Cool things to do in Florida this Summer

Cool Things To Do in Florida This Summer Florida is a popular holiday spot every year for both visitors at home and abroad. However, it’s always those well-known spots that get the most mentions when it comes to top places to visit on a stay in the area. If you’re looking to explore Florida and make the most of your trip to the state, there are a range of exciting and interesting activities to sample that offer you lasting memories of your vacation.

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TAG

TAG is an award-winning, independent global travel and event management company. TAG’s specialist business units: Corporate, Touring, Events, Private Travel, & Film and Media – tailor travel and events for high-end corporations, VIP individuals and luxury travellers.

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Hospitality Management

Age of Digital Concierge: Hotel Chatbots Are Redefining CX

Article | July 24, 2023

The travel industry is reviving. Tourist spots across the globe are packed with excited explorers. Though it feels like everything is going back to normal, the way people travel has changed. The hospitality tech revolution is making mundane tasks easier and the customer experience richer. Most travelers prefer self-service over waiting to be served. Online planning and bookings have picked up pace, so have contact-less check-in and 24/7 digital concierge. Hotels must swiftly meet these evolving demands or risk losing in the race. They must incorporate technology into their day-to-day operations to eliminate human error, increase their service efficiency, and, above all, offer an outstanding customer experience. One of the technology trends reshaping the travel and hospitality industry is digital concierge—hotel chatbots that bring the concierge desk into the palm of a guest’s hand. Convenient, right? A Sneak Peak into Hotel Chatbots Hotel chatbots are software applications that communicate with your hotel’s website page visitors and resolve their queries. They are either programmed to behave a certain way or can be AI-powered. Programmed chatbots are configured to answer a limited set of questions. However, they can collect visitor information so your customer executives can get in touch with prospects to resolve their queries or provide them with booking assistance. On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots use NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning) to analye human behaviour and accordingly answer questions. Digital Concierge Brings in Conversions Personalized communication forms the crux of customer experience. A desired, non-intrusive interaction between a guest and a chat bot can create strong engagement and help the guest to make a booking at your hotel. In such cases, the bot will forward the booking inquiries directly into the IBE (Internet Booking Engine) and strengthen your direct sales. 30-50% of the chatbot-prospect interactions result in IBE forwarding of booking inquiries. This statistic shows how accepting the guests are of the chatbot’s services. (Source: DialogShift, Olga Heuser) Chatbots can also be integrated into social media platforms and instant messenger platforms so that guests can directly make bookings from a platform of their choice. How are Hotel Chatbots Redefining CX? Apart from bringing in revenue through direct sales, hotel chatbots also create a solid customer experience for the guests, so they don’t go home unsatisfied and give you a good review online. Here are the ways in which they enhance the customer experience: 24/7 Availability- Chatbots promptly respond to guest queries round the clock Multi-Lingual Support- Languages are not a barrier for them Efficiency- They lighten your hotel staff’s load of answering guest queries Customer Retention- They collect guest information, which helps in retention and follow-up Brand Awareness- They are brand representatives and increase brand awareness through responsiveness Additionally, AI- powered chatbots can also: Highlight the hotel’s special features upon check-in Recommend places and activities to do around the hotel with pictures and links Request feedback from guests about services Assist with table reservations or pool-side orders The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Used Rose to Impress Guests The introduction of Rose, a smart chatbot that converses with guests on The Cosmopolitan’s website, changed the game for the hotel. The bot’s playful personality wooed hotel guests. Those who made a booking directly from the website ended up spending 37% more than those who did not engage with her. Let’s Wrap It Up A hotel chatbot refines the concierge experience for guests through rapid response times and enhances your hotel’s AI marketing efforts. It can be an invaluable asset for hotel business owners looking to stay ahead in the race.

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Hospitality Management

Why Working in Hotel Management is a Nightmare!

Article | July 18, 2023

If a kid comes to me nowadays and tells me about his passion for working in the hotel industry, he goes back home with a dream to become a pilot. I am not saying that the hotel industry is the worst kind of industry currently existing in today’s environment, but I am also not denying that. Now, no offence to the hoteliers. You guys rock! It is no joke to work on a New Year Eve and see other people celebrating it while you guys make it happen. You have my respect! But I am probably not that tough. It took me a whole trial and error approach to declare this industry a nightmare for me. But I have so many of my friends still working in hotels and loving every second of their life. (At least that’s what they tell me.) So why were our experiences so different? Why do I know that so many people are not really made for this industry? And what does it take to be a hotelier? I will try to answer these questions through my experience and observations. Why Hotel Management? It is that one question that is the most common and important one. Before taking any big decision, one should be asking a similar question. But what was my why? Allow me to rewind my journey. I was in my 12th with commerce stream, and I was going through that self-enquiry phase. What after this? There was no 13th, nor did I enjoy accountancy too much to do it until I die. So I used to surf the internet and explore different career options almost every day. That was one of my significant hobbies during that time. I used to evaluate my choices, and very soon I understood that I had limited options in the commerce field. So it was arts then? But what was the median salary in that sector? After a lot of research, I realised the median salary in the arts sector was ‘disappointing’. But still, if not that, then what? What was I going to do with my life? It was then that I saw the picture of a cruise ship and remembered 'Titanic'. It was then that I imagined the luxury of a 5-star hotel. It was that moment where I was about to make one of the stupidest decisions of my life. I had never stepped into a kitchen nor showed the slightest interest in making any dish. I never really fancied cleaning glasses, nor did I like managing people under me. I also didn’t know absolutely anything about what was this industry all about. But I dared to share it with my sister, and she was like, wow! It sounds so different! I told this to my friends, and they were like, wow! We always knew you would be doing something different! I told this to my father, and he told me students have to clean toilets during the internship, and I shouted, ‘But that’s not a big deal! Anyone can do that!’ Dad said, ‘Do whatever you want to do then, my son.’ Well, so what did I want apart from freedom in my life at that point? Maybe maturity? Oh! Screw that! So I gave the entrance exam and got a decent rank. I desired to stand in the lobby of a 5-star-hotel and meet salacious women. I was pretty sure that many women would choose that industry apart from me. That was enough motivation! So yes, my reasons to choose the hotel industry was very logical and thoughtful, suffice to say. What Happens in a Hotel? The hotel industry is one of the most glamorous industries out there. Everything is so clean, eloquent, expensive, and pretty. People come to a 5-star hotel, are warmly welcomed, served drinks; they are provided comfortable beds to sleep in, and they enjoy their stay and endless services. Then they simply check out. My only mistake while considering this option was that I wouldn’t be treated like one of those ‘People’ there. In our very first lecture, the term ‘Guest’ was taught to us and how we are not them. We are the ones who would serve them. We would be the waiters, the cooks, the greeters, the bartenders, etc. We wouldn’t be drinking with them but watching them while they would be cavorting. That was a shocker! So many things happen in a hotel, and hoteliers make those things happen. They do all the hard work. The Bakery Chef would spend hours decorating the cake, which the guests would smash on each other's faces. The housekeeper would clean the bathtub while the guest would take five more baths after that. The front desk agent would be greeting the guest during check-in, and the guest would throw tantrums because of his arduous journey. Suddenly my bubble broke, and I realised what I really signed for. I signed for an everyday vacation in hell. Who Survives? I think adulthood is about that realisation when you get to know that bread isn’t free. And what buys that bread isn’t that easy to get. And how much that thing matters to you is going to decide how happy you are going to be in your life. If I was that guy who had grown up watching Masterchef and experimenting in the Kitchen all my life, then a Gordon Ramsey could have come out of me. If I were a fastidious guy who wanted everything to be clean and perfect, then an entrepreneur or a manager could have come out of me who would have tried to do that during his job. If I were a guy who loved making people smile, then interacting with guests while serving the food or taking their check-ins would have been the best things out there for me. You get my point! There are so many things that could have made hotel management an ideal career choice for me. It really is a glamorous industry, and it can provide satisfaction as a career option to some people out there. But that wasn’t the case with me. Sadly that wasn’t the case with many of my batchmates and colleagues of mine as well. After completing my three-year graduation, four-month industrial training, and one-year job as a Front Desk Agent, I quit. Nor could the managers inspire me, nor any other incentives that the industry had to offer. My future looked as grim as the life of an insect (No offence to you if you are an insect.) So yes, be wise before choosing this industry because this industry demands a lot! It is one of the most selfless jobs out there, and you have to be prepared for the nasty feedbacks after all your hard work. So do some self-inspection (Unlike me) if you are stuck in this industry or are planning to do so. And if you love where you are right now, then as I said, you have my respect.

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Travel Technology

Blockchain Technology in Travel Insurance

Article | May 5, 2023

Most people associate the term "blockchain" with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or Ethereum. Blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies, but it is also a technology in its own right that has many uses. Blockchain is an immutable ledger that tracks transactions and assets, like cash and patents. All parties have access to the same data simultaneously, eliminating intermediaries and making it a cost-effective way to track assets. It could, for example, track a flight delay and automatically refund a customer’s money. A German blockchain start-up Etherisc launched an insurance product, FlightDelay, which uses blockchain to automatically issue policies and execute payouts for flight delays and cancellations on around 80 airlines. Customers can buy policies with cryptocurrency and receive claims in cryptocurrency. Flight delays are where blockchain-based insurance can make a difference in the travel insurance domain. Data on delays and cancellations is readily accessible, and all assist in automatic payments. This way, companies that offer flight insurance can avoid higher claims-processing costs and save on data protection costs because blockchain is secure. U.S. Insurance Regulations Prevent Blockchain-based Travel Insurance In the U.S, there is a need for state-by-state approval for changes in regulations. Blockchain’s appearance in the U.S. insurance industry may take another ten or fifteen years. However, the potential of blockchain-based insurance products is huge. Insurance companies can sell them at much lower costs compared to traditional insurance products. Blockchain Can Change the Travel Insurance Business Interestingly, the U.S. already has an insurance product similar to FlightDelay but none of them have the blockchain component. Called ‘parametric insurance’, an auto payout is done when some parameter is violated. Using blockchain technology to offer this insurance could save money and enable insurers to pass on some of the savings to the customers. Insurance industry experts think blockchain will definitely make a mark in the travel insurance domain and can change the way travel insurance businesses operate at large.

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Hospitality Management

Overcoming Obstacles of Hospitality Management in Travel Industry

Article | July 24, 2023

Discover insights to overcome hospitality management challenges of the dynamic travel industry. Elevate customer experiences, optimize operations, and thrive in the hospitality and travel industry. Contents 1. Importance of Hospitality in Tourism Industry 2. Key Management Challenges in the Hospitality Industry 2.1. Personalizing Guest Experience 2.2. Seasonality of Hospitality 2.3. Rapid Shift in Market Trends 2.4. Retaining, Hiring & Managing Staff 2.5. Protecting Online Reputation 3. Significance of Implementing the Right Solutions 4. Conclusion 1. Importance of Hospitality in Tourism Industry Today, the culture of hospitality holds paramount importance, focusing on outshining businesses by delivering exceptional service quality. To achieve this, hospitality industries must prioritize providing superior and satisfying products to their customers. Hiring managers should seek individuals with an excellent service-oriented mindset, while the training process should center around cultivating a strong service culture within the organization. Graduates of tourism and hospitality management programs are increasingly occupying key positions within the industry. These professionals view themselves as dedicated individuals entering the realm of hospitality management. Their roles demand specialized knowledge and skills, ongoing professional development, and a commitment to benefiting the community and society. Hospitality and travel industry revolves around extending friendly treatment to guests and tourists, making it an indispensable sector within tourism. Understanding consumer behavior becomes crucial in making informed marketing decisions for tourism products and activities. To fully leverage the potential of the tourism industry, it becomes imperative to comprehend what challenges may and how to overcome them to make better decisions. 2. Overcome Key Management Challenges in the Hospitality Industry 2.1. Personalizing Guest Experience Personalizing the guest experience has become an increasingly crucial challenge in the hospitality and travel industry, particularly as traditional B&Bs face competition from emerging players like Airbnb. To stay competitive and retain guests, it is essential to go beyond providing basic services and amenities. Today's travelers seek unique, tailored experiences that resonate with their preferences and needs. By personalizing the guest experience, hospitality establishments can create a lasting impression and build strong customer loyalty. This involves understanding guest preferences and anticipating their needs before they articulate them. It can include personalized greetings, offering amenities or services that align with their interests, and providing recommendations tailored to their tastes. Effective communication is vital before, during, and after the guest's visit. Leveraging guest data and preferences allows targeted marketing campaigns, personalized offers, and follow-up communication that nurtures the relationship and keeps guests engaged. 2.2. Seasonality of Hospitality One significant challenge is personalizing the guest experience, especially when considering the seasonality of the hospitality and travel industry. During peak seasons, although businesses may thrive, there is often added stress on staff to cater to a high volume of guests. Effective stress management measures and caring for the team's well-being are essential to delivering exceptional experiences consistently. In contrast, during off-peak seasons, it is an opportune time to utilize the team's talents for activities such as enhancing social media platforms, updating the website, reviewing security measures, conducting staff training, and staying abreast of industry innovations. This proactive approach helps maintain competitiveness and prepares for the next peak season. 2.3. Rapid Shift in Market Trends In hospitality and travel management, a critical challenge is the rapid shift in market trends driven by technological advancements. The advertising and marketing landscape has undergone significant transformations, rendering previously successful strategies ineffective. To navigate these transformations successfully, it is crucial to maintain updated websites, actively engage on social media platforms, promptly respond to online reviews, and develop compelling advertising campaigns. Hospitality industry managers can collaborate closely with either an internal marketing team or a marketing agency to ensure that their brand voice and mission are accurately conveyed and represented across all social platforms. Consistency, accuracy, and responsiveness are paramount in achieving marketing success in the dynamic world of hospitality. 2.4. Retaining, Hiring & Managing Staff While retention, hiring and effective staff management is a challenge that extends beyond the hospitality and tourism industry, it holds particular significance in roles that involve direct interaction with the public, as they play a crucial role in delivering exceptional guest experiences. Hospitality and tourism establishments rely on staff members of the highest caliber at all levels, be it front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, tour guides, wait staff, or kitchen personnel. In addition to possessing the necessary skills, staff members must embody essential qualities such as integrity, compassion, and empathy to provide guests with the finest service. Regular training programs are crucial to align new hires with the vision and mission of the hospitality business. Furthermore, fostering a strong team culture is essential for retaining staff members who consistently go above and beyond for guests. 2.5. Protecting Online Reputation In the contemporary hotel and tourism industry, where customers openly share reviews, opinions, and complaints on online platforms such as OTA websites, Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and social media, safeguarding and managing online reputation has become a critical challenge. With 96% of Tripadvisor users considering reviews critical in their travel planning and hotel booking decisions and 83% referencing reviews before booking, effective reputation management is paramount. Thoughtful and timely responses to customer reviews are crucial, as 85% of TripAdvisor users agree that it positively influences their perception of the hotel. (Source: Xotels) Maintaining a high review score on OTA sites is essential to prevent potential guests from filtering out hotels with lower scores. Additionally, leveraging positive reviews and customer feedback on social media platforms can be done by showcasing average scores and using customer quotes on the hotel's website. Importantly, customers understand that mistakes can happen, but how a hotel responds to them matters. Swiftly addressing issues, providing courteous and considerate online communication, and rectifying problems extensively safeguard the hotel's reputation. 3. Significance of Implementing the Right Solutions Implementing the right solutions holds immense significance in hospitality management. It is essential to address various challenges effectively, such as personalizing the guest experience, managing seasonality, adapting to rapid market trends, retaining and hiring staff, and protecting online reputation. By implementing tailored solutions, hospitality professionals can strengthen their hospitality management businesses. Understand the significance of the solutions to be implied to overcome management challenges. Enhanced Guest Experience: The hospitality and travel industry thrive on delivering exceptional guest experiences. By addressing management challenges effectively, such as streamlining operations, optimizing customer service, and personalizing guest interactions, the right hospitality solutions can significantly enhance the overall guest experience. This, in turn, leads to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth, all of which are crucial for the success of any hospitality business. Improved Operational Efficiency: Hospitality management challenges often revolve around optimizing operational processes, managing resources, and ensuring a smooth workflow. Implementing the right solutions, such as advanced technology systems, automation, and efficient management tools, can significantly enhance operational efficiency. This results in cost savings, reduced errors, improved productivity, and better utilization of resources, leading to overall business growth and profitability. Effective Staff Management: The hospitality industry heavily relies on its workforce to deliver quality services. Staff scheduling, training, communication, and performance management challenges can be effectively addressed through the right solutions. Employee management systems, training programs, and communication tools improve staff organization, engagement, and productivity. When employees feel supported and empowered, they are more likely to provide exceptional service, leading to a higher guest satisfaction. Data-Driven Decision-Making: The hospitality industry generates vast amounts of data related to guest preferences, booking patterns, revenue streams, and operational metrics. However, deriving actionable insights from this data can be challenging without the right solutions. Implementing data analytics tools, performance tracking systems, and guest feedback platforms enable managers to make informed decisions based on real-time data. 4. Conclusion To achieve long-term success in the travel and hospitality industry, it is necessary to overcome hospitality management obstacles that businesses face. Through strategies such as personalizing the guest experience, effectively managing seasonality, adapting to market trends, retaining and hiring the appropriate staff, and protecting online reputation, hospitality businesses can differentiate themselves and develop customer loyalty. Through the strategic implementation of customized solutions, managers can navigate these challenges, enhance their guests' experiences, and drive long-term growth in the dynamic travel industry.

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Spotlight

TAG

TAG is an award-winning, independent global travel and event management company. TAG’s specialist business units: Corporate, Touring, Events, Private Travel, & Film and Media – tailor travel and events for high-end corporations, VIP individuals and luxury travellers.

Related News

Hospitality Trends, Hospitality Management

Sonesta Announces First Sonesta Es Suites Ground Up Development

PR Newswire | January 24, 2024

Sonesta International Hotels Corporation (Sonesta) today announced plans for the construction of a new Sonesta ES Suites in Port Charlotte, Florida. This new property, expected to open in Spring 2025, marks the first Sonesta ES Suites brand project developed from the ground up. "We are excited that Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte will be our first purpose-built location for the brand," said Brian Quinn, Sonesta's Chief Development Officer. "The Sonesta ES Suites brand stands out as an attractive choice for franchisees looking for an upscale option to capitalize on the continued dependable performance of extended stay hotels." "Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte will benefit business travelers and tourists who are looking for accommodations near the beaches, golf courses, parks and other attractions that Port Charlotte has to offer," said Alan Lane, one of Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte's owners. "The addition of Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte to our diverse portfolio reflects Commonwealth Hotels' unwavering commitment to providing an unparalleled guest experience through visionary development, ethical practices and a steadfast dedication to superior service," said Jennifer Porter, President of Commonwealth Hotels, the hotel's management company. To be located at 1321 Claburn Circle in Port Charlotte, Florida, the Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte will be an upscale extended-stay hotel spanning four floors and offering 117 rooms with amenities including breakfast and dining services, an outdoor pool, fitness room, market pantry, guest laundry, onsite parking and more. The location of the new hotel is close to over 20 colleges and universities, two hospitals, more than 70 parks and recreational spaces, more than 12 miles of beaches, 14 golf courses and numerous other attractions. Guests of this location will be able to earn or redeem points in the award winning Sonesta Travel Pass loyalty program.

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Travel Technology, Airlines and Airports

Trip.com Group and LATAM Airlines Group Partner to Enhance Travel Experience Through NDC Technology

PR Newswire | January 22, 2024

Trip.com Group, a leading travel service provider, announced today the signing of a new NDC agreement with LATAM Airlines Group. This agreement between the two companies aims to provide a contemporary and streamlined ticketing experience for global travellers. It also offers unparalleled connectivity to over 144 destinations covered by LATAM Airlines across 22 countries and regions, including Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania. The key benefit of this agreement is the adoption of NDC standard technology. This technology gives customers access to a complete and more comprehensive selection of airline offerings and the option to buy additional products, services, and add-ons such as baggage allowance and seats. Moreover, customers can access a broader range of ancillary services and more detailed information by browsing the change and cancellation policy section during checkout, leading to improved Trip.com Group and LATAM Airlines Group's after-sales services. Juan Villanova, Sales Manager of Trip.com for Spain and Latin America, comments: "Trip.com is a cutting-edge online travel company that leads the way in technology. Our commitment is to improve our product offerings to guarantee the highest customer satisfaction. With this tech solution, our passengers will have access to an improved and more competitive selection of flights and products." The agreement will include integrating a shopping engine for ticket sales via some of Trip.com Group's leading brands, offering a cost advantage to both suppliers and customers. Henk Van der Velde, Regional Director for Southern Europe and Latin America for Trip.com Group's flight Department, adds: "We are delighted to collaborate with LATAM Airlines Group in the implementation of an NDC standard, and offer solutions for everyone via a shopping engine, which has yielded excellent results. I look forward to continuing this collaboration and bringing new features that positively impact our customer's travel experience." Andreas Schek, Vice President of Sales and Branding of LATAM Airlines Group, adds: "We are proud of this collaboration with Trip.com Group on the implementation of the NDC standard, as it allows us to explore ways to enhance its efficiency further. This is a significant milestone in the future of distribution that will benefit our global customers."

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Travel Technology, Destination and Tourism

Exodus Adventure Travels Announces New Trips in Partnership with Royal Canadian Geographic Society

PR Newswire | January 23, 2024

Exodus Adventure Travels, the international award-winning leader in adventure travel, today announced its new 2024 RCGS Quests trips, a series of expert-led tours developed in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. These limited edition, small group trips are what travel legends are made of – adventures that are designed to offer travelers unparalleled opportunities to explore some of the planet's most awe-inspiring destinations and led by noted hosts in their respective fields. This year's line-up features such noted hosts as World Elephant Day co-founder, Patricia Sims; bestselling author, Robin Esrock; Indigenous education advocate, Charlene Bearhead, and others. "We are honored to partner with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society on these highly anticipated adventures," said Sam Seward, President at Exodus Adventure Travels. "This is our third year operating our RCGS Quests program, with continued demand to explore further and experience more, pushing these trips to new heights and featuring another stellar line-up of hosts to add even more depth to each itinerary." Exodus' 2024 RCGS Quests Series features the following six adventures: RCGS: Highlights of the Amalfi Coast with Scott Forsyth Discover the land of la dolce vita for a wondrous week on the Amalfi Coast led by an expert local guide and hosted by professional photographer and fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Scott Forsyth. Explore one of Europe's most dramatic stretches of coastline and be spellbound by this land's natural beauty and cultural treasures. The Host: Scott Forsyth is an award-winning photographer who specializes in Canadian landscapes. Devoted to exploring Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Arctic Ocean coastlines, Scott is a Fellow of both the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Explorer's Club and is Canadian Geographic's Photographer-In-Residence. Eight-day itinerary priced from $2,240 USD. Departing April 6, 2024 RCGS: Classic Kenya 4WD Safari with Patricia Sims No country, perhaps, is more synonymous with a classic African safari than Kenya. Step into scenes from 'Out of Africa' as you explore Kenya's best safari sites led by an expert local safari guide and hosted by award-winning Canadian filmmaker, Royal Canadian Geographical Society fellow and World Elephant Day co-founder, Patricia Sims. The Host: Patricia Sims is the co-founder of the annual World Elephant Day (Aug. 12), a global awareness campaign that brings attention to the critical threats facing elephants. From swimming with wild dolphins and whales in oceans around the world to getting up close and personal with monkeys in the jungles of Borneo and elephants of Thailand, Patricia is also an award-winning filmmaker who always has a passionate eye on conservation. Patricia is a Fellow International of The Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Seven-day itinerary priced from US$4,649 Departing August 10, 2024 RCGS: A Week in Jordan with Sarah Legault Explore the wondrous historical and archaeological highlights of Jordan on this week-long adventure. From the incredible history of the Wadi Rum Desert to strolling through ancient Roman cities and floating in the Dead Sea, this Jordanian adventure contains all the highlights of this fascinating country. It is led by an expert local guide and hosted by Vice President of Philanthropy for the RCGS, Sarah Legault. The Host: Sarah Legault has been the head of advancement at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society since 2018 and has worked at charitable organizations throughout her career. Her vast understanding of the Society, Canadian Geographic and all associated programs is extraordinary. As the current Vice President of Philanthropy and Fellow of the RCGS, Sarah's mission-aligned values of environment, people, culture, and geographical literacy support engaging and forward-thinking initiatives which she always is keen to share and discuss. Seven-day itinerary priced from US$2,550 Departing October 19, 2024 RCGS: Rome, Assisi & Magical Umbria – Premium Adventure with Robin Esrock Explore Rome and Assisi's historic landmarks and classical ruins. Walk through Italy's unspoiled countryside staying in a picturesque four-star resort in the hills of Umbria, led by an expert local guide and hosted by bestselling author, TV host, public speaker and Royal Canadian Geographical Society Fellow Robin Esrock. The Host: Dubbed "King of the Bucket List" by Travel + Leisure, Robin Esrock's success as a global adventurer, travel writer, bestselling author and international TV personality started with a one-year solo round-the-world backpacking adventure to 24 countries. During this year, Robin uploaded weekly reports, photography, videos, reviews, and interviews with every person he met. In doing so, he ushered in a new era of multi-platform, switched-on wired-in travel journalism, leading to adventures beyond his wildest dreams. Robin's stories have been published in noted publications worldwide, including National Geographic Traveler, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Reader's Digest, and more. Eight-day itinerary priced from US$4,050 Departing October 19, 2024 RCGS: Egypt Nile Cruise with Charlene Bearhead Follow in the footsteps of the ancient pharaohs and ride the sands of time back thousands of years on this classic Egypt Nile cruise led by an expert local guide and hosted by Indigenous education advocate, author, Vice President of Learning and Reconciliation at Canadian Geographic, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Charlene Bearhead. With ancient tombs and mysteries around every bend, unrivaled legacy and mind-blowing history await. The Host: Charlene Bearhead is an Indigenous education advocate and author with over 30 years of regional, national and international experience. Previously Charlene served as education days coordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, education coordinator for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, education advisor for the Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, a member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Education working group, and the first education lead for both the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC. She is also the co-author of the children's book series Siha Tooskin Knows. Eight-day itinerary priced from US$2,380 Departing November 16, 2024 RCGS: Highlights of Vietnam with Lynn Moorman Discover the complex culture and history of Vietnam on this intoxicating exploration of Vietnamese life highlighted by superb landscapes and amazing cuisine. Led by an expert local guide and hosted by Lynn Moorman, a lifelong geographer with a love for exploring remote landscapes and environments. The Host: Lynn Moorman is a prominent geographer and a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Mount Royal University, in Calgary, Canada. Lynn's teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of geography, learning sciences and applied visualization technologies, including virtual and augmented reality. Her work has taken her to the highlands of northern Vietnam, to map agricultural productivity, to the frozen Arctic Ocean where she works with Inuit in Canadian Arctic communities to use near-real time satellite imagery to keep ice travel safe. Lynn is a Fellow, former Board member and current Chair of the Research Committee of the RCGS. 10-day itinerary priced from US$2,170 Departing November 17, 2024

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Hospitality Trends, Hospitality Management

Sonesta Announces First Sonesta Es Suites Ground Up Development

PR Newswire | January 24, 2024

Sonesta International Hotels Corporation (Sonesta) today announced plans for the construction of a new Sonesta ES Suites in Port Charlotte, Florida. This new property, expected to open in Spring 2025, marks the first Sonesta ES Suites brand project developed from the ground up. "We are excited that Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte will be our first purpose-built location for the brand," said Brian Quinn, Sonesta's Chief Development Officer. "The Sonesta ES Suites brand stands out as an attractive choice for franchisees looking for an upscale option to capitalize on the continued dependable performance of extended stay hotels." "Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte will benefit business travelers and tourists who are looking for accommodations near the beaches, golf courses, parks and other attractions that Port Charlotte has to offer," said Alan Lane, one of Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte's owners. "The addition of Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte to our diverse portfolio reflects Commonwealth Hotels' unwavering commitment to providing an unparalleled guest experience through visionary development, ethical practices and a steadfast dedication to superior service," said Jennifer Porter, President of Commonwealth Hotels, the hotel's management company. To be located at 1321 Claburn Circle in Port Charlotte, Florida, the Sonesta ES Suites Port Charlotte will be an upscale extended-stay hotel spanning four floors and offering 117 rooms with amenities including breakfast and dining services, an outdoor pool, fitness room, market pantry, guest laundry, onsite parking and more. The location of the new hotel is close to over 20 colleges and universities, two hospitals, more than 70 parks and recreational spaces, more than 12 miles of beaches, 14 golf courses and numerous other attractions. Guests of this location will be able to earn or redeem points in the award winning Sonesta Travel Pass loyalty program.

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Travel Technology, Airlines and Airports

Trip.com Group and LATAM Airlines Group Partner to Enhance Travel Experience Through NDC Technology

PR Newswire | January 22, 2024

Trip.com Group, a leading travel service provider, announced today the signing of a new NDC agreement with LATAM Airlines Group. This agreement between the two companies aims to provide a contemporary and streamlined ticketing experience for global travellers. It also offers unparalleled connectivity to over 144 destinations covered by LATAM Airlines across 22 countries and regions, including Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania. The key benefit of this agreement is the adoption of NDC standard technology. This technology gives customers access to a complete and more comprehensive selection of airline offerings and the option to buy additional products, services, and add-ons such as baggage allowance and seats. Moreover, customers can access a broader range of ancillary services and more detailed information by browsing the change and cancellation policy section during checkout, leading to improved Trip.com Group and LATAM Airlines Group's after-sales services. Juan Villanova, Sales Manager of Trip.com for Spain and Latin America, comments: "Trip.com is a cutting-edge online travel company that leads the way in technology. Our commitment is to improve our product offerings to guarantee the highest customer satisfaction. With this tech solution, our passengers will have access to an improved and more competitive selection of flights and products." The agreement will include integrating a shopping engine for ticket sales via some of Trip.com Group's leading brands, offering a cost advantage to both suppliers and customers. Henk Van der Velde, Regional Director for Southern Europe and Latin America for Trip.com Group's flight Department, adds: "We are delighted to collaborate with LATAM Airlines Group in the implementation of an NDC standard, and offer solutions for everyone via a shopping engine, which has yielded excellent results. I look forward to continuing this collaboration and bringing new features that positively impact our customer's travel experience." Andreas Schek, Vice President of Sales and Branding of LATAM Airlines Group, adds: "We are proud of this collaboration with Trip.com Group on the implementation of the NDC standard, as it allows us to explore ways to enhance its efficiency further. This is a significant milestone in the future of distribution that will benefit our global customers."

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Travel Technology, Destination and Tourism

Exodus Adventure Travels Announces New Trips in Partnership with Royal Canadian Geographic Society

PR Newswire | January 23, 2024

Exodus Adventure Travels, the international award-winning leader in adventure travel, today announced its new 2024 RCGS Quests trips, a series of expert-led tours developed in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. These limited edition, small group trips are what travel legends are made of – adventures that are designed to offer travelers unparalleled opportunities to explore some of the planet's most awe-inspiring destinations and led by noted hosts in their respective fields. This year's line-up features such noted hosts as World Elephant Day co-founder, Patricia Sims; bestselling author, Robin Esrock; Indigenous education advocate, Charlene Bearhead, and others. "We are honored to partner with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society on these highly anticipated adventures," said Sam Seward, President at Exodus Adventure Travels. "This is our third year operating our RCGS Quests program, with continued demand to explore further and experience more, pushing these trips to new heights and featuring another stellar line-up of hosts to add even more depth to each itinerary." Exodus' 2024 RCGS Quests Series features the following six adventures: RCGS: Highlights of the Amalfi Coast with Scott Forsyth Discover the land of la dolce vita for a wondrous week on the Amalfi Coast led by an expert local guide and hosted by professional photographer and fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Scott Forsyth. Explore one of Europe's most dramatic stretches of coastline and be spellbound by this land's natural beauty and cultural treasures. The Host: Scott Forsyth is an award-winning photographer who specializes in Canadian landscapes. Devoted to exploring Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Arctic Ocean coastlines, Scott is a Fellow of both the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Explorer's Club and is Canadian Geographic's Photographer-In-Residence. Eight-day itinerary priced from $2,240 USD. Departing April 6, 2024 RCGS: Classic Kenya 4WD Safari with Patricia Sims No country, perhaps, is more synonymous with a classic African safari than Kenya. Step into scenes from 'Out of Africa' as you explore Kenya's best safari sites led by an expert local safari guide and hosted by award-winning Canadian filmmaker, Royal Canadian Geographical Society fellow and World Elephant Day co-founder, Patricia Sims. The Host: Patricia Sims is the co-founder of the annual World Elephant Day (Aug. 12), a global awareness campaign that brings attention to the critical threats facing elephants. From swimming with wild dolphins and whales in oceans around the world to getting up close and personal with monkeys in the jungles of Borneo and elephants of Thailand, Patricia is also an award-winning filmmaker who always has a passionate eye on conservation. Patricia is a Fellow International of The Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Seven-day itinerary priced from US$4,649 Departing August 10, 2024 RCGS: A Week in Jordan with Sarah Legault Explore the wondrous historical and archaeological highlights of Jordan on this week-long adventure. From the incredible history of the Wadi Rum Desert to strolling through ancient Roman cities and floating in the Dead Sea, this Jordanian adventure contains all the highlights of this fascinating country. It is led by an expert local guide and hosted by Vice President of Philanthropy for the RCGS, Sarah Legault. The Host: Sarah Legault has been the head of advancement at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society since 2018 and has worked at charitable organizations throughout her career. Her vast understanding of the Society, Canadian Geographic and all associated programs is extraordinary. As the current Vice President of Philanthropy and Fellow of the RCGS, Sarah's mission-aligned values of environment, people, culture, and geographical literacy support engaging and forward-thinking initiatives which she always is keen to share and discuss. Seven-day itinerary priced from US$2,550 Departing October 19, 2024 RCGS: Rome, Assisi & Magical Umbria – Premium Adventure with Robin Esrock Explore Rome and Assisi's historic landmarks and classical ruins. Walk through Italy's unspoiled countryside staying in a picturesque four-star resort in the hills of Umbria, led by an expert local guide and hosted by bestselling author, TV host, public speaker and Royal Canadian Geographical Society Fellow Robin Esrock. The Host: Dubbed "King of the Bucket List" by Travel + Leisure, Robin Esrock's success as a global adventurer, travel writer, bestselling author and international TV personality started with a one-year solo round-the-world backpacking adventure to 24 countries. During this year, Robin uploaded weekly reports, photography, videos, reviews, and interviews with every person he met. In doing so, he ushered in a new era of multi-platform, switched-on wired-in travel journalism, leading to adventures beyond his wildest dreams. Robin's stories have been published in noted publications worldwide, including National Geographic Traveler, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Reader's Digest, and more. Eight-day itinerary priced from US$4,050 Departing October 19, 2024 RCGS: Egypt Nile Cruise with Charlene Bearhead Follow in the footsteps of the ancient pharaohs and ride the sands of time back thousands of years on this classic Egypt Nile cruise led by an expert local guide and hosted by Indigenous education advocate, author, Vice President of Learning and Reconciliation at Canadian Geographic, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Charlene Bearhead. With ancient tombs and mysteries around every bend, unrivaled legacy and mind-blowing history await. The Host: Charlene Bearhead is an Indigenous education advocate and author with over 30 years of regional, national and international experience. Previously Charlene served as education days coordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, education coordinator for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, education advisor for the Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, a member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Education working group, and the first education lead for both the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC. She is also the co-author of the children's book series Siha Tooskin Knows. Eight-day itinerary priced from US$2,380 Departing November 16, 2024 RCGS: Highlights of Vietnam with Lynn Moorman Discover the complex culture and history of Vietnam on this intoxicating exploration of Vietnamese life highlighted by superb landscapes and amazing cuisine. Led by an expert local guide and hosted by Lynn Moorman, a lifelong geographer with a love for exploring remote landscapes and environments. The Host: Lynn Moorman is a prominent geographer and a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Mount Royal University, in Calgary, Canada. Lynn's teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of geography, learning sciences and applied visualization technologies, including virtual and augmented reality. Her work has taken her to the highlands of northern Vietnam, to map agricultural productivity, to the frozen Arctic Ocean where she works with Inuit in Canadian Arctic communities to use near-real time satellite imagery to keep ice travel safe. Lynn is a Fellow, former Board member and current Chair of the Research Committee of the RCGS. 10-day itinerary priced from US$2,170 Departing November 17, 2024

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