There is no rest for the weary in this household! As you know (if you read last week’s blog), the boys and I returned from Greece and were greeted at the airport by Rob and our new puppy TimTam. Between the jet lag, the puppy, and trying to play catch up, last week flew by. This week, I am participating in a massive virtual conference with 1500 other travel advisors around the world. In addition to the virtual event, Virtuoso Travel Week is also occurring in Las Vegas and many of my colleagues are there. I am so grateful that they chose to do a hybrid event this year because it would have been really hard to attend in person right after being in Greece for 2.5 weeks and right before the kids start school.
Just a little recap on what Virtuoso is – it is an exclusive community of the world’s best travel agencies providing the most extraordinary travel experiences. Now, an additional recap on how Explore More Family Travel fits into that network. My business is its own brand with its own LLC. It is part of a host agency called Gifted Travel Network (GTN), and I am an Independent Contractor with GTN. Thus, Explore More Family Travel is an independent affiliate of GTN which is a Virtuoso member agency. Being part of Virtuoso gives my clients access to exclusive amenities at member hotels and travel partners around the world. It also gives me access to professional development and networking opportunities throughout the year with the biggest event being Virtuoso Travel Week!
So far, I have met with hotels, resorts, tour operators, and destination management companies (DMCs) all over the world. I believe that DMCs are the key to post-pandemic travel. They are located in the country where you are traveling and can manage any unexpected issues that occur, which is more likely in the current environment. They are an extra layer of protection to ensure your vacation does not become a source of stress. Just as the pandemic has made the travel advisor more valuable to the consumer to handle the complexity of preparing for travel, DMCs are able to shine now as they help with any complexities that may arise during travel.
DMCs are also the key in allowing me to create the most extraordinary travel experiences. They are who allow me to provide my clients with the WOW experiences that stay with you forever. The ones you can’t find on TripAdvisor. My favorite wow experience so far is of a private candlelight dinner in an underground lava tube in Scandinavia – wow indeed!
During VTW, there has been an emphasis on conscious travel as a force for good. I have learned that 82% of travelers say the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly in the future, 78% say it’s somewhat to very important to choose travel companies that have a strong sustainability policy, and 70% agree traveling sustainability enhances their vacation experience. Sustainability is an important subject for me. I am a member of the Virtuoso Sustainability Community, but I am realizing I have not done enough learning about the subject yet so I hope to share more information about Sustainable Travel in the near future.
Let me wrap up this VTW talk and return us back to Greece to give you a summary of the rest of our time in the Peloponnese Peninsula.
REFLECTIONS OF GREECE
I have been using the hashtag #reflectionsofgreece on social media to continue sharing all the photos that never made it to social media during our trip. I also have albums in my Instagram stories for the Peloponnese, Hydra, & the Cyclades Islands. Yesterday, I shared photos of our Mosaic Art Workshop that we did in the Peloponnese. I already shared my favorite one a couple of weeks ago in an email from Greece, but here are a few more.
The workshop was at the artist’s home which was such a nice touch. Getting the chance to visit people in their homes is one of the most authentic experiences you can have. We didn’t even realize she was going to serve us a light lunch, it was such a nice treat after at the end of our time together.
We stayed at an agro-hotel near Napflio for our first three nights and used it as a base to visit the area including Hydra. The view from the hotel was breathtaking. We enjoyed our time here, especially the pool pictured below since we visited during a heatwave. The photo with the red chairs below was a random roadside restaurant we found en route to our next stop along the coast, Gytheio. It was one of the best meals we had in Greece and so unexpected, so I had to take a photo of the big smiles at the table. The bottom photo is of a restaurant near Gytheio that we chose because it was full of families. The boys had fun with their art here and drew these photos of what mommy would look like if the world stopped selling coffee.
I have been so impressed by the presentations by the Nordic countries during VTW that I am having wanderlust for this part of the world. Everyone keeps talking about how magical it is for children during Christmas. And of course, you also have a chance of seeing the aurora borealis if you go to the right places. Maybe we will return one day during winter – an idea that intrigues me, but not so much my hubby!