Select All of Your Travel Partners Wisely

Academic Travel blogThe story of how travel was disrupted in Europe because of the erupting Icelandic volcano is almost a thing of the past now. Most travelers have made it home and transatlantic air travel is pretty much back to normal.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal posed the question, “Is Travel Insurance Worth the Cost?” ( read more here )

This is a timely question, as American travelers are now assessing the unexpected additional costs they incurred. If they were traveling with a group, they are also assessing how their tour provider cared for them while they waited in limbo for the skies to clear and the runways to reopen.

For its part, Academic Travel Abroad kept its tour staff in place in two countries to ride out the delay with travelers, even though the tours had ended. ATA and its partners picked up the cost of some additional hotel nights, meals and additional activities. Travelers, understanding that they would also need to contribute to the costs, made the most of their additional days in London and Amsterdam.

Izabella Van Raalte, a long time ATA tour manager, summed up her feelings in a recent e-mail to Senior Program Manager Emma Impavido, who coordinated the company’s response and efforts to re-book travelers quickly with the help of Whitney Kulesz, Director of Travel Services:

“Thank you very much for being such a wonderful support on my recent tour. At all times I felt that I could bank on you 100 % and that you would come through which indeed you did. I looked forward to your daily “check in” phone call. ATA’s response to my request for help in getting hotel rooms at the eleventh hour was amazing. As I already told you it gave me great pleasure to be able to announce that ATA had managed to procure hotel rooms so quickly.

Emma, could you please also thank the whole team involved in back stopping for the great job they did. It takes a team to make a tour a success and I certainly felt as part of one and a great one at that.”

Academic Travel Abroad and its partner organizations actively promote the benefits of travel insurance to customers to protect their investment when the unexpected happens. Those travelers who purchased trip cancellation and delay coverage for their tours will be able to make substantial claims for reimbursement.

While none of us ever imagines ourselves the victim of a travel delay or mishap, the volcanic ash situation has reminded travelers how important it is to pick all of their travel partners wisely—from the tour company that makes the safety and well being of it customers its top priority, to the insurance company that stands by its coverage, and to the travel agent who swiftly and efficiently re-books passengers while airline websites and help lines crash through overuse.

Academic Travel Abroad

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Boomers and the future of the travel industry.

It would appear that the troubling economic times we’ve all recently experienced may well be in our rear-view mirrors now, but the road to the top is still steep, and frankly a bit foggy. So what now?

baby boomersWell, welcome to a new market!  A market of boomers seeking out unique travel opportunities in which their sense of independence, desire for immersion, and quest for a deeper sense of cultural education and awareness is in focus. Although boomers may not identify themselves by their given name, they are a distinct market segment that those in the travel industry will want to take heed of.  Those within the designated birth dates between 1946 and 1964 fall into the market-derived name of “Boomers.”  The indicators stress that they are more independent both in thinking and in action.  They seek travel opportunities that offer a unique angle, more cultural immersion, and meet their high demands for value and experience.  Many boomers are already well-traveled and now seek unique destinations, possible “voluntourism” opportunities where their sense of community and altruism can be met with rewarding results.

Our friends at myitchytravelfeet.com , heatheronhertravels.com, and holeinthedonut.com have recently expressed how boomers seek travel opportunities in a more frugal way then the preceding generations. Focusing more on the value of travel (where cost in not a focus), but where amenities should provide rewarding results.  They seek upscale accommodations, but no longer see the value in extravagancy. Their focus has now shifted to real value.  Instead of just enjoying a rare bottle of wine, they now wish to meet the owners of the vineyard – even have dinner with them even.  Instead of donating their money to a cause, they now seek tangible interaction with those they seek to help.

All this parlays into the fact that those in the travel industry should rekindle their understandings and interpretations of adding true value into their offerings.  Strong amenities, well-appointed accommodations, interaction with locals in given destinations and an educational element can offer a resounding value and mental enrichment to those seeking a true experience abroad.

Group travel can render significant rewards for those seeking to meet new people while absorbing cultural experiences.  This often translates to new friendships among boomers of like interests, further enhancing their desire for connecting with others. Adding an educational element, via an accompanying  tour expert or location historian can bring new appreciations to otherwise mainstay destinations.  These elements remove the “tourist” aspect to travel and brings a deeper focus to interaction and participation while abroad.

So, we at Academic Travel Abroad are eager to hear more!  What do you seek in your travel experiences?  What destinations entice you the most and why?  Tell us more about your travel aspirations and where you find specific value when traveling.  What has been your most rewarding experience so far?

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Group Travel Still Makes the Most Sense

Even in tough economic times, people are turning to group tours as a reliable way to travel that provides value and peace of mind. Tour operators negotiate group discounts, plan activities with smooth logistics in mind, access unique venues and draw on well-connected contacts in destinations around the globe. With years of experience under their belt, tour operators offer travelers the most value and security for their dollars.

Here are ten pointers from the National Tour Association’s latest newsletter that reinforces why Academic Travel Abroad is proud to be part of this organization of tourism professionals who share our common goals.

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Excerpt from the NTA's "Trip Planner" for August 2009