Source: Tampa Bay News 10

Most people are booking staycations to avoid getting stuck outside the country.

TAMPA, Fla. — As more people are making travel plans in a few weeks for the summer, many are opting to stay in-state instead of heading abroad.

“We’re going to try a road trip I think next,” Frank Keeney said.

Keeney and his wife Tony were stranded on the Holland America Zaandam cruise ship nearly three months ago with hundreds of passengers and crew showing coronavirus symptoms.

“Up until the time that we were quarantined in our cabins. It was a great cruise! We were really enjoying it, but once we’re quarantined, the cabin, it’s just such a small space to be in for such a long period of time,” Tony said.

All they wanted was to come home. Now as the state of Florida starts reopening, they say they don’t plan on going on a cruise ship any time soon.

“I wouldn’t go right away. I, you know, I’m not sure I would go even in August, but eventually, this will all be behind us,” Keeney said.

Most cruise lines have already announced they’ll be sailing this summer, but travel agents aren’t seeing bookings to go abroad.

“Most of the people that are calling us are doing land packages because they want to get off or go somewhere if they really need to for an emergency,” Tammy Levent said.

The owner of Elite Travel in Palm Harbour says most of her clients want to stay in the state and are booking staycations in St. Augustine or Fort Lauderdale.

That way they avoid getting stuck outside the country and stay safe.

“My clients are all ready to jump on a trip and be able to go. Their number one question and concern is, ‘If I come back from the trip am I going to be quarantined,'” Levent said.

So, for now, travelers in Florida will plan on putting their money back into the state. The Keeney’s will be watching the data before booking their next trip.

“We’ll have to see how the opening the state of Florida goes. I think now, if everything starts spiking back up again we’ll probably not really wanna be socializing with a lot of people,” Keeney said.

If you do plan on traveling outside of the country, experts recommend you book through an agent. That way you can make sure all CDC guidelines are being followed. Having an agent will also make it easier to get refunds if anything were to go wrong.

The Responsible Traveler

by JuJuB

What responsibilities does a traveler have when booking a trip? While many people associate responsible travelers as those who are mindful of their carbon footprint, respect the culture and customs of the places they’re visiting, and will take the time to learn about a place before choosing to travel to that location, there are other ways that travelers need to be responsible. Ready to learn more?

The Responsible Traveler

Anytime a traveler uses a travel agent to book their next trip, both the traveler and the travel agent must be sure to pay very close attention to their individual responsibilities. The responsibility of the travel agent is to plan the trip in a way that meets all of the travelers wants and needs. This includes doing things like making travel reservations, hotel accommodations, tour reservations, entertainment reservations, and selling them necessary travel insurance.


The list below includes the many different ways that travelers need to be responsible when booking their next trip, whether they use a travel agent or not.

  • Make sure all documents are printed and taken with you on your trip. Making 2 copies and keeping them in separate places is recommended, as well as leaving copies with trusted friends and/or family members.
  • Make sure any travel company you want to do business with is legit. Simply performing some detailed research will give you the information you need.
  • Be sure to get every person’s name you’re dealing with. This supports your ability to have a trail when it’s necessary to contact these people for any reason.
  • Make sure your passport will not expire in the next 6 months. Most countries won’t let travelers enter unless their passport expires at least 6 months after their last day of travel.
  • Know where you are and who to contact in case of an emergency. This is one of the first things you should do when staying in a new location.
  • Take out travel insurance, for you and all who are traveling with you. You never know when something will happen, like an injury, or someone back home gets sick. The current Coronavirus crises is a perfect example of why you need travel insurance, as it’s not the responsibility of the hotel, airline, or travel agent if something happens to you during your travels. When buying travel insurance, be sure to read all the fine print, and find out what the cancellation policy requires you to do.


Have a Great Time, Responsible Traveler!

Elite Travel Management Group, Inc


The coronavirus pandemic has forced many Americans to cancel their vacations and destination weddings planned for the next two months and left a looming uncertainty for those looking to travel this summer.

Mexico – one of the most popular destinations for American tourists – could be poised to take a big hit after President Donald Trump’s March 19 announcement that he was closing the U.S.-Mexico border to all nonessential travel, including tourism, through April 20.

Trump has not yet banned tourist flights to Mexico. However, the same day he made his border closure announcement, the State Department issued a travel advisory urging Americans not to travel abroad.

Mexico is the top destination for American tourists, according to the the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office. In 2019, some 32.3 million U.S. citizens traveled to Mexico, the NTTO reported. The most popular cities include Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cabo San Lucas.

Now that the border is closed, USA TODAY is asking travel agents to help advise travelers about whether they should cancel and what it might cost them.

What should a traveler planning to visit Mexico in the next month do?

Jennifer Doncsecz, president of VIP Vacations Inc. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is among the travel agents scrambling to reschedule their spring vacations to Mexico for the summer and fall. She says a large swath of her clients are now booked to go to Mexico orother countries in June.

She is cautioning travelers to research cancellation policies before requesting a refund, lest they lose a portion of that sum to cancellation fees. Also, some hotels  are not offering refunds at all, meaning the trip could be a complete loss if you choose not to reschedule the trip.

No penalty?  Hotel chains differ on cancellation fee policies around the coronavirus

Doncsecz recommends that travelers rebook their trips for later in the year. That way, the traveler remains whole and the tourism industry doesn’t lose money during this rough time.

“That keeps that other person’s job at the hotel, it gives you the vacation you wanted and it keeps the economy in the cycle,” Doncsecz says. “The worst we can do is cancel and get our money back and not travel.”

Some hotels may also offer lower rates, room upgrades and extra discounts for travelers who immediately rebook, Doncsecz adds.

The Hyatt Ziva, which has resorts in Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, is currently offering room upgrades at no additional cost when guests rebook their stay, she said.

What if someone has put money down for a trip that is scheduled between late May and August?

Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel in Palm Harbor, Florida, advises tourists with summer travel reservations to hold of on canceling or rebooking for now. If the pandemic worsens, the airline could cancel the flight or the resort could close, meaning the traveler is more likely to get a full refund.

Don’t want to fly during coronavirus crisis?   Don’t rush to cancel that ticket. Here’s why

Levent also suggests that people on trip payment plans ask for a deadline extension.

“A lot of things can happen between now and May,” Levent said. “People are freaking out way prematurely. I would just wait and see.”

Still trying to change or cancel your flight amid coronavirus crisis?  4 (new) things to know

Why aren’t all hotels offering automatic refunds given the spread of coronavirus?

Many hotels and resorts view the coronavirus as an act of nature, similar to a hurricane, which doesn’t make them accountable, Doncsecz says. And in most cases, trip insurance would not cover a pandemic.

Hotels and resorts also stand to lose a lot of money if they refund every customer. Many are already in jeopardy of closing if the deadly virus continues to force travel restrictions.

“Our economy needs people to not be scared,”  Doncsecz says. “If we (the tourism industry) are the hardest hit, the world is going to have a huge unemployment crisis.”

Travel insurance and coronavirus: What it covers – and what it doesn’t

What has been the impact on destination weddings?

Doncsecz, who specializes in destination weddings, says most brides with destination weddings in Mexico or the Caribbean are postponing them for later in the year – such as July or August – or even 2021.

She says the biggest problem with rebooking is that some guests are unable to make the new date. And because most destination wedding venues require group contracts, guests may not be able to cancel their individual reservations.

In this case, the guest can either transfer their reservation to someone else or receive a credit for a stay on another date, she says.

Source: Barron’s

The ever-expanding fallout surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has shocked the hotel industry, forcing dozens of the world’s most famous hotels to cease operations. While some closures are open-ended, others have been accompanied by a fixed reopening date, though uncertainty grows with each day as the outbreak spreads across the globe.

“For almost every organization, dealing with a pandemic such as coronavirus is uncharted territory,” says Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, whose clients include high-end hotels. “A general principle when dealing with a matter of public health and safety is to be proactive. Fast-thinking hotel and hospitality brands will do everything they can to adapt to this terrible situation.”

The hotel industry is one of many that have approached the U.S. government asking for relief in light of the unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic. A cataclysmic decline in travel and mass cancellations of major events and conventions have threatened millions of hotel jobs across the U.S.

On March 17, executives from some of the country’s largest hotel companies, including Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, MGM, Universal, and the Walt Disney Company, went to Washington, D.C., and joined the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) in requesting a $150 billion bailout package from the Trump administration. Various CEOs cited plans to lay off thousands of workers in order to cope with the devastating impact the coronavirus is having on their industry. The AHLA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Every business owner needs to protect their company so that when this storm passes, every employee has a ship to return home to, so we can set sail and return to where we started and go further than before,” says Torossian, who has lectured on crisis communications at Harvard Business School. “It’s vitally important to focus on protecting capital, assets, and resources of the business. Cash is important. And always remembering the human element of the great people who work for the company.”

Marriott—with 1.4 million rooms, the world’s largest hotel company—has put tens of thousands of employees on furlough while shutting down numerous properties. The affected employees will not receive payment, but will continue receiving healthcare benefits while furloughed. In a statement, Marriott announced how the company is “taking numerous proactive steps to mitigate the negative financial and operational impacts of COVID-19. Business contingency plans have been implemented and will continue to be adjusted in response to the global situation. At the property level, contingency plans include measures such as closing food and beverage outlets, reducing staff and closing floors or even entire hotels.”

And it’s not just the biggest brands and large chains that have been suffering. Many of New York City’s luxury boutique properties, including The Standard, High Line, and Ian Schrager’s PUBLIC Hotel (currently accepting reservations from May 1), have had to close down. “We have been through a lot together and it will pass, things will return to normal,” said the influential hotelier in a message posted on social media last week. “People are more important than businesses and we will get the business back and we will be going back and doing everything that we love to do—which is to create the best hotels in the world.”

The New York Hotel Trades Council has said that roughly half of its 40,000 members have been laid off; particularly damaging have been the temporary closures of well-trafficked larger properties such as the 1,878-room New York Hilton Midtown. (On Wednesday, the Four Seasons Hotel on 57th street announced that it will offer free lodging to doctors, nurses, and medical personnel working to respond to the pandemic.)

“The entire world, from corporate clients to leisure travelers, is affected by these closures, but we all feel industry-wide that these are temporary closures to make sure that they can bounce back in the next couple of months when this pandemic is over,” says Tammy Levent, CEO of travel management company Elite Travel. “If we don’t have these closures now and become proactive, they may be in a position to never open their doors again.”

What would normally be a fun recap of America’s most popular visitor destinations has turned into a grim exploration of how the pandemic has affected iconic cities, and the luxury hotels that call those places home, in different ways.

For an extreme example, look no further than Las Vegas, where an unprecedented 30-day shutdown, scheduled to be lifted on April 17, has left tens of thousands of beds empty and scores out of work. Locals have never seen the iconic Las Vegas Strip dark for such a prolonged period, with big names (Caesars Palace, Four Seasons, Bellagio, The Cosmopolitan) counting down the days until they can turn their lights back on and welcome the public. Concerned officials have claimed the month-long closures will cripple the local economy, which welcomed 49.5 million visitors in 2019, according to the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority.

Officials in Hawaii have also gone to great lengths to discourage visitors, now having instituted mandatory 14-day quarantines for all incoming arrivals. The state’s vital tourism industry has been rocked, with huge Oahu properties such as Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and the Kahala Hotel & Resort, all shuttered for the time being.

On the other side of the country, Boston has seen some of its best-known properties make global headlines in light of the pandemic. The Marriott Long Wharf, which majestically looks out on to Boston Harbor, closed its doors on March 12 after consulting with city health officials in the aftermath of 77 confirmed coronavirus cases having been linked to a Biogen meeting that was held at the hotel in late February. Across town, at not even a year old, Encore Boston Harbor’s 671 luxe guest rooms sit empty while the entire casino and resort has been temporarily shuttered.

On March 20, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber ordered all lodging establishments—including hotels, short-term rentals, and more—to shut down and vacate guests from their premises by March 24. (“Our hotels have always been the lifeblood of our economy, so shuttering them is not something to do impulsively. But right now, as painful as it may be, the reality is we just cannot be a tourist destination,” Gelber said in a news release.) Other notable area resorts, including Acqualina Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, and the Biltmore in Coral Gables, all closed on a voluntary basis beginning this past weekend. One of South Florida’s most famous properties, The Breakers in Palm Beach, shut down for a three-week closure on March 18.

Across the country, iconic names ranging from The Hay-Adams (one of Washington, D.C.’s most historic hotels) to Sedona’s Enchantment Resort and Mii amo spa (two of the Southwest’s most in-demand luxury getaways) have all closed down temporarily. Three of Chicago’s most expensive places to stay, the Peninsula, Park Hyatt, and Four Seasons, have ceased operations for the time being as well. Even lively West Hollywood, which never faces a shortage of visitors, has seen big names like the Andaz and the Mondrian shut down.

“This is a historic time for the hotel industry for so many reasons,” Torossian says. “There are certain companies that will be changed forever, and others for whom things will recover quicker. Unfortunately, there are also some businesses which may never come back—who’s going to vacation in Italy this summer?—but other businesses will arrive.”

Across the Atlantic, the likes of Paris and London have not been spared. The former has seen some of its most famous addresses (the Ritz Paris, Four Seasons Hotel George V) shut down, while the latter has seen chic properties such as Dukes and the Rosewood cease operations for the time being.

Even the four highest-grossing Trump Hotels (Las Vegas, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Turnberry, Scotland) have been forced to close as well.

“We have nothing coming in,” Levent says. “No one is calling to inquire or plan any travel at this time. Every resort and hotel in the world is affected, and I believe the larger hoteliers and chains will be able to bounce back, but to say that the travel industry is going to bounce back in a matter of weeks after everything resumes, that will not likely happen.”

Tammy Levent featured on CTV News

by Tammy

SOURCE: Two Girls One Suitcase

By: Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel and founder of TASK™

Spring is the prime travel season for many Americans but this year the Coronavirus has replaced excitement with trepidation. The coronavirus causes respiratory disease in those who contract it. As of March 4th, there are over 93,000 cases found globally.

The big question now is “Should you cancel your upcoming trip?” Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The decision depends on when and where you are traveling and what your current health condition is. If the CDC or World Health Organization has put out a “do not travel” elevated warning, then do not travel there. If they say do not go to China, obviously you are not going to go to China even if it means having to miss your business trip. Your health is more important.

The best thing to do is to keep track of the virus through news updates and travel alerts. There are many ways to stay healthy and safe while traveling. No matter when or where you are traveling, basic hygiene is the best means of prevention. Wash your hands with soap and water several times a day, especially before eating. Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Avoid touching your face or putting your hands in your mouth. If flying, be smart, wear a face mask when in close quarters.

I always take sanitizing wipes with me on airplanes and the first thing I do is wipe down the seat in front of me, the tray table, the headrest, armrest and seat belt. Another major thing that can help prevent sickness when flying is shutting off your ventilation on your overhead. I have been doing this for years.

When it comes to your luggage and purse, never put them on your pillow. Think of all of the places your purse and luggage have been! They touch the bathroom floor, the airport floor, the street, and the pavement. It’s just not sanitary!

No matter when or where you are traveling, be cautious and smart when it comes to your health. Discuss health concerns with your doctor and use qualified resources for information like the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

ABOUT TAMMY LEVENT: National TV Travel correspondent, Tammy Levent is the CEO of Elite Travel, an award-winning national travel agency named the fastest-growing and most trusted in the nation and she is also the founder of TASK™ (The Travel Agent’s Success Kit) a business that helps struggling travel agencies successfully adapt to this new age of travel.


Travelers & Consumers Should Visit: ·
Travel Agents Should Visit:

Follow Stephanie and Nave’ at

Newer Posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept