Travel Research Online

Hey, peeps - a signal honor today, as I had an article published in Travel Research Online (TRO).  TRO is a fairly influential online magazine for the travel industry, read regularly by thousands of travel agents and suppliers.

The article is here:  http://www.travelresearchonline.com/blog/index.php/2014/04/are-you-overlooking-facebook-groups-in-your-social-media-efforts/

Nothing major, and I have several more articles coming in the next few months.  But I am rather proud of being noticed by a serious publication.  Does my little wannabe-writer heart good!


Going to Tucson for Global Travel Marketplace West!

Just got word that I've been invited to attend Global Travel Marketplace West! 
To quote them "This elite appointment-only event connects the most influential travel agents from the Western states and provinces in North America with global travel suppliers...GTM West travel agents represent the highest producers located in Western North America and must qualify through a meticulous screening process in order to attend."
 It is quite an honor to be selected.  Only about 75 of the top travel agents in the western U.s. and Canada are chosen.
The event includes a couple dozen one-on-one appointments, over two day, with travel suppliers, where I will have a chance to make the kind of contacts that allow me and my agents to provide our customers the best possible information and deals on travel.
This is one of the things that separate Bridges & Holman Worldwide Travel from those big online companies.  And most smaller agencies.  When you need something done, we don't have to find it on a website, or sit on hold with the 800 number - we KNOW someone who we can talk to and get things DONE!

GTM West will be held at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, AZ on May 2-4. 

Many thanks to my friend Jacquie, and all the good people at Travel Weekly for this opportunity.


Norwegian Getaway, ULTIMATE GETAWAY, pt III or The Final Chapter

Well, after  a couple nights of, effectively, no sleep, I managed a solid 4.5 hours...up at 8:30 and down to Savor to make a 9am breakfast appointment.  My friends Lisa and Carmen, a guy I'd met way back on the EPIC when he was playing guitar for Roadside Louie in Fat Cats were already there.  My bunkie showed up a few minutes later and we waited for Crickett...who eventually let us know they seated her and her friend on the other side at Taste, rather than let them look around and find us where we were.

Breakfast was corned beef hash, pretty stingy on the corned beef, and a couple eggs, and a surprisingly good biscuits and gravy.  Descended as I am from a Grapes of Wrath Okie family, I know from biscuits and gravy.  I usually avoid ordering them anywhere north of the Mason Dixon Line.  But they did a creditable job.

After breakfast we got our bags and went up to O'Sheehans to watch the silly people standing in line.  Once the line had gone down, we walked off, hopped in the car and were in Newark a half hour later.

But, lest you think the adventure is over....there is one last installment.

See, a month or so ago, they changed the debark time from 8am to 10am.  I originally had a 1pm flight home.  But, when they changed the docking time, and then people kept yapping about the Bud Light Hotel, and SuperBowl traffic and blah, blah, blah...I started getting nervous, and changed it to a 3:50 flight.

So, yeah...I got to EWR at about 11:30.  Ran to the Southwest counter to inquire about getting back on the 1:30 flight I had originally.  But the price had gone up a mere $487 dollars since I purchased my ticket.  I had thought if this happened I would spring $50 for a day pass to the Admirals Club where I hung out last time I had time to kill at EWR.  On my way over to Terminal C from Terminal A I happened upon a very cool sight.  A band setting up in the baggage claim area, and a dude playing a flute.  Thinking to myself, how weird is this? that I would meet and listen to a world class Grammy winning flute player on the cruise, and then run into another in the airport on the way home (since, honestly, I don't know that I have spoken to a flautist since my high school choir director who also played flute on occasion, and I am a musician who has hung out with lots of musicians in the last 40 years).  So I walked up, introduced myself and started talking to him.  He is a New Jersey boy who spent 10 years in LA in the music business before returning to his roots.  Helluva nice guy.  And a pretty good band.  He wanted me to sit in but, frankly, I was dog-tired and not feeling it.  But I did so enjoy listening to them for two hours.  He also did a lot of Latin Jazz-y tunes, and even played a Nestor Torres tune or two.  By the time they broke it down, I just had time to get thru security and board my flight home.

Which were completely uneventful, and I managed to pull in to my driveway at just after midnight.

All in all, it was a brilliant 3 days, from the good seats on the plane heading out, to a great (if somewhat cold) two days on the Norwegian Getaway, to the most pleasant 4 hours I've ever spent in an airport waiting to go home.

Thus ends the tale.

But, one more time...if you are ready to book the Norwegian Getaway...CALL ME.  760.265.3687 or email at daveholman@verizon.net.  I guarantee I can get you a better fare and more amenities than anyone on the planet, including Norwegian Cruise Line!

Norwegian Getaway, ULTIMATE GETAWAY, pt II

So...Tuesday, full day at sea.

Started with breakfast at O'Sheehans.  My usual Country Platter.  Then off to explore the ship a little more until going to a session with Stuart Cohen...excuse me Stuart Lloyd Cohen (he's re-branding himself or something).  He was his usual interesting self, talking about how to cultivate loyalty and whatnot.  From there we went to an Executive Overview thing with Andy Stuart and Camille Olivere.  It was nice, all 4 of us lined up with our matching Bridges & Holman Worldwide Travel logo shirts. Among all the interesting news and updates about Norwegian's last year and the upcoming couple years, Camille threw a challenge out to the attendees. 

She told us that anyone who would walk The Plank, get a picture of it, and tag her on Facebook would get the souvenir of their choice...sweatshirt, jacket, coffee cup, whatever.

Those of you who know me, know that I have a serious competitive streak.  I just somehow can't walk away from a dare.  So, three of us immediately began making plans to walk the damn plank. 

When we got up to the top deck, the temperature according to my phone was about 22 degrees.  With howling wind.  And snow flurries.  I had second thoughts.  Then 3rd thoughts.  But, like I said...a part of me just refuses to walk away from a challenge.  So, with memories of the pulled groin muscle I suffered on Breakaway when I accepted Camille's Flywheel challenge, I suited up, and started up the course.  My hands were numb by the time I got to to the top.  So, I turned around and walked back down the stairs and borrowed some gloves from a random stranger.  They helped a little.  Headed back up, took the shortest possible route to the Plank (you can't just jump on the course anywhere, but you can pick the elements you do at each platform).  Got to the Plank, walked out a few steps and yelled at Alyona to get a picture before I froze to death.  She wanted more pictures.  Then video.  Whatever.  When she was done with the photo shoot, I scurried back the same short way I came and ran indoors to try and get some feeling back in my fingers.  So I could go back out there and get pictures and video of her...without gloves so I could operate the camera.  By the time we were all done my fingers were frostbitten and PAINFUL.  Way past "numb".  So we ran to the buffet to get some warm stuff in us.  But, hey...I'm getting a sweatshirt, right.

After I got feeling fully restored in all my limbs, it was time to go listen to Bob Becker.  That was good.  He's always motivational to me.  Reminds me a lot of the first real estate broker I worked for 200 years ago.

And then it was time to suit up for Illusionarium.  Got dressed and headed to the show. Due to a little mix up in the seating arrangements, I was not able to sit with my friends, but continuing my lucky streak of the week, that resulted in getting an even better table, right up at the stage.  So, SCORE!

It was, in a word, FABULOUS.  More than just a magic show, it's a story, with a series of magic shows by several different magicians, mentalists and whatnot, and some very cool special effects.  It's hard to describe, but I do urge everyone to check it out.  (and i'd be happy to sell you the Getaway cruise, so you can do so). 

Oh, and a word about the food.  The Cirque Dinner and Dreams food when they first started it was pretty spotty, with some saying it was okay and others, not so much.  I hear it has gotten better and more consistent.  In the Illusionarium, while I can't vouch for consistency, based on my sample of one night, the quality of the dinner was excellent.  A nice filet steak, fork tender, a couple of fried shrimpy things with a vaguely Asian flavor, some nice broccoli and a twice baked potato.  And a nice little sampler thing of deserts.  So, while I probably wouldn't recommend paying the cover charge for Illusionarium just for the food, you don't have to worry about going away hungry.

After the show we were invited to a comedy show, but it was late and we didn't feel like breaking in in the middle of it, so we all hung out in the casino, smoking and waiting for a cocktail party in Bliss.  That was nice.  A chance to talk to a few of the Norwegian folks, and some colleagues.  The rest of the evening was just bopping from the casino to Howl at the Moon, to O'Sheehans and back to the casino and back to O'Sheehans.  All kind of a blur.  And I don't even drink...

I do know the capper was Crickett's friend Andrew deciding we needed to have a SkeeBall tournament at O'Sheehans.  The last couple hours was spent there, playing SkeeBall and candle pin bowling and Deer Hunter.  And eating wings and fish and chips and just generally annoying the crew who were probably desperately hoping everyone would just go home, dammit. 

Finally stumbled back to the cabin at 2:30 or so to get some sleep.  But more talk intervened, and the sleep was postponed another hour or so...but finally...

The last morning, and my adventures in getting home will be posted soon.  PLEASE STAND BY.

and if you get bored in the meantime, please check out the photos and videos on my FB profile at fb.com/DaveHolman or fb.com/HolmanTravel.  Then shoot me a message or give me a call, and we'll talk about YOUR Ultimate Getaway.  I have group space and a special OBC deal that the big online discounters can't match.  In fact, you can't even get this deal by calling or going online with Norwegian directly!