BIG News! The Weekly Travel Alert is now available with a video podcast on YouTube and other social media platforms.
CLICK HERE to watch this week’s first episode. You can watch or just listen. I think you will really enjoy it.
Half of Maui’s hotel rooms sit empty as tourist officials beg for business – The catastrophic fire that devastated Lahaina, Maui several weeks ago and left over 114 people dead has caused a massive exodus of tourists from the island. People around the world are asking the simple question, “Should I travel to Maui or not out of respect for the mourning local families are experiencing after the tragedy?” This past week I advised customers that the Island needed time to mourn. This week I listened to the Maui tourism board, and they made a compelling argument that the best thing we can do for the island is to support them by traveling to the unaffected parts of the island. Their officials are saying they are welcoming tourists to Maui with “open arms”. It makes sense to me that we can still be sensitive and respectful to those who have suffered greatly from the fire and at the same time prevent this economic tragedy from turning into a full sized economic depression for the island. Executive Travel has decided to assist our beloved friends in Maui by donating $100 for every Hawaiian package (or cruise) purchased through our company until the end of the year (to any Hawaiian island) to the recovery efforts in Maui. I know this will never take away the loss of a loved one in Maui, but we want them to know we love and care about them. Lets make Hawaii the top destination this year and in 2024.
Are things starting to slow down in the travel industry? – The last two weeks we have noticed that travel reservations have started to slow down a smidgen. Some of that is probably related to the “back to school” phenomenon that causes travel planning to be put on hold until Jr. is safely back in school. Also this is the time of the year that we start transitioning from the heavy summer travel season to the more calm “shoulder season” of the fall, which precedes the much slower winter (low season) of November to March. I actually look forward to seeing a little breathing room in airports and airplanes this fall and winter. As you have heard me say before, the next 6 months are the best time to travel to enjoy moderate temperatures, planes not packed so tightly and prices that can make you smile.
Using frequent flyer miles to redeem for business class tickets this summer is a real bad decision – The airlines have seriously devalued their frequent flyer miles this summer. They will tell you they are holding thousands of seats to allow you to redeem your miles for business class seats. What they won’t tell you is that the amount of miles required to redeem for a business class ticket this summer is “highway robbery”. For example, a round-trip business class ticket on Delta costs 750,000 miles for a freebie from Omaha to Rome in September. United charges about 600,000 for a similar trip. Redeeming in the low season for “saver awards” can be as low as 140,000 RT. The bottom line is that the airlines will make you pay 4 to 5 times more to redeem your miles in the high season than the low season.
Don’t let people sell you smoke and mirrors claiming to solve all the travel industry problems using CHATGPT and generative A.I. – Since late last year, the whole world is talking about CHATGPT and how it will quickly transform every industry and especially the travel industry. I personally love using CHATGPT and have found it an amazing time saver and marketing wizard. I also know that we have a painful road ahead in applying Generative A.I. (artificial intelligence like CHATGPT) to the highly personal and private activity of travel. It is amazing to me that some of the largest travel management companies (TMC’s) that we compete with have new announcements every day touting all their plans to implement new Generative A.I. initiatives. At the same time, these giant companies can’t even answer their phone without requiring you to press 7 buttons and keep you on hold for 30 minutes. Please don’t let the smoke and mirrors bluff you into jumping into the bleeding edge before some actual practical applications can be tested. Urgency is one of the key Core Values of Executive Travel. We will not, however, make you our guinea pig until the bleeding edge turns into the leading edge.
Traveler’s advocacy group says enough talking! They have filed suit against Hyatt Hotels to force them to pay travelers for all the “junk fees” they have been charging – I know I sound like a broken record, but it is kind of fun to see all these hotel chains starting to squirm as travelers and the government are all saying. “No more hidden/junk fees”. Millions of travelers over the past decade have been faced with checking into hotels only to be told they must pay an additional $25 – $75 a night for resort fees, etc. The advocacy group “Travelers United” recently filed a lawsuit against Hyatt over its practice of charging hidden junk fees. Get ready to see the dominos fall as surely other lawsuits will soon be in the works for Marriott, Hilton and other hotel chains. I hate lawsuits. However, I must admit this one feels justified. CLICK HERE to read more.
I never thought I would see the day where we would run out of inventory of tours to sell this year – One of our fastest growing divisions is called “Women of the Midwest” and they sell Women-only tours around the world. This year we have set all kinds of records as people want to “see the world”. At our meeting last week the founder of “Women of the Midwest”, Anne Fuldby-Olsen told me we have sold 97% of all our available seats for tours for the rest of 2023. Never in my life would I think we would ever run out of inventory to sell. Not surprisingly, many customers are now turning their attention to making reservations for tours in 2024. We anticipate that between Labor Day and Thanksgiving we will actually see as many as 10 tours become “SOLD OUT” as the desire to travel appears to be insatiable.