Apple Vacations suggests you Ask An Agent!

A recent article came out. “9 things Travel Agents won’t tell you”. It was not a supportive article for the Travel Agent community and suggests “buyer beware”. I am here to say to the writer, Anne Roderique-Jones, you got it wrong!!!   I’ll address your 9 points.

#1 – They’re making commission. Well, yes this is true. That is how they are compensated for their expertise. Do you expect them to book your trip, provide first-hand experience, check flights, research, put you in the right resort for your wishes, work with your budget, walk you through the details, procure your tickets, and make dining recommendations and reservations for free? A Travel Agency is a business and they do get compensated for their services. I think that is a “no brainer”.  Any reputable agency will NOT sell you a vacation they do not truly think you will enjoy – no matter what the incentive is out there for them. They want you to be happy, so that you and your friends and family use them again and again. They make a living on repeat business. I challenge you to take the commission an agent makes, and divide it by the time they put into planning your vacation. Would you work for that hourly rate?

#2 – They can’t book all Airlines. WRONG. An agent can book anything. They do not get commission on most airlines, but most agents either book that part as a courtesy since you are booking the rest of the trip with them, or charge an up-front service fee to get you the airline you want.

#3 – They lie about their experience? Most agents I know love to travel. That is why they are in fact an agent. FAM trips are an essential part of the business. Agents jump at the chance to go. Apple Vacations runs them all the time, and they always fill up quickly. Good agents have been to the destinations they sell, multiple times. Agents are also a close community, and if one agent in an office has not been to a location or resort, someone in the office or their network most likely has. They share information (good and bad), details, photos and tips. They also take webinars, go to tradeshows, attend seminars and trainings. To question the integrity of “ALL” Travel Agents is unfair when I continually see so many agents continually traveling and educating themselves mostly on their own dime and time.

#4 – I am not sure why you think agents are inflexible. Call an agency … standard protocol is … what can I help you with, location, dates and are you flexible? Yes, an agent may recommend different departures to save you money, or get you better flights. The bottom line is agents present options. If you are flexible, and the best rate is what you want, let them know.  Again, they are a service industry and if they know a day later may give you a better flight time or price, then take advantage of that knowledge.

#5 – Insurance may not be necessary? I find this to be an irresponsible statement. Trip protection is ALWAYS recommended. We never get complaints from Travel Agents or vacationers that took trip protection and had to cancel for an emergency or unforeseen reason, and got their money back or were able to rebook at a later date. Really, we never received one. However, we have heard from vacationers when something unforeseen did occur and they could not travel. We never want to see anyone lose their hard earned money and we certainly don’t like when customers are unhappy when a trip cannot be changed.  Therefore, we always recommend trip protection. Also, trip protection has numerous benefits in addition to cancellation. It covers you in resort, medical, baggage, trip interruption and unforeseen circumstances. The statement you made would better be phrased “What trip protection is right for this vacation?” as there are many plans available. Any good agent WILL and SHOULD recommend trip protection and will walk you through your options. A vacation is an investment, and like any investment it should be protected.

#6 – Only use an agent for a special occasion trip? Isn’t every vacation a special occasion? If you are spending your hard earned money and taking the time away from work or responsibilities, don’t you deserve the best your money can buy? Please, don’t lower expectations before you even book. A vacation is an event, an experience, and we hope to always not only meet but exceed all of your expectations on every vacation.

#7 – On – Line sites now offer refunds and cancellation policies. This is correct, new DOT rules that came out last year, allow all customers to cancel any flight booked within 24 hours of booking (if the flight was booked more than 7 days prior to departure date). This is a new industry standard no matter where – or how – you book. I also think this is one of the #1 reasons to USE a Travel Agent. They have relationships with airlines, resorts and wholesale companies such as Apple Vacations.  Because of this, they understand the fare classes, room categories and terms & conditions when booking. They are EXPERTS. Lean on their expertise, don’t criticize it.

#8 – They won’t find the best price? Go ahead, challenge them! What do you have to lose?

#9 – Sign up and use a travel rewards club. It’s a good idea to use credit card points, Apple Vacations has a card. But one club or card most likely can’t take care of all your travel needs. I suggest you find a travel agent you like. Get to know them, and let them know you. They will learn your preferences and expectations. If an agent knows what you like, what you don’t, who you typically travel with, when you like to go and what is important to you; they will know what you are looking for in a vacation. When you are ready to travel, they will know what vacation is just right for you!

There are also so many key reasons you SHOULD book with an agency.

There are sometimes unforeseen circumstances that affect your trip. Let’s say you book your trip yourself. You are enjoying this amazing vacation, but in the days before you are about to come home, you find out your home airport is closed due to weather (snow, bad winds, tropical storms) and your flight is cancelled, do you want to enjoy your last days of vacation or do you want to be on hold with an airline for hours and negotiating a last minute rate with the hotel? Travel Agents don’t get a rain or snow day! They are working long into the night, placing calls, researching flights, waiting on hold to assist their clients and get their travel plans back on track.

Do you want to be the first to know about a sale or promo code? Many times Travel Agents get a “sneak peak” to these. Do you want inside tips and personal reviews? Do you want a professional looking out for you and taking care of you? Using their “pull” to get you free upgrades and perks. Making sure you don’t get bumped from a reservation due to a hotel or airline or car overbooking. Making sure you don’t book an impossible connection. Making sure you get proper compensation when vacations do not go as planned. I could go on and on. The bottom line is Anne; I think you placed an unfair stereotype on an industry that does not warrant it. I am sorry if you had a bad experience. I personally know many, many, many, many, many agents who are all hard working, ethical, knowledgeable and professional. They are a true resource when booking your vacation. I’d be happy to recommend one for your next vacation. I am proud to know them, be in the industry with them, and call many of them both colleagues and friends. Go ahead and Ask An Agent when booking your next trip. I know I will!

 

Ask An Agent

A Destination Wedding, is it right for me?

 

So, it’s official, you’re engaged, congratulations!  The next burning question on everyone’s mind is “So when is the big day?”  In your mind you have always wanted a “Destination Wedding” and you are weighing the pros and cons.  Here are some things to consider when making that decision.

Pro.  A Destination Wedding, especially to Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Europe will offer AMAZING picturesque backdrop for your big day.  The ceremony and reception will be truly romantic, unique and beautiful.  The pictures will be spectacular.

Con. You can’t control the weather. You may wind up flying 4 hours away, and still getting married inside in a ballroom or restaurant if the weather does not cooperate.

Pro. You can always take additional photos the next day and take some more interesting “Wedding Shots”. Jump in the pool, stand in the ocean, climb a palm tree. I have seen it all.  A resort makes for unique photos that are fun to shoot.

 Con. Reminder - Don’t ruin anything that has to be returned!

Pro.  It will be a great week or weekend for friends and family to reconnect. A family reunion of sorts, with a wedding to cap it all off.

Con. You can’t expect everyone to make it. A trip may not be in everyone’s  budget, or they may have life and health circumstances that make them unable to travel. You have to accept ahead of time that not everyone will be able to make a Destination Wedding.

Pro.  Your families are all over the country and everyone has to travel.  A Destination Wedding is a perfect meeting place.

Con. You may now also be on your honeymoon with your friends and family.  Make sure you stay a few days longer, or go to a “sister” resort nearby after the wedding for some honeymoon time.

 

Money saving tips for booking your winter vacation

Here are some of our favorite travel tips for keeping you and your family traveling this winter while still keeping your budget intact.

  1. Look for a vacation package – Often times, you’ll get a better deal when you buy a package that includes your airfare, hotel and transfers, and you’ll save your own time by not piecing your vacation together from several different travel sites. Apple Vacations packages can include round-trip air, hotel accommodations, hotel transfers, all meals and drinks and taxes and fees. You’ll know the entire cost of your vacation up front.
  2. Make sure you’re comparing Apples to Apples – most online travel companies do not include hotel transfers, which could add another $100 each way. With Apple Vacations, hotel transfers are always included in international destinations.
  3. All-inclusives are the way to go – today’s all-inclusives have great dining options. A la carte restaurants, room service and your beverages are all included. There won’t be any unexpected bills at check out.
  4. If you know the dates you want to travel or have a particular hotel in mind, buy your vacation as soon as possible. This winter, we are seeing the best dates and hotels selling out already. So while you may have gotten a great last minute deal in year’s past, this winter you may not get your first or second choices unless you book early. Apple Vacations AVOK vacation protection offers a cash-back feature, where if the price of your vacation goes down after purchase, we will refund the difference so you know you’re always getting the best price.
  5. Your time is valuable too – Spend more time on the beach and not in the airport with Apple Vacations’ nonstop vacation flights. This winter, Apple Vacations will have 130 nonstop vacation flights to sunny destinations.
  6. Shop the sales like Apple Vacations SuperSale – Each November, Apple Vacations holds its biggest sale of the year, discounting brand name resorts like Iberostar, Riu, Secrets and Dreams for winter travel dates. SuperSale ends Nov. 22nd.

 

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Don’t worry about trying to schedule your vacation around your favorite NFL team or a big game, instead take an Apple Vacation and Tailgate on the Beach!

 

Former Philadelphia Eagle and FOX broadcaster Hugh Douglas, hosting a tailgate on the beach at Dreams Cancun.

 

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Many resorts recognize the passion of sports fans so they plan special events and

meals around the games. I’ve watched Eagles games from Now Jade, Dreams Tulum and Dreams Cancun and all were a GREAT time!

 

 

Stadium seating for the Big Game!

They set up lounge chairs on or by the beach as your “stadium seating“, a huge movie theatre screen to watch the game, and they serve traditional tailgate snacks and beverages while you watch the game!

 

 

 

It’s a unique experience not to be missed by sports fans! So when booking your next vacation “in season”, make sure to start the search with Now Resorts and Spas and Dreams Resorts and Spas so you can catch the game. Check out the photos of some of the tailgate parties!

 

Are You Ready for Some Football?

 

Tailgating in resort

 

Beach bar ready to go at Now Jade

 

Tailgating in resort

 

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Secrets The Vine Cancun

Secrets The Vine Cancun, Beach Front Hotel Zone Cancun Mexico


Recently, I was able to visit the brand new Secrets The Vine Cancun.  And all I can say is WOW!!!!  They were putting the final touches on the resort when I was there, but I have a few “sneak peak” pictures that I took to share with you of the rooms.

Modern, chic with a South Beach feel.

Overall, I would say my impression of the resort is that it is very modern and elegant and just truly magnificent. It has almost a minimalist feel with every light fixture, sculpture, pillow, towel, desk and chair impeccably placed.

Some of my favorite parts of the hotel to note are the stone fireplace (yes, a fireplace in Cancun) which is a focal point of the main lobby. It’s gorgeous. There is also a boardwalk that guides you through the resort to the most picturesque view from the resort.  It will be “the” place to take your wedding shot, group pic, or romantic photo from this resort. I predict we start seeing pictures from this exact spot popping up on social media as soon as the resort opens. I also LOVED the suites.  I can’t do them justice in writing, but if you don’t feel like leaving the suite, or even getting out of bed, you don’t have to as you can enjoy the stunning views right from bed, the bathtub or the shower.

 

Found on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Secrets The Vine Cancun is located on one of the world's most picturesque beaches, the enticing white sand beaches of the Caribbean Sea. This resort presents 495 graciously appointed guest rooms with private balconies revealing awe-inspiring views of the Caribbean Sea and Laguna Nichupte.

 

 

 

Have a FITcation!

April Wickey has been working for Apple Vacations for, going on twelve years.  She noticed changes to her body from the sedentary work life and was motivated by a friend to hit the gym.  Finding the motivation, April went forth-to the gym-and began the routine of treadmills and weight machines. Feeling the boredom and lack of inspiration in her routine, she noticed the group exercise classes always had participants, and they were working hard.  On a particular evening of fitness class exploration, April and her friend tried the Zumba class, not knowing what to expect.  She says, “I can be a very clumsy person.”   April fell in love with Zumba that night, as she stuttered over her feet while dancing and exercising with strength, laughter and fun.  Right after the first class, she was addicted and began taking many Zumba classes at her gym and watched her body change into feeling more energized, more balanced, and toned through the popular Latin dance sensation.

 

Have a FITcation! You heard it here first, folks! We’ll continue to combine luxury resort travel with your favorite fitness and wellness lifestyles.

Combining April’s admiration for travel and Zumba, she felt others have the same interests.  She thought, “How great would it be to have a Zumba party at a resort!”  April, being the event planner she is, came up with FITcation branding idea after reading Fit Chicks Rule blog, “Take a Fitness STAYcation this summer!”  April knew FITcation was the perfect word for combining fun vacation with fitness formats people love. She introduced the FITcation idea to her managers at Apple Vacations, with plans for the first FITcation to be all about Zumba!  Naturally, the idea was very popular and Apple Vacations launched FITcations.

 

Apple Vacations and Fit Bodies, Inc. visited the new Now Amber Puerto Vallarta and found the facility, staff, accommodations and activities perfect for the event.

April was put into touch with Suzelle Snowden at Fit Bodies, Inc. who specializes in placing fitness professionals at all-inclusive resorts. Suzelle jumped on board to partner with Apple Vacations and provide FITcation events with top-notch fitness and yoga instructors.

 

The next step for April and Apple Vacations was deciding which resort to host the premiere FITcation.  A family resort worthy of showing off was a must!  Staff members of both Apple Vacations and Fit Bodies, Inc. had visited the new Now Amber Puerto Vallarta and found the facility, staff, accommodations and activities perfect for the event. Now Amber is pleasant to work with and a wonderful rate was established with flight from Chicago. 

 

Fit Bodies, Inc. established the teaching team from Suzelle Snowden herself offering yoga and bootcamp classes, Lisa Snowden teaching yoga, Jodi Dody teaching yoga and Zumba plus Barbara Klontz, the ZES (Zumba Education Specialist) with Zumba who conducted the Zumba B1 teacher training on day 3 of the 7 day event. Plans were made for Puerto Vallarta days to be filled with Zumba, yoga, aqua fitness, excursions and great times!  Even secret plans were made for a romantic wedding vow renewal on the beach! 

 

Even secret plans were made for a romantic wedding vow renewal on the beach!

 

Everyone seemed to have a good time taking part in as much vacation time and fitness time as each individual wanted.  Do not miss the sunset from the resort’s lobby. Gorgeous! Popular excursions were the Canopy Tours, Rhythms of the Night, and Dolphin Encounter.  The resort is only a twenty-minute walk to the Puerto Vallarta boardwalk to soak in the culture rich town.  The potential for where FITcation goes next is unlimited!   

Have a FITcation! You heard it here first, folks! We’ll continue to combine luxury resort travel with your favorite fitness and wellness lifestyles.

 

 

Happy 4th of July! Find an Apple Vacation Made in the U.S.A.

I was in Macy’s this winter and a man came up to me and said “point me to the direction of clothes only made in the U.S.A,” that’s all he wanted to buy. The same applies to vacations. Some people want to keep their spending within the U.S. Others simply don’t have the funds for a vacation AND a passport.

I love traveling all over the globe, but for those who want to focus on travel within our beautiful country, this blog is for you. There are a variety of destinations Apple Vacations offers that are within the U.S. that I want to highlight. Imagine the fireworks, cook out’s and celebrations these destinations have to offer!

First up, is one of our most popular destinations and our 50th state – Hawaii. In Hawaii you can relax on just one island, or take a multi-island vacation and discover the unique characteristics of each. There is a perfect Apple Vacation for singles, couples, families, spa vacations, golf vacations and even girls getaways. Apple Vacations offers over 150 of the best hotels and condos on six islands to suit every preference and budget. Look to our Hawaii micro site to find the resort for you.

Hawaii is on my travel list! I can’t wait to go. I keep a book of the articles I read on Hawaii with the places I want to visit, hotels I want to stay at, islands I want to explore, food I want to try, and excursions I want to do. When I am ready to book, I’ll have it all ready.

Puerto Rico is another great choice. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, citizens of the U.S. are not required to carry a passport to enter Puerto Rico. When I was young, I remember my dad taking off each winter for a golf vacation to San Juan with his friends. It always sounded so amazing and exotic. After all, the island is known asthe island of enchantment”. Puerto Rico features world class resorts, championship golf, 300 miles of shoreline, fabulous shops, exciting nightclubs and casinos. The Latin flare in Puerto Rico inspires amazing cuisine as well.

“No Passport Required” is the slogan for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Apple Vacations offers Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas. The U.S. Virgin Islands offer pristine beaches, warm weather, and crystal-clear waters. They are also culturally diverse as residents are literally from everywhere including Africa, England, Holland, Denmark, Spain, France, India and the United States. Visit St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S.Virgin Islands and home to one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. The most visited port in the Caribbean, Charlotte Amalie is known as the shopping mecca of the Caribbean with its winding streets of world-class duty free shops. St. Croix Turtle Beach on Buck’s west end has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic. For a more laid-back vacation, bask in the mesmerizing natural beauty of St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and a short ferry ride from St. Thomas. Two thirds of St. John is designated as a National Park, featuring spectacular trails, secluded coves and dazzling white beaches.

Last but not least, if the beach is not for you, head for the mountains. Apple Vacations offers ski & mountain vacations in 7 regions in 2 countries. Find the perfect one for you here.

Happy 4th of July to everyone!