts that are continuing to be popping up and the quality of these resorts while remaining very authentic is really what’s impressed me most.
It’s got luxury plus authenticity.
And when you can marry those two up, it really creates a memorable experiences for folks.
Yeah, I agree. Great destination.
[19:16] So, um, Ray, when you travel personally, cause you do travel so much like us, we’re going to mind you for a minute, uh, on some tips for our listener.
Is there something you do that, um, when you get in destination or have a new property.
Finding authenticity by exploring local recommendations and hidden gems
[19:37] Or when you travel with your family, is there anything you do that helps you get a real authentic sense of place?
[19:46] Yeah, great, great question. And I do this.
In cities in the U.S. as well as international destinations is my insatiable, you know, search for authenticity is I want to know where do the locals go, you know, where is the place that’s, you know, renowned, you know, locally that and I have a couple of examples of that.
So I’ll go to, if I go to a restaurant, I’ll go and ask all the waiters, if you can include your restaurant, where would you go to have a meal?
And I did that in the little Italy section of the Bronx, and I grew up in the Bronx, I would think I would know, but the issue is when I grew up in the Bronx I didn’t have any money to go to fancy places, so now that I have a couple of dollars in my pocket, but I would go and I found this place Roberto’s in the Lillooly section of the Bronx and I bring 30 people to dinner the Friday after Thanksgiving every year, it’s a new tradition for our family.
Same thing when I was in Rome, I was asking some waiters and they all talked about Ristorante Grano, this small place that only caters to locals.
[20:42] Listen, you’re not staying in business in Rome if you’re catering to locals if you’re not fantastic and it’s a really unassuming place but it’s just absolutely fantastic and I do that most places and I think that it goes with excursions it goes other thing is going to the concierge and getting through that an initial I only want to sell you what I make the most money on and so forth and sometimes a little tip can help as well but what if you had what’s your signature thing to do while you’re in this city or in this town or so forth if you had your family here you had your you know your brother came for one day, what would you have him do?
And you believe once you get through that first little layer they start pouring out information and so it’s worked out really well for me.
Travel Hacks: Airport Tips and Hotel Planning
[21:21] That’s a great tip. Great tip. Just one last question and we’ll let you go Ray.
Is there anything that you do, any hack when you travel, things you might do on an airplane to get through the airport quicker or to make your flight more enjoyable or something you do at a hotel that most people might not think of?
Well, I’m sure other people think of it but I make myself completely independent on a flight. I’ve got noise cancelling headphones.
I’ve got downloaded the latest apps and those kinds of things, you know, and so forth to make sure I’m able to do that.
And then in hotel, it’s kind of the example I just shared with you is I want to capture, you know, our time is limited.
And so if I’m going to eat in the hotel restaurant, I want it to be their finest restaurant that, you know, and then finest doesn’t mean most expensive, but what’s the one that everyone feels is so memorable?
And so a little bit of planning the day I arrive kind of sets the tone for the rest of my trip.
And because, you know, what we’re all our biggest fear is I’m going to be somewhere for five days I’m not going to do the really cool thing and so I really try to do everything I can you know in most schools you don’t want to wait till you get there you want to try and do some advanced planning but when you get there and you can talk to the locals it’s always has an extra value.
[22:33] Excellent, really good point. Well Ray thanks so much for spending the time with us today it was it was great to learn more about you personally and ALG vacations and I’m sure our listeners have learned a lot and we really appreciate your time.
Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate the opportunity and good to see you my friend James.
[22:54] Yes, sir. I’ll see you on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. I’ll be there.
So Ray certainly knows his stuff, doesn’t he, James? Yeah, really a privilege to have a man of his renown and his stature on our podcast.
And I enjoy talking to him. He’s a nice guy too. Yeah, very nice.
Well, one thing we want to remind all of your listeners is to stay tuned throughout the end of the podcast because today is the big day.
We will be announcing the winner of the Virgin Voyage Cruise for Two.
So that’ll come a little bit later in the podcast. So stay tuned in case your name is called.
Virgin Voyage Cruise Winner Announcement
[23:33] It could be you, that’s right. It could be you. You’ll have 15 minutes to respond. No, I’m just kidding.
But we’ll reach out to the winner over the week and look forward to celebrating that great voyage with you and would love to hear all the great times and memories that are created from that experience.
And speaking of cruise, James, you just came back from a cruise.
I did. Well, the christening of a brand new cruise ship down in Miami, Norwegian Cruise Lines New Viva is the name of the ship.
And I have to say, it was spectacular.
[24:16] Now, of course, the christening happened in Miami.
So Norwegian decided to style a lot of it around the Latino culture and community in Miami, also because the ship is going to be homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and doing the Southern Caribbean from there.
So that’s another reason. And also the new president of Norwegian Cruise Lines, David Herrera, is of Cuban background, so it all kind of came together and the godfather of this ship is the.
[24:59] Pop singer, pop star, Luis Fonsi.
And a lot of people know Despacito. That was a big hit of his, but he’s had many hits.
He’s an amazing performer. He did concerts on the ship after the christening, and we went on a short cruise to the Bahamas.
There was also another Latina, a young woman, pop star.
There was a well-known singer now from Puerto Rico.
So the whole thing had a Latin flair to it, but it was a glittering event.
Lots of VIPs from the travel industry, and then we got to spend four days on the ship eating at all the, gosh there must be 30 restaurants on board and all the bars and all the incredible entertainment.
The Broadway musical Beetlejuice is performed on board the full thing, you know, they do it with all the sets and everything just like going to Broadway.
And there are all the crazy slides and the drop and all of those things.
And you can probably guess I didn’t do those.
Because every time I look at one of those drop water slides, I think of Augustus Goop in the original Willy Wonka movie, where he gets stuck in the tube. That would be me.
[26:26] I don’t do those, but I do do the go-kart racing.
At the top of this ship, they have a two-deck go-kart race with these very powerful go-karts. No joke, these karts.
And you go out over the edge the ship a little bit. You race around on the track. Really, really fun.
And this is the Prima class of ships, which started with the Prima, which was launched last year.
Now the Viva, and there’ll be several more of them.
And I must say, this is really like the best food at sea is on Norwegian now.
And I stayed in the ship within a ship concept on board, which is called the Haven.
So you have private restaurant, private pool, butlers and concierges.
It really is the way to go.
Yeah, that sounds really nice.
But also I remember, so James called me while he was waiting to get on the ship and he was telling me about VIP this and the haven and all this.
And I said, well, what do you know, if you’re a VIP, what are you doing waiting in line?
[27:41] He didn’t have a good answer for that one. No, to be fair to Norwegian, I waited five minutes, I think.
And they even gave us, gave me a private cabana on the private islands, an air conditioned, cabana with food and drinks and there’s a champagne bar there in the in the private area of the private island.
I mean really very splashy and they’ve done a great job.
I mean kudos to Norwegian. This is an important new ship and if you want to cruise the Caribbean, and have a premium experience for not necessarily a premium price, I would certainly look into Norwegian FIVA.
[28:27] So that’s where I was, Mike, and we’re traveling on to Cancun together later in the week.
But you’ve been following some travel industry news, I understand.
Yeah, quite a bit. And there was something that really came onto my radar screen this week, and it’s something that’s not necessarily new, but this is a strategy that is, it was at least new to me, and something that I tried over the last couple of weeks.
And that is now for your flights, if you want to make a change, you can do so with a lot of the domestic carriers in-app.
So the apps make it very easy.
If you don’t buy that lowest bucket fare, you don’t have to buy a premium fare, but just not what American calls basic economy.
And I think other airlines use similar terms that gives you the ability to make some changes. So not the full coach fare, but just not the bottom bucket fare.
So here’s the strategy is once you make your booking.
[29:28] Whether you make it through a travel agent or you make it directly with the airline, what you do is you go on to Google, Google Flights, and you do a search and you can narrow down your search so that you’re searching for those exact same flights, right?
So you book your ticket through whatever means you want, and then you go to Google Flights and you do a search, find the same flight, and then you say, of course, you don’t want to buy the ticket again.
You say, I want a price alert. And so you set up for a price alert and then what happens is Google will monitor those flights for you and Anytime the price goes down they will send you an email or a text whatever you designate Then you can go back on the American app the Delta app or the United app Whatever whichever app it is and you can say I want to change my flight and then you can change your flight to the same.
[30:20] Departure or the same flights that take advantage of that savings So, you know, as an example, I had a flight going to Cancun and I actually wanted to make a change because I wanted to fly out a day earlier and I made the change and my price went down and then I put an alert out there and just saw that the prices went down again and I went back and actually the price went down again.
So I was able to do that and now you don’t have these change fees, you don’t have a lot the having to call the airlines, you can just do all this in an automated fashion and it automatically reissues your ticket and then you just get a credit voucher.
You don’t get your money back, but you get a credit voucher that you can use towards your travel.
So really good tip and I tried it this week. Work like a champ.
So that’s one of the things I wanted to share with our listeners.
[31:15] Have you tried that, James?
I haven’t tried it, but I was listening to you explain it, and I certainly could try it.
I know that I use, of course, travel agents to book my air, and they do some of that.
But it’s a lot of work, and they can’t be watching all the time.
Recently, on a flight to Spain, I actually saved $1,000 off a business class air there by canceling and rebooking it because my professional travel advisor was watching it.
But certainly I could do that, set up some Google alerts and do it myself.
And I like to self-serve because I like to be able to do it at one o’clock in the morning or whatever, not have to pick up the phone and talk to anybody.
I like the automation. So I would do it. Yeah.
Cruise Update: Delay and Cancellation of Three-Year Cruise
[32:04] Uh, it, it does work. It does work. And I’ll continue to do that.
Mike, you know, in one of our earlier episodes, you were enamored by the news of a three-year cruise that was being offered.
And I remember we talked about it a little bit. Well, there’s been an update, hasn’t there? Yeah, it’s been an unfortunate update.
Life at Sea Cruises, which had been promoting this cruise for quite some time, announced about two weeks before their departure in early November, that there was going to be a delay of, I think it was a couple of weeks.
So a couple of weeks rolled by and then three days before the departure, which the origination city was in Istanbul, they said the cruise has been canceled.
[32:54] So you have all of these, well I shouldn’t say all of these, I think there were a hundred and twenty cabins they had for sale and Um, these, a lot of these folks had sold their homes.
They had, you know, made arrangements to be away for three years. Yeah.
Done all these things. And many of them were actually in Istanbul waiting for the ship to leave.
And they received notification from this company that, um, there was an indefinite delay, excuse me, due to them not being able to acquire the rights to that particular ship.
[33:28] So, a really unfortunate thing in the industry, and you don’t hear about things like this happening very often in our industry, but that certainly did not go well for the people who signed up for that, which I’m really, you know, I feel very sorry for them.
The cruise line or the soon-to-be cruise line company, Life at Sea Cruises, did intervene and they flew people back and they made arrangements for some hotel accommodations at their expense.
And I think they tried to do the right thing, but refunds, they’re offering refunds.
But I think this was just a case of very poor planning and execution by this Life at Sea Cruises company.
Poor Planning by Life at Sea Cruises
[34:10] But they do, they are saying they are going to come back with another offering next quarter.
I don’t think I would be one of those first people to go on a Life at Sea Cruise.
But a neat idea. Yeah. Definitely a neat idea. And there’s several other companies that are doing it or that have plans to do it.
And, you know, there are the residency, which has actual cabins that you, state rooms that you actually purchase, and you actually own a piece of the ship.
So that’s, that’s out there. And so all these are not bad ideas.
[34:43] One other thing I wanted to share with our listeners before we announce our winner is that prior to Thanksgiving, we were, we had a discussion about large numbers of travelers.
That we’re going to be in the air and moving around the airports and on the ground as well around Thanksgiving time.
And the TSA just came out and said that the Sunday after Thanksgiving was the highest number of travelers at any given time that have gone through the TSA.
Yeah, since they’ve been keeping records. Now, the Sunday after Thanksgiving normally is the busiest travel day of the year.
But this has broken all previous records.
So if anyone’s out there still talking about comparisons to 2019, we’re talking about the pandemic, cut it out already. It’s over.
Yeah, that conversation is over. We’ve wiped every record, the growth has been incredible.
We’re not talking about 2019 anymore. We’re looking forward and talking about what’s coming. Absolutely.
Winner Announced: Virgin Voyages Cruise for Two
[35:53] And speaking of what’s coming, we’ve got a giveaway. Somebody, somebody out there is going to be very excited.
Now, I was a little overwhelmed to hear how many entries we had.
[36:08] And like 38,000 entries in our Virgin Voyages Cruise for Two giveaway.
Now, I’m not blaming you. Everyone should have entered, but I just didn’t realize and realized so many of you were paying attention.
Yeah It was a great turnout. And yeah, we just learned from our.
[36:29] Uh executive producer nathaniel, um who does a great job for us, by the way, but don’t mention him enough, but great job, arranging for lots of uh, lots of things and allowing james and I just to sneak in do our bit get out he takes care of all the all the details, but um Before we give this away, I do want to say really heartfelt thanks to our very close partners Virgin Voyages for helping us donate this trip that we’re able to give away.
So big thanks to those guys. What a tremendous product. It is a unique product.
And I actually just had some friends come back last month and they said this was the best trip they’ve ever taken in their life.
And we do really well, our customers are very happy, our travelers are very happy on Virgin Voyages.
They have a huge repeat business percentage because it’s such a great experience.
And we’re going to ask the person who wins, it’ll be totally optional, but we’re going to ask them if they’ll come back after their cruise and just spend a few minutes with us and tell us. Yeah. Right? share their experience.
[37:41] Okay, without further ado, the grand winner of the Virgin Voyage giveaway is Mr. Robert Gibson.
Hopefully you’re listening, Robert, and otherwise we’ll be sending you a notification via email.
Oh, I thought you were going to say, otherwise we’re going to give it to someone else. Yeah, give it to the next person.
But you have won a beautiful seven-day cruise for two.
The cruise just has to take place between now and the end of June, and it’s good for any seven-day cruise, and it’s for a balcony cabin.
They call it something special. I don’t have it in front of me, But it’s not like the inside El Cheapo cabin.
This is, you’re gonna go in luxury.
So congratulations. Our producer, Nathaniel, will be in touch.
[38:28] You’ve given us your contact information. And should we not be able to reach Robert or he’s unable to go?
Then we might be back here next episode giving you away again. That’s right.
We’ll have something great. Look, it’s a season of thanks. We’ve just passed Thanksgiving, so we’re very thankful for you, all of our listeners.
Thank you for participating in this. It’s a wonderful way to mark the holiday season to be able to give away this cruise.
And then once we cross over into the beginning of January for next year, we’ll have something else wonderful to give away.
Yeah, could be. So please share No Tourists Allowed to your friends and family.
Have them download the podcast. The more listeners we have, the more prizes we have. So there’s a little bit. So thanks again for listening.
I hope you have a wonderful week and we look forward to speaking to you again next week.
Yeah, Mike and I on our way to Cancun and maybe we’ll talk to you from there.
Absolutely. Thanks for being with us everyone. Bye bye.