Travel Insurance – To Buy or Not to Buy

In case you are on the fence about purchasing travel insurance and wonder if it will do you any good, I thought I would share my own travel insurance claim story with you all.

My husband and I took our daughter on a Carnival Cruise for her senior trip to the Eastern Caribbean.  We decided to splurge and get a suite rather than just a balcony so we had a little more square footage in our room.  You know teenagers, their stuff takes up a lot of space!

We ended up getting decent airfare from Billings to Fort Lauderdale.  It was more expensive to Miami and it just made more sense to get a shuttle from FLL to take us to the Port of MIA and save a few hundred dollars that way and help offset the cost of the suite vs. balcony.  Anytime I book a client from Montana or Wyoming, I want to make sure they have an overnight stay before going on to the Caribbean because of the airport connections.  You never know what can happen. I booked us a hotel stay near the airport since we were getting in so late.  I purchased travel insurance through Allianz, one of our preferred suppliers through Vacation.com that we recommend to use.

Well, our flight out of Billings was delayed, and our flight from Denver was delayed…which made us miss our connection in Houston.  Now mind you, my husband said “I don’t like flying United”. He does quite a bit of travel with his work.  I should have listened and just bought our air through Alaska Airlines.  We have always had positive experiences with them but their fares seem are a bit more and the schedules didn’t really work for us this time.  To fly Alaska Air you get routed through Seattle from Billings.  Long story short, I purchased United and now I had a hotel room that was paid for that we couldn’t use.  I bought a non-refundable fare but at that point it wouldn’t have made a difference because we weren’t within that 24 or 48 hour period to cancel.  We were just a few hours from our check in.

We weren’t the only passengers that missed our flight.  There was a very long line of very unhappy people.  I made Josh and Kelsey wait in line at customer service while I covertly went to plug my dead phone in so I could just call the 800 customer service number and try to get re-routed.  My ploy worked and I wasn’t on hold for very long before speaking with a very lovely gal that was more than happy to help me out.  The only problem was that the 7 am flight was already booked full so she was having us fly out at 11 am to Fort Lauderdale.  I should add that we had downloaded the United app and we already knew which flights were flying out in the morning.  If we went on the 11 am flight that would put us quite late getting to the port and I sure didn’t want to have something else hold us up and miss our ship!  There was a flight to Miami at 7:15 and we were able to get booked on that one instead, which really worked out great.  We got closer to our destination for a cheaper cost!  Also, the Miami airport has a cruise check in desk and since we had booked a suite we had priority check in.  We zoomed through that line, grabbed the Carnival shuttle from the airport and made it to the port.

After we returned home, I filed the claim.  It was really pretty simple and easy to do online.  I didn’t have to call and wait on hold.  I needed documentation on our flights so I called United and found out I needed to request a letter via email.  I also needed proof of the hotel purchase.  I received an email confirmation of my claim that stated I would be hearing from them within 7-10 days.  The check was in the mail when we returned from Vegas on Friday!  That was fast service if you ask me!  I’m just glad that’s all that went wrong and we didn’t need the insurance for anything else.  I highly recommend insurance, especially for those big ticket vacations!


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Home Based Travel Agent Forum Las Vegas 2014

Fabulous and Time Well Spent!

This year was a little different for the Home Based Travel Agent Forum.  It was still held at the Venetian as it is every year, but I was no longer an observer but a panelist.  I was asked to work with Constant Contact for email marketing.  It was completely new to me and I wasn’t sure where to start.  I was able to get a few email campaigns out before my daughter graduated from high school and then we had a senior trip to the Eastern Caribbean planned for her.

We got to Vegas late Saturday night and I attended Margie Jordan’s Session Sunday afternoon about Facebook and how to deal with the changes that have taken place.

Monday morning started with the general session and then our Email Marketing Makeover was up next.

Kelly Walton Travel Agent Forum

Kim and I ready for the show!

Ron Cates gave all the details to the agents in the room on what to expect with Constant Contact and then showed examples of our campaigns.

Kelly Walton Platinum Voyages

I had a 120% open rate on my first real campaign that I sent out.

 

Constant Contact set me up with a template that matches my Platinum Voyages website.  It took a little getting used to for me since I had never done anything like that before but I think it is a great resource and tool to use.  I think I had some great response from it and I’m very glad that I was a part of it.

I was also part of another session about branding yourself – “Learn how to take your BORING business to a Vibrant Brand”.  My tailgate on my suburban and my business cards were featured in this session.  Thanks Lauren!

Kelly Walton Platinum Voyages tailgate Kelly Walton Platinum Voyages travel agents business card

I truly feel honored to have been asked to participate in the show as well as being featured in another session! It was one very proud day! I had other travel agents recognizing me about being featured in the sessions which sparked some conversations and made me feel special. The travel agents that wanted to participate in the evening receptions were bussed to the Mob Museum for part of our weekly entertainment on Monday. On Tuesday, they sent us to the Tropicana to the Havana Club. That place was cool! I can’t wait to go back. After that we were invited to the Lavo Lounge in the Palazzo for more cocktails. I really didn’t think that the week could get much better, boy was I wrong! Wednesday morning was a Jeopardy style Cruise Line Trivia Game Show where the Carnival Corporation was giving away cruises! We were seated 5 to a table and worked as a team. There were reps from Carnival, Costa, Holland America, Princess and Cunard Cruise Lines. We were scored on the questions of course but also in how fast you clicked the clicker and you had 10 seconds to answer each question!  Each table had a different cruise ship name on it so that was how they kept track.

Cruise Line Trivia Panelists with Host Anita Pagliasso

Anita Pagliasso, Mike Julius – Carnival, Silvio Alonso – Costa, Bret Gove – Cunard, Christine Stevens – Holland America, and Brian O’Connor – Princess.

I took this photo before we were halfway done with the questions.

Cruise Line Trivia Game Show Stats halfway in

Our table was the Carnival Breeze and we were currently in 3rd place.

So the grand prize was a cruise for each team member and then 5 other teams got gift bags from the cruise lines. Our team missed two questions and by the time we were done and they started naming off the runner ups, I was sure we didn’t have a chance of winning since the team in first place halfway in got 5th. Again, I was wrong! I can’t even tell you the excitement that ran through me and came out my mouth in the form of screams!

We won a free cruise

The winning table!

Well now we had to figure out who was getting what cruise! I guess it was only fair that we draw straws so to speak. Since Kim ran the clicker she got to pick a business card first. She won a Mediterranean Costa Cruise. Karen picked next and got Holland America. Gale got Princess and then it was my turn. I pulled the Cunard card. Secretly it was the one I had hoped for all along! A transatlantic sailing from the UK to New York – just like our ancestors have done!! I’m shooting for next summer to take my free cruise.

Kelly Walton Platinum Voyages free cruise

Kim, Gale, Chuck, Karen and myself!

Not your typical Vegas trip, which people usually spend gambling. I’ll take winning a cruise any day! I want to give a special thanks to my Host Agency – A Ticket 2 Travel! Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today – loving being a Travel Agent!l


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Adventure Travel

I attended a webinar today for amazing adventure travel itineraries through G Adventures, formerly known as GAP Adventures.

About G Adventures

G Adventures is an adventure travel pioneer offering the widest selection of affordable small group tours, safaris and expeditions to more than 100 countries on all continents. It was the first adventure travel company to offer 100% guaranteed departures in 2013. Powered by an international team of passionate travelers, the award-winning trips embrace authentic accommodation, exotic cuisine and local transport to put travelers on a first-name basis with the planet’s people, cultures, landscapes and wildlife. The intimate, authentic and sustainable approach to small-group travel introduces travelers to the highlights of a destination while offering the freedom to explore it on their own. Whatever age, interest, ability or budget, G Adventures has a genuine life-changing experience. For more information please visit www.gadventures.com.

Everyone loves to travel, but not everyone loves to travel the same way. G Adventures Travel Styles gather trips of a feather together so you can spend less time searching and more time dreaming about where you’ll go next. From YOLO, Active, Comfort, Local Living, Marine, Family and Classic, you are sure to find what suits your lifestyle. Or maybe you’ll want to try something that is totally opposite of your norm and be adventurous!

 

Check out their YouTube channel for more videos that give you an amazing insight to the types of adventures they provide.  When you’re done, contact me and I’ll help you plan your trip. 


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Sheridan, Wyoming 6th Annual Get Out & Shop

I’m happy to announce I will have a booth set up at the 6th Annual Get Out & Shop event again this year.  It is being held at the Sheridan, Wyoming High School gym just like last year.  It’s on March 29th from 9am-4pm.  Please stop by to see me and let me help plan your vacation!  

This is a great event to help support the small business owners here locally in Sheridan, Wyoming and surrounding areas!  Hope to see you there!

http://www.getoutandshopwy.com/
Get_out_and_shop


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