Tag Archives: Living/Lifestyle

20 minutes with: Juan Fernandez from Elli Travel Group | Instant News



The pandemic has made 2020 the year of tranquility. As the vast majority of Americans were confined to their homes for long periods of time, few industries suffered as much as travel, with flights, hotels and vacations canceled. Last year, travel spending in the United States fell 42% to just $ 679 billion, according to a Tourism Economics study. International and business travel were particularly hard hit, with spending by the former falling 76% and spending by the latter 70%. But with millions of Americans now vaccinated, the future looks brighter for travelers and the industry as a whole. Penta spoke with Juan Fernandez, operational partner of the travel agency Elli Travel Group, based in Larchmont, New York, to find out what to expect for the industry as the pandemic subsides. slowly. PENTA: How did you feel when the pandemic hit? Juan Fernandez: It was a surreal experience. The first few months we were under overwhelming pressure as we navigated an ever-changing landscape and made sure all trips were reimbursed. Then frustration set in, as states, countries and cities implemented different restrictions. On a personal basis, the biggest frustration was not being able to see family in Puerto Rico. After 10 long months, we were grateful to land on the island and celebrate Christmas with my parents. What does the travel slowdown mean for small travel providers like you? The downside of the pandemic was that our revenue was down 64% from 2019. The upside is that our customers have become more loyal than ever. Small boutique agencies have never had the high fixed costs of large agencies, which struggle with many in-house staff responsible for booking air and hotel travel for leisure and corporate clients. Our cost structure has always been weak, but we were still able to reduce our costs by renegotiating contracts. What will the pandemic mean for the travel industry as a whole? I think the pandemic shock of 2020 is the complete opposite of the slowdown we saw during the economic crisis of 2009-2010. This period took several years to recover the lost ground. This time around, the devastating downturn will translate into increased demand for luxury travel. During the lockdown, people stayed home and spent less on dining, entertainment, or traveling. Do many clients now have more disposable income than ever before? Research by private equity firms shows credit card fees in 2020 are down 14%. Meanwhile, high-end luxury customers have seen their investments rise in value as stock markets hit all-time highs. The balance sheet of the traveler is in the best shape possible. So are people eager to hit the road? Our avid travelers call their current planning “revenge journey”. These clients send us an 18 month travel plan and have already booked their trips for 2021. Currently, our summer bookings are comparable to 2019. The big difference, however, is that 80% of trips are domestic, for example. compared to our typical summer where domestic travel would have been 25%. Bookings in Europe are still down 85% from 2019. What destinations are people looking to go to? In the short term, we will see moderate demand for urban destinations. Places like New York or London will experience more difficulties in the next few years. But destinations that focus on the outdoors will recover very quickly – we’ve seen this before, as spring trips to national beach destinations like Florida and South Carolina are extremely strong and the best luxury hotels are close to full capacity. For the summer, Hawaii is the perfect place for families and honeymooners. Demand has doubled from summer 2019. Yellowstone and Jackson Hole are another popular destination. Do you plan more vacation in the car? Driving vacations will again be in high demand in 2021. Federal testing guidelines make traveling abroad extremely risky, so we believe families who typically travel to Europe will explore domestic destinations. For example, we anticipate that New Yorkers will continue to head to luxury destinations on Cape Cod, Rhode Island and New England. How will traveling itself – from checking in on planes to hotels – be different in 2021? It will be a complex problem that will evolve slowly. Each country, city, state will have different ways of implementing policies. It’s impossible to put all travelers into one category when it comes to tests, passports, or policies that interfere with privacy and freedom. In the United States, attitudes differ regarding the new protocols. In general, everyone welcomes the new sanitation programs and intensified cleanings implemented by the airline industry. But many of our luxury customers would really like to see the plexiglass disappear. As one client who checked into a luxury hotel in Miami put it, “It felt like walking into a bodega.” What technologies are used by industry to keep people safe? Recently, during a visit to the Cliff House in Maine, management highlighted the sensors in the lobby measuring their guests’ temperature during check-in. On a recent visit to the Ocean House in Rhode Island, they highlighted the new HEPA air filters located in each of their rooms. Major hotel brands have also invested in new technologies to disinfect rooms with misters before customers arrive. What is the impact of the vaccine on travel? Since February 1 he has been extremely busy. We have customers calling and saying, “I have the vaccine! Where can I go tomorrow? And in a few days, they fly to Mexico or the Caribbean. We are already seeing the positive impact of vaccines on travel. It may be a bit early to find out if [vaccine] passports will belong in the future, but we are already seeing investments in this type of infrastructure. What type of person calls you to book a vacation? Most of our calls came from parents exhausted from work, homeschooling and lack of family activities like sports. These families book national beach destinations like Florida and South Carolina. Couples without children and with working flexibility extend their usual vacation and work remotely. For example, we had a couple at Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla who was originally planned for a seven night stay but eventually left after 15 days. Considering the adverse health consequences of the pandemic, both physical and mental, are you seeing an increased interest in wellness travel? The need for wellness travel has certainly increased, but local guidelines are hampering some of the services that customers need. To insist, most spas have had to limit class sizes or cancel some experiences due to local health guidelines. As these are lifted, we believe we will see a marked increase in trips to spa and fitness hotels. In the meantime, customers are on the lookout for great hiking and biking spots. Finally, what will “luxury” travel mean in a post-pandemic world? For some, this means being able to have the privacy that will help protect their families from Covid; but others crave the exact opposite. They want the freedom to appreciate and explore the human relationships that only travel can bring. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. .



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NRA CEO LaPierre reportedly told travel agent to hide certain stops on his private jet flights | Instant News



A travel consultant who testified in the National Rifle Association bankruptcy case said chief executive Wayne LaPierre asked her to omit certain flight stopovers from invoices she sent to the human rights group. firearms for Mr. LaPierre’s private jet trip, a disclosure that NRA lawyers are disputing. keep out of court record. The travel counselor testified, in a video filing released in bankruptcy court Thursday, that some invoices she sent to the NRA omitted stopovers in Nebraska and the Bahamas, at Mr. LaPierre’s request. Some of Mr. LaPierre’s relatives who frequently traveled on private jets paid for by the NRA live in Nebraska. The NRA chief previously said he travels frequently to the Bahamas to stay for free on a 108-foot yacht in the Bahamas with family members, provided by an NRA vendor, for safety reasons. Testimony that Mr LaPierre sought to hide some private jet stops from the NRA’s own accountants could be evidence that he knew what he was doing was wrong and that he was deliberately hiding it, legal experts have said . “If this is true, it appears to be a clear and documented example of misusing NRA assets and covering up this abuse,” said Elizabeth Kingsley, a Washington nonprofit lawyer. .



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New US Airline Avelo Enters Competitive Travel Market | Instant News



A new airline is launched, bringing more competition to a domestic travel market that has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic but has shown signs of recovery in recent months. Avelo Airlines aims to serve smaller airports and routes that big carriers have ignored or left behind. The new airline is expected to operate its first flight at the end of the month, connecting Burbank to Santa Rosa, Calif., And will initially serve 12 airports in the western states. Avelo was designed before the pandemic disrupted the airline industry. After raising $ 125 million from investors in January 2020 – months before air travel came to a virtual halt in the spring – the airline delayed its launch until demand for travel returned. Andrew Levy, managing director of Avelo, said the time is right. The vaccinations sparked a renewed appetite for the holidays. Passenger volumes at U.S. airports are still down 30-40% from pre-pandemic levels, but airports are busier than they have been for more than a year. While public health officials discourage people from taking travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that the risks are low for those who have been fully immunized. The pandemic has forced thousands of businesses across the country to close their doors, but has also created opportunities to open new ones. Entrepreneurs are looking to pounce, as states lift restrictions on business activity, betting that consumers with cash to spend are willing to start spending again. .



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10 countries vaccinated Americans are allowed to travel to – but it won’t be cheap | Instant News



Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may soon turn their immunization documents into a golden ticket for international getaways. Domestic travel has started to rebound in recent weeks, but demand for international travel remains weak. Many countries continue to place restrictions on who can cross their borders amid the coronavirus pandemic, restricting entry to their own citizens or to people performing essential activities. In early April, internet searches for domestic flights were higher than they were at the same time in 2019, according to data from the Hopper travel app. But searches for international flights still lag behind pre-pandemic levels. Currently, only about a third of Hopper searches for flights this summer are for international destinations, with the remaining two-thirds being for travel to the United States. “It’s usually much closer to a 50/50 split in normal years,” said Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper. Don’t Miss: CDC Offers Travel Advice To Vaccinated Americans – But Stops Before Saying It’s Okay To Fly But some countries, in an effort to boost travel demand, have ushered in access easier for people who can show evidence. to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Iceland has taken this to the extreme – tourists are only allowed to visit the island country famous for its hot springs and volcanoes if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or can show documents stating that they previously had the disease and have since recovered. Iceland originally planned to put the new travel rules into effect on March 26, but the country’s government subsequently delayed the policy until April 6. Many other countries, such as Ecuador and Nepal, have taken a different approach to vaccinated travelers. Rather than requiring that they be vaccinated, vaccinated people can instead bypass requirements that they must be tested for COVID-19 before their travel. Thus, border patrols will instead ask for proof of vaccination rather than the results of a COVID-19 test upon entering the country. Which regions are ready to reopen their borders? So far, the list of countries that have relaxed the rules for vaccinated vacationers is short, but travel experts expect it to grow in the near future. “Evidence indicates more countries are relaxing entry requirements – eliminating quarantine / testing rules – for fully vaccinated travelers,” said Jordan Staab, president of SmarterTravel Media, owner of the flight booking website Airfarewatchdog.com. Several companies and organizations are developing “vaccine passports” that could make things easier for international travelers. The International Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, is launching a digital Travel Pass that allows users to upload proof of vaccination or COVID test results to a mobile app. So far, 23 airlines have agreed to test the IATA Travel Pass, including Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines. Among the regions that seem most inclined to relax the rules for those vaccinated is the Caribbean, Staab said. “The Caribbean appears to be the region most open to tourists right now, and this is likely to continue, whether it’s opening up to all tourists or just fully vaccinated tourists,” he noted. Several cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, have announced plans to resume cruises out of Caribbean ports with only fully vaccinated people allowed on board ships. In Europe, politicians from countries like Portugal and Greece, whose economies depend heavily on tourism, have suggested that they plan to allow people vaccinated to travel there. In these cases, however, Americans could still be barred from entry, depending on how the rules are set and whether specific vaccines are required for entry. The vaccine produced by Moderna MRNA, -1.54%, for example, has only received full or emergency authorization in 41 countries, while the vaccines from Pfizer PFE, -0.39% and AstraZeneca AZN, – 1.63% are approved to some extent by 100 countries. Unvaccinated travelers are not without options, however. Many countries have resumed allowing tourists to visit, even though visitors are not yet vaccinated. In these cases, travelers are usually required to take a negative COVID test before their trip, and are sometimes subject to additional testing and a period of self-isolation upon arrival. And some of those countries, like Mexico, may not be inclined to require proof of vaccination for tourists, as these policies could backfire and deter some travelers, especially from the United States. forcing them to have a vaccine to enter the country right now, ”said Bruce Rosenberg, COO of HotelPlanner, a group booking website. “On the contrary, they will say: ‘We are more welcoming and more open’.” United States Embassies, US News and World Report, The Points Guy Some areas of the world are more likely to remain closed to leisure travelers. Most of Western Europe, for example, has maintained very strict policies regarding who can enter their borders amid a wider lockdown context due to the pandemic. And many of the small island countries in the Pacific Ocean have kept borders fully closed amid the pandemic, given the relative lack of medical facilities and how prone they would be to nationwide outbreaks if any. sick people entered their country. Increase as more places resume operations Flight search models suggest that as countries add new policies that encourage vaccinated people to visit, they see a significant increase in interest. After Iceland reopened its borders to vaccinated visitors, there was a 93% increase in searches for flights, according to data from Hopper. And there has been a 77% increase in searches for flights to Portugal after authorities announced plans to welcome tourists returning from the UK. Airlines have significantly reduced the number of flights they operate amid the pandemic to cut costs, and they may be slow to fully resume operations in the event that another increase in COVID-19 cases around the world causes a repeated slowdown in travel. “Reduced capacity, increased demand and a need to recover costs will likely drive up airline ticket prices later this year into the next year,” Staab said. “Airlines will not immediately make 100% of their routes prepandemic, even if demand increases, which means that demand could outweigh supply, and airlines can increase their fares and continue to occupy seats. ” Airlines could even potentially increase prices “to compensate for the need to put in place an infrastructure to verify that passengers are vaccinated,” Staab added. In addition, the rising cost of jet fuel will increase spending by travelers. Airfarewatchdog is currently recommending people book their international travel by the end of May to get lower prices – as well as relaxed limited-time policies for free flight changes for economy fares. At the same time, however, prices could be reduced for other travel expenses, including hotels and activities. “Mexico and the Caribbean are still valuable because they are trying to attract customers to leave the United States,” Rosenberg said, adding that the same philosophy could apply in major European cities that are centers tourism. .



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Airlines are in the air on summer travel schedules | Instant News



See an awesome flight for a summer trip? You can buy it, but it might not be real. As airlines rebuild their schedules in the face of demand fueled by vaccines, they have ditched historical travel data and now plan their schedules in a different way. They load “fictitious” flight schedules into reservation systems six to nine months before departure dates. Then a month or two before the actual flights take off, the carriers will load the actual schedules. Flights with a lot of bookings will indeed take place, and more trips or larger planes can even be added for bookings close to departure. Flights with few advance purchases will be canceled, displacing some customers to other flights. “In my 20 year career, there is only one other time that I have used inbound reservations to plan an airline and that was after the September 11 attacks,” says Brian Znotins, US vice president of network planning and scheduling. “All the airlines have had fictitious schedules there, and then they’re releasing fancy schedules as they get closer to it.” American, United and Delta all say they will be posting their real summer schedules in a few weeks. .



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