Continue Learning about Alaska

While no one is traveling to Alaska right now, they will! You should start thinking about where your clients will want to go once travel ramps back up. In fact, if Alaska is in your future business/sales plan, it is imperative that you start to make a plan now as to whom you will partner with for co-op, etc.

But of course, one of the most important steps is to immerse yourself in the destination. And there is no better way to learn about a destination than to experience it yourself, but it’s difficult to be everywhere. That’s why destination reports by colleagues are absolutely wonderful. One of The Travel Institute’s own family members—Steven Coy, CTC—recently experienced another of his many trips to Alaska and wanted to share his tips. Here is what Steven has to say:

My “go-to” destination is Alaska. I know my travel agent must roll his eyes when I tell him it’s time for a return trip; but each time, I have been rewarded with new and exciting experiences. This visit, a few travel truths became very clear. These can be applied to a traveler as well as an approach to selling a vacation.

Travel When You Can (This can’t be more relevant than right now):
“Opportunity is NOT a lengthy visitor”—the words from the great American philosopher, Stephen Sondheim, easily apply to opportunities to visit a destination or to participate in an activity. How many times have we seen suppliers eliminate itineraries, ports of call, or side trips? Nothing is guaranteed. (Just ask those people who thought they were going to see Notre Dame in all its glory last fall.) 
Things don’t need to be so dramatic. The Olympics happen every four years (except for 2020). Oberammergau is celebrated every 10 years. Expedition cruises through the Northwest Passage are just starting to become an annual event, but

Similarly, ability is NOT just a wallet issue. One of the saddest things I overheard at breakfast one day was a mother and middle-aged daughter discussing the day’s activity. “Honey, you go on ahead, I will stay here. I don’t think I can make it.” It was sad to see someone who had saved for a wonderful trip-of-a-lifetime having to sit out part of the experience. 
If people put off some destination until a more convenient time, it may turn out to be a time they CAN’T do everything they want. It’s sad to watch a trip pass you by.

Manage Expectations:
Face it, we all have expectations about what we’ll experience on vacation. Travel brochures are part of that when they use the most extraordinary pictures to feature the beautiful places, unique experiences, perfect weather, and, of course for ecotravel, animals. Travelers should be prepared for reality. Prepared travelers will enjoy their time much more than someone who is thinking it should be sunny and 70 degrees everywhere they go. 

For Return Trips … Mix Things Up:
I am THAT customer. Not the that customer who is a total pain, the THAT customer who keeps going back to the same destination again and again. I could easily revisit and do the same thing each time. Thankfully, my travel agent is highly skilled enough to suggest different things, like staying at the Coldfoot Camp on the Dalton Highway, relaxing at Chena Hot Springs, spending time in Prince William Sound. I would have never considered an up-close black bear side trip, but he knows what I like to do and looks for (and recommends) the out-of-the-ordinary experience that matches my interests.

The same-old should be changed to help keep customers coming back and looking to you as the expert. For example, repeat customers to London who stay at a hotel each time might find it a whole different experience in a bed-and-breakfast or an apartment rental in a more residential area.
Pack Your Senses:
Catching the moment on “film” is fine, but if you are spending the entire trip seeing it through a viewfinder or from behind a digital screen, you are missing so much of a destination. Besides, how many times have you looked at your pictures after returning home and realized they didn’t do the destination justice? Snap the pic when you are moved but put down your device. Soak it all in. Every destination has its own smells, tastes, feelings. Imprinting these on your memory will bring your flat pictures back to life years later.
Whether it’s Red Square, Times Square, or Pioneer Square, each place vibrates with sensations. For this recent trip, I finally took a side trip to Misty Fjords National Monument. I have the pictures to help remember some incredible sights, but I really took time to feel the cool mist, breathe deeply the fresh pine air and savor the addicting Allan Marine Tours unlimited hot chocolate. (Seriously, it’s like they melt down their chocolate bars and call it a beverage—TOTAL YUMM!)

So, Alaska 2020 is in the books, and, in a few years, it will be time for a return. Will it be heading out to the Aleutians or finally doing the Alaska Marine Highway? Who knows? But until then, an opportunity may be peeking its head over the horizon, and I hope I’m able to practice the above.
To learn more about this popular destination, enroll in our newly relaunched Alaska Destination Specialty Course. And don’t forget that Premium Access members can access this and many other courses for free in their membership lounge.