Archive for April, 2011
We’ve built our reputation on my personal design of Friendly Planet Travel’s exotic group tours, and that’s not going away. You can still have, what I consider to be, the perfect experiences.
However, over the years we’ve had people say to us, “We’re very experienced travelers and we’d like to design our own trip, but take advantage of your insane prices.” Well, now you can.
The face of Friendly Planet Travel’s website has recently changed to make room for our new travel search engine.
It lets you search all of our package tours and cruise tours, plus thousands of great deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars!
Our travel search engine lets you create the experience you want, to a destination you’re interested in, and at a price that’s perfect for your budget.
We’re especially excited about our new cruise engine that features negotiated special rates on over 10,000 cruise departures offered by Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, Azamara, and Celebrity. You can search by date, ship, cruise line, and itinerary to find your dream cruise.
Besides huge savings, when you book through the new travel search engine you’ll get special savings coupons and free onboard credits on select cruises, travel insurance at no additional cost on all cruises five nights or longer, and extra discounts for groups of eight or more cabins.
You can also search flights to almost any destination on earth, or reserve a hotel or rental car in thousands of cities. Buy separately, or put it all together to build your own dream vacation! Our travel search engine is an easy way to arrange your next vacation, while enjoying Friendly Planet’s great savings and award-winning service.
Head over to the website now and start planning your vacation today!
Starting today, friendliness is paying dividends because we’re introducing our new Refer-a-Friend program.
Here’s how it works. If you’ve traveled with us in the past, every time you refer a new traveler to Friendly Planet Travel, we’ll send you a $100 credit to use on any tour or tour and cruise packages.
Refer two friends, and you’ll earn $200. And so on. Even better, there’s no limit to the number of credits you can earn, as long as you refer travelers who have never traveled with us before.
And your friends will earn great benefits too. Every referred traveler who books a tour or tour and cruise package will enjoy an instant $100 discount off his or her first booking.
So why are we introducing this new program now? When we set up shop in 1981, we never imagined we would be sending thousands of people to so many exotic destinations throughout the world. Back then, our travelers couldn’t search for us on Google nor could we post deals to our Facebook wall. But that didn’t stop us from growing.
We kept growing because a significant percentage of our new business did and still does come from your referrals. And in celebration of our 30 years in business this year, we want to say thank you with this new referral program. It’s a big milestone for us, and we couldn’t have reached it without you.
Jump over to the Refer-a-Friend page to get all the nitty-gritty details. Then start earning your travel credits by telling your family and friends about Friendly Planet’s affordable deals to the world’s most desirable destinations. Together, we hope that 2011 will be our best year ever!
When I showed you the first video in a new series where we asked travelers at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show for travel advice, I told you that more video was on its way. It’s here! On day two of the show we ambushed a whole new set of travelers with new questions.
We asked travelers if they thought the TSA is making air travel safer, if airlines are ripping passengers off with their extra fees, the most adventurous thing they’ve ever eaten while traveling, and more.
And when you hit play, make sure you try to answer our final travel trivia question. Were you able to get it right? Let me know in a comment. Thanks to everyone who participated! Stay tuned, we take our ambush to The New York Times Travel Show next.
One of the things I’m often asked is how did Friendly Planet Travel start. And I’m being asked this even more today because I’ve been telling everyone that we reached our 30th year in business.
That’s quite an accomplishment in the world of travel, so I thought I would share that story here on the blog. But before I do, I want to thank you.
Without you booking our tours for the past three decades, we wouldn’t have been able to come this far. For that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
So let’s get to the story. Thirty years ago I was a single mother of two searching for a full-time position teaching English to support my family. I took a job as a travel agent in the interim just to pay the bills.
It was at that job that I first heard about the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors that was going to be taking place in Israel. It was the first time that survivors of the Holocaust would meet in Jerusalem.
I seized the opportunity to create my first group tour. It consisted of 200 local Holocaust survivors and their families who I would help take part in this historic gathering. Little did I know that at that moment, my teaching career was over.
Organizing and then participating in that first group tour to Israel was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. We witnessed Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin stand on the Western Wall in Jerusalem saying “never again” in many different languages. It was extraordinary.
That first group tour unleashed a passion — maybe even an obsession — that needed to be satisfied by doing it again and again. And that’s how Friendly Planet Travel was established.
From there I kept selling group tours to Israel, and I soon extended them to Christian organizations. I spoke in churches all across America about why, from the perspective of a child of Holocaust survivors, it was important for Christians to be supportive of Israel. It was a great personal and professional experience, and the groups evolved and grew in number.
Eventually business expanded outside of religious groups, and I started adding new, exotic destinations. Today we have over 54 tours to exotic points around the globe to choose from — from the Middle East, to Africa, to Asia, to Europe, to the Mediterranean, to Central American, to South America.
Throughout our growth, we’ve also seen the travel industry change dramatically. The Internet’s ability to let you book your own trip put a lot of travel agencies out of business. But we stayed a step ahead to keep giving you new ways to experience more exotic parts of the world. In fact, Friendly Planet Travel was one of the first tour operators to develop an escorted touring program exclusively for the Web.
It’s embarrassing to admit this now, but I didn’t know what the Internet was when people first started talking about it! But someone suggested that it would be good for business, so I decided to check it out. We launched Friendly Planet Travel’s website in 2001 and anxiously waited for the phones to start ringing — and they did!
Happily, they are still ringing today, all those years later. Later, we added the ability to book a tour online. And just this year, you might have noticed our new booking engine that lets you personalize your vacations using our build-your-own-cruise engine.
As incredible as it was to have launched an Internet travel business so long ago, it was inconceivable that we would become pioneers of the social media revolution. I never considered that at my age, I would find myself in the midst of so much new and exciting social media activity.
We launched our travel blog in 2009, and it has become a key component of our customer communications. In fact, you might remember it being featured by FOXNews Live for the way we use it to update travelers on breaking travel news, new travel trends, share expert travel advice, media coverage, videos, interviews, and more.
Back in 1981, I never thought about where I would end up in 30 years. Now, three decades later, I’m still here. I feel so lucky to have what to me feels like the best job in the world. Thank you for booking our tours to make it all possible. 🙂
Who and how many people you travel with can make or break a vacation. And after organizing exotic group tours for 30 years, I know exactly the mix of people you want to have on a trip to make your vacation an extraordinary one.
Find out what that mix is made of in the Frommer’s article, “How to Plan a Girlfriend Getaway.” The five things writer Lisa Cheng tells you to consider when picking the right mix of travel companions doesn’t just apply to girlfriends either. If you’re traveling with family or male companions, her advice still rings true.
Hop over to give it a read. Thanks again Lisa for including me in your piece!