Australia Israel Trade Awards night recognising Sydney Travel Wholesalers – e




Hon Andrew Stoner



Group photo Companies receiving Trade Award

The Israel Trade Tourism Commission and the AICC last night hosted The Australia Israel Trade Awards reception in Sydney. The Australia Israel Trade Awards is held biannually and recognises outstanding achievements by Australian Companies trading with Israel.

The awards honour the vibrant Israeli and Australian business communities and their bilateral trade initiatives.
This year we were honoured to have The Hon. Andrew STONER, NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Trade and Investment, and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services as guest speaker at the NSW event. Minister Stoner’s participation highlights the NSW Government’s focus on further developing the strong trade relationship between the State of NSW and the State of Israel.

The recent trade figures between Australia and Israel continue to show strong growth with total trade in 2010 between the two countries summed to $715 million.

Among the 17 companies receiving the Trade Award last night were 2 travel wholesalers: Israel Travel Centre and Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre, who were recognized for their contribution to promoting Tourism to Israel.

Merav Gonen, Trade Tourism Manager at The Israel Trade Tourism Commission noted the strong growth in the number of Tourists travelling from Australia to Israel, with of 32% increase in the number of Australians who chose Israel as their holiday destination in 2010.

2010 was a record year with a total of 3.45 Million tourists, a 26% annual growth compared to 2009 . Latest figures released for the first half of 2011 show that tourist arrivals to Israel continue to rise.

Gonen invited travel agents who are interested to learn more about this unique and growing destination to come to the “Beautiful Israel” seminar to be held in Sydney next month.

Israel offers a diverse “attraction menu” of ancient biblical sites and sunny Mediterranean beaches, history and culture, people landscapes, holy places, lively markets and nightlife all within close proximity.

Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv- Israel’s 2 main cities and most striking opposites, have been voted by Travel+Leisure Magazine, as second and third on the list of best cities in Africa and the Middle East .

Jerusalem was also ranked in the top 25 destinations in the world by ‘Trip advisor’.


Kouloukouris & Associates Has Released a Private and Peaceful Holidays Paradise of Luxury Villas at the Heart of a …

A luxurious and secluded holiday environment in outstanding natural surroundings doesn’t have to be on a remote island anymore. Peaceful and opulent vacations are now a five minute drive from all-day summer parties and frenzied nightlife activity.

Halkidiki, Greece (PRWEB UK) 18 August 2011

Kouloukouris Associates has always focused on great architectural works that smoothly harmonize with the surrounding natural environment and the cultural tradition and fully meet the everyday human needs. The company’s latest and greatest architectural project, Constantinidis Estate, has been finally delivered in Pefkohori, Halkidiki. Constantinidis Estate is a private housing estate of luxury villas in Greece, built in an extraordinary landscape between the 24/7 summer partying destinations of Hanioti and Pefkohori.

Halkidiki is probably the most famous holiday resort in Greece. Kassandra, the western of the three peninsulas in Halkidiki, provides locals and seasonal tourists with a great mixture of sandy beaches, pine forests, small bays, luxurious hotels, beach bars and intense night life. The land of Constantinidis Estate lies in the eastern part of the peninsula and stretches from the sea, where the front is 500 meters of white sand, up the slopes of the hills and the Kassandra forest. The area is extremely beautiful and there are specific times of the year when it excels, especially during spring and summer, when it becomes an artistic palette of colors due to the endemic wild flora.

The land is divided into the upper and lower part. The lower part, an area of 52.000 sq.m., includes detached houses of 1100, 1500 and 2150 sq.ft. as well as seaside recreation areas, such as cafeterias, sports and beach equipment. The upper part, an area of 128.000 sq.m., includes detached houses of 1100 and 1500 sq.ft. and recreation areas, such as swimming pools for adults and children, basketball courts, mini soccer and outdoor space for events. The tranquility and the great natural beauty of the area, which combines mountain and sea, the crystal blue waters and the endless golden sand, make Constantinidis Estate the ideal holiday location.

The housing typology has its roots in the rich tradition of Halkidiki’s houses, adapted to the modern needs of a country home. Their typical features are the tiled roof, the roofed balcony, the right proportions, the chimneys and the wooden pergolas. The location of each house is designed based on the correct orientation and in combination with the view and increased privacy. The use of tiles in a variety of colors, the different colors and the stone coatings contribute to the uniqueness of each house.

“The development of the Constantinidis Estate has been a great architectural work, a work full of difficulties and unforeseen situations,” said Christos Kouloukouris, the founder and owner of Kouloukouris Associates. “So I am very happy that, despite the financial crisis and the fire that hit the region in 2006, we managed to complete such a truly unique project. Our persistence and our choices regarding the design level vindicated, and today we deliver to those who trusted us a real ornament for the region and the Halkidiki in general.”

Just a five minute drive from the complex are perhaps the most well-known, fashionable resorts of Hanioti and Pefkohori that meet all market, leisure, health care and fun needs. Iced coffee, cocktail drinks, dancing music in bars and night clubs, lots of alcohol and young crowds constitute the absolute 24/7 party destination.

“You can relax by the beach or swim in your private pool, and you will fall in love with the extraordinary sea view, the colorful gardens and the magnificent smells,” adds Alexandros Kouloukouris, architect and sales manager at Kouloukouris Associates. “And when you decide that you want to change your vacation style to revel style, you don’t have to fly to somewhere else, you don’t even have to travel. You just drive for five minutes to get to the fun! Even better you can walk yourself there!”

Mild winters and long lasting sunshine are the main characteristics of Halkidiki’s temperate Mediterranean climate allowing for quality holidays all year round as well as an extended period for summer vacations, from May to October.

Kouloukouris Associates is a Thessaloniki, Greece based company that provides quality services in the areas of architectural design, construction and interior design to the public and private sector. Since 1969, Kouloukouris Associates has consistently used innovative design, modern techniques and avant-garde materials that allow for unique projects characterized by special aesthetics, sound construction and resilience against time. For more information on Kouloukouris Associates, please call +30 2310 446750 or visit http://www.kouloukouris.gr.

###

Alexandros Kouloukouris
Kouloukouris Associates
0030 6944 550589
Email Information


Gap years for grown ups boost travel insurance claims

Medical expenses claims on travel insurance policies have nearly quadrupled in
recent years because larger numbers of older people are enjoying exotic
holidays or ‘a gap year for grown-ups’.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the cost of illness
overseas soared from £74m in 2004 to £275m last year, with the number of
claims rising from 120,000 to 337,000 over the same period.

While medical costs have risen faster than most forms of inflation, the ABI
says the age of holidaymakers also played a major part in raising claims.

Spokesman Malcolm Tarling explained: “People are living longer and
travelling further afield but the sad fact is that the older you are, the
more likely you are to fall ill.

“Travellers aged over 65 are three times more likely to make a travel
insurance claim than those aged 35, and people over 85 are eight times more
likely. The average claim made by a person over 65 is nearly three and a
half times more expensive than one made by a person under 50

“This combination of increased cost and frequency of claims means that
customers in their 80s are around eight to 12 times more risky than
customers under 65.”

Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers’ Assocation (BIBA) agreed: “Increased
travel by older people to destinations outside the European Union means
claim costs are much higher as there is no access to free medical care
through the European Health Insurance Card.”

America is the most expensive country in which to fall ill – with medical
bills averaging more than £4,700 – and Greece the least, with bills nearer
£400. The global average for medical claims on travel cover is £1,300.

Rising claims and costs also led to increased complaints. Martyn James of the
Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said: “The Ombudsman service received
2,536 complaints about travel insurance last year – a 27pc increase on the
previous year. We upheld 42pc of travel insurance cases in favour of
consumers.”

Fewer disputes would arise about travel insurance if more care was taken to
choose the right policy. Despite what the comparison websites might suggest,
the cheapest is not necessarily best.

For example, Mr James said: “Check the financial limits that apply in
different circumstances, and the level of excesses.

“We have seen a number of cases recently relating to ‘multiple excesses’.
An example would be where famlies lost baggage and then had an excess
applied to each family member including the children travelling.”

While that sort of legalistic nit-picking to cut a claim is infuriating, the
ABI says members paid a record £275m during 2010 – or £5.3m every week – to
holidaymakers and others who fell ill overseas.

If you complained to your insurer and remain unhappy with the way they dealt
with your claim, then you can contact the Ombudsman on 0300 1239 123.


Newt Gingrich to take his campaign to Hawaii


Republican presidential hopeful, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition at their 2011 Summer Bash, June 12, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Credit:
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is traveling this week, and again next week, to the critical primary state of New Hampshire. But in between stops in the Granite State, he’s taking his campaign somewhere a little less critical — Hawaii.

The latest release of Gingrich’s publicly scheduled campaign events shows that the former House speaker will be a guest on a talk radio show broadcasting out of New London, New Hampshire today. Later in the day, Gingrich and his wife Callista Gingrich will travel west to a screening of their documentary “A City Upon a Hill” at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, in Yorba Linda, Calif.

After attending more campaign events in California, Gingrich next travels to Wailuku, Hawaii, where he and the Maui Republican Party will meet with local activists at a church on Saturday. His next public event is at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, when he’ll discuss the American founding with students at a prep school in Makawao, also on the island of Maui.

Gingrich travels back to the mainland on Tuesday, makes a stop in Washington on Wednesday and heads back to New Hampshire on Thursday.

The detour to Hawaii comes amid questions of how committed Gingrich is to his presidential campaign. Key members of his staff, including his campaign manager, resigned in June after Gingrich took a break from campaigning to go on a Greek cruise with his wife.

Gingrich’s spokesman declined to comment to Hotsheet on the observation from Politico that the Hawaii campaign stop coincides with the Gingriches’ eleventh wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow.

Newt Gingrich’s life in pictures







Gap years for grown-ups quadruple medical claims on travel insurance

Adult gap years are becoming increasingly popular (Photo: Alamy)

Adult gap years are becoming increasingly popular (Photo: Alamy)

Medical expenses claims on travel insurance policies have nearly quadrupled in recent years because larger numbers of older people are enjoying exotic holidays or ‘a gap year for grown-ups’.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the cost of illness overseas soared from £74m in 2004 to £275m last year, with the number of claims rising from 120,000 to 337,000 over the same period.

While medical costs have risen faster than most forms of inflation, the ABI says the age of holidaymakers also played a major part in raising claims. Spokesman Malcolm Tarling explained: “People are living longer and travelling further afield but the sad fact is that the older you are, the more likely you are to fall ill.

“Travellers aged over 65 are three times more likely to make a travel insurance claim than those aged 35, and people over 85 are eight times more likely. The average claim made by a person over 65 is nearly three and a half times more expensive than one made by a person under 50

“This combination of increased cost and frequency of claims means that customers in their 80s are around eight to 12 times more risky than customers under 65.”

Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers’ Assocation (BIBA) agreed: “Increased travel by older people to destinations outside the European Union means claim costs are much higher as there is no access to free medical care through the European Health Insurance Card.”

America is the most expensive country in which to fall ill – with medical bills averaging more than £4,700 – and Greece the least, with bills nearer £400. The global average for medical claims on travel cover is £1,300.

Rising claims and costs also led to increased complaints. Martyn James of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said: “The Ombudsman service received 2,536 complaints about travel insurance last year – a 27pc increase on the previous year. We upheld 42pc of travel insurance cases in favour of consumers.”

Fewer disputes would arise about travel insurance if more care was taken to choose the right policy. Despite what the comparison websites might suggest, the cheapest is not necessarily best.

For example, Mr James said: “Check the financial limits that apply in different circumstances, and the level of excesses.

“We have seen a number of cases recently relating to ‘multiple excesses’. An example would be where famlies lost baggage and then had an excess applied to each family member including the children travelling.”

While that sort of legalistic nit-picking to cut a claim is infuriating, the ABI says members paid a record £275m during 2010 – or £5.3m every week – to holidaymakers and others who fell ill overseas.

If you complained to your insurer and remain unhappy with the way they dealt with your claim, then you can contact the Ombudsman on 0300 1239 123 or use the link above.


Against all odds, Greek tourism is winning

Greek Tourism

Against all odds, Greek tourism is winning

By
Nelson Alcantara, eTN editor-in-chief |
Aug 17, 2011

Amid internal conflicts caused by its economic woes, Greece has once again shown the world that its travel and tourism industry remains strong and is experiencing a double-digit increase.

The increase in foreign tourist arrivals in Greece in the first seven months of the year is at 10% in the period January-July against the same period in 2010, according to figures released by the Federation of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE, in Greek).

According to SETE, the biggest increase in foreign arrivals was recorded on the island of Rhodes with an increase of 28%, and the other islands of the Dodecanese, including Kos, with an increase of 26%, while substantial increases were also recorded on the island of Crete, and Thessaloniki.

SETE added that Britons and Germans were in first place in arrivals, followed by Italians, Swedes, Russians and Israelis. “The biggest increase in arrivals to Rhodes was from Israel, followed by Russia, Poland, and Finland.”

SETE also said that there has been an increase in passenger traffic at the Thessaloniki International Airport [‘Makedonia’] from Russia and Scandinavian countries.


Austria opposes Finland’s loan collateral from Greece


HELSINKI |
Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:17am EDT

HELSINKI Aug 18 (Reuters) – Austria opposes Finland’s deal
with Greece on collateral for loans and will demand collateral
as well if euro zone countries approve Finland’s deal, a
spokesman from Austrian finance ministry was quoted in a
newspaper report as saying.

“The collateral model has to be open to all the euro zone
countries. We will figure out if that’s the case,” Harald
Waiglein from the finance ministry told Finland’s biggest
newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in a phone interview.

Earlier this week Finland reached a deal with Greece on
collateral, its key condition for joining to help the
debt-burdened country.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)


Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: There is no travel agent that brings guests for alcoholic tourism in Bulgaria

Associated Professor Tsvetan Tonchev, Chairperson of the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber (BTC), in an interview for Focus Radio.

Focus: Are expectations of a tourism growth for this season being fulfilled?

Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: Of course, they are. I am not a great optimist, neither a pessimist, but mainly a realist. My expectations, based on the information received from hotel complexes, are that this year we will receive some BGN 1.8 billion from foreign citizens and another BGN 1 billion from Bulgarian ones for. In practice, this represents a growth of between 8% and 11%. Thus, tourism is taking the shape of a serious sector of Bulgarian economy that we account for no less than 12% of the national GDP.

Focus: This is only natural given Bulgaria’s potential as a tourist destination. Have you got any data on the hotel occupancy rate?

Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: You could say it is currently full. The occupancy rate is about 80-85%, small hotels, apartments on rent, etc included. Bulgaria has a great variety of tourist products to offer no – it has a hotel base, apartment hotels, and small houses. There has been a lot of talk about mistakes and weaknesses. There are such things, but one should have in mind that positive things are more than the negative ones as far as Bulgarian tourism is concerned. We are interested in a question which is of utter importance for the future and the perspectives in front of the sector – should it be based on sanatoriums or should it be recreational tourism. In my opinion, in the near future we should form a connection between relaxation and recreation, a connection with attractions, cultural sites. They should be offered to foreign and Bulgarian citizens alike. There are still a lot of things to work on, like road infrastructure, water, and energy, but, all In all, tourism is not doing badly.

Focus: We already told our listeners about an article in a daily newspaper which claims that hotel organisations along the Black sea coast have started to draw up a black list of travel agents who bring guests for alcoholic tourism in Bulgaria. Do you have any information on the case and what is your opinion of it?

Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: This is an initiative of a couple of hotels in Slanchev Bryag [the Sunny Beach resort]. They are responsible of things that have happened and are now splitting hairs. To be frank, there is no travel agent that offers alcoholic tourism in Bulgaria. Alcoholic tourism is a term that only we use. I told you – we have to mix relaxation with recreation, with attractions, contests, sport and culture events, etc. Only this way we could count on development of the tourism sector in the future. We cannot become a sanatorium, but only a mixture between relaxation and recreation. There is hardly a travel agent that brings people to drink all day. WE are the ones that came up with such an idea. Just look at a village, probably every man in 10 is a drunkard, I beg your pardon. But you cannot make a characteristic of a whole sector based on 10-15 people only. From now on the state, the government, and municipalities should seriously consider ways to make the season longer – from the current 90 days to 120 days at least. But what is most important is cultural events, cultural tourism, ecotourism, rural tourism, to develop tourism in places that are stagnating like North-West Bulgaria, for example. What we are doing with this alcohol and drugs tourism is an own goal. There is such a phenomenon like alcohol and drugs tourism, but it is actually more of a social phenomenon related to recent developments in Europe. There are people, discontent with their life, who have a totally different picture of tourism in their minds.

Focus: Do you witness any new trends in the touristic demand? Are people more interested in the types of tourism you mentioned – historical and cultural?

Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: These spheres are very difficult to be developed. A lot of money must be invested in order to have a well-working cultural tourism. I have given this example many times – 15 years ago Spain took a loan from the EU worth EUR 15 billion, which was used to develop all Spanish castles into objects of cultural tourism, and thus tourist spend two thirds of their holiday at the seaside and a third for cultural tourism. The positive thing in this direction is that the Bulgarian objects of cultural tourism are close to the seaside and mountain resorts. The progress made in Sozopol, among other places, was very positive, but a lot more money must be invested in developing cultural tourism and advertising it. There is, however, a growing number of tourists in this sphere.

Focus: People from which countries have highest interest towards Bulgarian tourism?

Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: There are mainly tourists from three countries in Bulgaria – Germany, Russia, and the UK. Lately, however, there is a growing number of tourists from countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and even France. There are several issues that need to be resolved. One of them is the visa regime for Russians. If the visa regime for Russia is liberalised, this will reduce the additional expenses of the people there and will lead to more Russian tourists in Bulgaria. It is a pity that Macedonians and Albanians prefer Greece to Bulgaria, when it comes down to their holidays. We expect a more positive development in the diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Serbia, and Bulgaria and Macedonia. However, now when people from these countries no longer need visas for the EU, they started going to Western countries and Greece more often.

Focus: What about the number of Bulgarian tourists?

Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: There is a growth of the number of Bulgarian tourists. People working in the tourism industry started paying more attention to Bulgarians and no longer ignore them at the expense of foreign tourists. After all, Bulgarians spend most money in restaurants and amusement places. We have registered a more serious growth of the number of Bulgarian tourists, especially in Sunny Beach, for the first time in 5-6 years. At least 100 people have called me this year looking for vacancies in our Black Sea resorts, which is a positive fact.

Focus: There is another topic, which is key for the tourism branch. Is there a good number of qualified Bulgarian staff in the Bulgarian resorts, as we knew that there was a high fluctuation of labour in the past?

Prof Tsvetan Tonchev: I cannot tell you many positive things in this regard. Everyone is looking for higher wages. A lot of good waiters, bartenders, and people from the hotel business went in Western Europe, so they could earn more. This is not bad, as they return after 3-4 years and bring back positive and needed experience with them. There are, however, tourism classes in 22 universities, more than 20 colleges, and almost all high schools in Bulgaria. Basically, we do not have a major issue with the volume of the staff. The questions is, as I mentioned, that our staff needs to learn that they need to be more polite and more welcoming to tourists, and there needs to be a better hospitality. People, after all, visit resorts to have a holiday and to spend their money.


Assumption Celebrates GreekFest

Greece is coming to the eastside.

Well not exactly–but all the Greek culture, traditions, food and fun will be part of GreekFest 2011 at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and Cultural Center.

“Our festival is an annual tradition,” says Festival co-chair Tom Thomas.

Thomas and fellow co-chairs George Dallas and Bob DeWaele have chaired the GreekFest for the past three consecutive years.

“This year we’ve expanded it to four full days of activities and fun for the entire family,” says Thomas.

GreekFest begins on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 11 a.m. and concludes Sunday, Aug. 21, at 8 p.m.

The festival is an end-of-the-summer tradition which captures the flavor of Greece through its festive outdoor atmosphere with live music, Greek dancing and much more. More than 5,000 guests from all over metro-Detroit are expected to attend.

“We have guests who come back year after year and make it their tradition,” says Thomas.

Festival-goers can sit outside or gather around tables and chairs situated under blue and white outdoor tents to enjoy popular, homemade Greek entrees such as leg of lamb, chicken kabob, souvlaki, spinach pie, a Greek salad and muchmore.

Friday, Aug. 19, is Family Fun Day from 11 a.m-4 p.m. and Festival admission is free. (This includes grandparents and aunts and uncles too!)

“We’ve added a petting zoo to our children’s activities daily from 1 to 5 p.m.,” says Thomas.

Other children’s activities include face painting, hair coloring, and braiding to name a few.

“We have all kinds of rides and some all-time favorites include the climbing wall,mechanical bull, fun train station, giant slide and so much more,” he adds.

Dance and singing contests will delight all ages. The Detroit Tigers mascot Paws will make a special appearance on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 1-2 p.m.

GreekFest will offer a new express, drive-thru service via Assumption’s Marter Rd. entrance. Be sure to call your order in advance at (313) 938-6368 or check out the menu online for those office lunches!

Music will be provided by popular Greek bands and performers and other favorites such as local favorite Gentlemen of Swing.

Assumption dancers will perform in colorful costumes representing various regions of Greece. Open dancing will be provided and dancers will even teach easy steps of Greek dancing.

On Saturday at 2 p.m. the Ambassadors, an inspirational singing group from Cass Community Social Services, will perform. During this time, Cass will be presented with a check from the 2011 GrossePointe/St. Clair Shores CROP Hunger Walk that 15 area churches participated and supported.

“Our grand raffle has also been expanded this year,” says Thomas. First prize is an all-new Chrysler 200, two-year, pre-paid lease from festival sponsor, Jim Riehl’s Friendly Chrysler Jeep.

Second prize is two airline tickets anywhere in the United States compliments of Cosmopolitan Travel and four cash prizes. Tickets are available $5 each.

Attendees can also shop the Festival’s marketplace featuring fine imports from Greece, unique jewelry designs, venetian glass, crystal, pearls, and natural stones, casual and evening wear for women and men and some unique Greek souvenirs.

Other market items include wooden handcrafted and hand painted gift items, custom pantry storage solutions, trendy affordable fashions, original oil paintings, children’s clothing and accessories, and feather accessories for all ages.

After all the activities, Festival-goers can take a break and enjoy a Greek coffee, frappe or Greek pastry.

“Every year we have so many people from the community who support our Festival. We couldn’t do itwithout them,” says Thomas.

Grand Opening ceremonies are Thursday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m. Youth from Grosse Pointe South High Choir will sing the national anthems in Greek and English. Dignitaries will represent the community and popular music group, Oniero, will perform along with the Hellenic Society for the Performing Arts.

Free parking and shuttle service is available. Admission is $2 and children 12 years old and under are free.

Festival times are Thursday, Aug. 19, from 11a.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 20, from 11 a.m. – 11p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 21, from 11 a.m. – midnight; and Sunday, Aug. 22, from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. with a raffle drawing at 7:30 p.m.

For a Festival menu, schedule of events and other Festival information, visit www.myassumption.org or visit the Facebook page.

Proceeds from the Festival will benefit outreach programs for the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and Cultural Center, and the Assumption Nursery School.


The London Riots and the Lost Art of Conversation

Europe, Family/Kids Travel, Featured Posts, Italy Greece, Latest News Archives, Safety Security, Senior Travel, Terrorism, Travel News, Travel Planning — <!–By –> on August 17, 2011 1:59 pm

The London riots caused a stir in the world news, but have they damaged the city’s tourism industry? Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, sits down with Peter to discuss the recent turmoil, traveling to politically unstable countries and the impact of the economy on the travel industry.

Peter Greenberg: With the turmoil in London, Greece and around the world right now, do you see people saying, “I’m not going to go there?”

Matthew Upchurch: No, I think that the American psyche has really changed in the past fifteen years.

PG: There’s still a fear based approach though.

MU: A lot of Virtuoso’s customers travel frequently and internationally, so it is more about individual passengers who have different risk tolerances. Ninety percent of the time, it’s not, “I’m not going,” it’s just “I’m going somewhere else temporarily.”

PG: For example, I’m going to London in a few days. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “Really? Are you going to be okay?” I said get a map and see where is the isolated area of the riots. People didn’t realize that Bangkok’s problems were basically confined to a three block area. Same with Greece, where all the protests are in front of one

MU: Remember twenty years ago the riots in L.A.? A lot of foreigners were asking, “Should I go to L.A.?” Right now, we’ve had almost no cancellation at all for London business.

PG: This brings me to the next point, confidence is not high in the economy. We see the Wall Street roller coaster every day. But going back to 2008 when we had the original meltdown, I went to Paris where almost every single hotel was oversold with Americans complaining about how expensive it was to be in Paris. Today, are you seeing that despite the economy, people want to and need to travel so badly that they are not going to be denied no matter what is going on?

MU: Last recession, we saw that the baby boomer generation was reprioritizing their expenditures from physical assets to life experiences. So there’s that spin. Virtuoso trademarked the phrase “Return on Life” and talked about how you’re never going to be this age and have this time again. The other key idea is that trips with your wife or family are incredibly important investments for your family, for yourself, for learning and rejuvenating. And if people don’t take trips and take a break, they don’t function as well.

PG: Let’s switch gears for a second and talk about Virtuoso because most people have never heard of Virtuoso. Every year, you invade Las Vegas every year for an event with the most travel providers and travel specialists in one ballroom. Explain what you guys are about to do.

MU: This is the twenty second year of the Virtuoso event. We’ll be nearly four thousand people from the travel industry ninety countries. We actually have these huge ballrooms and we have four minute appointments. We joke that when we started this twenty two years ago, we invented speed dating. We will do three hundred and twenty thousand four minute appointments in four days.

PG: I’ll play devil’s advocate, what can you possibly accomplish in four minutes?

MU: You can’t come here unless you’re already part of our network, so your quality has been vetted. It’s really about the personal connection. We had a situation last year where this young advisor gets shown this incredible property in Europe and she grabs the provider takes a picture of with him and sends it to her clients and says “I think I found this incredible place for you. By the way this is such and such who owns the place and she can’t wait to host you.”

PG: I’m one of those people who believes that if you want to see eye to eye, you’ve got to meet eye to eye.

MU: We now live in a world with social networks. We want to evolve the old traditional relationship with a customer because now it’s a collaborative process. You’re going to do research, we’re going to do research. We’re all going to talk to each other; it’s not as linear. For us, technology actually creates a social situation. We’re using webinars to go into people’s homes and to talk to someone from Italy.

PG: We’ve sort of come full circle. I just found everything related to the very first trip my family overseas when I was a child to Paris, London, Italy, and Switzerland. And there was an actual itinerary typed on onion skin paper by the travel agent. It was very detailed and basically reflected that they’d had many conversations about this trip. we come to the point where people who are at least as fanatical as I am, really want to have those planning conversations.

MU: It’s all about the conversation. Ultimately if you’re a travel adviser your job is to understand what your client wants to do. We spend so much energy developing personal relationships and having conversations because that it is what makes the different between good and great.

By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio.

Related links on PeterGreenberg.com: