7 FEBRUARY 2017
Travel Leaders Group last week announced its acquisitions of the Austin, Texas-based Andrew Harper Travel Office and United Kingdom-based Colletts Travel Limited, both luxury agencies. Senior editor Jamie Biesiada spoke with Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko about the acquisitions and what it means for the company in the luxury-travel market.
14 FEBRUARY 2017
Nearly 1,100 leisure travel agents from Travel Leaders Group provided insights on client interest and bookings for travel to Cuba. “What is particularly intriguing and compelling is that Cuba is ranked very high among affluent travelers from the United States. Several luxury properties, including the 5-star Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana, are scheduled to open this year,” stated Gail Grimmett, President of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group, both renowned for their best-in-class luxury travel agent advisors.
27 FEBRUARY 2017
Vikram Seshadri, a luxury travel agent with Protravel International in Beverly Hills, Calif., is in agreement, noting factors such as charm, history and less expensive costs. “Most of the Eastern European countries are also now members, or in the process of becoming members, of the European Union and are therefore cleaner, safer and more easily accessible to Americans than ever before,” he added.
Suzy Nevins, a luxury travel advisor also with Protravel International in Beverly Hills, recently returned from both Budapest and Prague, two cities she had not visited in more than 20 years. She says the changes that have taken place are remarkable.
27 FEBRUARY 2017
Legendary Beverly Hills travel agent Miriam Rand, who worked in the industry for seven decades and booked travel for Hollywood’s biggest stars–including Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe–died in late February at age 100. “It is with very heavy hearts we announce that our dear long-time colleague Miriam Rand has passed away,” Protravel International President Gail Grimmett wrote in an email. “An industry veteran for close to a breathtaking 70 years, Miriam was an institution in her own right.…Miriam and her expert counsel and care were beyond legendary. It is no wonder she was known as ‘The First Lady of Luxury.’”
READ MORE ABOUT MIRIAM:
30 JANUARY 2017
Travel Leaders Group has formally acquired The Andrew Harper Travel Office and The Andrew Harper Alliance, thus further bolstering Travel Leaders Group’s positioning as North America’s leading luxury travel agency company with nearly $21 billion in annual sales volume.
30 JANUARY 2017
1,240 Travel Leaders Group luxury travel experts have weighed in on the top luxury travel destinations and latest luxury travel findings from the survey.
1 FEBRUARY 2017
Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group have announced that Asmita Singh will soon begin as the Vice President of Marketing and Demand Analytics for Travel Leaders Group’s Elite Travel Division. Singh joins the team to further improve marketing efforts and to oversee all marketing activities for the Elite Travel Division.
2 FEBRUARY 2017
LGBTQ+ vacation entertainment company R Family Vacations and Celebrity Cruises have partnered to customize group sailings tailored to the LGBTQ+ community. The two companies will organize exclusive entertainment, gastronomic adventures and events. The first of these partnered sailings is scheduled for the July 21 Alaska cruise aboard Celebrity Solstice. These cruises will be sold exclusively through R Family Vacations, Tzell Travel Group and Protravel International.
20 DECEMBER 2016
If you’re a regular at a certain hotel and staying at that property over the holidays, it’s a good idea to tip twice what you normally would, according to Josh Alexander, a travel specialist at Protravel International, based in New York, who has written tipping guidelines for his clients. “Regular hotel guests often receive exceptional service, and the holidays are a time to reward that service,” he said.
27 DECEMBER 2016
Six executives from six sectors of the travel industry hotel, cruise, aviation, tours, retail and destination marketing are making assumptions about the year ahead as they plan for 2017. The interviews were conducted by Travel Weekly editor in chief and senior vice president Arnie Weissmann.
10 JANUARY 2017
“It was a tremendous honor and privilege to be part of this highly select group invited to experience Encore firsthand before its inaugural sailing,” said Marnie Becker. “I am eager to share my impressions with my valued clients and colleagues as the ship offered everything I had expected and more. What struck me most was the extraordinary level of personalized service each guest received – thanks to Seabourn’s high staff to guest ratio, making this exquisite ship a perfect choice for my discriminating clientele.”
23 JANUARY 2017
Barry Liben is the chairman of both Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group, the travel agencies that comprise the Premier Division of Travel Leaders Group, a North American travel company that generates gross travel sales approaching $21 billion.
18 NOVEMBER 2016
Protravel International hosted its third annual “Autumn Escape” VIP reception at the Garden City Hotel, inviting 400 of the company’s most high-end business and leisure travel clients to the hotel’s Grand Ballroom on November 15.
Clients of Protravel’s Long Island locations in Woodmere and Syosset were given the opportunity to learn about the latest luxury travel trends through conversations with travel agent advisors.
30 NOVEMBER 2016
On November 17, executives from Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group joined with nearly 200 other business leaders for Covenant House’s 6th Annual Executive Edition Sleep Out, an initiative to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth. Gail Grimmett, president of both Protravel and Tzell, led the combined team from both companies in joining with other C-suite execs, business owners and other leaders in sleeping on the street, at 460 West 41st Street in New York City, for one night. All totaled, the 187 participants raised $1,983,434 – surpassing their aggregated goal of $1.5 million.
2 DECEMBER 2016
“We have not had any clients say they wouldn’t go or that they were concerned based on recent comments by our President-elect,” said Honey Moss, a travel consultant in Miami with Protravel International […].
Sandie Wiesenthal, a luxury travel consultant with Protravel International in Beverly Hills, Calif., who visited Cuba in October, said that her clients haven’t expressed concerns about the new administration’s viewpoint on Cuba. Instead, they’re sticking to their own views. “The excitement is still there,” she said.
5 DECEMBER 2016
Bonnie Sherman has been a part of the travel agent business for 23 years and in that time she has become a trusted member of the industry with $3 million in sales last year. “Bonnie is passionate about travel,” says her manager, Roseann Iovine. “Even after 20-plus years, she is constantly challenging herself and works hard to be the best.”
23 OCTOBER 2016
“Today, it’s a massive presence, mostly French troops working in threes and fours with automatic weapons and constantly sweeping the airport terminals, rail stations and the streets of Paris in tourist zones,” said Howard E. Lewis, a travel agent with Protravel International in Beverly Hills, Calif., who spends four months per year in France. “What has changed is that in smaller airports and rail stations all over the country, French troops are out in full force.”
26 OCTOBER 2016
Many clients wish to book a specific cruise departure as a gift, but there’s another option. “Generally, when my clients are seeking to buy a cruise as a holiday gift for a partner, friend or family member, I always point out that they shouldn’t book a specific cruise and recommend buying a travel gift card instead,” stresses Marni Becker, director of cruise sales, Protravel International, New York, NY. “That way the gift receiver has the option to choose what they want to do and have the cruise tailored to their specific needs and wishes.”
27 OCTOBER 2016
“We found the correlation between the top countries on the Global Peace Index and the level of interest for affluent travelers, identified by our luxury travel agents, to be significant – especially for Iceland, New Zealand and Portugal,” said Gail Grimmett, president of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group, both of which are part of Travel Leaders Group, an advisory committee for travel agencies.
31 OCTOBER 2016
Travel Weekly‘s Magellan Awards represent the best of the industry in multiple dimensions. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the same companies and destinations that have shown creativity in bringing richer travel experiences to consumers are also the ones who design, promote and showcase them in the most innovative fashion. Protravel is the proud recipient of an unprecidented five gold and three silver awards!
Gold Magellan Awards
Silver Magellan Awards
21 SEPTEMBER 2016
Four of Protravel International’s top agents were invited to attend the high-end experiential travel event, where agents learned about the latest trends in luxe and experiential travel and travel that positively affects conservation efforts and sustainability. Agents also had the opportunity to network with other elite members of the travel industry. From Protravel, attending agents included Josh Alexander, Richard Engle, Raschinna Findlay and Joshua Greenberg.
30 SEPTEMBER 2016
Enlist a travel agent
“Travel agents, themselves, are money savers for clients, because we save the traveler time in research. And time is money. For a small planning fee, we get them access and amenities they would have to pay so much more to get on their own, including preferred seat assignments on domestic and international carriers, the ability to upgrade for a nominal up-charge to business or first class, amenities at hotels— including daily breakfast, upgrades, resort credits and late check-outs, to name a few.” —Vikram Seshadri, Luxury Travel Agent, Protravel International, Beverly Hills, California
11 OCTOBER 2016
“Selecting the right destination is just the beginning of what affluent travelers desire,” said Gail Grimmett, president of Protravel international and Tzell Travel Group, both part of the Travel Leaders Group and both known for their luxury travel advisors. “Sophisticated local cuisine offers a culturally-immersive experience and is important to a significant number of our high-end clientele, including millennial travelers,” she added. “Our survey also clearly identified that simplifying and personalizing aspects of the trip with private check-in and check-out, private concierge-level access and butler service are musts for our clientele. In fact, each is expected, and that’s important for our industry partners to recognize.”
21 SEPTEMBER 2016
Provide Apps to Export Itineraries: Millennials will love this amenity, but so will your other clients. “Having the convenience of information at your fingertips is so important,” says Alyssa Scott of Protravel International in Encino, CA. Show Your Vision: “Millennial clients want to see that you have the imagination to empower their dreams and then see them through with superior knowledge and contacts,” says Myste Wright of Protravel in Beverly Hills. So don’t be shy about your ability to craft fantastic trips. Shine a light on your skills and successes.
19 SEPTEMBER 2016
Protravel International is proud that two of our young travel advisors were chosen for this year’s list:
Alyssa Scott, 27
Protravel International, Encino, CA
Alyssa Scott knows how to face a challenge head on. This Millennial planned an extensive honeymoon extravaganza for a couple in Greece with a couple of twists thrown in. The trip started off like any other honeymoon, a romantic trip for two to Santorini for a week. But the second week was spent in Mykonos with 20 of the couples’ closest friends and family. Scott was ready to plan a memorable experience for all of them, she organized the nightlife, boat charters, dining menus and a private party complete with fireworks. Before departure, Scott even created a cocktail recipe for the guests, using Greek liqueur, to get the travelers excited about their trip. “Alyssa Scott is extremely intelligent, technologically adept and innately curious — attributes that contribute to her developing into a top travel agent,” says Lois Mitchell, senior director at Protravel International. She is also a team player, she excels and helps others to succeed by writing reports about her own travel experiences, which then get filed with her agency as a resource. “Her analysis is extremely valuable to all the agents who need updates from a keen unbiased observer,” adds Mitchell. One of Scott’s recent trips was to South Africa, where she was able to meet vendors and learn about the destination. She shared her experience through social media and already has seen interest from her clients, having secured two safaris for this year and pending requests for 2017.
Myste Wright, 28
Protravel International, Beverly Hills, CA
Myste Wright has accomplished quite a bit since entering the industry just two years ago. In just her second year in travel, she was chosen to co-chair the SoCal ASTA Millennials & Mentors program, where she developed a special format that came to be the signature of the meetings. At the same time she held the officer of membership position for Millennials in Travel — LA and was recently promoted to officer of development for that organization and will be leading the chapter moving forward. It’s not just Wright’s leadership abilities that make her an excellent travel agent, however. She can also plan intricate, luxury trips, such as the one she created through New England for a group of travelers. The journey covered top experiences in Boston, including dining at Neptune Oyster and Giacomo’s. Then it was off to a Red Sox game for the men, while the ladies enjoyed the Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic and the Boston Symphony. “Her attention to detail is exceptional and she takes great initiative in whatever projects we have with an incredible precision and creativity,” says Mickey Weill, the agency’s vice president of sales development and Wright’s mentor. Wright’s creativity really shines when it comes to documenting her travel experiences on social media. She uses a drone to provide professional aerial photography and a GoPro to capture more high-adrenaline activities such as cliff diving. “Anything I pitch will be marketed on all relevant platforms,” she explains. “I’m constantly looking for new and innovative ways to deliver information.”
17 AUGUST 2016
“Borgo Egnazia and the area of Puglia is one of the [most] exciting new destinations in Italy that one could ever encounter,” Annette Sordoni of Protravel International said of the property. “The hotel has an amazing ambiance, warm and friendly people, incredible food and a spiritual spa.”
19 AUGUST 2016
Earl Starkey, a travel agent with Protravel International and a top authority on Turkey travel, has also experienced a major decline in selling Turkey. “Our business in Turkey was down 80 percent this year due to the various terrorist incidents,” he said. “At the moment, things are back to normal in Turkey,” he said. “I believe that if we can have six months of no further incidents, we may have a better year next year, and people will return.”
23 AUGUST 2016
Accepting the Top Network Producer of the year award before Virtuoso’s audience, Protravel President Gail Grimmett emphasized that the accomplishments were made possible thanks to Protravel agents and employees’ unwavering dedication and excellence.
9 SEPTEMBER 2016
Gail Grimmett is president of the Elite Travel Division of the business, which includes Protravel International UK and Tzell UK (Travel Leaders UK), based in London. At a media event on Thursday she revealed the business is on the acquisition trail in the UK and did not rule out buying “large” travel firms. “After years of working with both Protravel and Tzell from the supplier side and recognising how each of them have earned their places as the agencies of choice for the most discerning and elite clientele, it’s an incredible honour to be joining these two distinguished teams both in the UK and the US,” she continued.
AUGUST 13, 2016
Protravel International is once again honored to have several of our Travel Advisors recognized on the prestigious Travel + Leisure A-List
This part-time Budapest resident keeps close tabs on developments in popular places like Prague and Berlin (where she once arranged a trip to an abandoned NSA outpost led by a former spy), as well as in emerging destinations like Romania, Poland, and Slovenia.
Becker’s connections in marine-research circles produce one-of-a-kind trip opportunities (recently, a biodiversity-research expedition in Kiribati). He also goes out of his way to work with outfitters that support local economies and protect the oceans.
Weddings and Honeymoons:
He’s only been in the business six years, but Alexander is already making a name for himself by planning honeymoons with highly detailed and complicated logistics, whether that’s a multicountry African safari or island-hopping escapes in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
Interest in the U.A.E. is growing, and Lazarov works with clients on trips within the emirates (such as seven-star hotel stays paired with private shopping) as well as journeys that venture onward to the rest of the Middle East and Africa (like combining Abu Dhabi with Oman).
23 JUNE 2016
London puts on its party hat this summer to celebrate a breadth of anniversaries and cultural extravaganzas.
“One of my favorite experiences is Buckingham Palace’s summer opening,” said Howard Lewis of Protravel International. “Rather than waiting outside the famous iron gate to peer inside, you have the opportunity for a short while to see inside the palace, view the many staterooms and see the Queen’s vast art collection.”
24 JUNE 2016
What: A private after-hours tour of Hagia Sophia, the city’s most important monument, followed by dinner at an elegant newcomer in the Old City.
What makes it special: Considered one of the great buildings of the world, Hagia Sophia dates from the early 6th century, when Istanbul (known in those days as Constantinople) was the capital of the Roman empire[…]
Who can make it happen: Earl Starkey of Protravel International
5 JULY 2016
A former Delta Air Lines executive is to lead the senior leadership teams from both Protravel and Tzell on both sides of the Atlantic.
Gail Grimmett was named as president of the combined US operations for Protravel and Tzell in May and is now taking the helm of umbrella brand Travel Leaders UK.
26 JULY 2016
In Pasadena, Protravel employees collected food, donated cash and volunteered at food banks including Feed SoCal and St. Vincent de Paul during the company’s fourth “Day of Giving” activity.
This year, Protravel International’s efforts benefitted at least 16 food relief and community centers in the United Sates and the United Kingdom, including those in Pasadena. Protravel also conducted food donation and volunteering activities in three other California areas – Beverly Hills, Encino and Palm Desert.
27 MAY 2016
Protravel […] is announcing its top ten international destination rankings for summer travel based on its agents’ actual bookings. Protravel is sending travelers to: (1) United Kingdom, (2) Italy, (3) France, (4) Germany, (5) China, (6) Switzerland, (7) Hong Kong, (8) Spain, (9) Japan, and (10) Australia. With locations across the United States, some of Protravel’s leading agents are sharing their insider knowledge on hidden gems in each destination, along with their personal favorites or off the beaten path experiences.
5 JUNE 2016
Travel Leaders Group’s program, Travel Leaders of Tomorrow, is experiencing rapid growth. In its first year, it attracted 23 participants, a number that jumped to 126 in its second year and is on track to register more than 175 participants in its third year.
1 JUNE 2016
Sandie Wiesenthal of Protravel International in Beverly Hills has extensive knowledge of booking high-end travel to Southeast Asia and says her clients are looking for the perfect mix of luxury and authenticity.
9 JUNE 2016
Protravel won the Abercrombie & Kent Award for “Top Producer in the USA.” Previously, Protravel had earned its place in A&K’s 100 Club and received its third award for “Top Sales Producer, Multi-Branch” in 2014. The 100 Club Gala brings together Abercrombie & Kent’s (A&K) top producing travel agents and its country directors, or representatives of its 50-plus destination management companies around the world.
29 APRIL 2016
Josh Alexander, a travel advisor at Protravel International in New York, says that he’s seeing a trend in luxury honeymoons to Australia and New Zealand, with each offering great luxury properties and countless activities. “Given the long flights, I recommend at least a two-week stay in order to be able to experience some of the amazing luxury properties, as well as the destination itself,” says Alexander…
9 MAY 2016
Konstantinos (Kostas) Bastas, a luxury travel agent with Protravel International specializing in Greece and honeymoons, says he’s noticed a strong preference among couples looking to charter boats and yachts in the region…Josh Alexander, also with Protravel, says he’s observed a definite increase in the number of luxury honeymoons to Australia and New Zealand, particularly within the last two years.
15 MAY 2016
One Protravel agency managed to get CBP to come to its office in western Michigan. Christie Roels, the manager of Protravel in Grand Rapids, is saving her clients what would be usually a 2- to 3-hour trip each way to either Detroit Metro Airport or Chicago O’Hare.
24 MAY 2016
Instead of calling a rental car agency, think about calling a travel agent. This advice came from several travel agents, but they make a compelling case, including Tyler Diehl, an entertainment travel specialist at Protravel International in Beverly Hills. “No matter when you’re planning on a renting a car, you should do so through your travel agent,” he said in an email. “They have relationships with the rental companies and usually have discounted rates.”
20 APRIL 2016
“If you go online and book a flight through robotic sites, you get what the computer tells you,” Vlitas said. “If you are going on a flight with four legs, a travel agent will look at four one-way tickets or a combination of two round-trips.” He said travel agents can look at what is the best combination for consumers, whereas the computerized sites simply return the highest price based on the new pricing algorithms.
25 APRIL 2016
Travel Leaders Group named Delta Air Lines vet Gail Grimmett president of a new Elite Travel Division, which includes high-touch agency brands Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group.
25 APRIL 2016
Under the new division, Protravel and Tzell will remain distinct businesses. In total, “the new Elite Travel Division represents nearly $4 billion in annual sales volume, making it the unparalleled seller of luxury travel among travel agencies,” according to a statement from Travel Leaders Group.
25 APRIL 2016
Hosted by the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel, the roundtable comprised tourist office representatives, suppliers and travel advisors, including Joshua Greenberg of Protravel.
1 APRIL 2016
[Protravel International agent] Stewart Lieberman is an accredited space agent… “You have to be medically fit and cleared by a doctor,” said Lieberman, who completed five days of Virgin Galactic training with other travel agents at the Kennedy Space Center in New Mexico. “You can’t just board the spaceship [just because] you have the money to pay for it.”
15 APRIL 2016
Behind the scenes, getting everyone where they need to be is vital to both the production calendar and the movie budget. If one thing goes wrong, an entire shoot can be ruined. Tyler Diehl, an entertainment travel agent with Protravel International in Beverly Hills weighs in…
11 APRIL 2016
The opening of a new tourism market is a rare event. There are few corners of the world that haven’t been tapped into, certainly none that are tropical yet culturally alluring destinations just 90 miles off the shores of the United States. Read comments by Protravel Cuba experts Honey Moss and Kathy Bernstein.
25 MARCH 2016
Protravel International recently hosted a “Spring Into Travel” event at Palm Desert’s Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage for 200 of its top clients. The invitation-only evening enabled Protravel clients to learn about the latest promotions and innovations in luxury travel over food and cocktails…
Some of today’s most coveted gourmet reservations are on cruise ships. Protravel Advisors Adrienne Forst (Beverly Hills) and Margie Zeiger (New York) share their insights.
Protravel President Patrick Fragale speaks to us about the success of Protravel and his personal love for the travel industry and the people he meets.
Protravel Turkey specialist Earl Starkey explains why he would “not be afraid to be in the city—nor would I hesitate to go.”
Protravel International Miami agent Honey Moss and on-location reporters weigh in on travel to Cuba.
Every day, travel agents and tour operators are booking vacationers on their next excursions and answering questions about trips-of-a-lifetime. However, every once in a while, an agent has to put on their cape and come to the rescue of their clients. Here are some recent real-life “epic saves.”
“Because Cuba will undoubtedly change rapidly in the coming years due to the influx of American tourists and business influences, a growing number of Protravel International’s affluent clientele want to experience its captivating time-stands-still charm now,” Patrick Fragale, president of Travel Leaders Protravel International unit, said in a statement.
Comprised of 1,000 Travel Agents and Employees, Protravel’s Human App Rebooks Clients, Providing Peace-of-Mind throughout Winter Storm Jonas Travel Disruptions.