Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Returns for Travel Agents

From the New York Times

(Click the above link to read the entire article)

Gene Luntz, an artist's representative in Manhattan who flies six to eight times a year for work, is one of the converts.

After years of booking his travel online, through Web sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and, he has gone back to using a travel agent.

Yes, they still exist, those people who until the mid-1990s booked about 75 percent of airline tickets and had as much power as God but then seemed at risk of extinction. In fact, many travel agents -- or travel specialists, as they are now known -- say they have seen an increase in business in the last year or so.

One big reason, they say, is that travelers say they do not have the time or energy to scour the Internet for the best deals. And they crave a personal touch that a disembodied voice in a call center cannot provide. Many of the returning customers offer variations of the tale Mr. Luntz, 60, told.

About two years ago, he said, he bought plane tickets on The day before he was to leave, he caught a vicious cold. He spent hours on the phone, he said, trying to find someone to help him change his flight. But he was unsuccessful and ended up throwing the tickets away. ''Going to the Internet is an absolute nightmare,'' Mr. Luntz said.

That is when he called his former travel agent at the Tzell Travel Group in Manhattan. ''She's available for phone calls. She returns calls,'' he said. ''They take really good care of me, despite the fact that I'm not General Motors. The most amazing thing is that for the price of a Starbucks coffee for my girlfriend and me, I have someone on the other end that can help me, as opposed to a Web site that can give me no response.''

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Step aside New Coke....Our prediction is that rebranding Marshall Fields as Macys will be soon be studied as one the greatest corporate blunders yet

What can you say? Here we are a year later after Macy's re-branded hundreds of regional department stores, including Chicago's beloved Marshall Fields, and the fields fans protest web site is still going strong.

The numbers are rather remarkable:

"Since last fall, Field's Fans have so far distributed over 66,000 leaflets on State Street, at civic events and elsewhere reminding Chicagoans that Field's can indeed come back as the result of a sustained customer boycott of Macy's. Over 63,000 lapel stickers and pin-on buttons that say "Keep It Marshall Field's," "Marshall Field's Forever, " and "I Want My Marshall Field's" have been distributed to Field's Fans worldwide. Thousands of bumper stickers that say "Field's Is Chicago/Boycott Macy's" have also been distributed. These activities have received international media attention, with coverage by Reuters, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Post, CBS Sunday Morning, WGN, National Public Radio, Chicago Public Radio, the local and national television news reports of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, and more."

Their blog is really a great read. Macy's certainly underestimated the impact of eliminating the Marshall Fields name. And it now appears the movement has moved nation wide with particular disdain for the newly branded Macy stores found in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Florida, and Boston. Just read the comments from an ever growing list of nation-wide postings who are not afraid to vent their frustrations with the changes made to their department stores by Macys.

Our prediction is that this Christmas will be the final nail in the coffin for the re-branded Macy stores, especially in Chicago. The CEO will finally run out of seems to be the primary reason, while competitors post sales blame for falling sales and Wall Street will finally demand a change. Macy's share price has dropped more than 20% this year. Changes to the better are in the future. Any department store that kindles this kind of affection deserves to be resurrected.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cruising with a purpose...a great way to raise funds for your non profit organization

Charity fund raising programs with Planet Travel offer donors so much more than a candy bar or candles from a catalogue. Capable of generating a significant amount of money for your non-profit organization, charity, church or school, Planet Travel Cruising with a purpose is an innovative approach to getting people to support your organization financially by giving them something very special in return - a truly unbeatable deal on a cruise vacation and memories to last a lifetime.

Charity Fund Raising Cruises - How it Works

Through Planet Travel, in cooperation with several major cruise lines in the industry, organizations can plan the best charity fund raising event ever seen in their community. And the best part is, Planet Travel does all the work for you. We'll negotiate the deal with the cruise lines, help figure out the best scenario for your group financially and organize all of the details. All you have to do is decide which one of the gorgeous ships you wish to board and which amazing destinations you wish to call upon.

Our mission is to provide top quality cruises for non-profit entities and to give those organizations an opportunity to raise funds for worthy causes world-wide and to also empower them to create enriching memories of fun and fellowship for their members.

Charity Fund Raising Cruises - Group Deals

The cruises offered through Planet Travel charity fund raising are in fact the best deals around because of the savings you receive from booking with the group. A portion of that cost is set aside for your group and some cruise lines will actually match your total donations allowing you to make twice what you would raise in other programs. For example, if your group booked an 8-day Caribbean cruise and your donation portion per passenger was set at $35, Carnival Cruise Line would match that $35 and virtually double your funds.

Charity Fund Raising Cruises - Event-full or Laid-back

Make what you want out of this charity fund raising opportunity. Plan events for every night onboard, just one evening of events or more of a freestyle, "you're on your own" cruise that is free of obligation. Whatever you decide, people will enjoy the savings they receive and will most likely remember the experience forever. Perhaps, they might even rally to do it again the following year!

Charity Fund Raising Cruises - Destinations

Your charity fund raising group will choose from a variety of world-wide destinations including the coral reefs and pristine beaches of the Grand Cayman, or the ancient Mayan ruins of Cozumel or the inspiring wildlife in Alaska. And the shore excursions available on cruises are equally thrilling with everything from scuba and snorkeling to sport fishing or river rafting. Our Cruise Specialists are knowledgeable and extremely helpful in choosing destinations for your organization. You can also customize private shore excursions as well.

Charity Fund Raising Cruises - More Information

The best part about this avenue of charity fund raising is that our Group Cruise Specialists will do all the work for you, handling deposits, reservations, payments and travel documents. Please give us a call for more information on this innovative alternative or see our website for more information about Cruising with a purpose.

Monday, October 15, 2007

JAMAICA | Indulging in an all-inclusive resort on Caribbean island makes for an enjoyable vacation

A positive review of the Grand Lido Negril Resort from the Chicago Sun Times. Enjoy Extreme Savings of up to 65% at Grand Lido Resorts & Spas at our travel insiders all inclusive wed site for travel up to December 20.

link to Planet Travel's All Inclusive Vacations web site

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our free gambling guide....another reason to book your next Las Vegas vacation with Planet Travel

If you are headed to Las Vegas you may be interested in testing your luck while you are there. Clients who book their vacations with Planet Travel will receive a free copy of our "Insider's Guide to Gambling in Las Vegas...Evening the Odds with the Casino."

It is a $19.95 value and it is yours free.

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Higher denomination machines have a higher payback. You should therefore play higher denomination machines. Wrong. We will explain why downgrading is one of the best moves you can make in a casino.

What is the best system to beat the slots?

Should you play progressive slot machines?

Why playing craps may be your best bet at the casinos.

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Our own reports about gambling and what we found that worked and what didn't.

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We searched for the best advice we could find about today's high tech gambling world and condensed it in this free report. No hype. No crazy systems. Just good information.

It is yours free when you book your next Las Vegas Vacation with Planet Travel.

link to Planet Travel's Las Vegas connection

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Update On Passport Requirements

By many accounts, a meltdown in processing that held up passports for thousands of Americans earlier this year has eased. But new delays might be on the horizon. Here is an update from the Chicago Tribune.