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Sailboat on Lake Cayuga. Photo from Ithaca CVB

Sailboat on Lake Cayuga. Photo from Ithaca CVB

Back in late February, we chronicled the saga of how Ithaca, New York, travel marketers won worldwide publicity by urging potential visitors to go to sunny Key West instead of coming to frigid Ithaca.

The brutal subzero winter temperatures and constant snows in upstate New York had just gotten to be too much, and the local Convention & Visitor’s Bureau website blared, “We surrender!” Visitors were urged to return in warmer weather to enjoy Ithaca’s waterfalls, wineries, gorges and cultural attractions.

After that story went viral, the seemingly counter-intuitive result was hundreds of thousands of VisitIthaca website hits and countless phone callers and online chatters wanting to know more about Ithaca — home to Cornell University and, indeed, a great place to visit when you aren’t in imminent danger of contracting frostbite. (I should point out, though, that for many… Continue reading

A Galapagos iguana, best seen on a stress-free guided trip. Photo by Clark Norton

A Galapagos iguana, best seen on a stress-free guided trip. Photo by Clark Norton

Do you come back from vacation more stressed out than when you left?

Based on a survey of world travelers by author Shawn Achor and “happiness researcher” Michelle Gieland from the Institute of Applied Positive Research, “poorly planned and stressful vacations eliminate the positive benefit of time away,” as Achor recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

(See my previous post on travel and happiness for more detail on these findings.)

Achor contends there are four main ingredients that you should add to your vacation mix to result in a happy travel experience:

* “Focus on the details”: Nearly three quarters of travelers found the most stressful part of travel to be “figuring out the details,” according to Achor. “Travel uncertainty, transportation, wasting time figuring things out on the trip, and being unfamiliar with the location”… Continue reading

Boomers -- especially boomer women -- book more travel online than any other group. Photo from Adventure Women

Boomers — especially boomer women — book more travel online than any other group. Photo from Adventure Women

I’ve come across some statistics that should of interest to any travel marketers who wonder whether to reach out to women, boomers — and boomer women in particular.

In a previous post, I wrote about how boomer women spend the most money on travel.

Now, new findings show that if you’re basing a travel marketing campaign on social media, it pays to aim it toward women. 

With the exception of Linked In, where the majority of users are men, women dominate social media in the U.S., according to findings published at FinancesOnline.com (compiled from reports by the Pew Research Center and others).

Here are the stats: about three-quarters of adult women in the U.S. use Facebook, compared to two-thirds of the adult men.

For Pinterest, women outnumber men 33 percent… Continue reading

New York's LaGuardia Airport -- sometimes saving money just isn't worth it.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport — sometimes saving money just isn’t worth it.

Booking airplane flights these days is one of the most confusing and potentially aggravating of all travel activities, which is why a lot of folks just leave it to travel agents.

But since I can do it myself online, I do. Just like millions of other passengers — including lots of baby boomers — I like the sense of control.

But how much control do we really have? Dotcom sites like kayak, skyscanner, priceline, hotwire, Expedia, Orbitz, CheapoAir, etc. etc. will all give you a range of prices, but they’re only good for that particular time — they can change (often drastically) day by day, hour by hour, even minute by minute.

Sometimes you find a great fare only to learn a few minutes later that it’s sold out — but wouldn’t you like to book this other… Continue reading

Travel seminars were popular at the New York Times Travel Show held Feb. 28-March 2, 2014, at the Javits Center.

Travel seminars were popular at the New York Times Travel Show held Feb. 28-March 2, 2014, at the Javits Center.

The keynote panel on travel industry trade day at the New York Times Travel Show in Manhattan this past weekend was made up of travel agents and their representatives, and they had one plea to the public: We haven’t gone away!

Apparently a good percentage of the public thinks travel agents have gone the way of the dinosaurs or at least print newsweeklies, on the seriously endangered list.

Stark statistics were presented: while use of traditional travel agents for booking trips is up 18 percent over the past three years, only 13 percent of the public uses them to book leisure trips, and only 16 percent use them on the business side.

The Internet, of course, is the culprit, encroaching more and more on travel agent territory since the late… Continue reading

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas should wow cruisers with its

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas should wow cruisers with its “virtual balconies” offering sea views to occupants of inside cabins. Photo from Daily Telegraph.

At the “What’s New in the Cruising World” industry trade seminar at the New York Times Travel Show in Manhattan this weekend, representatives from six major mainstream and premium cruise lines talked up some innovations that cruisers can expect to find on their latest ships in 2014.

The six did their best to try to wow travel agents (and some from the media) and get them fired up to sell and promote the new cruise season, which should be of interest to many cruise-loving baby boomers — and to some new cruise converts as well.

The innovation that impressed me most was Royal Caribbean’s “virtual balcony,” coming to its Quantum of the Seas ship scheduled to debut later this year.

What’s a “virtual balcony?” Well,… Continue reading

Ryanair is not known for its comfort, but at these prices...photo from Alamy

Ryanair is not known for its comfort, but at these prices…photo from Alamy

British newspapers and travel trade publications are all abuzz with the news that the CEO of Ryanair, the cut-rate European airline, plans to offer flights to New York and Boston from  a number of European cities for prices as low as 10 euros per seat.

That’s about U.S.$13.70 by today’s exchange rates. Flights back to Europe would cost even less, about U.S.$10.

Not bad. Of course, there are some caveats.

First, Ryanair will have to buy up to 50 long-haul aircraft to make the flights worthwhile, and that could take several years.

Second, not all the seats on the plane would be that cheap. “There will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats,” the CEO, Michael O’Leary, told the Irish Hotels Federation in Meath, Ireland, where he made the announcement.… Continue reading

Boomers are willing to spend to take experiential trips such as walking tours in Ireland. Photo from Walking the World

Boomers are willing to spend to take experiential trips such as walking tours in Ireland. Photo from Walking the World

While travel industry advertisers continue to pursue the Millennial market — perfectly reasonable, considering that the Millennial generation is the future — it makes no sense to overlook the currently booming baby boomer travel market.

Here are some statistics — gathered from both government and private research surveys — to ponder if you think boomers (now aged 50-68) are over the hill, travel-wise, and are largely staying at home, maybe watching TV or tending their flower gardens:

* Adults over age 50 account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel in America

* Adults 55 and older spend half of all vacation dollars in the U.S.

* Baby boomers make most of their major purchases, including big-ticket travel items, over the Internet, and spend two hours… Continue reading

Vilnius, Lithuania -- if you leave tomorrow, you can get a great deal on a flight there via Kayak.com.

Vilnius, Lithuania — if you leave tomorrow, you can get a great deal on a flight there via Kayak.com.

Whenever I book a plane flight, I always turn first to the website Kayak.com, which displays an array of choices from a wide variety of airlines, and allows you to sort by price, airline, preferred takeoff or landing times, and flight duration.

You can also compare Kayak’s findings against different sites like Priceline, Hotwire and Expedia, so you get a pretty complete picture of what’s out there before you book. And Kayak lets you compare hotel and rental car offerings as well.

But when I went to the site yesterday, I noticed something new — at least new to me.

It’s a feature called “Explore,” which shows you “where you can go for how much.” That is, you can see the lowest fares for round-trip economy-class flights to destinations around the… Continue reading

A boat sails through Qutang Gorge, one of the fabled Three Gorges, along China's Yangtze River. Photo by Liu Liqun/ChinaStock.

A boat sails through Qutang Gorge, one of the fabled Three Gorges, along China’s Yangtze River. Photo by Liu Liqun/ChinaStock.

River cruising has been one of our big topics recently, and for good reason: it’s the hottest segment of the cruising market, and it’s become a global craze, especially popular among baby boomers.

Asia is one of river cruising’s new hotspots, and while China’s Yangtze River cruises have been around for a while,  it’s hard to think of a better way to experience the country than cruising through China’s heartland, with visits to Shanghai and Beijing on either end of a nine-day river voyage.

Pacific Delight Tours, one of America’s leading tour operators to China, has just announced a two-week all-inclusive package that includes those three highlights — as well as transpacific airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco to boot (airfare from JFK in New York will… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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