Today we sit down with Brice Bay, the visionary entrepreneur who took us from the digital pages of 10best.com to the cozy corners of boutique hotels. We explore the seismic shifts in the travel industry, from the early challenges of monetizing a digital platform to the future role of Artificial Intelligence in curating personalized travel experiences.
Switching lanes, we also dive into the art of authentic travel, contrasting the cookie-cutter stays at big-box hotels with the soulful experiences that await the modern traveler. Plus, don’t miss out on our insider scoop on upcoming Labor Day deals and discounts tailored for first responders and military personnel.
Mike Putman: Well, hello everyone. I’m Mike Putman.
James Ferrara: I am James Ferrara and welcome to No Tourists Allowed. And Mike, I’ve had one of those weeks, I had, uh, six flights this week and called three different hotels home this week, but I’m actually back to my real home and, uh, I enjoyed a, a night’s rest in my own bed.
Mike Putman: And, and how was your experience on Spirit Airlines?
James Ferrara: You know, I’m gonna say this and, and, and we don’t get any money from the airlines guys. Let me be clear. And I’ve been, as you know, very critical of, uh, airline experience, but I had the pleasure of flying Delta most of the week, and Delta is not my, uh, go-to airline because of where I live. It’s really not.
I’m not in a Delta hub, but I just happened to be on Delta this week, most of the week. And I have to say they did a fine job and despite some heavy traffic this week, right, heading into a holiday and, uh, this past week and, uh, some threats of weather and, uh, the usual suspects in the airline industry, I, um, You know, I had a really good, good experience, so I, I’m appreciative of that.
Mike Putman: Well, good. It’s good to, uh, hear you with some positive airline news.
James Ferrara: Yeah, not typical.
Mike Putman: not our normal bitching session that we have, uh, but. Today we’ve got a very special guest, a good friend of mine, longtime friend of mine, um, travel entrepreneur from Greenville, South Carolina, Mr. Bryce Bay, uh, welcome to the pod, Bryce.
Brice Bay: Thank you, Mike Jinx. Glad to be here. Thanks very much.
Mike Putman: so I, I’ve known Bryce for, uh, I did, I didn’t even think about doing the, the length meter, uh, but, uh, 20 plus years for sure. Um, and had the chance to work together on some projects. And, um, but Bryce has a, a, a varied, uh, background, uh, in the travel business, and I thought it would be really interesting for our listeners to learn about, uh, some of the businesses he’s built, some of the, um, value that he’s brought to the travel business on a global basis.
So, uh, yeah. Glad to have you here, Bryce.
James Ferrara: Absolutely. Great. Great to have you, Bryson. I think your background brings a whole new, uh, kind of, uh, direction, a whole new perspective for us on the travel industry. Some things we haven’t talked about before. Right, Mike?
Mike Putman: Exactly. Exactly. So, Bryce, take us back to your, uh, first entrance into the travel industry ever, how long ago that was. And, uh, let our listeners know a little bit more about, uh, what you built. I.
Brice Bay: Yeah, happy to do that. Um, so I actually, uh, was a founder of a company called 10 best.com back in, uh, 1999. And, um, what 10 Best was at the time and largely still is today in it’s other iterations, uh, is an online publication. Um, we began publishing content on. The best things to do and see and places to eat in cities around the world.
Eventually covering more than 500 cities with, you know, dozens of categories of information, um, in, in popular destinations around the world. Uh, we developed that content as original, unbiased content with a goal of informing the world’s travelers and helping them make better decisions on, uh, where to eat, sleep, and play.
And, uh, we, we had a great time and we’re, we’re early. If you were around the internet in those days, there was nothing called Google. There was no organized search engine. There was a directory or two. Primary one was Yahoo, which was a pay to play directory. And, um, it, uh, it was kind of the wild west and, you know, so most content that you stumbled upon on the.
The, the internet was either just random content that somebody was publishing or, um, or paid, you know, placement type of things. And we quickly found that, you know, really good content drives a lot of traffic, and then we had to figure out how to monetize traffic, which became a whole challenge in and of itself in those early days of.
You know, what do you do with these, these consumers and customers that are consuming your content? Do you charge ’em to access content? We tried that and no one was, well, I won’t say no one few people were ready to pay in those days and, uh, uh, we pivoted actually to an open model and began to basically do lead generation.
So, um, we were, you know, connecting with hotels and, uh, concert tickets and, um, I. Airlines and rental cars and any other way that we could get somebody to pay us to uh, uh, hand them qualified traffic. Um, and uh, anyhow, very, very interesting, exciting time and the. Market for content has changed dramatically.
Um, we actually ended up selling that business in 2010. It’s now part of Gnet and U s A today. Um, it’s very prominent within u s A today. They’ve pivoted more to a. Um, user generated sort of consumer review type of model. And, um, they monetize that content extremely well by selling both lead gen as well as, um, badges for, you know, making their best of lists and all those things.
And that’s a enormous business for, for Gnet and, and one that actually my former company manages all of the licensing of, of that content and those batches as well. So, kind of seeing. Both sides of of that business.
Mike Putman: Set the stage of, of what type of, of, of traffic or views or how many people I, I, I guess the interesting thing I always thought about was how many people were actually accessing the, the content that your company was primarily creating.
Brice Bay: Yeah, I, uh, um, it’s a great question and I’ll attempt to give you a truthful answer. I don’t remember all of the exact details, but I think when we sold the the.com, 10 best.com, we were generating over a million unique users per month. Well over a million. And generating somewhere north of 20 million, uh, page views on a monthly basis.
And it, it might’ve been a, a bit above that, but it wasn’t, you know, by today’s standards, it was still a pretty small property. Um, and, um, but you know, you think about a million unique people coming to your, your front door, it felt good. But, uh, you know, it still takes a lot of traffic to generate, um, significant revenue in that world.
James Ferrara: So from a, a, a traveler’s point of view, this is such, so interesting, and we actually have spoken Mike a bit about content, right? In the past we’ve, we’ve talked about it from the perspective of, you know, how do travelers find unbiased content, reliable content, uh, uh, about restaurants or things to see and do, or, uh, destinations.
So since we’re getting a little behind the scenes peak into how some of this content has been generated, um, in your, in your past life there, uh, do you have any advice for our travelers, just our regular travelers who are going to the internet looking for information? You know, where do you go to find, uh, useful, reliable information?
Brice Bay: Uh, that’s a great question. So I, I think, you know, I can speak obviously for myself in terms of what I use and what I would, you know, recommend consumers to use. But I think it varies. And, you know, the, the, the big thing out there I think is what’s possible and what’s coming. And you know, from my own standpoint, I use a lot of the, you know, popular search.
Google’s a big source for me. I like, um, Google. I like to actually use the Google Maps interface because it just naturally orients. Content generally, like I’m looking for a place to eat or some specific place to go in relation to Europe’s, you know, proximity to you. So I, I, I find that as just the ideal interface for whatever it is I’m going to do.
And I leverage those reviews. I mean, um, you know, I kind of have my own sort of system for, you know, restaurant reviews. For example, if it’s below a four, 4.5 on Google. It’s not worth it. And if I can find any place that’s, you know, a 4.8 or higher, then I’m likely to trust that place. It’s just hard to game the system up that high on the scale.
Um, and that, that works for me. I still think, you know, content in general is, becomes a little bit more biased every day, but what’s coming I think is really the most exciting thing. I think ai. And its various iterations is really going to blow it wide open in terms of being able to take that content, to scrub out what’s likely biased and find things that are unique and interesting that you may not stumble upon with your own, you know, keywords that you’re searching for and other things like that.
I really think the AI and. The, the touch points for that content will become more and more personal. You know, it won’t be just, Hey, I’ve gotta go to my phone. I’ve gotta select this, you know, map application. I’ve got a key in some words, or talk to it, or whatever may be. I think, you know, we’ll find that content reaches us at the point of decision magically, almost, and, and I think that’s, that’s coming faster than we probably appreciate.
Mike Putman: Yeah. Interesting. Um, switching gears a little bit, uh, I had the opportunity to travel, uh, with you, uh, kind of in the. The height of 10 best.com and, um, success.
but for our listeners, you gotta put this in perspective. This was pre-Trip Advisor.
You know, Google was around maybe early, but they, they didn’t really have, it’s not the Google up today. Um, and so 10 Best was widely known in the cities that, uh, the content had been written, which was hundreds of cities at that point. Um, and, uh, we would happen to go into, Maybe a restaurant that just happened to be on the 10 best list, and you couldn’t buy your way on the list either, by the way.
Um, that was a, a misconception at the time. But we would walk in and, uh, and Bryce would, you know, share that he was the c e o of 10 best.com and, uh, some of the service and tables that we got became pretty amazing. Um, so, uh, are, are there any over the top experiences that you remember? Maybe not with me, Bryce.
Brice Bay: I’ve had so many crazy experiences from, from, from that, both good and bad. I, I think sometimes you think you’ll be able to play this card really well, and sometimes the card is, Useless.
Mike Putman: Yeah.
Brice Bay: That’s the, that’s the funniest times that you think you’re gonna walk in and you’re gonna be a big shot and they’re gonna roll off the red carpet and they’re like, who are you and why are you here?
And um, so the reality check that happened more than I would like to admit. I think, um, though, from a over the top standpoint, and it’s particularly in major cities. Um, I remember some experiences in San Francisco and, and, uh, Manhattan back in the day where we would walk in and, you know, literally they would bring a table from.
Magic it would appear, be carried out tables to spread apart. And we, we would be seated in a, a place of great honor. And, um, servers. Servers would be just coming from all directions with, with wine and delicacies and, and, uh, re really amazing things. Uh, many, many, many hotel upgrades, which I always sort of felt a little bit guilty about.
Um, but at the same time, uh, it’s, you don’t wanna waste a night, not in the best room in the house if you can find a way. So we had some really gift perks. Very, very nice. I.
James Ferrara: So, um, take us forward then. Uh, Bryce, uh, you sold that company and, um, moved into some other areas of business and travel industry.
Brice Bay: Yeah, we did exactly. We sold the the.com to invest.com in 2010. Um, and. The, we rebranded the remaining company as in Veritas Group, uh, and what a Veritas group was. And, you know, prior to its new name, it was still a content agency. It just operated, um, under the 10 best moniker. I believe we called it, 10 Best solutions in those days.
And um, so the 10 best name went away for us. We became in Veritas Group and, um, That business. I, I, I think pretty purely back in 2010 was a travel, uh, related, um, um, marketing agency, a content agency. So we licensed content to hotel brands around the world. Um, our customers were probably largely, um, Midscale and up and most heavily, uh, weighted toward the luxury category.
So we had, you know, brands like, uh, Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons, and Fairmont and Tel and Swiss Hotel and, and many, many, many others around the world that we created content for. We content too. We manage their content. In some cases we manage their social media. Um, we, we created content of all types from, you know, video, audio, um, infographics.
And, um, then we began to move into other areas. So we got into various B two B areas, industrial areas. We were, uh, for a period of time we were Google’s largest outside content creator in the, the, uh, hospitality space. Um, so, and you know, They moved on since then and I’ve moved on from in Veritas group.
But, uh, it was pretty exciting to be creating. Literally tens of millions of pieces of content around the world for Google with huge teams. We are managing teams of hundreds and hundreds of travel writers and contributors and editors and whatnot, um, at any given time. And these projects would ramp up to, you know, again, it could be three, 400 people.
Um, and we’d have to train remotely and deal with all of this, this, uh, you know, Tight deadlines and, um, learned a lot, created a ton of content. And, uh, of course their Google, they learned a lot too, and they learned how to live without us. So anyhow, it was a good ride.
Mike Putman: And what are you, what are you doing today?
Brice Bay: Yeah. So, uh, today I, I’ve sort of taken a, uh, A fork in the road, if you will, been in the content business. Wasn’t the content business for more than 20 years learned loads? And I think I got to a point where I was a bit complacent and needed a change, and I’ve decided to kind of get in the, the, the physical product side as opposed to the virtual product side.
And I’m creating, um, some boutique hotels that are sort of, um, centered around nature and sustainability. Um, they’re, they’re very much a luxury product, um, but with a focus on green space and serenity and, um, connecting people with adventure and opportunities to be, you know, active and closer to nature.
Um, and we’ve got a brand that will launch. Uh, in the next year or so with, with a project that we’re building, or we’ll be, we’ll start construction up in Western North Carolina. So we’ve been hard at work doing all the. Branding and customer identification, uh, feasibility studies. We’ve acquired, um, a sizable chunk of land up there and, and we’ve applied for construction permits and out in the market right now, uh, raising capital for that project.
And knock wood, the response has been really positive. Um, we, before that though, we built, um, A, what I call our test kitchen, and it’s close to where, where you live, like in Travelers rest, South Carolina. So we have eight cottages that are, uh, branded as the station they’re in, uh, travelers Rest, South Carolina, right on the, the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which for those of you who have never heard of that, that’s a kind of a active trail for cycling and running and walking and all sorts of those things here in upstate South Carolina.
And we acquired a nice chunk of land, um, there all, you know, literally connected to the trail. And, uh, we built eight luxury cottages. Uh, James, I think you’ve stayed there
James Ferrara: I, did actually stay there and, um, I had a great. Time there. I absolutely love them. They’re innovative design. They’re right on this trail, which makes for some very interesting social interaction. People are very friendly up there. Uh, but I love the, the interior design, the design of the buildings, and just the whole field.
There’s a beautiful sort of porch area outside each element. There’s a full kitchen. Uh, Mike was, uh, with me and some other colleagues. We actually held a sort of retreat and did a, a business meeting there, and, and I was, I was thoroughly impressed. It’s very interesting to me that you took all of this deep knowledge in the travel industry and obviously a love for, for travel, and you have, uh, funneled it and translated it and focused it on this hospitality idea.
Brice Bay: Yeah, I, I mean, it’s certainly a, an evolution in terms of my thinking and, you know, we’re learning a lot, building a building and opening it up to guests, uh, is a, is a huge journey. And, uh, um, I. You know, but it all, it all started with sort of ideas that came from, from my background, from, you know, the marketing side of travel and what I saw that people did well and a lot of things I thought that they didn’t do as well.
I think a lot of the brands out there are, are, uh, really challenged to, to, uh, with adapting to. What the consumer really wants today. And, and it’s really some, and it’s some simple things. So if you, if you think about, okay, I’ve, I’ve, I’m a hotelier and I’ve, I own these hotels and they have a front desk and they have, you know, hallways and keys and whatnot in terms of, People getting in and out.
Well, if I wanted to go to, you know, a completely frictionless entry and make it a key code for somebody to get in, well, can people walk through the door and up the stairs and into the building from a security standpoint? Are the buildings designed correctly? You know, are the buildings, you know, the way people want to travel and stay?
Are they, you know, like I said, are they close to nature? Are they interesting? Are they. Do they provide social interaction? You mentioned the trail, there’s, there’s all these things that I think are changing. And I’m not saying this is a holistic thing. Every traveler’s changing. Everybody wants the same thing, but a segment of the traveling public, um, particularly on the higher end, they’re just looking for more than a big box with a boring generic hallway and identical rooms on each side of it.
And so we’re creating something that’s, you know, completely bespoke, really interesting, really. High end from an experience level, uh, approachable from a price standpoint, um, but designed to allow us to operate with small staff, designed for frictionless guest experience. If they never wanna see us at all, we can facilitate their check-in, in check out.
We can even customize their stay. We’re, we’re do, we’re, we’re experimenting right now. This is a fascinating, um, Got a little learning side journey for, for me, I read this book, um, uh, recently called Unreasonable Hospitality, um, by, um, will Guara, I believe, um, might have the last name wrong, but it’s a, it’s for anybody that’s in hospitality.
It’s a must read in my opinion, but it’s this idea of taking a guest and. Customizing an experience to really make this interaction the most important thing they might ever experience. And they really took this, this approach in unreasonable hospitality, which is the journey of, of 11 Madison Park, um, a restaurant in in Manhattan that went from a ordinary.
Kind of bistro to the number one restaurant in the world. And the journey to become the number one restaurant in the world is pretty intense and, and, and pretty, pretty, pretty high stakes. Um, But they, they kind of unpack this idea of, of really getting to know your customer and finding innovative ways to understand that without being intrusive and, and weird and all that stuff.
So we’re, we’ve taken some of those same ideas and we’re trying to learn a little bit, you know, for Goal one, learn a little bit about our, our guests when they’re coming in, and let’s see if we can customize some of the stuff in the room. That could be the snacks, it could be some beverages, it could be flowers, it could be recognition of.
The reason why they’re traveling. Maybe it’s an anniversary. Maybe they’re coming to see family. Maybe there’s a, a newborn grandchild that’s close by and they’re coming in to spend time together. Um, my favorite, um, one is, is one we had, I think it was beginning of last week, I. We had a, uh, a person contact us and this is a, a local person here in the upstate who was gonna come and, and rent with us for six nights.
And so it’s always interesting when we get local guests and we get a lot, a lot more than I would’ve thought. And so this, um, uh, Young lady was actually studying for medical boards and, uh, she wanted, um, you know, she has children, you know, husband and children, and she would needed to get outta the house for six nights to prepare for her medical boards.
And, and so we’re, you know, absolutely. We’ll make sure the room is the quietest at the end and blah, blah, blah. And, and, uh, um, Uh, my daughter who runs the operations, you know, she and I collaborate all this stuff and I said, well, let’s figure out something really interesting for somebody who’s gonna be really studying while they’re there.
So she put together this whole. Kind of basket of brain food and all of these things that are healthy and, you know, good mentally, dark chocolate and blueberries and all these things. And, you know, put together this package and handwritten note that says, you know, you’ve got this and, and please if we can help you in any way.
But, you know, things like that that are unexpected that. Take a a, an experience for a guest. I mean, not that this is not done in hospitality. Of course, of course it is. And good hoteliers have been around for a thousand years and they’re, they’re, they’re not going away. But we’re trying to take, you know, best practices and finding ways to make, um, the guest life interesting and, and create really unique memories for them.
And do it in a, in a way that sort of customized size of markets that we’re we’re in, which tend to be smaller.
James Ferrara: Mike, are you gonna let Bright get away? Get off the. Hook and not have your usual, uh, rapid fire travel preference questions.
Brice Bay: I gotta go guys.
Mike Putman: No, no, no. We had, we, we had a lot to cover today and I didn’t wanna, I didn’t wanna chew up any time with that, but one thing we, one thing I do want to, I, I won’t let you off the hook without asking, ’cause uh, a lot of our listeners tell us this is one of the key things that, that they like with our podcast is, um, what are, or do you have some practical tips that w that when you travel personally, make sure travel experience better?
Is there a quicker way of getting through the airport? Is there something you put in your carry on all the time that you always
James Ferrara: Or maybe with something with a hotel.
Brice Bay: Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. And, um, I, I’m, I’m trying to think of ones that aren’t the obvious that. That everyone is probably doing well today. I, I, you know, I, I tell you what I’ve, yeah. I’m, I’ve consistently been a traveler that travels with a pretty, pretty light kit. You know, so I, I, I’ve tried to carry on and I’m trying to, um, move efficiently, but what has changed with me personally and how I travel from. Even five years ago is I am much more about the journey than I am the destination. And I’m very consciously traveling at a slower pace, not just walking slower. That’s not the point. But if I’ve got a layover, you know, I fly through Atlanta pretty frequently and, and you know, there’s some pretty cool places to hang out in the Atlanta airport.
I really like, um, to go to one flu south and, um, And, and sit there at the bar and have, you know, some sushi and a glass of wine and talk with people. I’ve, I’ve met so many interesting people sitting in that place and in the past, My goal would be to move from A to B as quickly as possible and get out of an airport.
And what I’ve, I’ve personally found is a lot of joy in between A and B as opposed to what’s beyond the destination. And, and I think that’s, I. Probably at this stage of my life, you know, not that I’m, you know, super old 57, but I’m enjoying the journey and, uh, I am, uh, continue to do that. And I’m also trying to make more time in places to do the things I love be that go fly fishing or I.
You know, of cool hike or learn some new skill or whatever it, uh, um, and I think that also, uh, personally, just a personal feeling. I think that dovetails a lot with what’s happening now in, in travel and in this kind of, Blended business, leisure, travel world where people can stay someplace longer and work remotely and all these things.
Um, I think it just lends itself to, to, uh, you know, having fun, making it fun. And, uh, that’s, that’s what I would recommend, um, more, more than anything I.
James Ferrara: Yeah, I mean, hopefully we get out of the airports, but if we don’t in a layover, um, I also, I’m a history buff and I’m just a naturally curious person and I find that some airports have these amazing, uh, sort of little museums or history displays, and I think the throngs of people just walk right by them, you know, where they’re up on some deck and they don’t get a lot of attention.
I tend to seek them out, and I’m always rewarded with wonderful aviation stories and wonderful history of an area. And another good one, of course is food. So when I’m flying through like uh, Alabama or somewhere, there are Bojangles fried chicken. But I don’t have up north,
Brice Bay: Bojangles. I love Bo Tangles. I’m a hand.
James Ferrara: it was really good biscuits.
Anyhow, kinda know where you were going with this, but
Mike Putman: And no, it’s, uh, uh, these, these airports love for Bryce and James to come, ’cause James. Comes two hours early for every flight. And Bryce, uh, extends his lay to as long as possible so he can drink wine and have sushi. So I’m sure they’re loving you guys. Well listen, we’ll, we’ll wrap this segment up, but uh, Bryce really do appreciate, uh, your time and what you’ve done for the industry.
And, um, if people wanna get some more information about your project, do you have a website or a way they can contact you?
Brice Bay: Uh, right now it, uh, if you would go to compo hotels.com, you’ll see what we currently have and we’ll, that will be linking to our future brand that we’ll we’ll release in the future. But that’s c o m p O hotels.com.
Mike Putman: Great. Thanks again.
James Ferrara: It was great to meet you,
Brice Bay: Thank you.
Mike Putman: Alright. That was a great wrap up from, uh, Bryce Bay Travel entrepreneur and.
James Ferrara: Yeah, smart guy with a very interesting background. We don’t, you know, we haven’t gotten to see sort of that end of the business, the content, online content. I. Creation. Very interesting.
Mike Putman: So James, uh, you mentioned earlier that you had done some traveling this past week. Uh, have anything to report back on that?
James Ferrara: I do, I do. And in a sense it’s a little disappointing. Sorry to say, uh, I’m becoming like the crank on this show, like the grumpy old man. Huh uh, but I, I’m traveling for business, you know, and, and it’s just, let me just say this. I wanna share it because I think it’s a really good contrast. To our message on this podcast, because I was traveling for business, I had to be in certain hotels where the events I was speaking at were hosted.
And um, the uh, last one this past weekend was Marriott World Center in Orlando, and this is a famous convention hotel. It actually has a waterpark for the kids, which is great, but. Otherwise, it’s just a tremendous hotel. Everything is beige in this hotel, and once you get inside, you could really be anywhere.
It has very good Marriott service and there, there’s a lot about it. I’m sure that’s quite good quality and it has a tremendous convention center, but there’s just no sense of place. You really, you could be anywhere in the world and no personality, and
Mike Putman: No soul.
James Ferrara: No. And when you’re taking your kids on vacation, you could do a lot better, right?
You could stay at a much more interesting place. But I had to be there for a convention. And, um, the, and one of the things I noticed, by the way, Mike, that has been in the headlines a lot, uh, lately, is people in talking about why they’re, the crowds are not as big in Florida this summer. And I’ve heard lots of.
Theories about that. You know, I’ve heard, oh, it has to do with, uh, governor DeSantis and the fight with Disney and, and that has made people either not want to go because they agree with him or not want to go because they don’t wanna support the state of Florida, or, and, and so there’s this whole political rationale, or I’ve heard that it has to do with pricing, particularly pricing at Disney and, and I won’t. Discount that, no pun intended. Um, the pricing at Disney has gotten out of hand. I mean, it’s, it’s hundreds of dollars per person for a ticket, and that’s, if you’re not park hopping around, that’s just, you know, a single ticket. So, um, it, you have a family of four and you could be spending a thousand dollars a day just on park tickets, you know, so I, um, I do think that’s a real thing, but uh, it may have contributed a little bit, but I don’t think it’s the main reason.
I really think the main reason is the weather. I think it’s been very, very hot through the Southland and actually elsewhere in the country too. I think you’ve pointed out Mike, right.
Mike Putman: Yeah, I mean, you know, Dallas as an example, had over a hundred day, over a hundred degree days for I think a couple of months maybe. I mean, I, I, you know, if I’m traveling somewhere for fun right now for vacation, I. I’m traveling somewhere where it’s cold, where I might be able to put a jacket on, or at least long pants.
Um, I am done with the summer. I’m, I’m over it. Uh, and even though I spent three weeks in Scotland this summer, I, I am still, it feels like it’s been an eternity this entire summer in, in all the heat. Um,
James Ferrara: Yeah, our friend Dana, uh, chose a Alaska cruise. That’s where she is right now. And, uh, I think that was a good choice. Yeah. So people are, not only do they not wanna travel to someplace where it’s super hot, They’re already hot where they are, and you, you’re right, they want to go someplace that. Has some relief.
So that has hurt Florida this summer, I think, more than anything else. And I noticed it even at Marriott World Center, which is usually a chaotic property with zillions of people and kids everywhere, and it didn’t feel like that at all. Uh, backing up a little bit more in the week, I stayed in a big box hotel in Manhattan with limited service and small rooms.
You know, then the week, the, the trip, a few days before that, I stayed in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Thankfully it was on the Intercoastal, so at least got a little bit of feel boats and water and, you know, that was a little better. But it was also a big brand name. It was also Bland Hotel. It also had limited service or, or more properly termed.
Poor service. And so, um, I, I, I guess my point is I had a week of staying in the kinds of hotels that we advise our listeners not to stay in. So by way of contrast, I’m sharing my story with all of you guys so that, uh, Maybe it makes it a little more real and you think about it, make the extra effort, talk to a professional travel advisor, is my advice.
And, and find hotels with personality and interest, with a sense of place and, uh, you know, with great food and entertainment or near something interesting, whatever. But don’t, don’t stay in the three hotels that I stayed at.
Mike Putman: I hear ya. I hear ya. Well, unfortunately, uh, our, uh, deals guru, uh, is, or deals diva, excuse me, uh, is not, not with us this week, uh, Jessica d uh, but she was kind enough to supply us with some fantastic offers to share with our listeners. So James.
James Ferrara: Yeah. Um, uh, Jessica sent along, uh, two portfolios essentially of research. She had done and really appropriate to this time of year and the upcoming week. And the first is, um, she has deals for hero and, and that’s deals for. First responders, police, firefighters, e m T, and military. Uh, maybe not everyone knows that there are often special offers for people in those categories as a thank you, of course for, um, their brave service or for what they do for our communities.
So, uh, companies like Norwegian Cruise Line has military appreciation. Uh, program, uh, Amma Waterways, the Great River Cruise, uh, company in Europe, honors, frontline and military service members with a special discount. You save a hundred dollars per person on any of their river cruises, and you have to go through a travel advisor to do that.
Um, princess Cruises the great love boat brand. Uh, salute your service with the Princess Military. Benefit. So anyone who served in the United States or Canadian militaries, um, they get a up to $250 in free onboard spending money on any cruise. So they deposit $250 in your onboard account, and then you can use that money for the spa for specialty dining in the shops on board, and so on. Uh, celebrity Cruises does the same thing. Uh, onboard credits for, uh, service members, all military active, retired veterans to qualify for these savings. And it goes on and on. Cunard, Holland America Line, even Amtrak. Amtrak Vacations salutes active duty military personnel, US veterans and their families. A 10% discount on the rail portion of an Amtrak vacations trip.
I love the idea of rail vacations. Mike, have you ever done that?
Mike Putman: Uh, yes, I have, I have, uh, in Europe I’ve done it and it’s, it is quite rewarding. Um, but I’m, I’m really happy to see all these brands, major brands, global brands that are acknowledging the service that our first responders and, and military. Do or have done in some cases. ’cause some, uh, many of them extend the benefits into the veterans.
So it’s, uh, it, it, it’s a great message to share out, you know, this upcoming Labor Day as well. I.
James Ferrara: I agree. And, um, speaking of Labor Day, Jessica also sent along a separate, uh, portfolio where she found, uh, labor Day Hot Deals. Great. Medication sales, she calls it. And these don’t have to be traveled over the Labor Day weekend. They have to be booked during the Labor Day weekend. And, uh, there are special offers from, for example, American Queen Voyages.
You get a free category, state room, uh, upgrade, or a suite upgrade, and up to $4,000 savings plus $200 onboard credit. With American Queen Voyages, another great and maybe less typical, um, travel option, right? Sailing the rivers of the United States and seeing the heartland, or seeing the Mississippi. Uh, so you have to book this by August 31st.
Um, also, American Queen has, uh, a, I’m sorry, not American Queen, M S C. Which is the largest cruise company in the world, the largest shipping company in the world, I should say. And they’re very, very well known in Europe, becoming better known here in the United States. They have a limited time offer, drinks and wifi included, and up to $400 on board credit.
And that offer expires September 4th and they cruise, uh, the Caribbean, The Bahamas in Florida, Europe, the Mediterranean. Um, and even more. They’ve got some fall cruises up the East coast. Uh, princess the love boats has, uh, received up to 50% off cruise fairs. That’s 50% off. That’s pretty amazing. And, and a best price guarantee during Princess Cruises Labor Day Sale.
Uh, so this is. For 2024 or 2025 cruises and you have to book it. The offer expires by September 5th, so you’re booking ahead of time for next year or even the year after 2025. But man, you secure your spot with a 50% off, uh, offer and uh, that’s pretty amazing.
Mike Putman: I was just gonna say, uh, prince is, if any of y’all, any of our listeners, well, I’m sure a lot of listeners have not been on it, but that is probably the most loyal, uh, following of. People that sell on their ships. Um, there are these, the princess cruisers are diehard princess cruisers and, um, they, they will not switch brands hardly for anything.
So if, if their princess, uh, past guests out there, now’s the time to buy for sure.
James Ferrara: This was just flipped to me. This was like a ticker tape for travel. In addition, princess will allow the third and fourth guests to sail free in your cabin on select voyages. So man, this package gets pretty great and you have until September 5th. So really talk to your, Favorite travel advisor about that?
Oceania Cruises, which is an upper premium product, right? Sort of a a a a shoes off kind of elegance there on Oceania, a great food. Really what they’re known for has two for one cruise fairs, free round trip airfare with the airport transfers. Free short excursions valued up to $1,600 per state room free champagne, wine, and more.
So this is valued up to $2,800 per state room free gourmet specialty dining, and free unlimited wifi. So it’s an amazing sort of all-inclusive package. And that’s for booking anytime in September. So, uh, Oceania Cruise is something new for you guys.
Mike Putman: That’s like they’re paying you to take a cruise almost.
James Ferrara: Yeah. And there are lots of other offers out there, uh, just for the Labor Day weekend, just like any other retailer, uh, holiday weekends are a good excuse to run a sale, right? But boy, to find your way through all of this, um, I think you need a professional travel advisor.
Mike Putman: Absolutely.
James Ferrara: Unbiased opinion.
Mike Putman: both of our biased opinions, but we’ve, you know, we, we’ve been around the business long enough to, to see people who have it and, and, you know, and still I’ll have friends call me up and say, Hey, I booked this with, you know, directly with supplier X, Y, Z and I, and this went wrong, or I need some help with this.
And I’m like, you know, you should have, you should have booked it through your travel agent. Um, they could have probably helped you out with a lot of that. Well, great. Well, I, I think we’re, uh, at a, at a closing point for this podcast. So thank you listeners for your allegiance and, um, thanks for your support of No tourist allowed.
James Ferrara: Mike, where’s your next trip?
Mike Putman: My, actually, I just came back actually from one, uh, business trip to Charlotte, but, uh, after that I think I’m, uh, actually going to New York to play in a golf tournament.
James Ferrara: There you go. And I’m going off to, uh, Santa Fe in a week or two, which I’m really excited about. I love Santa Fe and I haven’t been there for a number of years. Great culture there. Great Native American culture. And, uh, oh by the way, great food. I.
Mike Putman: I knew you would fare that out, no question about that. But, but we gotta go for today. We’re, uh, we’re out of time. But thanks for listening again and, uh, we’re gonna skip next week. So there won’t be a podcast next week, but we’ll be back the week after. So I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day, those of you who are in the US and, uh, look forward to seeing you again soon.
James Ferrara: Yes, everybody remember, uh, travel authentically. Travel with great interest travel. Travel with great passion. Uh, look for the less traveled places. Uh, do a little research, do a little homework, talk to a travel advisor so that, um, you’re traveling in a way that creates really beautiful memories and no tourists allowed.