Ask Your Local Travel Guru: What’s New on the Travel Industry Wire?

As a travel guru for many years now, I have seen the travel industry wire adapt in so many ways. As you already know, we now live in a world with instant and infinite amounts of information, right at our fingertips. Like everything else, the travel industry has adapted, grown and cultivated a new identity with our present day world of information. Until beaches start disappearing and people can be teleported across continents, there will ALWAYS be the want and need to visit our regular and new destinations.

The travel industry plays a substantial role in the global economy. During 2015, the travel industry wire forecasts global GDP to grow by 3.7% and employment by 2.6%. This demonstrates the sector’s enduring ability to generate economic growth and create jobs at a faster rate than the global economy, which is due to grow by 2.9% in 2015. By the end of 2015, the Travel & Tourism sector will contribute US$7,860 billion, 10% of global GDP, once all direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account. The sector will account for 284 million jobs, 9.5% of total employment, or one in eleven of all jobs on the planet. By 2025, the global travel & tourism sector is projected to contribute 357 million jobs and generate $11.4 Trillion dollars. Ask your favorite travel guru and he will show you the various components all contributing to these massive amounts. Let’s check out what the travel industry wire says:

Hotel Industry

Among all the sub sectors of the travel & tourism industry, Hotels is one of the biggest fragments. The travel industry wire explains that hotels generated a global of $457 billion dollars in 2014. Your travel guru has most likely coordinated a recent trip within the Intercontinental Hotels Group. The company contributed the highest revenues, earning $22.8 billion dollars. In the United States alone, the total revenue within the hotel industry climbed to $163 billion dollars. The majority of tourists visiting the United States of America (65.1%) choose to stay in a hotel, where the average daily is a healthy $121.30.

Aviation industry

Although the major corporations, leading sector, seem to always changing names and planes, the industry cultivated a whopping $783 billion US dollars in 2014. Your travel guru may have whispered about some of the airlines not performing, but the industry continues to grow at rate of 7.4% every year. The travel industry wire indicates that Europeans, Americans, Chinese & Brazilians combine for the highest market contributors.

Cruise Industry

Cruises have steadily become a popular choice of travel the past few years. These are an easy sell for your local travel guru… The luxurious ocean liners, offering food, fun & music for the entire family have created a loyal gathering that continues to grow. Due to the growth rate of 6.55% every year, Cruise lines have postured their company growth strategies, by building larger capacity ships, ship diversification, more local ports and more destinations. The travel industry wire indicates that the average cruise traveler spends approximately $1728.00 every year, with over 22 million people jumping on the floating palace. The cruise industry contributes about $39.6 billion dollars in 2014, and is poised for a solid 6-7% increase.

Online Travel Market

Any travel guru, coupled with the travel industry wire statistics, will tell you that the online travel industry has EXPLODED over the past 5 years and will only continue to skyrocket. As more and more people use smartphones and as these smartphones continue to develop into personal super computers, the more information we have, the more we want. Online travel revenue reached $340 billion dollars back in 2011, worldwide and 39% consisted of American bookings. Obviously, the deluge of data & information has contributed to the online travel industry, but hotels and hotel broker websites have been the main proponents to this boom. As everything turns to online information, bookings, etc… the travel agencies, travel gurus and everyone associated with the industry has jumped in. Rarely do you see a corporation dependent on the travel & tourism industry, that hasn’t adapted to the online market.

The Future of the Travel Industry

The travel & tourism industry is an enormous portion of the global economy and will only continue absorb market share. The travel industry wire explains that the sectors and their respective technologies are developing at a rapid rate, procuring the consumer process into a much easier-and faster encounter. Just ask your favorite travel guru.

Confused With All the Travel Information on the Internet?

There is so much information available on the internet right now regarding travel. There are online travel sites for cruises, hotels, air, trains and any other type of travel. But what is the correct product for you? Is the location of the hotel where you want to be? Is the type of room or cabin the right fit for you? Is that cruise line the one you should be booking? Not all products are created equal nor are the products right for everyone. How do you tell? Contact a travel professional.

Do travel agents exist?

There have been multiple articles, and even the President of the United States, has said travel agents don’t exist or are going away. In a way they are right. Travel agents in the past were just someone who booked a trip for someone who called or came in to the storefront office of a travel agency. Storefront travel agencies are few and far between now a days as most of the “travel agents” have gone home to work. Even the term “travel agent” is going away because what they do now is different than what they did before.

Travel Professionals/Travel Counselors

Travel Agents are now more a counselor and an adviser so they are now called Travel Professionals or Travel Counselor. Even the travel industry is trying to get away from using the term “travel agent”. They no longer just book a trip for someone, they know more than what is available to the traveling client. The travel professionals now are constantly learning, constantly traveling, receiving input from other travel professionals about where they have traveled and are a resource for what is required to travel now a days.

When you use an online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. you aren’t able to have someone protect your back. They book the travel for you and then you are pretty much on your own. Say your flight gets cancelled, who is going to book a replacement flight? You are, not them. If you use a travel professional that travel professional will do it. If something goes wrong on your trip, if the room you booked is not like what you thought it would be, who is going to make it right? A travel professional will also check constantly for price drops before final payment and whether a new promotion offered would be more beneficial than what was booked with a deposit. All these things can be addressed before final payment.

A travel professional works with you from the time you first talk to them until you are home safe and sound and any and all problems have been solved or addressed.

It Costs More to Use a Travel Professional

This is not always true. True, some travel professionals charge fees but not all of them do. This is because some vendors, like airlines and some hotels, don’t pay commission or some of the vendors have decreased the amount of commissions paid to the travel professional. In order to make ends meet, some travel professionals charge fees. I charge $50 per person for airline reservations domestically and $100 for airline reservations internationally. I will also charge a fee sometimes for hotels for the same reason or if I am putting the various sections of the trip together myself. If I book a cruise or a tour, I don’t charge a fee as the vendor pays me a commission. Remember, whether you use a travel professional or not the commission is still being paid as it is automatically included in the price from the vendor. So, why not use a travel professional and avoid the hassle and save your time?

The rules for traveling are constantly changing and it is the travel professional who is able to keep their clients on track with them.

Examples: Passports

For instance, did you know that come January, 2016 you may need a passport to travel by air domestically? This is due to a law called the REAL ID Act. This requires all travelers to have a REAL ID compliant identification that includes all of these fields: full legal name, signature, date of birth, gender, unique identifying number, a principal residence address and a front-facing photograph of the applicant. Unfortunately there are still a handful of states that are non-compliant. Do you know which states are compliant and which aren’t? Your travel professional does. By the way, outright non-compliant states/territories are American Samoa, Louisiana and New Hampshire. The states of Minnesota and New York offer an optional Enhanced ID at a cost, so because it is optional, a large percentage of residents don’t have one. Some states have applied for additional extensions, but it is unclear if those will be granted. Currently, only four states (Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York) and American Samoa are technically non-compliant.

Also, we still don’t know if January 1, 2016 will be the date of the requirement or will it be later? Because of this law, the passport processing time for all will be affected. All the passports issued in 2006 to meet the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that went into effect in 2007 are now expiring, causing a slew of renewals. So, because of those renewals coupled with the possible REAL ID enforcement, passport waits are expected to further increase. As of October 11, the current wait has already increased a week to four to six weeks for standard passports and three weeks for expedited. Expedited in person could be up to eight days based on travel need.

Ultimately the REAL ID Act will require all state-issued drivers’ licenses to include “machine-readable technology” or chips to help keep us safe and secure while traveling. For more information on the REAL ID Act go to http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.

Also, passports are recommended for cruises just like they are required to fly outside of the United States. The reason being is if you do need to fly back to the United States from a foreign port you have a passport to do so. Just because you are on a cruise leaving a United States port, technically you are traveling internationally just as soon as you step on the ship as most ships are registered outside of the United States!

Example: Visas

A travel professional would be able to help you determine if visas are required to travel to where you want to go. If they don’t know for sure, they know where to send you for that information and get confirmation that you do or don’t need one for the type of travel you are taking. For instance, for most cruises if you leave an U.S. port and return to the same U.S. port you probably don’t need a visa to visit the ports. This is called a “closed loop” trip. But, again, most of the cruises. Always double check to see if one is needed.

Example: Travel Insurance

Again, not all travel insurance is created equal. Should you purchase travel insurance? Absolutely!!! I recommend to my clients not to purchase travel insurance, for the most part, from the supplier of the cruise or product. The reason being the coverage is not as comprehensive as third party policies. Travel insurance is not only purchased for travel delays, luggage lost/damage or cancellation protection. Some health insurance companies do not cover you when traveling outside of the United States. Medicare does not. Travel insurance will act as your primary health insurance during your travel, from the time you leave to the time you return to your home. Also, it provides emergency evacuation for health reasons and protects you for other items. Always read the policy and information provided by the issuer of the travel insurance to see what is covered. Your travel professional will know which is a good travel insurance issuer.

Start a Home Travel Business and Profit From the Multi-Billion Dollar Online Travel Industry

Yes, it is true. You can make money online working from home and can actually make a lot of money if you work hard, stay focused and execute. You can build a home travel business and live the Internet lifestyle you always dreamed of by operating an online home travel business. This article will put to rest any misgivings you may have had about starting an online travel business. I will not sugar coat it. In fact much of what I have to say will probably cause an up-roar in some parts of the online travel industry. I am aiming to tell it like it is.

The TRUTH!
Who really Makes Money in Online Travel. The truth is that you can’t really make a lot of money reselling other businesses travel products. This statement is directed towards the home-based travel agent market. Yes, its easy to get started as a home-based travel agent and the online travel agencies can provide you with your own personalized white label branded website, including quality customer support but in the end you are NOT building a business, you are only paying yourself a salary.

Don’t be fooled.

I am amazed at the amount of junk that there is online out there catering to the make money online from home crowd, touting selling travel as the route to freedom and riches. This truth is probably the most important fact anyone will ever tell you if you are just thinking about entering the online travel business. Let me repeat this for you one more time.

It is difficult to become rich and build a company reselling other companies travel products. You can become rich over time by building a business that sells your own uniquely branded travel products. You can get rich and build a business if you “own the travel product.”

Owning the travel product means that you are contracting directly with travel suppliers under your company’s own contracts, you are not just reselling a travel product owned by another travel business, tour operator, travel agency or travel consolidator. Your business creates the travel product by doing deals directly with travel suppliers. Your contracts with the travel suppliers become your businesses own unique inventory for the travel products you will be selling. The new travel product becomes your own brand. Your online travel business sells the travel product directly to consumers online or wholesales it too other travel agencies, travel agents, tour operators and resellers.

The Home based Travel Agent Dilemma.
I know I am opening up a can of worms here by disclosing this information but it’s really the truth. My intent is not to knock anyone down but to provide insight into how the online travel business really works and to show you WHO is really making the money and how you can make real money by deciding from the get go to actually build a business.

Yes, if you want to make $20,000-$50,000 working from home then reselling cruises or popular travel products will be the best option for you but if you want to make real money, six or seven figures and you want to build a business that has real tangible value and can be sold later then you need to develop and sell your own travel products.

The Internet is NOT causing Travel Agencies too shut down.
I believe that the main reason that brick and mortar travel agencies are closing is not because of the Internet but because all they are really doing is reselling other companies travel products. The Internet contributed to the destruction of the traditional brick and mortar travel agency but the biggest factor in the down fall of travel agencies and travel agents in the travel industry is due to the fact that they are not selling anything unique or different from anyone else. It’s really a business model established to fail in the long run.

How do you own your own travel product? You can own your own travel product in two different ways.

1. Your business acts as a travel supplier providing tours, guiding, travel and tourism related activities or you own a lodging property.
2. Your business partners with two or more travel suppliers to resell their individual travel products under a unique package that you own.

What type of Online Travel Business do I need to start where I can own my own travel product, sell packages and build a real business?

-Online Travel Agency
-Online Tour Operator
-Online Tour Guide
-Online Travel Broker
-Receptive Tour Operator
-the Hybrid

Let’s discuss a little about each type. There are many directions you can go.

OTAs or Online Travel Agencies traditionally sell everything underneath the sun; including lodging, air, cars, vacation packages, and much more. On a hierarchy level of all online travel businesses, this would be the most expensive and most challenging type of online business to start. It’s doable don’t get me wrong it would just take much longer and be more expensive to startup.

If you second tier niche and focus on contracting your own lodging deals and contracting with activity suppliers you could easily build a smaller more focused OTA. Another option would be for you to utilize the Global Distribution System (GDS) for air, car and for lodging that you could not contract yourself. I don’t recommend this last option as you’ll be just reselling product you don’t own but as long as you can combine the non-owned GDS products with your own contracted travel products you could create a nice win-win for the bottom line.

Online Tour Operator’s sell dynamically packaged trips and pre-packaged trips to vacationers. I believe building an online tour operator business is your best option at building a successful online travel business.

Now let me first state that the name is a little miss conceiving because of the word “Tour.” There is a big difference from a tour and a trip. On a tour there usually is a tour guide or person leading the tour with the travel participants. On a trip the traveler is traveling by themselves or with other people but there is no tour guide involved. In the travel business they call this a FIT trip, Drive vacation or Fly-Drive package.

I favor selling trips, where the traveler buys a tour or trip product then attends the trip by themselves on their own time. The reason being for this is two parts.

1. You don’t have to be the tour guide and you don’t have to hire one either.
2. You have 100% more freedom by not actually participating in the tour itself. Just think of the time involved of actually going on a tour with a group or individual people.

We operated tours when my wife and I owned the Yellow Breeches House Fly Fishing Lodge and B&B. We ran fly fishing excursions with lodging and guiding. Guess who was one of the guides? Yes, you got it. Yours truly. I would not change the past for anything. I learned so much from being a fly fishing guide and owning a lodging property. I just wouldn’t want to run that type of business again. There are much better travel business models out there. That’s part of the beauty about this report is that I am able to share some true life, realities for you.

Sell Trips not Tours. This is the most important thing I can tell you regarding wanting to live the Internet life style and working from home enjoying the freedom that comes from owning your own online travel company. You won’t be living any Internet lifestyle if every week you are giving tours.

Online Tour Guide’s provide tours to individuals and or groups. If I didn’t scare you off from above that’s ok, the tour guide business is a great business and it’s easy to get started with limited investment. This is a great business to enter the travel business and starting learning about how to build a business.

If you love dealing with people and spending much of your time outside then this is probably the best travel business for you. This is serious work, day-in-and-day-out, as you are always outside in the elements. This travel business could be a stepping-stone for you to then go ahead and build an online tour operator business. I have a really good friend that owns a kayaking guide service. He runs eco-adventures that include island hoping for three to five nights. He just loves it.

Let me share a little strategy with you that will totally change the way you build or grow your existing tour guide business. Hopefully by now you’ll already see it and be way ahead of me but if not here it is.

Create packages for your tour guide business that includes lodging, meals and your guide or tour service. You probably sell trips, guiding and or tours as an hourly or day product. Take the next step and package in lodging and meals and maybe a third activity. Sell packages to your clients and you will super-charge your revenue in a very big way.

Example:
Take an existing kayak guide that sells day trips for $250 for 2 people. Now create overnight packages. Create a new product line for your business.

1. Contract with a lodging supplier to buy lodging for your kayak packages.
2. Contract with two local restaurants to buy dinners for your kayak packages.
3. Sell a 2 night, 1-day kayak excursion, with 2-dinners. Make money off the lodging, dinners and a 3rd activity and you can seriously start adding more profits to your business.

Online Travel Broker – this is a new business category I stumbled upon. I believe this is a type of business you could start with literally no money. It’s just a matter of understanding the travel business. Here is how an online travel broker operates.

Every travel supplier needs sales representatives. Your travel broker business contracts with travel suppliers to represent their business and help them sell more of their travel products. Many smaller travel businesses don’t have sales representatives. This may be your entry into the online travel business industry.

Let’s say you live in a resort town or area and there are 4 golf courses nearby or 3 ski resorts. You represent the travel supplier’s products, finding larger partners and or resellers that would resell or distribute your client’s products. This business is just a matter of finding other travel suppliers that need sales representatives and finding larger companies looking for new travel products to sell and distribute. You make money by earning a percentage of all future sales booked or earn a flat fee per contract you sign. This would be a great way to enter the travel business as a part-time business. You could start with not much investment and build out slowly.

Receptive Tour Operators receive inbound travelers from foreign countries. This is a B2B business (business-to-business). You build an Online Tour Operator business but you don’t sell your travel products directly to consumers or vacationers online, you sell your owned travel products to wholesalers or other tour operators in foreign countries that then resell them directly to travel agencies and the consumers in their country. If you live in a world- renowned destination area or region where foreigners come visit you can build a successful receptive tour operator business. The receptive tour operator business takes longer to develop as the buyers of your travel products will be other travel companies, tour operators and seasoned travel business won’t necessarily want to do business with a company that is new or just in startup mode. Adversity can be overcome though, through focus, determination and having an owned travel product that a wholesaler or foreign tour operator believes he can sell and make money.

The Hybrid – build an Online Tour Operator business that caters to individual vacation travelers. After the business starts selling trips and or tours, start building a Receptive Tour Operator business component.

I hope you have enjoyed a little insight into the world and possibilities of the online travel business and what it will take to start a home travel business.

Travel Pre And Post Internet

Travel Pre Internet:

I’ve been travelling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava.

My thumb, boots, bikes and bangers took me all over Europe and the UK before finding that a charter flight to Spain on an old ‘Connie’ could get me to the beaches and bars a lot quicker and allow more time to enjoy the local travel opportunities by horse and cart and the occasional bus and train.

‘Go West and Prosper’ seemed to be a good idea so instead of taking an 8 hour flight I took an 8 day transatlantic crossing from Tilbury to Montreal on the Stephan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines ensuring that jet lag did not trouble my travel plans. Some years later I crossed the pond again on a ship but this time it was 5 times bigger and I travelled in style on the QE2 and dined in the Queen’s Grill somewhat removed from my earlier experience. I highly recommend ocean voyages but cannot see myself on one of the modern cruise ships going from port to port with constant line-ups to get on and off to buy t-shirts. However, I have done 10 Windjammers and a Star Clipper cruise in the Caribbean which were all memorable (let’s hope Windjammer Barefoot Cruises recover from their woes). But I digress.

I had read that Canada is a spectacular country, from sea to shining sea, and my entrance into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and then heading west in an old Econoline van from the Great Lakes, across the Prairies to the Rocky Mountains before ending up whale watching off of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island was a trip of wonder to a bloke from London. Today the scenery is still spectacular and the best way to go is still by road so rent or buy a car, motorhome or motorbike, take the train or tour bus but remember the maps, a fly rod, good boots and take your time.

My favorite part of Canada / USA for adventure travel has to be Northern BC / Alaska, to hike the Chilkoot Trail in the steps of the goldseekers of 1898. The Northwest Territories to canoe the Nahannie River and the Yukon to drive from Dawson City to Chicken, Alaska. If you like the outdoors and can put up with a few bugs, cast a fly and scale a few hills or drive on endless dirt roads sharing the space with moose, caribou, elk, bears and eagles, then these are the places to put on your list. The pleasures and experiences in driving to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway or to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway or even the Canol Road can only be felt by doing them. I would have mentioned the Alaska Highway but now it is an easy drive unlike the aforementioned.

Today the costs of driving these distances may mean that sharing the journey with others is required, but RVing or simply vanning and camping is a great way to see beyond the horizon. Some enroute adventures now need to be booked in advance whereas when I hiked Denali and the Chilkoot Pass it was just a case of turning up, registering with the local ranger office and heading on out. A little more forward planning is needed for today’s traveller and cost considerations of lengthy flights or drives have to somehow be countered with more careful planning. In the days of reasonable gas prices I would not even consider the driving or flying costs and have driven to Key West from the northwest coast, down the west coast to the Baja and to the west coast from New York. I once even flew my 1946 Fleet taildragger from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back using around 5 gallons an hour of avgas. Before the oil and credit crisis I drove from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, down to Tierra del Fuego and back to Rio covering over 15,000 miles of spectacular scenery and with no consideration about the cost of gas. South America should be on your itinerary too! Some other memorable drives that may now require a mortgage with the gas companies include London to The Nordkapp, Norway, Skippers Canyon in New Zealand and the loneliness of the far north of Australia and the amazing coast of Western Australia stopping by at Monkey Mia and Wave Rock.

We tend to forget that the real cost of travelling is often less today than over the 40 years of my travels. In 1977 my round-trip airfare from Canada to Australia cost over $1700 in 1977 dollars so today it is far cheaper to fly, even with the airlines gouging for fuel, extra baggage, no service and no pleasure. The ‘Big Mac’ method of price comparison as developed by The Economist newspaper gives us a good gauge for most expenditures of today compared to yesterday but my $1500 cost to get a private pilots licence in the 1970’s seems cheap by comparison to today, but obviously not when using this Big Mac principle. Other travel costs are also far cheaper today but this should not mean that travellers should disregard the many methods of saving costs that can then be put to extended or improved travel experiences

Travel Post-Internet:

In my 40 years of travel I have had to use travel agents to make even the simplest of reservations and buy tickets, not even thinking to ask them if they had “been there, done that?” It was just a case of there being no other options to buying travel. Now we have unlimited choices and can seek out better travel agents, better prices, better selections and information about anywhere in the world for our travels – without even leaving home.

The Internet now gives travellers ideas and options of Where to go, When to go, Why to go, What to do, Who to book with and How to save money and offset costs. We can search and find experts for every travel option. If we are comfortable with the Internet we no longer have to go to a travel agent to make reservations and buy tickets except to book with some of the larger travel companies that still produce glossy brochures and offer all inclusive packages or tours that only sell through the agency system. The Internet also allows those of us who are smart enough to know when to seek out a top travel agent with knowledge, experience and expertise (KEE skills) of destinations and activities about where to find them. There is no longer any need to only use our local agents when we can find one somewhere else in the world. When we do not need ‘the knowledge’ and can do it ourselves we simply surf the web so that we can book directly with tour and travel operators wherever we have decided to go.

Some travel agents operate their own tours, some are both wholesale and retail, some limit consumer selection by only selling their ‘preferred’ suppliers and some have professional consultants with years of experience invested in gaining knowledge, experience and expertise and are worth their weight in gold to the savvy traveller. Beware though, as some are also called destination specialists and some of these designations merely require the agent to take a rudimentary test offered by tourism offices, destination marketing groups or even tour operators and in my opinion can harm the reputation of the travel industry. A specialist is not necessarily an expert.

Travel is probably the most used commercial aspect of the Internet and if retail agents want to harness this exciting medium to offer ‘the knowledge’ and their ‘kee’ skills to a global audience, not just their local community, they must embrace the changes that are happening. Travellers now have the ability to seek answers to the 5 W’s of travel and the important ‘How to’ save money and offset costs by having information just a click away.

And then it occurred to me that even internet travel prices often include a commission element even when sold directly to the consumer. If we book directly with operators we should not have to pay full retail prices as we are doing for ourselves what a retail agent would normally do for us. A dilemma for the operator is that to show a both a retail and a cost price option could deter many agents from selling the services as travellers could use an agent for free advice and book directly with the operator to get a ‘net of commission’ price. Obviously this two tier pricing is not often available but travellers who do not need advice should also not be penalized by retail pricing. A new way had to be found and I think I have found it!

The need for fairer fare prices is why I developed the Top Travel Voucher program at The Top Travel Club and I even found a dot com for it. All travel selections on the site are at ‘net of commission’ prices for members who handle there own travel arrangements directly with the operators linked on the club website using our voucher program.

I am inviting travel operators from around the world to join this program, from B&B’s, Motels, Hotels, Luxury Lodges, Eco Resorts, Beach Resorts and Tour and Adventure Operators who want to promote their products and services to travellers who are comfortable with direct bookings and reservations.

I am also inviting Travel Agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of destinations and activities to showcase their skills to a global audience of travellers and to the members of this new travel club. I am leery of ‘specialist agents’ and only want experts to showcase their services.

This opportunity is available to the travel trade at no cost except for them to offer net, wholesale or outlet prices to club members and visitors to the website using top travel vouchers. I believe this program offers fairer fare prices to direct-booking travellers. The operator would normally be paying commission anyway but now travellers get the savings because they make their own arrangements.

The Top Travel Club opened in mid-April 2008 offering thousands of top travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries with around 150 travel operators onboard. Every week we add more travel operators with more choices for members. Currently you can get savings on accommodations, adventure travel, boat charters, culinary tours, hike, bike and dive tours, auto and RV rentals fishing lodges and guides, safaris, vacation rentals, single travel, women only and dude ranches. Members get the vouchers free of charge by paying an annual membership fee and non-members can buy the vouchers on the internet at Top Travel Sites at deeply discounted prices to the face-value. The future growth will include restaurants, travel clothing, travel insurance and the opportunity to access air ticket consolidators who want to deal directly with consumers.

The way I have travelled and the way I see travel is that consumers should have unlimited access to every travel opportunity with the ability to do their own due diligence or to find a professional who can offer quality advice and services at fair prices, and to find all of this without needing endless hours of searching.

To find out more about the new way of cost offsets for travel please go to The Top Travel Club and my apologies for some of the spelling (traveller / traveler) but that is what I was taught. As long as we all understand the meaning, vive le difference!

Why Travel Agents & Tour Operators Need To Focus On Authentic Local Experiences To Stay Competitive

The major elements comprising the generic destination competitiveness model helps to identify the key success factors of destination marketing. Among the many approximate set of indicators used to determine destination competitiveness, local experiences is one of the key points. Elaborate empirical as well as conceptual research points out the relative strengths and weaknesses of different tourism destinations, which can then be used to study the impact of local experiences on the travelers and vice versa.

The discerning travelers of today’s world love exploring unique experiences each destination has to offer and go much beyond staying in the top suite of hotels. Choosing the best dining options and spas has otherwise become passe. No online portal can take you to the hidden nuggets of the destination except the native folks. So, to match up with the millennials’ definition of travel, you need to indulge with the locals which is way beyond any packaged holiday or cookie-cutter options.

Blurring the borders of traditional definition of travel
It’s important for Travel Agents to realize that selling travel is actually selling happiness. Imbuing travel goals based on interaction with local people makes travel more meaningful than ever. Authenticity, simplicity, and culture are the new watchwords driving the growth of the travel tourism sector internationally. The evolution of the whole new travel genre is based entirely on indulging in local experiences. It is not about the best luxury experience but the intrinsic local touch will definitely add magic to the holiday memory. Remember that the most valued luxury is experience.

Present-day culture travelers have moved beyond the familiar environs and revel in the experience in itself. Clearly enough, tourists that like to break the mold are more interactive with local residents. This paradigm shift has not however, completely caught up with everyone yet. The focus of investments still remains on the traditional tourism-related components.

To create a layered travel experience, the hospitality industry is gradually promoting themselves as the portals for the local community. Although that might not be a necessity but local experience will definitely give a competitive advantage.

Blending national culture and heritage into luxury travel tours need careful planning and is bound to enhance tourist’s experience. Getting certified from the government tourism policies which include inter-cultural education policy helps to makes the travel agents’ outset more impressive.

Counter homogenization of the travel experience is the new clause of the tourism authorities. Embracing local cultural tourism will have an impressive lasting impact on travelers with like-minded outlook. Traditional vertical distribution chains among the travel providers has given way to complex value chains and thus in this increasingly competitive marketplace, providers need to seize every opportunity for competitive advantage. Collaborative advantage through local and government partnership is thus a new norm. Local culture and society has become an essential part of tourism value chain. The integrated inter-relationships between travel and other socio-economic sectors are now conceived as a ‘value network’.

Promoting Local Cuisine
Sustainable tourism, which is tantamount to responsible tourism, has been a major concern in the travel industry for the past couple of years. Experiencing the local culture largely contours around the traditional gourmet industry. Trying traditional food completes the cultural experience of the place. Talking of the economic aspect, if you are eating at McDonald’s, instead of benefiting the local community, a major chunk of it leaves the local socio-economic circle. The international traveler’s gang consist majorly the Western tourists and without much doubt, the need for Western food is always higher than the local recipes.

While traveling for a single night’s stay, people might think it not important enough to connect to the local traditions. However, pennies in the pocket of the local cuisine industry help to uplift the local tourism industry on a larger picture. Walking into a McDonald’s or a KFC might fill your tummy but will neither add to the local tourism sector nor enhance your experience. For instance, Vietnamese pho is now a big pull for travelers in Vietnam and when in Costa Rica, do not miss gallo pinto. Building connections with the local folks is not always the only token you get in return but you actually help to build a perception about your nationality as a whole. A country’s heritage is strongly rooted within the memories of the local people and as the old folks say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

Experiential travel – creating a deeper connect
The demand for ‘experiential travel’ is arguably the most significant as well as systematic trend in worldwide tourism. The term typically defines immersive, authentic, local, and more active travel trend. While some travel enthusiasts would like to argue that travel is inherently ‘experiential’ by nature and that the term is overused, the idea is to make it more mainstream. Travel consumer attitude has varied wildly when it comes to local tourism and it is its degree of definition varies widely how the overall trend is approached.

On a deeper emotional and more personal level, people want to travel better at the end of the day. Growing numbers of travelers shying away from the traditional packaged travel brochure is definitely a valid evidence of how local experiences matter for the new age travelers.

Going Social
Relying on technology and global networks of small and individual travel providers, travel brands are offering more connected experiences. Almost infinite online matrix of social media networks keep us connected no matter where we travel. But ironically enough these social networks are gradually isolating people in real life than helping them make closer to human connections. The online sharing portal pair travelers with the local citizen network and offer experience to travel like local.

With packaged tourism losing its appeal among modern day travelers digs the question of what exactly is authentic travel. Consumer data might reveal a section of these answers but tracking social media will give an organic result. For travel brands targeting specific niches, evaluating and adapting to the changing travel behavior is much important.

Tech tools
Undoubtedly, the most influential and dependable tech tool for millennials is the smartphone. Mobile phone location technology has made connection right. On niche apps, review-stuffed maps by Google etc. have made planning for set-piece events easier than ever before. The transparency of peer-to-peer accommodation and transportation services like Airbnb and BlaBlaCar add to the authenticity of the travel experiences and their reviews. The underbelly of a place can only be offered by the natives of the place and thus creates difference in the authenticity of the travel experience.

Large industry players have also chosen to go down to local level. The Instagrammable ideas and images of the less explored destinations is fun in itself. With a series of themed guides and commissioned travel advice by savvy locals has found intense popularity amongst the new age travelers. The aim is for travelers to get a genuine local experience of the destination. Travel Companies can do well to follow the adage – Think global, act local!

Official Tibet Travel Guide – Must-See for Beginners (Part 1)

Climate of Tibet:

1. How’s the climate in Tibet? Is it hot in summer? Is it very cold in winter?

Tibet is in a high plateau, and it belongs to typical downy special climate. Climates are quite different in different areas of Tibet. The eastern Tibet which is at a lower elevation is warmer than western Tibet. In some mountain areas, there are four seasons at the same time in different altitude. The weather in a day varies greatly, too. The night is cold while the day is warm. It spans 12-15 degrees centigrade in a single day.

Climate in southeastern Tibet including Nyingchi and Chamdo is balmy with an average temperature of eight degrees centigrade; while in western Tibet (Shigatse and Nagqu) is quite cold with an average temperature below zero degree.

However in the central area of Tibet, the climate of Lhasa and Tsedang is more favorable for traveling. Travelers can visit these two areas all year around, not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter.

2. How is the road condition in rainy season in Tibet? Need I take any rainproof with me?

The rainy season in Tibet is mainly from June to August and it does have a very bad impact on the roads. However, there are many track maintenance workers and local army would also give help to restore the roads. Generally speaking, it only takes a few hours to make the roads feasible again. As for the rainproof, you are suggested to take raincoat, rain-proof trousers and shoes if you want to trek, climb the mountain or ride a bike. If you have group tours organized by some travel agencies, usually you don’t need to take rainproof with you, because Tibet often rains at night and the weather is quite good in the daytime. Besides, the tourist bus is always along with you.

3. What is the best time to travel to Tibet?

Generally speaking, early April is the beginning of travel season, which lasts to mid-June when a large number of Chinese travelers rush to Tibet for summer holiday. Late June to the end of National Holiday is the peak travel season when some important festivals held in Tibet, like Shoton Festival, Gyantse Dawa Festival and Nagqu horse riding Festival. After mid October, Tibet turns to winter and as the visitors reduce greatly, more than half of hotels are closed for the poor reservation.

As for the best time to travel, it depends on your travel requirement.

1. If you want an extremely cheap price, go to Tibet in winter, from December to next March. All the things are quite cheap; even the tourist sites offer 30-50% discount on entrance fee. Hotels are cheap, too. You can enjoy 5 star hotels with less than 100USD including breakfast. Compared with traveling in August, the cost of a winter tour is only 50%-60% of a summer tour. Because of the poor amount of visitors, the Potala Palace allows you to spend even a whole day in it. Besides, the monks are not busy and have spare time to chat with you.

2. If you like trekking, do it at May or September when the monsoon will never bother you and the weather is balmy and pleasant.

3. If you love Mt.Everest and want to see the clear face of it, try to avoid the rainfall season and foggy weather.

4. If you love to visit the grass land in north Tibet, do the tour in July when the flowers bloom in vast grassland and groups of yak and sheep, Tibetan nomad tents spread all over the grassland.

5. Those who want to drive to Tibet through Sichuan-Tibet highway should avoid the rainy season. There will be mudslides, cave-ins and mire on certain sections of the road, blocking the passage of vehicles.

About high altitude sickness

1. What is high altitude sickness? What’s the symptom of high altitude sickness?

High altitude sickness may occur at high altitudes (over 2700m) due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. It usually occurs following a rapid ascent and can usually be prevented by ascending slowly. Symptoms often manifest themselves six to ten hours after ascent and generally subside in one to two days, but they occasionally develop into the more serious conditions. Common symptoms of high altitude sickness include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance.

2. How to avoid or relieve high altitude sickness?

  1. Keep a good mood, don’t be too excited or be too worried about high altitude sickness. Before visiting Tibet, get as healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically.
  2. Take care of yourself and avoid catching cold before going to Tibet, and not to take shower at the first two days after you are in Lhasa to avoid being cold, or you will easily suffer from altitude sickness under weak physical condition.
  3. Do not drink any alcohol on the first two days when you are in Tibet. Drink plenty of water and eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy.
  4. Do not run, jump or do some taxing jobs at the first two days. Being peaceful and having a good rest are important.
  5. Once you have the symptoms of altitude sickness, take some medicine (it is said that it’s helpful to have some butter tea if you can adapt to the flavor of it) and don’t go higher. Medication and oxygen also help to prevent altitude sickness. Mild altitude sickness symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication and oxygen do not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to a safe altitude!
  6. Oxygen can help you relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness, but do not use it too often in Lhasa while your symptoms of altitude sickness are not serious. If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you should go to the nearest hospital available in the area.
  7. In addition to the normal medications for traveling it is advisable to bring high altitude medication. Seek suggestions from your doctor.
  8. Tell your tour guide quickly if you don’t feel well and follow the guide’s advice.

3. What should I do if I have high altitude sickness after arriving in Tibet?

There are hospitals in many large cities in Tibet. You may adapt to mild high altitude sickness by yourself slowly and you may go to hospital if it is serious. After you have already had high altitude sickness, you should rest well, do not move too much, keep eating, drink some water with black sugar or take some medicine. If the high altitude sickness is pretty severe, you should go to hospital, or descend to some lower places, or leave Lhasa immediately. High altitude sickness shall disappear after you descend to certain altitude and it has no sequel symptoms.

4. Is high altitude sickness more serious if going to Tibet by plane than by train?

Exactly, but both means have their advantages and disadvantages. You are more likely to have high altitude sickness because you don’t have enough time to adapt to the plateau environment gradually if you go by plane. The altitude change is directly from several hundreds meters to more than 3000 meters. While, if you go to Tibet by train, you can adapt your body to the high plateau environment slowly and gradually. Then, you may relieve or avoid high altitude sickness.

5. People with what kind of diseases can not go to Tibet? Do I need physical practice before travelling to Tibet?

People with the following diseases can not travel to Tibet:

  • People with all kinds of organic heart diseases, severe arrhythmia or resting heart rate over 100per minute, high blood pressure II or above, all kinds of blood diseases and cranial vascular diseases.
  • People with chronic respiratory system diseases, medium degree of obstructive pulmonary diseases or above, such as bronchus expansion, emphysema and so on.
  • People with diabetes mellitus which is not controlled properly, hysteria, epilepsia and schizophrenia.
  • People with bad cold, upper respiratory tract infections, and body temperature above 38F or below 38F while the whole body and the respiratory system have obvious symptoms, are not recommended to travel to Tibet until they’re OK.
  • People who were diagnosed to have high altitude pulmonary edema, high altitude cerebral edema, high altitude hypertension with obvious increase of blood pressure, high altitude heart diseases and high altitude polycythemia.
  • High risk pregnant women.

If you are not sure about your body condition, you may have a physical examination. But you are not supposed to do more exercise before going to Tibet, for exercising will give more burdens to your heart and you’ll need more oxygen, which may easily cause high altitude sickness.

6. Why can not people with cold go to Tibet? What should I do if I catch a cold in Tibet?

Your immune system shall be weak if you catch a cold and you may suffer high altitude sickness easily because of it. Besides, severe cold may easily turn to some more serious high altitude diseases, especially pulmonary edema, which is very dangerous. So you are not supposed to travel to Tibet before you get rid of a cold.

While, if you catch a cold in Tibet, things might not be so serious, because your body has already, to some extent, adapt to the plateau environment and you can go to a doctor and take some medicine

Permits & certificates

1. Are there any limitations or restrictions imposed on foreigners to travel to Tibet? How about overseas Chinese, Taiwan Compatriots and Hong Kong and Macao compatriots? How to handle it and how long does it take?

There are some special requirements for foreign travelers to Tibet. Firstly, foreign tourists to Tibet must be organized by travel agencies, with confirmed routes. Secondly, a Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau is indispensable. The Tibet Travel Permit must be obtained before they head to Tibet. What’s more, foreigners are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet by their own, even with the travel permit. They must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide. Tibet travel permit is also required from overseas Chinese and Taiwan Compatriots, while Hong Kong and Macao compatriots can travel to Tibet like other Chinese citizen with valid Home Return Permit. Foreigners, overseas Chinese and Taiwan compatriots can apply for Tibet travel permit from Tibet tourism bureau or certain qualified travel agencies with valid passport (copies), visa (copies) and job certificate. Usually, it can be obtained in one week and 2 to 3 days if you are in urgent need.

2. What is Tibet Entry Permit? How to get a Tibet Entry Permit and what documents are required to get it?

Tibet Entry Permit, also known as Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) Permit or Tibet Visa, is the basic document for foreign travellers to enter into Tibet. No foreign visitor can visit Tibet without holding the Tibet Entry Permit in their hands. Foreign tourists are required to show both their Chinese Visa and Tibet Entry Permit when they change for the boarding passes of flying to Tibet or board trains to Tibet.

Tibet Entry Permit is officially issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, in purpose of restricting the numbers of foreign visitors. With this permit, foreigner tourists can travel in Lhasa region including Lhasa city, Yamdrok Lake, Ganden, Tsurphu, Namtso, Drigung Til and Reting.

Tibet Entry Permit is not available for independent travelers. Foreign travellers have to travel in tour group and ask legitimate travel agency to apply Tibet tour for you.

Documents required:

You can get Tibet entry permit (TTB permit) by sending certain qualified travel agency the first page of your valid passport and a copy of your Chinese visa by fax or by email, and state clearly your occupations (Foreign journalists and diplomats are not allowed to go to Tibet as a tourist). If you are Taiwan Compatriots, send us the copies of your MTP-Mainland Travel Permits or called Taiwan Compatriot Entry Permit/travel document (commonly known as “Tai Bao Zheng”), and tell us your occupations.

If you are the citizens of Hong Kong and Macau SAR, China Re-entry Permit for Hong Kong & Macau Compatriots is enough to travel in Tibet. You are not required to apply for the Tibet Permit.

Pay attention: If you are planning to travel to places officially closed to foreigners in Tibet, an Alien’s Travel Permit is required.

3. What is Alien’s Travel Permit?

Except Tibet Entry Permit, an Alien’s Travel Permit is required if you are planning to travel to places officially closed to foreigners in Tibet, such as Mt. Everest, Rongbuk Monastery, Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasorovar. Alien’s Travel Permit is not needed for places in Lhasa region, towns of Shigatse and Tsetang, or nonstop travel on Friendship Highway.

Alliens’ Travel Permit is required to visit ‘unopened’ areas. Which is issued by the police (Public Security Bureau, “PSB”). Usually you can apply for it once you arrive at Lhasa. For tour groups, our guide will ask you for the passport and TTB permit and submit it to the Foreign Affairs Section of PSB for the Travel Permit. It normally takes several hours and the cost is 50 CNY/person. If you are an individual traveler, you need to join local tours to ‘unopen’ areas, and the local travel agencies will arrange the PSB for you as well. Pay attention, there is no travel agency can provide ‘PSB permit-only’ service.

Notice: If you want to do a Tibet overland tour from Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai or Xinjiang province to Tibet, you must got the PSB permit before your tour starts.

4. Which parts of Tibet are listed as the closed areas?

At present, you have to apply for a Travel Permit if you are planning to visit the following places:Tsedang: Samye Monastery, Tomb of Tibetan King, Trundruk Monastery, YumbulakhangShigatse: Sakya Monastery, Mt. Everest, Rongbuk MonasteryGyangtse: Pelkor Chode Monastery & Kubum StupaNgari Region: Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Tsaparang, Years, etc. Nyingchi Region: Basum-tso, Pomi, Rawo-tso, etc.Chamdo Region: Chamdo, Riwoche, Tengchen, etc.

5. Are there any other certificates and permits may be required in Tibet?

Except Tibet Entry Permit, Alien’s Travel Permit, there are Military Permit, Foreign-affairs permit and other permits which may be required when traveling in Tibet.

Sensitive border are as such as Mt Kailash and eastern Tibet also require a military permit and a foreign-affairs permit. For Tholing and Tsaparang in western Tibet you will also need a permit from the local Cultural Antiquities Department. All these will be arranged by our travel agency one month before you enter Tibet. The Military Permit is issued by troop while the Foreign-affair’s permit is issued by Foreign affairs office in Lhasa. It normally takes 10-15 working days to get them all.

6. How to deal with the visa from Tibet to Nepal? Can I apply for Nepal visa in Lhasa? Is it fast? Shall I be denied?

Nepal has two embassies in China: one is in Beijing and the other is in Lhasa. It is easier and more convenient to handle the Nepal visa in Lhasa as long as you conform to the certain procedures. And there are seldom any cases of denial. But the visa officers don’t work at regular time, so you are recommended to stay several more days in Lhasa to apply for Nepal visa and it is more secured if you handle the visa first after you arrive in Lhasa. The general consulate of Nepal is in Lhasa, near the Norbulinka Park. Normally you can get the visa in the afternoon of the next working day if you submit the application and necessary documents in the morning of the first day. The time to submit document is from 10am to 12am, Monday to Friday. So, you need plan a couple of days in Lhasa to wait the visa. The time to get visa is usually at 4pm, once you get the visa, you can fly to Kathmandu or set out to Zhangmu border by cars or by bus.

To apply for Nepal visa in Lhasa, you need prepare the original passport, 2 passport size copies and complete a form. Your passport must be valid at least for the next 6 months. There are three kinds of visas according to period you plan to stay in Neal, the 15 days, 30 days and the 3 months. If you are going to stay more than 15 days in Nepal, it is better to get the visa in Lhasa, as the border office issued 15 days visa only and it is relatively expensive to extend the visa in Kathmandu or Gorkaha.

You can also get Nepal visa at the border. Not far away from the Friendship Bridge, you can get the arrival visa of 15 days stay at the border office with 25 USD. You need prepare a passport size photo and complete a form as well.

What to Pack:

1. What drugs to take when traveling to Tibet?

In the first few days after arrival in Tibet, you may experience some degree of altitude reaction. Colds, insomnia and digestive disorders are common. Take an adequate supply of any prescription medication you use regularly, including medicine for cold, headache, stomachache, and insect bite, diarrhea and so on, like the Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Antibiotics, throat lozenges, nasal decongestant and vitamins etc. Most over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and anti-diarrheal pills, are available in Lhasa, but are more difficult to obtain outside of urban areas. It is advisable to take anti-altitude sickness drugs to cope with oxygen deficiency. Bring diamox pills which are believed to be able to prevent the altitude sickness effectively. Please consult your doctor prior to your travel to Tibet.

2. What food to take when travelling to Tibet?You may take some chocolate, dried beef, hot pickled mustard tuber, biscuit and other food and snacks you like. You’d better take food with high calorie. You may also take some gum with you, which may help relieve the symptom of syrigmus and headache. When traveling to remote areas of Tibet it is a good idea to pack some food, snacks, and drinking water. It is not always easy to find food or drinkable water in these areas. Water purification equipment, such as hand pump filters, is not necessary, as bottled mineral water and thermoses of boiled water are available everywhere throughout Tibet. Water purification tablets can be useful during trekking. It is a good idea to take a good quality multivitamin to supplement your diet since a supply of vegetables and fruits may not be readily available.

3. The necessary commodities you should take when traveling to Tibet Necessities: sunglasses, hat, sun cream, skin cream, lipstick, long sleeve clothes, sweaters, Passport, visa, money, credit card, camera, film, batteries, toiletries, cosmetics, knife, watch, day bag-pack, big travel bags (soft luggage), water bottle, journal, reading book, writing materials, binoculars, family pictures and snack foods.

4. What kind of clothes and shoes should be taken when traveling to Tibet?

Clothes

The temperatures change greatly on the altiplano. In the north part of Tibet, people wear thick coats all year round (including July and August which are the hottest months in most of the areas in China). The highest temperature is 4-5 degrees centigrade in northern Tibet. It also snows in July and August.

The temperature difference in a single day is big. In Lhasa, the temperature in July arrives at 30 degrees centigrade at daytime, but falls to 10 degrees centigrade at night. Sometimes it will snow or sleet at night, so you’d better take some down garments (those with hats will better), woolen sweaters, warm gloves, warm and wind-proof shoes and socks. Wearing several layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed is the wise choice since temperatures may vary greatly within a single day.

Most hotels in Tibet have no central heating. The air-conditioners in single rooms do not work well in the cold night. In winter, from November to next March, of course you need bring down jackets, warm sweaters, gloves, warm pants, woolen hats. It is very cold in the morning and evening. In summer, wearing a T-shirt in day time but the Jacket is necessary at hotel in the morning and evening.

During the peak tourism season, April, May, September and October, you need to prepare T-shirts, overcoats and jeans, warm sweaters. Besides, frequent rainfall in this season makes waterproof clothing and raingear absolute necessities.

Even in summer, a down coat is necessary for those who are traveling beyond Lhasa and Shigatse into more remote areas such as the Everest Camp. A windbreaker plus a sweater will work nicely for strolling around Lhasa in summer.

Other essentials to pack include four or five pairs of cotton or woolen underwear, four or five pairs of woolen socks, long sleeve cotton or lightweight wool shirts and T-shirts. Women should avoid skirts or dresses.

Also, whenever you visit Tibet, if your plan includes overnight at Everest Base Camp or Namtso Lake, or a several days outdoor trek in mountain area, to keep warm is very important. The winter clothes are a must. However, you do not need to worry too much about clothing, you can buy any kind of clothes you need in Lhasa and clothes is quite cheap.

Shoes

It is very important to have a strong comfortable pair of boots, especially your travel covers remote area and you have to walk for a long distance. For example, if your travel reaches Everest Base Camp, you need to cover 8 km from Rongpuk Monastery to EBC and back. Lightweight boots are fine, but Tibet can be wet and we will do extensive walking, so make sure your shoes fit well and are suitable for cold and puddles. You should also have a pair of comfortable and tough sandals.

5. What certificates and documents should I take with me when I travel to Tibet?

Of course you should take your passport, China visa and Tibet travel permit with you. Or you won’t be allowed not even to get on the plane or the train.

There are overall four documents required for foreign tourists who want to travel freely in Tibet:

Chinese Visa – you can apply for in Chinese Embassy in your country;

Tibet Entry Permit – It is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau and is a must for foreigners entering Tibet;

Travel Permit: It is required when you are planning to travel to the closed areas in Tibet, and you can obtain it after you arrive in Tibet

Military Permit – you have to obtain if you are planning to travel to some military sensitive areas.

The Main Reasons Why People Travel

There are two levels of answers to the question of why people travel. The first is the obvious one, and probably the reason we give ourselves and quote to others. We travel so that we can see sights, experience other cultures, attend events and learn more about the world.

These are exciting reasons. But there are deeper reasons for traveling that have less to do with what we do when we travel, and more to do with what traveling does to us. These five sets of changes to ourselves are at the heart of what makes travel so compelling.

Travel Enriches You, Before, During & After

The anticipation of a trip is almost as stimulating as the trip itself and the memories afterwards. Knowing what you have ahead, and imagining it in detail, lends excitement to life, and relieves the tendency to fall into a workaday rut. The more detailed the image of the trip, the more a future trip will excite you in advance.

During the trip itself, daily life can be intense. Living in these moments fully, and noting everything around you, makes for heightened living. Clearly, this kind of intensified experience is a quality of a style of travel that takes you beyond the bus and out into the streets and squares, landscapes and waterways, of the places you are visiting. Independent travel is a world apart from “contained” travel.

Travel Broadens Your View of the World

Through travel you gain a framework for the history and significant touchstones that brought you to your current life and point in time. Now you are standing in the evil Borgia pope’s office, surrounded by the very walls that contained the man with sufficient power to write a Papal Bull-a mandate-that claimed all the wealth of the Western Hemisphere for Spain and Portugal, and secured it for the next 200 years. As you pause in the spot where that happened, the events and significance come alive with new meaning.

Now you are looking down at the stairs that lead to a tunnel connecting the home of Leonardo da Vinci with the royal palace across street. It was through this tunnel that King Fran├žoise traveled to sit and talk with his genius friend. And now you are in Bayeux, where the French William the Conqueror built his naval vessels to cross the English Channel and claim the throne of England.

Each of these experiences broadens your view of the world and your firsthand sense of time and place.

Travel Makes You More Vibrant and Interesting

Travel gives you something to look forward to… to prepare for… to study for… and later to share. You will bring home stories. Life can get somewhat monotonous if you let it, particularly after you retire and your work life ends. Anticipation is worth at least as much as the trip itself and the memories that follow the trip.

How much better to have travel stories and observations to share then to have your conversation limited to your latest doctor visits and your frustrations with the weeds in your lawn.

Travel Re-Energizes You

Travel, and the anticipation of travel, recaptures your enthusiasm. You look ahead with excitement instead of experiencing the dulled-over feeling that comes from repetition and routine.

Travel challenges you to be at your most effective and focused level. Comfort zones may be comfortable. But it is good for you to be taken out of your comfort zones regularly. Otherwise, your social skills can begin to atrophy, and your ability to think on your feet and solve problems may decrease due to disuse.

Travel Improves Your Health and Well-Being

Travel gives you a reason to stay healthy. And it keeps you sharp longer! The challenges of travel test your acuity on a daily basis. Travel can be demanding, especially if you are not being “led around by the nose” on a group trip. You know you will need to be on your toes – to be situationally aware – to pay close attention. You will need to walk extensively, including up and down hills and stairs.

Generally by the time you return home from a trip, you will be in better shape than you have been for months, or even years. And if you begin immediately to anticipate another trip ahead, you will have a genuine incentive to keep up these improvements and be ready for the next time.

Changes and Benefits

These changes and benefits to you from travel can become permanent ones. Your life will become punctuated with enrichment, you will think more broadly. You will find yourself incorporating deliberate lifestyle changes learned during travel. You will be more vibrant and interesting as you are periodically re-energized. And you will experience enhanced health and well-being.

All things considered, this makes travel a bargain.

Why Traveling Makes Us More Creative

Traveling is a wonderful hobby for millions of people across the globe. This also provides various advantages to people. Here’s why traveling is important. The ability to move around from one place to the other place is the main virtue one can ever have. All humans and animals have been secured with this ability, but humans are always a step forward. We humans being, have an extraordinary virtue of seeing, experiencing and learning from it, and this is exactly what makes our traveling more satisfying and enriching.

A person who went on a long-distance journey returned home after some years. Till then, his family had either no or very little information regarding his situation and well-being. In some thrilling cases, a person would never return. In despite of all these barriers and difficulties, people traveled; not always because they needed to, but many times, also because they loved to. And why not? Traveling not only takes us to distant lands and explains us with various people, but this also removes the dullness of our lives.

This is certainly very unlucky that some people feel traveling is a sheer waste of time, energy and money. Some also discovery traveling a very boring activity. However, a good majority of people across the world wish traveling, rather than staying inside the partial spaces of their homes. They love to travel to new places, meet new people, as well as see things that they would not find in their homelands. This is a very common attitude that has made tourism, one of the most money-making, commercial sectors in the world.

People travel for different reasons. Some travel for work, others for fun, and some for finding mental peace. Though every person may have his/her own reason to go on a traveling, this is significant to note that traveling, in itself, has some inherent rewards. For one, for some days getting away from everyday routine is a pleasant change. This not only refreshes one’s body, but also mind and soul. Traveling to a distant place and doing fantastic things that are not thought of otherwise, can refresh a person, who then returns home, ready to take on new and more problematic challenges in life and work. This makes a person forget his worries, problems, preventions, and fears, albeit for some time. This offer him a chance to think wisely and usefully. Traveling also helps to heal; this can mend a broken heart.

For many people, traveling is a way to achieve knowledge, and perhaps, a quest to find answers to their questions. For this, different people prefer to go to faraway and lonely places. For believers, this is a search for God and to gain higher knowledge; for others, this is a search for inner peace. They might or might not find what they are looking for, but such an experience certainly augments their lives.

With people, with their culture, opinions and ideas also travel. When they go from one place to the other place, they are bound to meet people and share their thoughts and experiences with them. This is where the exchange of ideas takes place, and it definitely broadens a person’s outlook. This makes him/her think in a different way, from a different viewpoint. When we speak of cultural influences and exchange, food is one of the important factors. The food habits of people say a lot of things about them. It is very interesting to discover new and unknown ways and values; they really add spice to life.

Traveling also makes lifelong memories. Whether a person travels solo or along with family and friends, the experience certainly gives him/her nice and thrilling stories, which he/she can share with people back home. A good long holiday with loved ones allows him/her to spend some quality time with them, which in turn, benefits to renew and restore relationships and makes very strong one-to-one and family bonds. In fact, traveling away from home and spending time with near and dear one(s) can bring the relationship an entirely new perspective and possibly, people may begin understanding each other in a good way.

Addition to the above, traveling and getting away from our homes allows us to spend some time with our own selves. This makes us subtler and more tolerant towards others. This also makes it easier for us to meet and mingle with various kinds of people, and also explains us to live life to the fullest. Some of them travel from richer countries to poorer ones in pursuit of cheaper medication; some others travel from inferior countries to more developed ones to get the right medication. Medical tourism is today, one of the most essential parts of the travel and tourism sector and more than 50 countries have recognized it as a national industry.

Personal health is what makes travel very important. People here, travel because they don’t have an option in most cases. One might wonder that if a person becomes medical aid only after he reaches his/her destination, what importance does traveling hold in this case? Well, traveling stimulates hope in a person. As a person travels and gets more and more faster to the destination, the hope of getting preserved and living a healthy as well as smooth life ahead goes on increasing. Thus, traveling makes a person more confident towards life. Traveling can therefore be a very enchanting and inspiring experience that may help recover the quality of your life. So, let the travel bug bite you so that you experience the excitement and the serenity of life at the same time, and arise a different person altogether.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler-centricity and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

 

  • full business itinerary details
  • up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
  • transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
  • travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
  • complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
  • currency requirement and conversion rates

 

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are travelling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler-centric can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

Advantages Of Blogs

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Blogs are the simplest from of having websites. It can be also said as the base of a website. It helps you to fulfill your dream of having your own website. In few minutes it will give you professional looking and a running site. Now without giving you boring lecture I am going to tell you advantages of blogs.

The Advantages of blog are:

Blogs are easy to create

Now creating blog has become child’s play. You don’t need any advance and expensive softwares or monkey tricks to create a blog. You just have to sign up to blog providers (Blogger, wordpress, typepad , etc). Then you have to follow just 3 steps i.e. name the blog, Choose template (blog providers will offer you varieties of templates) and start posting.

Blogs are easy to maintain

You don’t need any software to maintain your blog. You can maintain your blog online. After you sign in to your blog account you can create a post, edit post, change blog template, customize your blog and change blog settings easily. If you are anywhere either in hotel in Nepal or other places and if you have internet connection then you can log in to your blog account and can update your blog easily. The blog created in Nepal can be edited from US. Your blog automatically move your newer posts at the top, while archiving older posts by date or topic you don’t have to bother to move your pages around.

Blogs are search Engine Friendly

Since each post of the blog is assigned with different URL address. Each of them will have its own and separate web page. If you care of making good posts focused on a specific topic and carefully choose good keywords describing your posts then it will have more chance of ranking well with search engines. Also blogs trends to be updated regularly, search engines will crawl them easily to their index since search engines prefer fresh posts.

Blogs allows you to interact with your customer base

Blogs allows you to interact you with your customers and to get their feedback. Since blog offers you the option of enabling a comment field to your posts where readers can give you their feedback. It not only makes the visitors come back but also it gives you a great chance to know your customer better.

Blog hosts are for free

You have probably seen in various sites or blog “5 mb web hosting just for $5 per year”. People waste their money doing web hosting. Blogs are free for all. Any people of this world can start blogging in just few minutes. Blog allows you all the features provided as the site. Some more features are also provided by blogs. Not only blogs are free but also you can earn money from blogging.You can display ads many ad agencies and can earn through it. Thinking blogs are free please don’t misuse it.

Blogs gives you unlimited space

Blogs are free and gives you unlimited space. You can make as much number of posts as you like in your blog. It may be thousand or million blog can support it all. Besides this you can upload as much no of videos, images as you like in your blog. Think if single image can be uploaded of size 1024mb then what is the space provided by blog?

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