Thursday, November 15, 2012

Maui Musts

Every now and then, in between planning worldwide travels for my jetsetting clientele, I take a break and hop a plane to a favorite destination of my own. And, as with my clients, I often choose my destination based on convenience (one nonstop flight under six hours), warm weather, and a comfortable combination of luxury hotels, amazing food, and gorgeous scenery preferably by a beach. Most recently, I chose Maui for a relaxing birthday weekend getaway. Joined by a longtime friend who was also in need of R&R, we headed to Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea .

A popular choice among my clients for its Wailea Beach location, gracious staff and beautiful setting, I also love this 380-room resort for its amazing spa, adults-only Serenity Pool, terrific dining options and wide array of fitness-related activities (everything from yoga on the beach to water work-outs). While my favorite (and lazy) on-site activities include lounging poolside (preferably in one of the new Missoni-designed cabanas at the Serenity Pool) after a long walk on the Wailea Beach Path, a few days on this magical island inspired me to devise my own personal "short list" of Maui Musts:

In no particular order, here are my recommendations on what to do, see, eat while on Maui:

1) Sign up for Surf Lessons with Al at Maui Wave Riders in Kihei. Standing up on a surfboard was on my bucket list for years. If I could do it, pretty sure anyone can with the proper coaching from Al and his Kihei-based team!

2) Stroll through Paia town and you'll quickly see why it's called Maui's "coolest little town".

3) Dine at Mama's Fish House, one of my favorite dining experiences anywhere in the world. Highly recommend any of the fresh fish dishes, coconut lime refreshers to drink and Kula pie for dessert.

4) While staying at Four Seasons Maui, indulge in their amazing health/fitness offerings. My favorites included aqua aerobics in the fountain pool with Brenna; yoga by the sea with Bob; and a cranio sacral massage in the spa with Patricia.

5) Take a scenic drive across the island and head to the stunning Ritz-Carlton Kapalua for lunch by the property's poolside oceanview cafe . Chances are high you'll also fall in love with this beautiful, authentically Hawaiian-styled hotel, so think about combining your Four Seasons Wailea stay next time with a bit of quality time here in quieter Kapalua. (Note: To me, it's the perfect combo and one we recommend often to our clients wanting a diverse experience without island-hopping).

6) Sushi at San Sei is always fun. The original location, opened in 1996, is walking distance from the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua and the other--a few minutes by car from Wailea in Kihei--attract a mix of locals and visitors for traditional and award-winning "new wave" sushi and Japanese dishes. Every client I've ever sent here always raves. The same is true for Mala's Ocean Tavern, overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the heart of Lahaina on Front Street.

7) No trip to Maui is complete without indulging in Shaved Ice. This Hawaiian tradition (think sno-cone but 1000 times better) is the perfect post-surfing or late-night treat. Lots of great spots island-wide but UluLanis original location in the courtyard off Front Street downtown Lahaina is one of the best.

8) Sunset cocktails and live music on the oceanview rooftop deck are two reasons a stop at Mick Fleetwood's on Front Street is a must. Great food, an extensive wine and cocktail list plus incredible views and a fun ambience make this my top choice for Sunday afternoon/evenings in Maui.

As a Preferred Partner of Four Seasons and a STARS agency with Ritz-Carlton, we have exclusive offerings at both properties with best possible rates including breakfast, VIP perks and added amenities ranging from hotel credits to priority upgrades. For more information on planning your own Maui getaway, feel free to email me at

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lots of Cool Things I Learned at Virtuoso Travel Week 2012

Having just returned from the annual Virtuoso Travel Week held at The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, there is no time like the present to share some of the inside scoop I learned about some of my favorite luxury travel companies. Here is my "Short List of Really Cool Things Learned at Virtuoso Week" this Year:

Hotel Hassler in Rome is opening its brand new Penthouse this week. At 3,600 square feet, the hotel's second Penthouse suite has two bedrooms and incredible city views from the terrace.

Delta Airlines
continues to expand and improve its fleet, with flat beds scheduled to be on all international flights by Spring 2013. Wifi also rolling out on all international flights on the same time frame.

The planned $160 million renovation of The Carlton Cannes now slated to start in September 2013, when the hotel will close for a full redo.

Bulgari London Hotel, the city's newest serious luxurious hotel, is fully up and running, having opened just in time for time for the Summer Games.

Hotel Alfonso in Seville has reopened after a nine-month restoration.

Chewton Glen, 35 minutes from the port of Southampton, UK has 12 new Treehouse suites available to book. These cool new suites can sleep up to 2 adults/4 kids.

Virgin Atlantic launches a new daytime flight between New York-JFK and London Heathrow on October 28.

Book three or more nights at the new 45 Park Lane Hotel in London (home to Wolfgang Puck's CUT) and receive complimentary round-trip airport transfers through end of year.

Book a ski vacation at La Sivoliere in Courchevel (ski season is Dec 15-April 15) and skis/boots are complimentary during your stay.

The new spa at the brand new (opened July 1) Castello di Casole in Tuscany opens in November.

Montage Hotels and Resorts plans to open properties in Los Cabos and the Bahamas, and is also looking at opportunities for new hotels in New York City and Miami.

Orient-Express is planning to launch a train between Venice and Copenhagen/Stockholm...

Ritz-Carlton plans to open a new property in Kyoto, next to the River, in 2014. The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo is planning to unveil a new Club Level/room decor next spring.

Mount Nelson, an Orient-Express Hotel in Capetown, is undergoing a full room renovation. The company is also installing WiFi in its African safari camps as well as air-conditioning in the tents.

The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, CA is THE place to go if you want to kick-start a weight-loss/health kick in a beautiful setting.

Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul is now managed by Jumeirah Hotels, the same company that has added hotels in Mallorca, Maldives, Rome & London to its line-up this year.

Mandarin Oriental San Francisco has unveiled its newly redone rooms and will soon launch Brasserie S&P.

Etihad Airlines will be launching non-stop flights between Washington, DC & Abu Dhabi next April. We hear that Los Angeles is likely to be added next.

Israel's hotel scene is heating up:
The Waldorf-Astoria Jerusalem will open in 2013. And, the total redo of the Dan Tel Aviv is now complete and rooms feature a much sleeker, more modern decor.

Food news: Trump Soho in NYC will debut its new sushi restaurant Koi this fall. In Tucson, the main dining room of Canyon Ranch is undergoing a total renovation.

A full renovation is about to begin at Four Seasons Buenos Aires, and will be done by the same designers of Culina at Four Seasons Los Angeles. Look for a new Polo-themed lounge/bar.

Langham Hotels has taken over The Observatory Hotel and rebranded it The Langham Sydney. New beds, in-room wifi are immediate adds with a full room renovation slated for 2013.

The Shangri-La Bosphorus will open in Istanbul in May 2013 and most of the 186 rooms will feature fabulous river views.

The Alpina Gstaad opens December 1 and will feature Megu of NY and a Six Senses Spa (the first in Switzerland!).

The Arafat Park Hyatt Moscow has just completed a total renovation this year, courtesy of designer Tony Chi.

Book a stay at any two Four Seasons properties in Thailand this year and recieve a $300 Four Seasons gift card.

The Park Hyatt Aviara is embarking on a full room renovation and plans to unveil the new rooms by February 2013, along with a new look for the restaurants.

Amangiri Resort
has unveiled its new four-bedroom, $7000/night villa! Also, rates go all-inclusive from Nov-March 15 and include all meals + 2 hikes and complimentary yoga and Pilates.

Post Ranch Inn has 10 new Cliff House rooms with hot tubs on the deck.

Oceania Cruises now has packages available to pre-purchase prior to sailing that include a variety of shore excursions, internet options, drinks.

The new highway from Punta Cana is now open which makes getting to Casa de Campo, much easier! It's now a 40-minute ride instead of several hours.

Aqua Expeditions will expand into Southeast Asia with lxuruy riverboat trips on the Mekong River, beginning January 2014.

Cap Maison in St Lucia offers fantasic honeymoon and wedding packages, as well as a "Peak to Beach" package that combines a stay at Ladera Resort with one in a oceanview suite with pool (pictured) at Cap Maison.

Acqualina Resort in South Florida has unveiled its new family-friendly Italian dining concept and is planning to upgdate its already-perfect suites as well as expand its adults-only pool.

Maroma Resort in Riviera Maya has gone kid-friendly, year-round. Kids 12 and under stay/eat free with parents.

In addition to beautiful cottage suites and a location on one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, Hermitage Bay in Antigua caters to health-conscious guests with its holistic approach and its on-site organic garden, meditation and yoga classes.

Brides Magazine has named Saint Lucia's Jade Mountain Resort the "Number One honeymoon resort" in the Caribbean this year.

The Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach opens December 12, 2012.

Room renovations are complete at Halekulani in Honolulu. Clients enjoy an upgrade at time of booking, two options for full breakfast plus complimentary parking.

For more details on any of the above, or to book a stay and enjoy exclusive VIRTUOSO benefits, contact me via email or phone 310-301-9036.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why I Travel: It's Part of My Job

Would you trust a doctor who didn’t constantly study up on the latest techniques and medications to treat illnesses? How about an accountant who didn’t keep up with the ever-changing tax laws? Of course you wouldn’t! Why then would you book your travel through someone who isn't consistently traveling and visiting the places they recommend to you?

This thought crossed my mind multiple times as I recently hotel-hopped through Bangkok, Hanoi and Hong Kong. While I constantly hear from friends, family, clients, Facebook acquaintances and Twitter followers how much they enjoy following my travels via the photos and comments I post along the way, I never lose sight of the real reason I am globe-trotting: It’s my job!

As the owner of a luxury travel agency with a growing roster of clients expecting me to know everything about everywhere, how can I possibly call myself an expert in my field if I am not continually experiencing the world firsthand? This is how I look at every trip I take, including the one I just returned from in Asia.

To be frank, I knew next to nothing about the brand new “SO” brand of hotels being launched by Sofitel, and I had not been to Bangkok in more than 15 years. These were two perfectly good reasons for me to allocate the time needed to properly revisit this city while getting to know this new brand.

From the moment I walked into the So Bangkok Hotel, after traveling nearly 20 hours, I was reminded why it is I’d made the trip. The uber-stylish, funky lobby is exactly the unique and different style of hotel many of my clients look for when traveling. And they rely on me to recommend such properties to them. Had I not visited this hote, I'd have no way of knowing each suite is equipped with high-tech, user-friendly Apple TV system that allows you to Skype, Facebook or Tweet from the couch or your bed to the chic, clever bath amenities and sleek design touches throughout.

The trip also included a few days at a Sofitel sister property, The Metropole in Hanoi. I’ve booked this hotel many times since it’s truly the best luxury property in Hanoi. I also had never been to Vietnam. Throughout my stay I made mental notes about clients I know will love the original, traditional wing of the 110-year-old Metropole versus the newer Opera wing with its sleek Prestige suites and Club Level lounge. While participating in the hotel’s Vietnamese cooking class, I jotted down thoughts on my foodie clients who I know will love the food in Hanoi as much as I did.

After Hanoi, I opted to add on a few days in Hong Kong as a stopover on my Cathay Pacific flight. It seemed silly to fly through Hong Kong—another city I hadn’t visited in 15 years—without spending a night or two. I got the chance to see firsthand why The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is the perfect hotel for many of my clients seeking understated luxury, impeccable service and a terrific Central Hong Kong location.

Despite the threat of a level 8 typhoon, I took full advantage of my 48 hours in Hong Kong and dined at Cafe Grey at The Upper House. I book this fabulous hotel for many clients seeking a hip, stylish ambience and wonderful service. I also indulged myself with a few treatments at the Landmark Mandarin’s spa, and came home much more relaxed than when I left 10 days earlier. I attribute this to the treatments but also because I am out there doing what I love to do.

Simply put, getting out there and experiencing the places in the world that I recommend to anyone trusting me with their travel plans is simply a requirement of my job.

This column is adapted from one appearing in the July 2012 issue of Agent@Home magazine. For more information, contact me via email and follow my travels on Twitter @EliteTravelGal.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Where are YOU traveling this summer?

Haven't planned your spring or summer travels yet? No worries. You're not alone, judging by the slew of emails I've received recently asking for ideas and help narrowing down the options. Rather than get overwhelmed trying to figure it all out on your own, you can rely on the team at Elite Travel International to cull through the clutter and help you decide where to spend your time & money this summer.

Here are just a few of our top picks. We'll continue to update you here as well as on our Facebook page so be sure to check back frequently for exclusive luxury summer travel offers.

1) Summer in San Diego: Through June 28, the luxurious (and pet-friendly!) Grand Del Mar Hotel (below) is offering a free third night. Home to Addison, SoCal's only Five-Star/Five Diamond restaurant, Grand Del Mar also features one of the top 20 spas according to Forbes. It's a perfect family retreat with a dedicated Explorer's Club as well an Equestrian Center, tennis, golf, waterfall hiking and biking nearby. Our special Virtuoso rates start at $395 and include breakfast plus $50 hotel credit.

2) St Barts Summer Bliss: From June through August, enjoy a complimentary 6th night when booking a five-night stay at uber-romantic Hotel Le Toiny (shown above). The Summer Bliss package starts from 3075Euros for six nights in a junior suite, and includes daily breakfast, airport transfers, welcome cocktails, free WiFi, use of a convertible Smart Car and a beach picnic basket.

3) Tuscan Charm: Thinking about an Italian holiday? Book a stay at the brand new Castello di Casole (opening July 1) before June 30th and enjoy four nights for the price of three from July 1 through December. A 41-room/suite boutique luxury hotel located on a private Tuscan estate/vineyard just 20 minutes from Siena and 45 minutes from Florence, Castello di Casole features a wine cellar-turned-spa, an authentic pizzeria, gorgeous suites & villas plus a slew of activities ranging from cooking lessons to winery tours to Italian language lessons. Our Virtuoso rates include enjoy daily breakfast and guest's choice of a cooking, language or pottery class.

4) Peruvian Adventure: Craving a unique adventure? Consider exploring the Peruvian Amazon aboard Aqua Expeditions'all-inclusive boutique luxury ships and you'll enjoy daily excursions into the Amazon jungle that may include pink dolphin sightings, interaction with the local people and plenty of wildlife viewing (think jaguars, macaws and more). Sailings are three, five or seven days. Fares include all meals, excursions, wine with meals and transferss to/from Iquitos to the vessel. Children over seven are welcome; discounted kids' rates are offered. This experience pairs perfectly with a stay in Lima, a visit to Machu Picchu and my personal Peruvian favorite, Colca Canyon.

5) Big Apple Adventures: Throughout the summer, enjoy a 3rd night free at The Ritz-Carlton, New York, Central Park where our Virtuoso/STARs rates include breakfast, a $100 food/beverage voucher plus customized VIP amenities and priority upgrades. During July and August, our friends at The Chatwal, a Starwood Luxury Collection property, offer a complimentary 4th night including breakfast for two at The Lambs Club.

For more information or additional ideas on where to travel this summer, contact me via email or call 310.979.9036. You can also follow me on twitter @EliteTravelGal

Monday, March 12, 2012

Are You Stuck in a Box?

Below is an adaptation of my latest Agent@Home magazine column which appears today, March 12, 2012 on

Earlier this month, while I served as a panelist at The New York Times Travel Show, I heard an amazing comment that has stuck with me days later. We were discussing the importance of branding yourself as a specialist, and the question came up as to how to describe yourself when asked what you do.

“The problem is many people couldn't find their way out of a box if given a box cutter," said John Peters, senior vice president-digital strategy at Rand McNally. Think about it: Do you have a short answer when someone asks you what you do? If you simply say you're a travel agent, chances are you may lose the person's attention quickly as their perception of a "typical" travel agent may be so very different from what you and I actually do.

I recounted a story during my presentation about how my perception of a "travel agent" growing up was the older lady we used to go visit twice a year to pick up our airline tickets to Florida. She worked in a busy office with others who seemed to be taking orders and printing airline tickets. Obviously, we all know that this is not what we do. But that lingering perception is a tough one to break.

For this reason, I have always held strong to my belief that there is nothing wrong with not having a short answer to what it is I do. I've also been striving to come up with a better term than “luxury travel” when asked what it is that I specialize in. The reason for this is simple: everyone has a very different definition of luxury travel and if I say that this is what I sell then I may risk turning off a potential client who may be prepared to spend a lot of money on travel...but who may not perceive himself as a “luxury traveler.”

As a follow up to a previous column, in which I described the changing demographic of today's “luxury traveler,” I can't stress enough how important it is to brand yourself as the type of travel professional your target clientele will best relate to. And when asked what you do, don't be afraid to follow my lead and say something a little different each time.

Depending on who is asking, sometimes I quote my Twitter profile, which states: “I am the go-to luxury travel planner for high-end business and leisure travelers worldwide.” Lately, I've been saying something more along the lines of: “I book travel for some of the coolest people on the planet.” It's simple, concise and sums up what I do on a daily basis.

This then leads to another conversation in which I can elaborate on the types of trips I specialize in (unique, exotic honeymoons; spare-no-expense celebration trips; pricey family vacations, and high-level executive travel for everyone from Silicon Valley execs to celebrities, TV personalities, Hollywood producers and successful entrepreneurs).

It all comes down to the idea that no matter what your profession, you need to come up with a creative way to position yourself or you will turn off potential clients. You wouldn’t go to a doctor who professed to be the absolute best at everything -- from cardiology to chiropractic care -- so why would you expect clients to trust you if you claim to be all things to all people.

I had an experience this week where a client asked me about a destination I have never been to, and probably will never get to. So instead of pretending that I could help him, I referred him to a fellow travel professional who actually lives in this part of the world. It makes more sense for me to focus on booking high-level, high-profit trips to places in the world I know well than to try to help someone who I know will be a drain on my time and who will cost me more time than I can afford to give.

At the end of the day, in order to gain the trust and the confidence of your clients and potential clients, you need to decide what it is you do best -- and then own it. After that, you need to come up with a creative way to tell the world what it is you do. In my case, I have no problem telling people that I specialize in customizing high-end travel experiences around the globe. This is more than enough for them to hear to know that booking cheap trips to budget hotels is not my area of expertise.

Please be in touch if I can assist with future travel plans....find me on twitter @EliteTravelGal or email me

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Luxury Hotels I LOVED in 2011

Some hotels just do everything right. Or nearly everything. And, as we roll into another busy year of booking luxury travel for some of the coolest people on the planet, I've been reflecting on those properties I personally visited in 2011 that top my list of winners. These are the hotels that have earned a spot on my "top of mind" list, for various reasons ranging from impeccable service to ultra-cool design to impressive renovations to tiny details that wow every time.

There are of course, SO many phenomenal hotels we love, and will add to future lists as we revisit them this year or in the future. But for now, in no particular order, here is my personal Top 10 List of Hotels I Visited & Loved in 2011:

1) Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay
If you watched recent episodes of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills", you got a glimpse of this gorgeous Hawaiian property on lush Lanai. I easily could have stayed a few weeks, working from my oceanview terrace in between phenomenal massages and delicious meals (both here and at sister property, the Lodge at Koele). The General Manager and his entire staff from the sales/marketing team to the reservation directors to housekeeping all go the extra mile for our Preferred Partner clients.

2) Mandarin-Oriental, Barcelona
An amazing location overlooking Passeig de Gracia, sleek/chic rooms and suites (my favorite are those with a private terrace), a fantastic spa, outdoor pool with stunning views, and an uber-friendly staff anxious to share tips about their terrific city are what put this hotel on the top of my list in Barcelona.

3) Montage Deer Valley, Deer Valley Utah
Hands down, this the best new luxury resort to open in the mountains in years. The newest in a trio that already includes favorites in Laguna and Beverly Hills, Montage Deer Valley (pictured) is as much fun in the summer (think amazing hiking, biking, white water rafting) as it is during ski season (the slopeside location is key). A gorgeous spa, terrific dining options, incredible service, and even a billiards room & bowling alley set this resort apart from others in ski country.

4) Hotel Le Bristol, Paris, France
Fresh from a multi-million dollar renovation, this classic Parisian hotel is THE place to stay for impeccable service in a traditional French setting with a modern twist. The new suites (especially those with Eiffel Tower views) are over-the-top, and the city center location is always a draw.

5) Beach Village at Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego
Want your own beach house but not ready to totally commit? No need to, as you can simply book a stay here at Beach Village on the grounds of famous Hotel Del. The only difference is, when you stay at Beach Village, you're literally steps from the sand in your private oceanview residence yet you still get to enjoy the beauty and benefits of the iconic (and newly renovated) Hotel Del.

6) The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Resort, Kapalua, Maui
Every family we booked here this year had the same thing to say: This place is phenomenal! From the awesome views to spacious, family-friendly suites to the delicious cuisine to the friendly staff, it's a winner all around. Personally, I loved the spa/fitness center (especially the yoga classes), the stunning setting and overall vibe of this Hawaiian resort.

7) The Marbella Club, Marbella Spain
I dream about a return visit to this Costa Del Sol beach resort that exceeded all of my expectations, by a lot! Lounging by the oceanfront pool, spending time at the Thalasso Spa and relaxing on my gardenview terrace were highlights of my too-short visit to the only place I'd ever want to stay in Marbella.

8) Acqualina Resort, Sunny Isles, FL
This is truly the example of a resort that gets it right. From the minute you arrive and are welcomed by name to the warm hospitality extended til the minute you leave, coupled with gorgeous (and huge) oceanfront suites, a beautiful spa, fantastic food (delivered to your beach chair if you desire) and a gazillion activities for kids, everyone is easily pleased at Acqualina. Delicious sushi (perfect for a room-service snack) and an Il Mulino on-site are added bonuses I loved!

9) Le Royal Monceau, Paris
The oh-so-chic Royal Monceau hotel is definitely the place to stay for the stylish, fun, "not into cookie cutter hotels" crowd. Everywhere you turn is an unexpected surprise from designer Philippe Starck, but in a good, grown-up way. Lush colors and fabrics blend perfectly with the funky furnishings, and the suites (especially where JLo stayed) are simply gorgeous. The Italian and French restaurants are notable both for their whimsical decor and their sublime cuisine, with incredible service to match.

10) Four Seasons Los Angeles and Four Seasons Westlake Village
This last spot goes to sister properties as they're both on my list of faves for similar reasons: Close to home! An oldie but goodie, Four Seasons LA makes the list after super-impressing me on a "bizcation" I took in my own town last spring. I truly loved every moment of Four Seasons service at its best, and the Sunday brunch remains the best in town. And, having just revisited Four Seasons Westlake, I'll go on record saying it's my favorite spot to "get away" when I don't have time (or the desire) to get on a plane. My perfect 48-hour retreat came complete with spa time (I adore the private spa suites), fitness classes and delicious healthy food in a Zen-inspired, art-filled, pet-friendly setting (they know how to VIP the dogs!).

All of the above properties offer exclusive VIP amenities/perks to Elite Travel International clients, ranging from breakfast-inclusive rates to resort credits to spa treatments, priority upgrades, late check-out and more. For details or to book an upcoming stay at any of my favorites, send me an email or call 310.979.9036.

Friday, January 6, 2012

An Optimistic Take on 2012

While I don't agree with the title "Travel Agents Set to Bounce Back in 2012" of this article written by Adam Leposa, it's always refreshing to read anything that validates what it is we at Elite Travel International do for our clients! I've long believed that even our most tech-savvy and sophisticated clients fully understand and appreciate my expertise and continue to witness how our extensive worldwide connections benefit them as they jetset around the globe. An excerpt of the article is below in case you missed the link on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.

According to Adam Leposa of "Travel agents received a nice Christmas present when the Miami Herald spoke of their successes. The Herald cited a study by Forrester Research that found the number of leisure travelers who enjoyed using the Internet to book travel fell from 53 percent in 2007 to 47 percent in 2010, as well as a survey by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) that showed 44 percent of agents said they had more clients in 2010 than in 2009."

“[Travelers] don’t have hours to spend on research to compare multiple flights, multiple cruises, multiple packages,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Forrester Research, told the Miami Herald. “It’s not unlike doing your taxes. Depending who you are, what your priorities are, there are some people who will choose to do it themselves or to use a professional.”

2011 also garnered increased publicity for travel agents after President Obama made comments implying that the Internet had replaced travel agents, sparking a flurry of counterarguments by industry groups like ASTA that underscored just how important the travel agent industry is.

“Travel agents work as personal advisors to provide their clients with the best travel experience before during and after their trip,” ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar wrote in a letter to the President. “Thanks to their in-depth knowledge, experience and industry connections, travel agents are able not only to save their clients money, but their most valuable possession—their time.”

Looking ahead, organizations from around the industry are forecasting positive trends for 2012. Travel Leaders’ annual Travel Trends Survey shows that over 91 percent of Travel Leaders members expect clients to spend the same or more on travel in 2012 as compared to 2011. The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) in its annual member survey revealed that 75 percent of its members are confident of sales growth in 2012. Finally, in the 2012 Travel-Ticker Traveler Intentions survey of consumers 44 percent of respondents planned to travel more in 2012 than 2011.

For more information on how we can assist with all of your travel needs, email me directly or phone 310.979.9036