We know a lot is changing in the world of travel right now, so each month we'll be keeping you updated with answers to the big travel questions we're currently being asked by our community.
What is the role of a Wellbeing Director?
In response to the COVID-19 challenges, we have created and implemented a new position on many of our tours, for a Wellbeing Director.* Working closely together with your Travel Director, the Wellbeing Director will help make sure all necessary protocols are followed to ensure the health and wellbeing of all our guests. This includes our enhanced screening and hygiene protocols, complying with distancing and other requirements set by government authorities. They are also there to support our guests; answer any questions you may have, and to give you peace of mind while traveling in these new times.
When I travel, will you be sharing my contact information with anyone else, such as local health authorities?
To comply with local health authorities we may be required to collect and share personal information for contact tracing purposes, for example at hotels, restaurants or areas of gathering. This information can then be used by local health departments to alert you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Can I use a home test kit to do my pre-travel PCR test?
For trips traveling in the United States, yes, absolutely. To provide our guests with a convenient Home Test Kit solution, we have partnered with Inspire Diagnostics who are experts in COVID-19 testing. Information on how to access their FDA authorized option is included with your Travel Declaration and guest documents. Please note, many foreign countries require your test to be timestamped and therefore home tests are not accepted for international travel.
Flights are grounded. Borders are closed. Coming back home is quite the ordeal with testing and quarantines.
Travel will eventually come back, and my personal thinking is it’s actually going to bounce back so fast that the industry won’t be able to keep up with demand (but that’s a whole other story coming soon).
Right now, travelers have the upper hand. It’s almost like they’re first time home buyers during a housing collapse. We’ve saved up money during the pandemic and we need to travel. And we want to get out of Dodge the minute it’s safe to do so.
With that in mind, here are my must-do travel tips for anyone even dreaming about a trip right now.
USE A TRAVEL AGENT I cannot stress this enough. A good agent will literally make the difference in your trip.
You’re not just a number like you would be with an OTA (online travel agent such as Expedia). Your travel agent likely has a very good rapport with the manager on site at your hotel and can easily accommodate special requests – like adding a crib or setting up a room nicely for a proposal.
They’ll also have your back should rules change last minute for some reason – as they did many, many, many times during this pandemic.
Bit of back-story – agents are paid on commission, by the tour operator you book with. For example, if you book a one week all inclusive to Cancun, you pay for your trip and the agent gets a commission from tour operator.
The reason agents have been so upset during this pandemic is because commissions are paid (for the most part) at time of travel. So that trip you booked in August for travel in December? The agent doesn’t get paid until you go. And with the pandemic and all the cancellations, those commissions were lost. All the work agents did for your booking went unpaid, not to mention the income they had counted on was gone.
As a result, you’ll likely see a reasonable service fee moving forward when you deal with an agent. Their expertise is invaluable and paying someone to be your private travel concierge is very savvy and smart.
BOOK NOW There is no other way to say it. Do not pass go – go directly to book now.
Particularly if you aren’t sure about traveling this coming winter season but definitely will be comfortable traveling Fall/Winter 2022/2023, book now. Rates for Mexico, the Caribbean and Dominican Republic winter season for example, are already starting to rise as people book.
There are a lot of great deals now, but you have to move fast.
It’s basically like riding a wave; know what’s coming and get ready to jump on a deal.
Also comforting is the fact that pretty much every single tour operator, airline and hotel are offering incredible cancellation allowances should travel restrictions change.
DO A MULTI-GENERATIONAL AND / OR CELEBRATION TRIP Back when I worked in destination marketing, this was an emerging trend. Now?
Multi-family groups are leading the way in terms of booking numbers and are fore-casted to be even stronger into 2022. It makes sense.
We haven’t seen our families. We haven’t been able to relax on a beach somewhere. We haven’t been able to celebrate milestones.
Celebrate the 50th birthday with your closest friends in a villa. Have a big celebration for an anniversary.
Heck, just grab your friends, family and go and celebrate the fact that we can. There are also amazing deals with private villas for example, around the world that pre-pandemic were out of many people’s budgets. You can even rent a private jet, which, depending on the number of people traveling and where you’re going, actually is competitive price wise, with the per ticket costs for a commercial airline. Talk about a COVID safety bubble – you and your family and friends take a jet to a villa? How safe and memorable is that?
There are of course so many other options – book a block of rooms at a resort. Rent out a boutique hotel. Whatever your fancy, just do it.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS Travel shaming is an unfortunate new lexicon in our vocabularies and as per an earlier article, really needs to stop.
Tell your friends what you’re doing. Don’t be scared. Get excited. Know that traveling is among the safest activities you can do (safer than going to the grocery store for example, but I digress).
Get everyone excited. Stop the shame.
The sooner we can all get back to the skies, the better we’ll all be.
By Marsha Mowers
As a host travel agency dedicated to helping others build their own travel businesses, it may seem bias or clichéd for us to claim that 2019 is the year to become a travel agent. However, it is hard to argue with thorough research, and with our understanding of our travel agents’ growth. According to the independent research firm Phocuswright, U.S. travel agency sales are slated to grow 13 percent between 2017 and 2021.
If you need more convincing, the following trends all point to a rise in popularity and demand for independent travel agents.
THE CRUISE INDUSTRY IS STRONG.Chances are you’ve seen a commercial or an online ad about setting sail on a cruise. The cruise industry is strong and continuing to see growth year after year. According to CLIA, Cruise Lines International Association, over 28 million passengers sailed on a cruise in 2018. That number is expected to rise to more than 30 million in 2019!
What’s even more shocking about that number? Over 70 percent of cruise passengers book their trip with a travel agent. With the expected launch of 18 new ocean cruise ships in 2019, the cruise industry will continue to draw new travelers for years to come!
NICHE TRAVEL IS ON THE RISE.Cruising isn’t the only section of the travel industry that is on the rise. Solo travel’s popularity is increasing as more travelers seek to fulfill their bucket lists at their own pace. Solo travelers trust travel agents to send them on an expertly planned vacation, and advocate for them should any issues arise during their trip.
Wellness travel offers clients a chance to disconnect and embark on true relaxation. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness travel is growing at double the rate of the overall tourism industry. Many destinations and resorts are quickly adapting to meet this growing demand. These travelers often call upon agents for their expertise and value the stress-free process of planning a vacation through a travel agent.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS EMPOWERING SMALL BUSINESSES.According to a recent report, 77 percent of travel agents use social media to position themselves as travel experts and 74 percent use it to market to their existing clients. The same report noted that eight out of ten agents who use Facebook to market their travel business receive at least one booking a month through the platform.
Today’s social media networks are key for small businesses to connect with members of their community and stay in touch with clients. Agents that invest time in building a following on Facebook and Instagram are able to share the value of their services and promote their business for no or very little cost.
YOU ARE IN CONTROL.Launching your home-based travel career provides you with the chance to take control. As an independent contractor, you can set your own schedule. You can work the number of hours you want. You take on the clients you want. In fact, when surveyed, people that work from home said that the number one benefit was a better work/life balance.
For many of our agents, the flexibility to run their travel business is priceless. That’s one of the many reasons over 70% of travel agents work from home. They are still able to attend family events, meet up with friends, and take care of errands, and still run a business! Being a travel agent means dedicating time to learning travel suppliers, completing educational courses, and marketing your business, but the satisfaction of working for yourself is a rewarding feeling.
If you’re looking for a new career path in 2019, and you have a passion for travel, learn more about partnering with MIT TRAVEL CLUB as your host agency. To find out more, you can give our memberships team a call at 1-347-363-7843.
Growing up in a poor village I never understood why my dad insisted we travel. he would read about the countries of the world and tell us stories as if he visited the places. As I got older and began experiencing these places I would think to myself "Wow! How did dad know about this place, or this particular tree on this spot! was he here?" He would warn us about the dangers and encourage us to have an adventure of a lifetime. What dad experienced through books he wanted us to experience in person.
Every time I visit somewhere new it is as if I am honoring him in my own way.
So dad here's to you as I continue on my journey to explore the earth.
MIT travel club
At Magical Island Tours and Travel Limited we strive to ensure that your travel experience is fun, enjoyable & great value. We understand the passion for travel & we do everything we can to make your holiday a success. Magical Island Tours and Travel Limited puts our customers at the focus of our attention and expertise. Wherever you plan to go, we have the passion to satisfy your travel dreams.