James Olivier, general manager of the newly renamed The Dilly talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how his hotel, located just off Piccadilly Square, has relaunched under a new name after being known as the Le Meridien Piccadilly for years. Olivier also details the history of the property, the renovations planned for the hotel when it reopens next year, the importance of its location, and what’s happening on the London hotel scene today. For more information, visit www.thedillylondon.com.

Feisal Jaffer, global head of LXR Hotels & Resorts, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how LXR fits in with Hilton’s other luxury brands, how many hotels and resorts it currently has in its collection, and what’s on tap for expansion in 2021 and beyond. Jaffer also discussed LXR’s brand attributes and what makes it different from other luxury hotels. For more information, click on LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Amy Berquist, vice president-conservation, education & sustainability for Lindblad Expeditions, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about Lindblad’s new Galapagos Relief Fund, developed in partnership with Island Conservation, which seeks to help the people and communities of the Galapagos get through the tourism downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information or to contribute, visit www.islandrelief.fund or www.expeditions.com

James Shillinglaw and Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report (ITR) wish you, our travel advisor readers and travel supplier partners, a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year. They also highlight the things they are thankful for this year as well as how ITR has added to its travel news coverage, produced more video interviews, launched podcasts, boosted its hotel coverage. From us to you: Happy Holidays!

Francois Olivier-Luiggi, general manager of The Pierre in New York, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how he reopened his famed hotel amid the pandemic, what challenges he faced, how he delivers a great luxury experience in this new age of travel, including even small events and weddings. For more information, visit www.thepierreny.com.

Michelle Fee, founder, CEO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the outlook for cruise sales next year and beyond, what impact news of the COVID vaccines has had on bookings, where cruisers want to go in 2021 and 2022, what kinds of cruises clients are booking, how travel advisors should be selling cruises today, and whether anything good has come out of the pandemic. For more information on Cruise Planners, visit www.cruiseplanners.com.

Monique Ponfoort, CEO of Aurora Expeditions, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about her unique, Sydney, Australia-based expedition cruise and tour operator, including how it’s surviving the pandemic; what ships it has now and expects to be delivered next year; new itineraries for 2021 and 2022 to the Arctic, Antarctic and more; and why expedition cruising continues to be such a hot category in the market. For more information, visit www.aurora-expeditions.com

 

John Diorio, associate vice president of sales for Virgin Voyages, talks with James Shillinglaw about his innovative cruise line’s new Seacademy, a new training program for travel advisors. Diorio also provides an update on Virgin Voyages and its two ships, Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady, set to debut next year on Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. To access Seacademy, visit www.firstmates.com. For more information, visit www.virginvoyages.com.

Sean Graber and Erik Ornitz, creators of Tripadvisor’s Reco, talk with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about their new program to affiliate with real travel advisors to refer business and book complicated travel. Graber and Ornitz reveal the way leads will be distributed, the fees for the service, and how advisors get to keep commission on all trips booked. More to the point, they emphasize how critical travel advisors are to booking travel in the new pandemic age. For more information, visit www.helloreco.com

Dan Meiser and James Wayman, the two partners overseeing a small culinary empire in Mystic, Conn., talk with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how their four farm-to-table dining outlets, including the new Nana’s Bakery & Pizza, Grass & Bone, Engine Room and Oyster Club are turning this famed coastal town into a foodie’s paradise. For more information, visit www.nanasct.com, www.grassandbonect.com, www.engineroomct.com, www.oysterclubct.com and www.stoneacresfarm.com

Mark Drusch, senior vice president of revenue management, alliances and strategy at Qatar Airways, talks with Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report about his airline's expansion strategy in the U.S. even during the pandemic, including new stops in San Francisco and Seattle, as well as a new partnership with Alaska Airlines. For more information, visit www.qatar.com.

Kristin Carlson, managing director, and Denise Schmiedeknecht, travel trade manager for Tahiti Tourisme-North America talk with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the new Tahiti Specialist Program for travel advisors, the just completed Tahiti Specialist conference, and other ways Tahiti is communicating with the trade. They also talk about how Tahiti remains open to travelers from the U.S. and how the destination is getting through the pandemic period. For more information about the Tahiti Specialist Program, email Specialist@tahititourisme.com or visit www.TahitiSpecialist.org. For information on the Islands of Tahiti, visit www.TahitiTourisme.com

Michelle Fee, founder, CEO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, and Vicky Garcia, chief operating officer and co-owner of the host agency franchise group, an American Express representative, talk with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about their just completed first-ever virtual conference for their members, the state of the cruise business today amid the pandemic and the outlook going forward, and the wide range of marketing and technology tools Cruise Planners has developed to help member travel advisors survive now and thrive in the future. For more information, visit www.cruiseplanners.com

Jan Swartz, newly named group president of Holland America Group, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Group about how she will oversee four cruise brands—Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn and P&O Australia. Swartz is a familiar face, having led Princess Cruises for the past seven years and served with the line for nearly 20 years. Now she talks about how she’s going to meet new challenges even as the cruise industry works to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Zsuzsanna Sarmon, regional head of business development, North America, for the Hungarian National Tourist Office in New York, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the Central Europe Specialist Program, giving travel advisors a way to get sales training for Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. Sarmon also talks about the many attractions of Hungary, how it’s dealing with the pandemic, and how it’s been working with travel advisors to get them selling the destination again, including a new dedicated training program just for Hungary. For more information, visit www.centraleuropespecialist.com or www.discover-ce.eu.

Michael Johnson, president of Toronto-based Travel Edge, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how his host agency has expanded dramatically in the U.S. over the past five years and the advantages of its hosted travel advisor program, which comes with turnkey marketing, technology and training programs and a lucrative compensation structures. For more information, email michael@traveledge.com or visit www.traveledge.com.

Jennifer Tombaugh, president of Tauck, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how her popular upscale tour brand has gotten through the crisis, communicated with travel advisors, and what it’s planning for 2021 and beyond, including the company’s overall strategy for recovery. For more information, visit www.tauck.com.

Helen Montijanno, vice president of sales and marketing for the U.S. and Canada for Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, talks with Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report about the brand's 27 hotels in Spain, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico, including what's open, what's renovated, new promotions and more. For more information, visit www.bahiaprincipe.com

Shadi Saman, sales manager for the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World, talks with Angela Hughes, owner of Trips & Ships Luxury Travel and a correspondent for Insider Travel Report about how this five-star resort on Disney property, which opened in 2014, has been working to recover business since it reopened on July 1 with full amenities. This family-friendly Four Seasons features kids programs, family accommodations and other family programs, and now special offers to get business back as we emerge from the pandemic. For more information, visit www.fourseasons.com/orlando.

Carol Cabezas, chief operating officer for Azmara, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how her destination immersion-focused cruise line has worked its way through the pandemic crisis and how it is looking to emerge next year with new itineraries, destinations and inclusions on its three nearly identical boutique ships. Cabezas also offers suggestions on how you can sell Azamara today for cruises in 2021, 2022 and 2023. For more information, visit www.azamara.com

Jodi DiSalle, vice president of marketing and communications for Experience Kissimmee, talks with James Shillinglaw about her Florida destination’s unusual new marketing campaign, which asks travelers from the future how they enjoyed their vacations in Kissimmee when they were kids. The campaign for a destination located at the gates of Walt Disney World is a unique way to highlight the many attractions of Kissimmee beyond the theme parks. For more information, visit www.experiencekissimmee.com.

Richard Ross, director of sales and marketing for the Grand Hyatt Nashville, talks with Alan Fine of Insider Travel Report about this hotel built on an 18-acre campus known as Nashville Yards. Newly open as of Oct.1, the property features seven different food and beverage experiences, including The Continental from Chef Sean Brock, a spa and fitness center, a fifth floor outdoor pool floor and a rooftop bar. For more information, visit www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/tennessee/grand-hyatt-nashville/bnarn.

Gary Pollard, chairman of Ensemble Travel Group and president of Ambassador Tours in San Francisco, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about his agency cooperative’s recent virtual conference, how Ensemble agencies are surviving the coronavirus crisis, how the pandemic is affecting membership in the group, the outlook for 2021 and 2022, and the challenges that Ensemble must face going forward. For more information, visit www.ensembletravel.com

Derek Stevens, the impresario and owner of the brand new Circa Las Vegas, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the casino resort he’s created in Las Vegas Downtown. Stevens, who also owns The D and the Golden Gate on Freemont Street, describes the unique features of his new property, including the largest Sports Book in the U.S., innovative food and beverage outlooks, the Stadium Swim pool complex, and the upcoming rooms, suites and Legacy Lounge, a homage to some of the icons of Vegas. For more information, visit www.circalasvegas.com.

David Harris, president and CEO of Ensemble Travel Group talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report after his travel agency cooperative’s first virtual conference. Harris details new programs designed to help agency members during the pandemic, what the outlook is for 2021 and 2022, the challenges Ensemble has faced as an organization, and what kind of government relief he’s hoping will emerge. For more information, visit www.ensembletravel.com.

Michael Moritz, owner of Borgo Pignano, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about his boutique hotel estate in Tuscany, how it’s gotten through the pandemic, why the property served as a founding member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ new Beyond Green sustainable brand, a new discovery of Roman antiquity just steps from the hotel, and how Borgo Pigano is planning a new sister hotel in Florence in 2023. For more information, visit www.borgopignano.com or www.staybeyondgreen.com.

 

Alex Ferri, founder of Palmaia-the House of Aia, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about how he created this wellness resort in Playacar on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Ferri details the name, concept, dining, rituals and programs of what is proving to be one of the innovative properties to open in the past year. He also talks about what it’s been like opening a resort during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, visit www.thehouseofaia.com

Samir Saab, president of Prohotel International Inc., talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about Casas Del XVI, his boutique hotel in Santa Domingo, a series of historic houses that offer luxury accommodations and service, and a very different kind of experience in the Dominican Republic. Saab also describes his other resort, Sublime Samana, which offers a more typical beachfront luxury experience. He also details how his properties have survived through the pandemic and how the Dominican Republic is welcoming back travelers. For more information, visit www.casasdelxvi.net and www.sublimesamana.com

Michaela Claudino, director of Czech Tourism in New York, talks with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about the new specialist program that gives travel advisors the chance to Discover Central Europe, including information on the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Those advisors that take the program can become Certified Europe Specialists with access to sales and promotional tools and a mobile sales companion app.  They also received a personalized Central Europe Specialist diplomas. For more information, visit www.centraleuropespecialist.com  or www.discoer-ce.eu

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