Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why traveling in a group can mean a great vacation

At Operation Relax, we adore working with groups - from families to friends and even nonprofits, it's fun to put together a great vacation that will appeal to people of all ages. Often, these groups are open to the public which means that even if you are not a part of the organization, you can join in and enjoy the many advantages.

So, just what are the advantages of joining a group vacation?

First of all, there are usually perks or discounts. Everyone likes to save money or earn a free "something" on their trip, right?!? For our upcoming Bombshells in the Bahamas group cruise (which is open to the public and still taking bookings!), anyone who reserves a cabin gets to go to a special cocktail party and receives a $50 onboard credit. Travelers taking advantage of our clients Tina & Tim's wedding at Sandals Resorts next year not only get a discounted rate for themselves, but they help the bride and groom to earn extra amenities for their beach wedding. Other perks we've seen include free photo packages, special group activities, and VIP check in/ check out. These types of discounts and perks can really add value to your vacation and give you more bang for your buck!

Next, the trip already has an itinerary so you don't need to spend time figuring out where you want to go on your vacation. All of the details have been taken care of by the travel agent and group leader, so you can just dive in and enjoy everything! A lot of times, just because you are traveling with a group doesn't mean you have to participate in all of the same activities - there are often free times, or even groups where the entire itinerary is flexible other than the location.

Another great reason to join a group vacation is fairly obvious - you are traveling with other people, which means you have plenty of friends to explore with! These can be people you left home with, or brand new friends that you have just met and discovered also enjoy mid day Bingo games on the cruise ship or hiking on a land tour. Often, you can spend as much or as little time as you want with individuals within the group, but you may find yourself creating new friendships and even setting up future travel plans with some of them. If one person doesn't want to try out that little cafe on the corner, ask someone else in the group - you will usually find at least one or two other people who share your interest and want to join in!

Speaking of exploring, sometimes traveling with a group means that you will get special access to sites or attractions that you normally wouldn't be able to get into on your own. For example, a group of ours that went on a Globus tour in Europe was able to skip the lines at all of the attractions on their itinerary and were offered a chance at several to take a behind the scenes tour. These are the types of things that will give you pictures and memories that will blow your friends and family away!

Group travel isn't for everyone - some groups are very itinerary oriented, which can be hard for someone that wants more free time, and some groups may not offer enough activities for those who are particularly adventurous. Always look over group information and don't hesitate to talk with the group leader and/or travel agent to make sure you are a good fit for the group and vice versa. However, for those of you looking to make new friends or take advantage of discounts and/or perks, it's definitely something to consider.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Travel Book Review - Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip

Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing BusinessLooptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business by Bruce Poon Tip
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a travel agent, I knew of G Adventures from various trade shows and classes. However, I didn't really appreciate all of their nuances until I read this book! It's a great example of doing what you feel is right, even when it goes contrary to popular business practices. The strategies won't work for everyone, but it's still a really good read for anyone in the small business world who wants to provide authentic products or services to their customers.

View all my reviews

Friday, March 18, 2016

Are you paying someone else while you do all the work?

When you read that headline, you probably immediately thought to yourself how ridiculous it was - there's no way you'd pay someone while you did the work, right? That's crazy!!

And yet, if you are not using a dedicated travel agent for your personal and/or business travel, you are paying someone else while you do the work yourself! Seriously, it's true. Here's why:

Previously, I've talked about the dirty secrets of the travel industry, and how travel agents really get paid (hint: we don't take YOUR money, but rather get paid by the supplier itself). In summary, the price you see for a destination generally boils down to cost + profit = selling price. Commission is rolled into part of the cost no matter what type of travel you look at (exception: airfare, because airlines are basically a$$holes, though they are somewhat improving this year). That's why you can search around various types of travel and the pricing is generally pretty similar pricing across the board.

The above example shows 4 different websites all with the same pricing. As consolidator search engines, Expedia, Orbitz, and all get paid a commission for selling the room. If you book direct with Starwood, you'll notice the price is the same - so where does the commission go? Well, simply put, Starwood pockets that commission and pats themselves on the back for getting you to do the work for them. 

As a travel agent, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked why someone should book with me instead of booking direct. It shouldn't bother me by now, but it still does hurt a little - not to mention, it makes me shocked that with all of the information available these days, most people still don't know how the travel industry operates. No matter how much someone travels, there is a broad spectrum of travelers who simply don't realize that using a travel agent can make a big difference.

I've written before about the benefits of using a travel agent, but if you don't want to take it from me you can check out Entrepreneur, Travel & Leisure, Huffington Post, USA Today, or Forbes. :) There's also another reason - 9 times out of 10, your travel agent will be either a small business owner or a small business employee. Supporting a small business has so many benefits for both the employees and the community. Not to mention, you get to work person to person with someone who actually cares - a website won't care that you are taking a trip to celebrate your anniversary, but we will!

If that doesn't convince you, there's one last benefit that makes it even more worth it - you aren't paying someone for doing the work yourself! 

So, if you or your company's travel strategy is to spend hours researching on the internet and then booking online yourself, you are missing out on working with a travel agent and paying someone else for doing your own work! 

At Operation Relax, you get to work with a travel agent - someone who lives in your community, cares about your vacation preferences, and keeps it personal. Give us a try and we will work with you to create a stress-free experience. We will do all the work, so that you aren't paying someone to do the work yourself.

---- This post was inspired by a post written by our fellow travel agent friend Sara. You can check out her post here. ---

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Group Cruise - Bombshells in the Bahamas in February 2017!

If you follow Operation Relax on Facebook, it's likely you've seen our posts regarding the upcoming Bombshells in the Bahamas cruise, being led by Atomic Bombshells owner Andrea. The cruise on the Carnival Valor will be leaving Port Canaveral February 5, 2017 and will be hitting up both Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas. You probably also saw the cool perks of sailing with this group, including being able to show off your fave vintage-inspired looks, a special cocktail party, and a $50 onboard credit per room, all of which are included in the crazy-good prices starting at only $288 per person plus taxes & fees!

But did you know how we determined the date of the cruise?

First, we brainstormed a list of some of our favorite pin up girls from back in the day. The list included notable favorites like Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, and Rita Hayworth. Then, we looked at available cruise dates and rates for a few of the months that we felt would be most promising in terms of availability of cabins, lower fares and potentially lower airfares, and months that worked best for a busy entrepreneur's schedule.

Using that information, we were able to narrow it down to one of our pin up girl's birthdays - February 8. Guess who it was? The infamous "Sweater Girl" herself, Lana Turner! Lana's discovery by a movie agent in a soda shop is a Hollywood legend, and her work in They Won't Forget (1937) led to her nickname thanks to a tight sweater and a bullet bra. While she was never fond of the nickname, she was a very successful actress and pin up girl for most of her career.

It was that simple! :) And it can be that simple for you to put together your own group cruise with Operation Relax, too. Right now is a great time to take advantage of group perks and rates, and we'd be happy to work with you! Just head over to and let us know your group idea, whether it is a family reunion, girlfriends getaway, or something else entirely.

Happy cruising!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Guest Post: Traveling from Adelaide to Sydney in Australia

** This is a guest blog post. The views in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Operation Relax**

There are more than 30 flights from Adelaide to Sydney airport in New South Wales on a daily basis, with the vast majority of them being direct itineraries. Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tigerair all offer a wide range of departure times from 6am to 7pm, and the total flight duration is 1 hour 55 minutes. Travel websites for flights from Adelaide to Sydney include Expedia, Flight Centre and Sydney Flights Accommodation.

In terms of deciding on what is the best flight from Adelaide to Sydney, it might be worth keeping in mind that the latter two of the above mentioned carriers, Jetstar and Tigerair, are low cost budget airlines so the comfort or service levels may vary depending on which one you choose.

As a general rule, the lowest airfare travelling from Adelaide to Sydney can usually be found midweek when the airports are less crowded and there is more availability, and in a similar sense, with there being less availability on the weekends, the prices are most often higher.

This lowest cost of economy airfare can range anywhere between $59 with Tigerair to $109 economy with Qantas although business class with either of Australia’s flagship carriers, Virgin Australia or Qantas, will usually be excess of $450 one way

Flights can be booked direct on any of airline websites but it is often a good idea to check one of the major booking engines or comparison websites to get an overview of what the best flight times and prices are available, are over a particular period.

How to get to Adelaide airport

The airport is a short 6km drive from any city centre accommodation and very easy to reach. If you do not have a rental car, the best way to Adelaide airport is either to take the Jetbus, or alternatively you can opt for the convenience of a taxi.

The cheapest option is the Jetbus which is part of Adelaide Metro and the cheapest option. The Jetbus departs daily until midnight from many key city attractions every 20 to 40 minutes, although the express service is Monday to Friday only. A ticket for the Jetbus is $5.20 and it takes approximately 30 minutes including stops, whereas a taxi from the CBD to Adelaide airport will cost $27 and take only 15 minutes.

Checking in at Adelaide airport

Checking in at Adelaide airport for domestic flights is a straight forward process. There is only one terminal for all domestic check-in, the facilities for which are all located on level 2 of terminal F.

The large information screens in terminal F will always display the relevant gate allocation for each flight making it very easy to know where to go after checking in.

It is recommended to arrive at Adelaide airport at least 90 minutes prior to departure for all domestic flights and each airline requires the passenger to be in the vicinity of the appropriate gate at least 40 minutes prior to departure.

Arrival in Sydney

The flight duration from Adelaide to Sydney is 1 hour 55 minutes and upon arrival, there are many ways to reach your Sydney accommodation.

The Airport Link train departs from Sydney airport for the city every 10 minutes at a cost of $17 and takes just 13 minutes to reach the city, whereas the Airport line bus will cost $13 and take slightly longer, 20 minutes.

Alternatively a taxi fare from Sydney airport to the CBD should cost no more than $55 and take 15 minutes depending on traffic.

Friday, January 22, 2016

We've added a travel shop!

Looking for luggage? Pursuing travel photography? If it's a travel themed item, we have it in our NEW travel shop, powered by Amazon! We're still figuring out how to fit it into the smaller frame size on our blog, but you can already find it on our website or can get to it right now by clicking here!

We hope that you will consider us not just for your travel plans but also your travel accessories. :)