Virtual meetings are a dud –

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This fall I have attended several virtual meetings and conventions. Quite frankly, they were a dud. Oh, the sponsors of these virtual conventions said they were smashing hits with great sales and results, but the reality is nothing is as compelling as a live meeting. I miss the interactions with other attendees. That is where I learned the most and got the best information. I miss walking down the aisles of the convention hall and seeing all the exhibitors and learning about new products. I miss the coffee breaks talking to my friends and learning about their business and families. I miss having lunches and dinners with business partners and brainstorming new ideas. I miss live seminars where you can ask questions and talk to others in the room with the same issues as you. I miss eating at many of the best restaurants in cities that the convention is taking place. I miss learning firsthand about the culture of the city and country that is sponsoring the event. I miss the amazing hotels tied to the convention and the outstanding service I enjoyed. I miss bringing home the bag full of trinkets and trash that I always get from vendors as give-aways for visiting their booths, especially at Christmas time as they are great stocking stuffers for the family. My guess is many of you are starting to miss live meetings as well. 2021 can’t come soon enough.

Two Vaccines should be available by the end of the year, but business travel won’t rebound until people return to their offices – We got great news concerning COVID in the past few days with the announcement of two new promising vaccines which should be available for distribution by the end of the year. The new vaccines, along with testing, will be very positive for everyone but especially for the travel industry. This past week we surveyed our corporate customers and more than 50% said they do not anticipate returning to the office before the end of the first or second quarter of 2021. I really don’t think business travel will start to rebound until people start returning to their offices. I also have noticed that a lot of meetings and conventions scheduled for the first quarter of 2021 around the world have been moved to a virtual format. This means the second quarter of 2021 will probably be the earliest that business travel for meetings and conventions comes out of COVID hibernation. CLICK HERE to read more about the vaccines.

Cruise lines getting rid of your heart attack bill by offering all-inclusive sailings – The old joke that most heart attacks on a cruise ship happen on the last day of the cruise when you find the bill conveniently slid under the door that shows all your charges for drinks, shore excursions and purchases during the cruise. Many times the bill for extras could be more than the price you paid for the cruise. Well, things in the cruise industry are about to change big time with the announcement last week by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) that they were launching their all-new “FREE at Sea” all-inclusive cruising. NCL says their cruises will now include drinks, free specialty dinning, free shore excursions, free Wi-Fi, and prepaid gratuities that heretofore had been added onto your heart attack bill. Let’s hope all the major cruise lines follow this example and make cruising affordable and financially transparent again.

Airline stocks make a huge jump on vaccine news – The big stock winners this week and month have been airline stocks who have jumped as much as 20% on news of the soon to be released COVID vaccines. However, before you pull all your pennies out of the piggy bank and invest in airline stocks please understand that airlines have a long way to go to find profitability again. I think it may be as long as 2023 before the industry can turn a profit. I just hope all the debt they are piling up to keep their head above water will not sink them in the future. CLICK HERE to read more.

Two months and still no passport – For the last several months I have been whining to you that my passport expires in January 2021 and as such, I cannot travel outside the U.S. as most countries require that a passport has at least 6 months validity after your return flight date before they will allow you into their country. My complaint at that time was that the U.S. Department of State had not yet fully brought back their staff from the virus and as such, they are saying no new or renewal passports were being issued unless it is an issue of life or death. At that time I decided to become a ginny pig and send in my renewal passport application on September 16 to see how long it would take me to get it back.  We also decided to have some fun with this and offered a free airline ticket to the person who guessed the exact date that I would receive my new passport in the mail. 901 people sent in their predictions of the date I get my passport back with 781  of those saying it will be in 2020 and 114 predicting dates in  2021. It appears our little game has gone viral as just last week I received a call from a U.S. Senator’s office offering to help me with my passport. I decided I needed to let this process play out by itself and not get any outside help. I am hoping this month will be a magical month.

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