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Travel Consulting

chris-at-gtm

02 Jun What is a Travel Designer?

Everybody knows what a Travel Agent is, but when I say “Travel Designer” most people are left scratching their heads and giving me a weird look that says Technically I know what both of those words mean, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. Also, I am hungry.

If I have some food on me I’ll be sure and offer it up, but I’ve always got an answer for “What is a Travel Designer?” Simply put: a Travel Agent will get you where you’re going, but a Travel Designer will not only get you there but make sure you have the time of your life.

Travel is SWELL‘s purpose is to design customized travel and wellness experiences. This is a fancy way of saying, “Tell us what kind of vacation you want and we’ll make it happen.” Travel Designers talk with you, get to know you and your likes and dislikes, and then present to you packages or options that best fit your needs and wants. Because of our connections around the world with hotels, tours, excursion providers, resorts, and so much more, we can get you anywhere in the world you want to go and provide you with a variety of experiences once you get there… experiences you might turn up via research, or you might not. But who wants to do research? The great thing is: we’ve already done all the research for you. And, in the vast majority of cases, we won’t charge you a thing for our services.

 

What is a Travel Designer (or Travel Advisor)?

A travel designer is a professional travel consultant with the resources, connections and expertise to add great value to your travel plans. Travel designers work in partnership with you to select and plan travel experiences that are tailored to your unique wishes and budget. The benefits of using a travel designer are many, and you may find you uncover new perks each time you work with your travel designer.

In contrast, some travel agencies with large call centers are often inbound marketing specialists with little to no actual travel experience. They are encouraged to sell certain properties and cruise departures. Their goal is speed and volume – that means taking your order and moving on to the next customer as quickly as possible. The disadvantages of using a travel agent is that they may not be able to provide guidance or answer questions about the destinations, cruise lines or properties you are interested in. Many times, due to their marketing partnerships they offer “one-size-fits-all” vacation packages.

Why Should I Use a Travel Designer?

Your time away from home with family or friends is your most precious resource. You want to take advantage of an expert to help you invest it wisely. The very best travel agents, like the travel designers of Travel is Swell (and related sister sites) offer great value that adds a richness of experience to your vacations and getaways. Not only will the experience you have on your vacation be enhanced, the planning will also be a much less stressful and time consuming endeavor for you. Through our status as a preferred partner with virtually every luxury travel provider in the world, we are able to offer our clients preferred rates, amenities, upgrades, VIP status and credits that they cannot access on their own, through the Internet or by booking direct.

All in all, our travel designers personalize travel to fit you, rather than fit you into travel. It’s these changes that really take travel to the next level. As a network of luxury travel designers, we focus on creating a greater experience for you – our esteemed client.  Contact us today.


This is Chris. He has almost three decades of experience in the travel industry and you’d be hard-pressed to find a place he hasn’t been. You can contact him at info@travelisswell.com, or by phone at 1-888-963-8986.

 

 

Beijing-China

23 Jan Novel Coronavirus in China

There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.  Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Other parts of China have had cases among people who traveled to Wuhan.

What is the current situation?

A novel (new) coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This outbreak began in early December 2019 and continues to expand in scope and magnitude. Chinese health officials have reported hundreds of cases in the city of Wuhan and severe illness has been reported, including deaths. CDC recommends that travelers avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan. Cases have also been identified in travelers from Wuhan to other parts of China and the world, including the United States. Person-to-person spread is occurring though it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people at this time. Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.
What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. Remain alert if traveling to other parts of China by practicing the precautions below.

Travelers to China should:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Clinician Information:

Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever and respiratory symptoms. For patients with these symptoms who were in Wuhan on or after December 1, 2019 and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider the 2019 novel coronavirus and notify infection control personnel and your local health department immediately.

Although routes of transmission have yet to be definitively determined, CDC recommends a cautious approach to interacting with patients under investigation. Ask such patients to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified. Conduct their evaluation in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room, if available. Personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, and use eye protection (goggles or a face shield). For additional infection control guidance, visit CDC’s Infection Control webpage.

work-from-home

14 Dec Why Everyone Should Use a Travel Advisor in 2019

As 2020 rapidly approach, we think travelers should never travel without an Advisor behind them heading into the New Year. With that  said, we’d like to list the top 10 reasons for relying on a travel advisor:

1. Storms and natural disasters are making travel more difficult.
2018 year has been a particularly tough one for travel, with natural disasters and system failures overwhelming some suppliers. But travel advisors have the access and the knowledge to help speed your re-accommodation, and act as your advocate when there are problems. When you book with an advisor you can reach out to an actual person with whom you have built a trust relationship. Travel advisors can help change travel dates due to weather, or change the destination completely. They can hold cruise and air options for you and confirm your hotel before booking a non-refundable reservation. And in these weather-affected times, no client wants to sit on hold with the airlines or a tour operator for hours—so let a travel advisor do the work for you.

2. Life is busier and more demanding than ever, and vacation time is more valuable.
There is no do-over for a vacation gone wrong. Travel advisors can help you achieve the vacation you desire because they listen, suggest, adjust, understand and become a friend… not just a search engine or an anonymous voice. “They do the work, you pack and go!”

3. Travel Advisors add a human element.
A travel advisor ensures that you are a person, not a number. They are invested in their clients’ happiness and satisfaction and want to make sure each and every trip is packed full of positive lifelong memories. They are with you before, during and after your trip—kind of like “for better or for worse.” Travel advisors answer their phones and respond to their email no matter where you are on the planet.

4. Trips are more complicated than ever, as the number of multi-generational vacations and destination weddings continues to grow.
Multi-generational vacations are still very much in demand. Baby Boomers are taking their children and grand children on high-end vacations. Because planning travel with a multitude of people is a challenge, a travel advisor is a perfect choice to be the “middleman” and provide assistance to plan a perfect family vacation.

5. The world is constantly changing, and travel advisors are on the ground experiencing it.
Has the Caribbean recovered from the latest hurricane? Can Americans travel to Cuba these days? Has the smoke cleared in Napa? Travel advisors don’t just sell a destination—they discover, research and experience the places they offer over and over, sharing the actual and current status quo with their customers. Just like in everyday life, it takes a village to understand the dynamics of every destination. Why do it alone if you don’t have to?

6. They save you so much time and stress.
Sure, reading about places to go is fun and enticing—but planning a trip is stressful. There is so much data available online, in magazines and books, and even on TV. Travel advisors travel for work, looking at everything from the size of the rooms at hotels and cruise ships to the dining options that are available, onsite and nearby. And if they haven’t personally been where you want to go, a colleague has or their preferred tour operators have. They know the hidden gems in a given destination because they’ve either seen it, or because they listened to the previous client who came home and raved about something they found by chance. They also tend to specialize in destinations or niches like LGBT or Special Needs travel. Every time they travel they are focusing on these details—so customers can just dream about their destination and not have to worry.

7. They often save you money—and if not, they deliver more value.
Even if your travel advisor charges a fee, the value you receive will be bigger than what you paid. Some clients assume that using a travel advisor would cost extra when in fact using an advisor can save you money and get you extras and insider access.

8. They can reassure anxious travelers because they know where you should go and where you shouldn’t.
During the past several months, we have seen several hurricanes, 3 earthquakes, 5 strikes against travel suppliers, 2 mass-shootings, 4 airline accidents and bankruptcies, major wildfires, 2 volcano eruptions, flight cancellations, 1 visa suspension (Turkey) and several State Department travel warning.  Anyone care to navigate that on their own? People are nervous, anxious and unsure. Travel advisors feel a huge responsibility to explain, re-assure and assist their clients in making the best possible choices. And now, with all the devastation and destruction from Mother Nature, they can be instrumental in helping to decipher what destinations are accessible.

9. They offer unique services for discerning clients.
Travel advisors are there to help each and every clients regardless of budget. In addition, travel advisors are fully capable of providing special services and requests for discerning clientele.

10. Like any professional advisor, they know more than you do.
Should you book that Rhine River cruise heading north or heading south? Travel advisors know which hotel rooms have the best view room; they know you should renew your passport six months before it expires; they know you should bring your own road maps in Europe because rental car companies don’t provide them. They can recommend a private guide instead of a ship excursion, an interesting destination along the way, a chance to get off the beaten track and see something uniquely important to you.

Regardless of the circumstances, travel advisors are always there for you!

This article is made possible by Cheryl Rosen.

Caribbean-Island

13 Oct 4 Reasons You Should Still Travel to the Caribbean

Hurricanes Irma and Maria attacked the Caribbean as if it was their mission this September, leaving billions of dollars of damage in their wake. Reports say that Barbuda (sister island of Antigua) is no longer inhabitable, and a tragic news story about Puerto Rico comes out every day.

And, let’s not forget about St. Maarten and Dominica, where as much as 90 percent of the islands were destroyed.

While all the bad news may make you wonder if the Caribbean is worth visiting, it’s important to note that there are still plenty of reasons to visit the selection of islands that make up this part of the world. Before you eschew the Caribbean and book elsewhere, consider these reasons to visit anyway:

Plenty of Islands Are Outside the Hurricane Belt

If you’ve been dreaming of visiting the Caribbean but are worried about running into damage that might ruin your trip, keep in mind that plenty of Caribbean islands are outside the hurricane belt—and that many didn’t encounter a hurricane at all.

Barbados, Curacao, Grenada and many other islands aren’t anywhere near the typical hurricane zone. Many others like Jamaica and Grand Cayman saw no damage at all while some resort destinations like the Dominican Republic and St. Kitts/Nevis saw only a passing blow.

Damaged Islands Need Your Money and Help

Since many Caribbean islands rely on tourism as their main source of income, actually visiting an impacted island is one of the best ways you can help.

By spending your money at hotels and restaurants, you’re putting cash right into the hands of people who can desperately use it.

Many Damaged Islands Are Already Back Up and Running

Some islands that noted damage were able to turn around and reopen to tourists rather fast.

Antigua, for example, is mostly open and just as beautiful as ever, its CEO of the local tourism board told The Telegraph. Anguilla appears to be on its way back in business, and the islands that make up the Bahamas are mostly back up and running as usual.

The Caribbean Offers Any Travel Experience You Could Want

You could fly to Europe to experience Dutch, French or British culture, but several islands in the Caribbean offer European flair—and often food—since they are colonies of larger countries across the pond.

Visit Curacao for a taste of Dutch delicacies like bitterballen and stroopwafels, for example.

And, don’t forget that the Caribbean is more than just beautiful beaches. The islands boast mountains you can climb, amazing snorkeling, plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and amazing foodie experiences featuring local ingredients like seafood and spices.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria may have battered part of the Caribbean, but the islands still have plenty to offer visitors. Whether you love seafood or snorkeling or giant stretches of white sand beach, you can still find it in the Caribbean.

And right now, they need you more than ever.  Explore the Caribbean today!

11 Dec 25 Of The World’s Most Disability-Friendly Cities

Cities for All
Thes 25 towns are generally considered the most disability-friendly cities in the world. The list was compiled based on research from such respected disability publications as 101 Mobility, New Mobility, Access2Mobility and more.

Washington, D.C.
Surprised? Don’t be. With all of the amazing monuments and attractions, D.C. has done an outstanding job over the years of creating wide sidewalks and pathways for wheelchair users. Not to mention that the Metro is generally considered one of the best transit systems for the handicapped.

Berlin, Germany
Just know this – in 2013, Berlin won the European Union City Access Award for its efforts to create one of the most accessible cities in all of Europe.

Seattle, Washington
The home of the Space Needle has been widely praised for its implementation of a universal city design, allowing for more disability friendly restaurants, public spaces, transportation and more.

Milan, Italy
Like Berlin, Milan is a winner of the European Union Access City Awards, in 2016, for turning this classic city from virtually inaccessible to one of the best on the continent for the handicapped.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
The tremendous weather is an obvious advantage, but the city also has a bus system that is entirely accessible as well as a complementary Sun Van Paratransit Service.

Oslo, Norway
Not only is the transportation system handicapped-accessible, but numerous ferry options that explore the country’s fjords are also wheelchair-friendly.

Reno, Nevada
The Biggest Little City In The World is more than just a gaming destination. Reno has been noted for its plethora of accessible housing, rehabilitation centers and a strong public transportation system – with discounts for the disabled – that also includes a door-to-door paratransit service.

Vienna, Austria
As Billy Joel once sang, Vienna waits for you. This is another of the most accessible cities in the world, with drop-curbs, a handicapped-friendly public transportation system, and an added emphasis of making sure the historical sites are also accessible.

Portland, Oregon
The city has drawn kudos for addressing shortcomings with some of its most popular attractions, particularly trails and parks that can be difficult for manual wheelchair users. A task force has been assembled to assess the city for ADA compliance.

Dublin, Ireland
In addition to the many accessible areas of this great city, as well as its plethora of accessible hotel rooms, there’s this – the Guinness Brewery tour is handicapped accessible.

Chicago, Illinois
One of the best cities in the world known for its tight-knit disabled community, highlighted by the annual Disability Pride Parade. Taking it a step further, the city has commissioned the University of Illinois to identify the accessibility of buildings, facilities, sidewalks and stores to make its renowned shopping and attractions even more disabled-friendly.

Bridgetown, Barbados
Normally, wheelchairs and beaches don’t mix. But this Caribbean paradise recently instituted its ‘Fully Accessible Barbados’ program, with a goal of making sure its tourist attractions are for all – and hotels followed suit by making their accommodations fully accessible, including beach wheelchairs that allow customers to enjoy the ocean.

Denver, Colorado
Arguably the best handicapped-accessible transportation system in the country, with its priority seating on the Metro and a paratransit system that offers rides seven days a week, 23 hours a day.

Sydney, Australia
High on the list of any handicapped person with a travel bug should be Sydney, one of the most accessible cities in the world. Many restaurants and stores have flat entries and even such iconic sites as the Sydney Opera House not only are accessible, but have special tours for the handicapped.

San Francisco, California
Another place that’s a bit of a surprise, especially given the city’s hilly reputation. But aside from the famed cable cars, which are not handicapped accessible, the city’s main hubs of transportation – BART, Caltrain and MUNI – most certainly are. And all the major attractions, including Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf, are as well.

Frankfurt, Germany
Better known for being a financial hub and not generally considered a huge tourist draw among German cities, Frankfurt nonetheless has an impressive ‘Museum Row’ on the banks of the Main River, all of which are handicapped accessible.

Las Vegas, Nevada
One thing you can count on in Sin City – arguably the world’s best collection of handicapped-accessible hotel rooms, featuring transfer showers, built-in seats in the tubs, and wide swaths of room to maneuver.

Jerusalem, Israel
Don’t necessarily be put off by the fact that this is one of the oldest cities in the world, with miles and miles of cobblestone streets. Its holiest sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Wailing Wall, are handicapped accessible.

Orlando, Florida
Now this is no surprise at all. With Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, this is one of the most handicapped-friendly cities in the world.

Warsaw and Krakow, Poland
It’s hard to talk about one without the other. Only two hours apart, the two cities are connected by an accessible train ride. Warsaw, especially, has many hotels with accessible rooms and roll-in showers, and even its historical areas have undergone improvements to be wheelchair-friendly.

Berkeley, California
It’s not a stretch to imagine that such a great college town would be part of this list. The city does a tremendous job, not only with transportation services but also offers emergency help for fixing wheelchairs.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Pedestrian-only tourist areas, dropped curbs, wheelchair ramps, accessible museums and attractions …. What’s not to like about this capital city?

Baltimore, Maryland
From its bus system to its attractions, Baltimore is one of the more disability friendly cities in the U.S. The National Aquarium is widely acclaimed as one of best venues for those in a wheelchair.

Scottsdale, Arizona
The city has taken progressive steps to develop its own code of practice for everything from tourist attractions to buildings and sidewalks.

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