first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by TL Network Canada breaks it down for agents: “You really have to stay ahead of the curve” Travelweek Group Tags: TL Networkcenter_img TORONTO — After encouraging its members to ‘Take the Lead’ at last year’s Canadian Fall Regional Conferences and Trade Shows, TL Network Canada is now teaching them how to ‘Stay in the Lead’, the key message at this year’s event.Taking place in both Western and Eastern Canada on select dates in September and October (Markham, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver), the annual conference includes front-line agent training, owner/manager training, a Power Speaker Session led by Jeremy Van Kuyk, Vice President of Information Technology, Travel Leaders Network, a trade show, and dinner with sponsor presentations.This year’s Conference numbers are up, both in participating members and suppliers. In Markham on Sept. 26, the organization hosted 75 agents, 39 exhibitors and 42 supplier reps, while Toronto welcomed 130 agents, 38 exhibitors and 49 reps on Sept. 28, an increase from last year’s numbers.But this is not surprising, considering the phenomenal growth TL Network Canada has seen in 2017 following a move to consolidation earlier this year. On Jan. 1, Vacation.com and U.S.-based Travel Leaders Associates and Results! Travel formally combined to become one entity called TL Network, which now boasts 7,000 locations in both Canada and the United States. As such, the group comprises more than one-third of North America’s leading travel agencies and is now the largest seller of luxury travel, cruises, river cruises and tours in the travel agency industry.In other words, it was a good move, one that benefitted everyone involved, especially its members.Travelweek sat down with Christine James, Vice President, Canada, TL Network to talk about how business has grown after consolidating, new trends in the market and what travel agents need to do to become – and stay – successful.TW: Why did the company decide to consolidate? Was it a necessary move from a business standpoint?CJ: The reason the integration made sense and has been really successful and beneficial to our members is because there were certain solutions and tools like the learning system, the certification program that sat in the franchise world, where Vacation.com agents did not have access to that. We all had great solutions and programs but they were all separate. By combining our collective efforts and knowledge base into one unit, we actually ended up with a better product – best in class – whether it be a booking tool or training program.TW: How specifically are you helping agents now following the move to consolidate?CJ: We’re increasing the number of profiles, and we’re helping our agents build their profiles and get more agents into the program. We have generated year-to-date, in Canada, almost 3,000 leads, which is significant considering we only have 450 agents currently posting live profiles. And the average sale per lead is over $4,000.We were helping agents build before the integration, but now we’re combining all our teams and talent. Let’s face it, a lot of agents are good at selling but not at selling themselves. We’re able to provide them with comprehensive writing services, for example. We get them to fill out a basic template, we put pretty words around it to make it look more dynamic and attract clients. We’re also using a lot of SEOs. We’re trying to encourage our agents to build more profiles – the more you have, the more leads you’re going to get.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJTW: Can you comment on the growth that Canada is seeing?CJ: As of yesterday, we’ve had 38 new members since January, which is phenomenal. We’re up to over 700 members now. Canada is growing at the same pace as the U.S., maybe even a little faster if you look at it percentage-wise. We’ve had great success in Canada and equal success in the U.S.TW: This year’s theme is ‘Stay in the Lead’. How would you suggest travel agents do that?CJ: By staying ahead of the curve, both in terms of product and technology. We believe we provide them with the technology solutions to keep them in the lead. I think the big advantage that TL Network has is that we only serve one master, whereas when you go to third-party providers they have multiple masters and as such can’t respond to your demands quickly. We’re able to respond to our agents needs very quickly, whether it’s a matter of enhancement or content delivery.TW: Would you agree that going niche is the way to go today?CJ: I think you have to be. This is very in line with the rollout of our certification programs that we’re offering. As part of the integration, we’re able to offer our agents access to these programs, which are full learning modules, not just a one-hour webinar. It could take up to two years to complete all the modules, it’s all on demand. And upon completion, agents are actually certified.We have four streams right now: Leisure, Luxury, Action/Adventure, and Honeymoon & Destination Weddings, which has the highest amount of streams. Not only is this segment more profitable, but it also requires more training. It’s not a typical booking – it’s highly specialized. In this particular stream, as part of the training, we actually fly you into destination to witness an actual destination wedding.TW: What do you think is the biggest challenge agents face today?CJ: When we ask our agents what keeps them up at night, it’s not how do I get new business in my door, which is important. Rather, they’re concerned with attracting new agents into their offices because there’s the factor of the aging agent community. As older agents retire, they need to attract new agents. Just this week, we hosted another event – Young Professionals – where we provided an opportunity for millennials to network and exchange best practices with like-minded individuals within their demographic.TW: What trends are you seeing in terms of booking patterns?CJ: The good news is that our booking windows with key partners is actually widening. People are booking further out now, which is really nice to see. We’re seeing the average vacation booking to southern destinations two to three months out now, whereas before it used to be six to eight weeks. I think the suppliers have gotten really smart in offering early booking bonuses and being really aggressive with early offers, because everybody wins if the booking window is further out – agents, suppliers, everyone.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoTW: How are you maximizing this new trend?CJ: We have developed a tool that captures potential clients very early in the buying stage. Available on the Vacation.com site, which is now a purely consumer site, we funnel travellers through our website before passing the lead to our existing agents. Basically, we take them through the whole journey, ask them a lot of questions and create a profile. When the profile is complete, we then deliver them up to one of our agents, which is really unique in the industry. This is still in the launch stages, we just got a select pilot group with a few Canadian members. We’ll probably go into full launch in early 2018.TW: With the travel industry still recovering from recent hurricane activity, how did TL Network step up to help members through these past few weeks?CJ: I got great feedback from our members. In fact, we had a council meeting this morning and all the council members were actually singing the praises of all our supplier partners. The suppliers were very proactive in the way they handled the movement of people that were stranded in destination and folks that were about to depart by offering them different alternatives, waivers, etc.We also have our own microsite within our existing website dedicated to hurricane updates. We were getting constant updates everyday from our various supplier partners, so we wanted to have one area where our members can go see the latest news. It was so much to manage, and we’re still updating it. It wasn’t an easy time for our agents but we supported them in that effort.TW: What’s in the pipeline for TL Network Canada?CJ: We’re actively rolling out the full launch of the Vacation site, repurposing it from a network brand into a consumer brand that has more relevance to consumers. Consumers were never really aware of Vacation.com – it was an industry identity – so the Vacation site will be entirely new to them. It’s a great name – anyone looking for a ‘vacation’ will call it up, which is huge.As for our next big events, we’re continuing out west in Calgary (Oct. 24) and Vancouver (Oct. 26), and in June we’re going back to Vegas.TW: Finally, what’s ONE thing that all travel agents need to do to ensure their success?CJ: They really need to keep up with the latest technology and tools, and this includes social media. We actually have webinars on how to train yourself on social media and how to use it to your advantage. Agents today really have to stay ahead of the curve, it’s as simple as that. Friday, September 29, 2017 Sharelast_img read more

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek launches new ‘For Agent Eyes Only’ Facebook group after record quarter Posted by Tuesday, October 10, 2017 TORONTO — The leading news source for the Canadian travel trade, Travelweek has seen record reach on its top social media channels with 906,075 impressions from July to September 2017.“The majority of the impressions came from our Facebook page with almost 700,000 coming from that channel,” said Michael Smith, Digital Product & Content Manager, Travelweek.“In the past we just put everything we had on every channel,” said Smith. “Now that we have a bigger audience, we are being more disciplined about what stories we post where.”“We decided to start a new group so we can post incentives, fams and events that are only for Canadian travel agents.”Agents wanting to register can go to facebook.com/groups/356596738130166/ “and let us know what agency they are with and an email address to help us verify it,” said Smith.The long-time leader among Canadian travel trade print publications, Travelweek continues to be the leader among Canadian travel trade publications on social media with 4,100 followers on Facebook; 13,200 on Twitter; 950 on Linked In; 1,180 on Instagram and 330 on YouTube.More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterBeyond breaking news, sister site Xplr VR also made some waves on Facebook with 360 videos of new openings in Toronto.“We decided the best way to see a new hotel was in 360 and it ties in well with XplrVR’s content,” said Smith. A recent video of the new Bisha Hotel Toronto got 4,400 views and a video of Flight Centre’s new Travel Centre is already up to 3,500 views.Flight Centre Canada’s first flagship Travel Centre is now open in Toronto with 10,000 square feet of space in a…Posted by Explor VR on Wednesday, September 27, 2017To follow Travelweek on Facebook go to facebook.com/travelweek.ca. Travelweek Group Tags: social media, Travelweeklast_img read more

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: Air Canada Share Air Canada’s 737 MAX enters service, over a dozen more coming next year Posted bycenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> MONTREAL — Air Canada’s new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft has entered service and is set to become the “mainstay” of its North American, narrow-body fleet, said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines.Flight AC137 departed from Toronto to Calgary on Dec. 11 as the first to be operated using the 169-seat, fuel-efficient aircraft, which also features Air Canada’s next generation in-flight entertainment system, spacious overhead storage capacity and Boeing’s Sky Interior. Throughout the day, the aircraft will then fly passengers from Calgary to Montreal, followed by service from Montreal to Vancouver.“With this new aircraft we are introducing the next generation of our onboard entertainment system and customers will find ample storage space for carry-on baggage in its generous overhead bins,” added Smith. “The 737 MAX is also more fuel efficient and quieter than the older, narrow-body aircraft it will replace, benefitting the environment. This increased efficiency will also enable us to compete more effectively and gives the aircraft extended range capabilities so we can launch new city pairings within North America, and routes to select international destinations.”More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyAir Canada has 61 firm orders for the 737 MAX, set to be delivered by 2021, with 18 due to enter the fleet by the end of 2018. Its first scheduled flights in North America include service to Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal.The aircraft is also scheduled to operation internationally to Keflavik, Dublin and Shannon starting in summer 2018.Onboard features include innovative LED mood lighting, an upgraded in-flight entertainment system with a new 15-language user interface, faster wi-fi (available starting in early 2018), up to 40% less noise. Passengers will also soon be able to stream video and audio to their own devices. Monday, December 11, 2017 last_img read more

first_img Share Thursday, February 28, 2019 NEW YORK — Lindblad Expeditions is building a second new polar vessel, set for delivery in late Q3 2021.A new agreement has been signed with Norwegian shipbuilder Ulstein to build a new polar vessel, expanding the line’s National Geographic polar fleet to four ships. This marks the next phase of Lindblad’s fleet expansion following the launches of new builds National Geographic Quest in July 2017, National Geographic Venture in December 2018, and the scheduled delivery of National Geographic Endurance in Q1 2020.Sister ship to the Endurance, the new ship will be fully stabilized with the highest ice class of any purpose-built passenger vessel, and will feature Ulstein’s signature X-BOW, which affords the smoothest, most comfortable ride imaginable.“We are extremely excited to announce this next phase in our growth strategy. National Geographic Endurance and the unique itineraries that it is able to facilitate given its superlative capabilities, has been met with considerable excitement from both our existing guest community and those new to Lindblad-National Geographic, and we are confident that its sister ship will garner the same level of enthusiasm in the market,” said Sven Lindblad, president and chief executive officer of Lindblad.More news:  TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamLike its sister ship, the new vessel will accommodate 126 passengers in 69 cabins and suites. With 75% of the cabins featuring balconies for private viewing, multiple observation decks inside and outside, and ‘observation wings’, the surrounding environs will always be accessible.Off-ship exploring will be greatly enhanced with an innovative Zodiac loading system that will allow everyone to get ashore quickly and safely. The ship’s complement of expedition tools for exploration will include kayaks, cross-country skis, a remotely operated vehicle, hydrophones, a video microscope, underwater video cameras and more, to be announced in the coming months. Lindblad to build second new polar vessel Travelweek Group Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

first_img Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by NCL offers first peek at refreshed Norwegian Skycenter_img Tuesday, March 19, 2019 Tags: Norwegian Cruise Line MIAMI — Norwegian Cruise Line has released images of the completed refurbishments of Norwegian Sky as part of the Norwegian Edge fleet renewal program.Following a three-week dry dock in the Bahamas, Norwegian Sky recently returned to its homeport of Miami showcasing new venues, updated spaces and completely redesigned staterooms and corridors, elevating the experience for guests looking for shorter vacation getaways.“Last year was an exciting year with the record-breaking launch of Norwegian Bliss, the announcement of Norwegian Joy’s
redeployment to the U.S. and the unveiling of four ships which benefited from our comprehensive Norwegian Edge bow-to-stern refurbishment program,” said Andy Stuart, NCL’s President and CEO. “We are continuing the momentum and starting 2019 with the reintroduction of Norwegian Sky.”All food and beverage outlets were updated, and eight new venues were introduced to Norwegian Sky. These include: the pub-style eatery The Local Bar & Grill; La Cucina for classic Italian fare; Sugarcane Mojito Bar; Topsiders, the poolside bar; late night venues, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spinnaker Lounge; a full-service Starbucks licensed store; and new to the Norwegian fleet, Pinnacle Lounge and Sushi Bar.Pinnacle Lounge and Sushi BarBliss LoungeOther upgrades include the complimentary Palace and Crossings Main Dining Rooms, Garden Café and The Great Outdoors, and specialty restaurants Cagney’s and Le Bistro. All bars and lounges on board were also refreshed.Cagney’sAll 1,002 staterooms were upgraded with new televisions and USB outlets, as well as brand new carpet, artwork, furniture, lighting and balcony decking. The ship’s four 835-square-foot Owner’s Suites feature refreshed bathrooms and private hot tubs. StateroomThe Atrium, the epicentre of the ship, has been revitalized with an refreshed look including updated flooring, refurbished reception and shore excursion desk areas and the addition of lounge seating. Pool deck enhancements include new flooring and furniture, the installation of additional canopies and an updated beach area. 

Pool DeckBased at PortMiami year-round, Norwegian Sky sails three-and-four-day cruises to the Bahamas, and four-and-five-day cruises to Bahamas and Cuba with an overnight in Havana. The ship also calls at private island Great Stirrup Cay and is one of two ships in the fleet to offer an all-inclusive experience on select sailings.last_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:Chinchilla’s troubles continue over San Ramón highway concession Study points to shoddy work on border road Probe widens in roadway scandal Government has no funds to build road to San Ramón President Laura Chinchilla on Monday moved to quell mounting protests against a widely unpopular $524 million highway modernization contract granted to OAS, a Brazilian company.Cheers rang out in San Ramón, a coffee town northwest of San José, Monday night when the president went on national TV to announce she will cancel the concession. But while the move may have calmed nerves, the president’s problems over the 57-kilometer highway don’t appear to be going away any time soon.In her speech Monday night, Chinchilla said it wasn’t “convenient” to move forward with the concession while so many public sectors opposed to it. Opponents of the project include area residents, who would have had to pay $8 in round-trip tolls from San Ramón to San José, civil groups and even business chambers.While most Costa Ricans seemed overwhelmingly relieved the project was cancelled, Chinchilla’s televised speech raised further unanswered questions.Firstly, the president said OAS agreed with the decision to terminate the concession, but she didn’t share specific details of how that arrangement would proceed. On Tuesday, the president said the concession would be cancelled without Costa Rican taxpayers having to foot the bill for company indemnification for contract violation.She also did not outline how needed repairs and expansion of the highway would move forward under government administration. On Wednesday, government agencies announced there are no public funds currently available to carry out the project.Chinchilla and local residents agree on one thing, at least: The highway poses “great risks for those who drive on it,” she said.Planning Minister Roberto Gallardo said the agreement with OAS to terminate the contract helped taxpayers avoid paying a hefty fine – totaling an estimated $35 million – but Costa Ricans will still have to pay the company back for investments made up to this point, the daily La Nación reported.But Álvaro Sagot, an attorney for the outspoken group Foro de Occidente, said taxpayers would end up paying for what he characterized as a serious misstep by the Chinchilla administration.“Minister Gallardo is trying to confuse people,” Sagot said. “From a legal standpoint, paying the company’s investments is the same thing as indemnification.”Sagot and a team of attorneys hope to prove in court the contract with OAS has fatal flaws – which would justify nullifying it without indemnifying the company.“If the company takes the case to international arbitration, they wouldn’t be able to say the executive branch annulled the contract [if the case goes forward]; it would be the judicial branch,” he said.Foro de Occidente, from Alajuela, is one of the most vocal groups that opposed the OAS concession. Its members have stated for several weeks that although they wanted the annulled, they do favor repairing and expanding the highway. But that project should be carried out by the Costa Rican government, not a private company, the group says.“This is just one victory in a larger battle,” Foro de Occidente spokesman Paul Brenes told La Nación, referring to Chinchilla’s announcement on Monday. “We’ll be meeting to analyze the president’s speech, and we’ll be pressuring officials to build and expand the route without using a private concession. Ticos need to show that we don’t need foreign labor.”Opponents also are pushing for reform of a 1994 concessions law they say creates conditions that violate state interests and open the door to potential corruption in the concession process.The law was created to allow the government to carry out public works and infrastructure projects without having a budget to pay for them. It allowed Costa Rica to finish a new highway to the Pacific coast – the Caldera Highway – which dramatically reduced travel time and previously had taken more than two decades to advance.Other concessions for infrastructure projects – including expansion and renovation of two international airports – had experienced hiccups in the process, but eventually served the country’s needs for modernized airline traffic.But that’s not how members of the Foro de Occidente see it: “Apparently, the concessions law is full of hidden vices. It allows companies to come here and carry out projects without participating in a public bidding process,” Brenes said. “That’s not very transparent.”Opposition lawmaker José Maria Villalta, from the Broad Front Party, said the law has caused several problems for the country and almost no benefits. “It’s a law designed to benefit private companies,” he told the online news site crhoy.com.Politically, analysts also note that with a presidential election one year away, the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN) hopes to prevent the San Ramón Highway concession from becoming an Achilles’ heel at election time.In the past two weeks, PLN presidential candidate and current San José Mayor Johnny Araya – who is overwhelmingly leading polls of potential voters – jumped ship on Chinchilla – his own party’s president – and joined opposition lawmaker Luis Fishman in criticizing the OAS concession.Araya posted on his Facebook page that is important to include various sectors in any decision to seek an alternative plan to renovate the highway.“I suggest as a first step that the government find resources to build a [new] bridge over Río Virilla; for safety reasons, that should be a priority. For the rest of the project, a trust with a state-run bank is worth considering,” Araya wrote.The are other reasons Liberation should be concerned, including a dismal turnout for last Sunday’s party elections to choose members of the PLN’s national assembly. Many Costa Ricans – including party president Bernal Jiménez – saw the poor turnout as payback for the OAS concession.“President Laura Chinchilla’s decision to annul the concession is the culmination of several adverse situations. It’s not just the abstention in the [PLN] district elections [on Sunday], it’s also fueled by public opinion expressed on social media networks and several organized protest marches,” Sagot said.The Foro de Occidente is planning a large turnout for annual May 1 celebrations to commemorate Labor Day, an international holiday honoring workers. The march is aimed at keeping pressure on the Chinchilla administration to be transparent in the aftermath of what has become yet more fodder for Costa Ricans who have awarded their president with the lowest approval ratings in the Americas. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgNo related posts. “Breaking Bad” is known for its airtight plotting and attention to technical details. Here at Slate, it’s been called “TV’s Best Medical Drama Ever” for its realism, and The New Yorker has called its depiction of the meth trade “uncannily accurate.” The show’s scientific adviser, chemistry professor Donna Nelson, frequently gives interviews about the science behind the show, bolstering its reputation for verisimilitude.But it’s worth remembering that at the end of the day “Breaking Bad” is still pulp, and pulp written and produced by human beings. We’ve rounded up 9 of the blunders that keep the show from quite achieving flawlessness.Mild spoilers ahead.1. There is no chemical element “Ch.”MiCHael Slovis creditThis was fixed in later episodes:MiChael_Slovis_with_C2. Pure meth isn’t blue.From “Breaking Bad’s” own science consultant, in an interview with Scientific American:What Walt is supposedly synthesizing is powder blue. I can tell you the pure crystals I made never looked anything like that. I don’t think that’s realistic.(It’s more likely the Heisenberg meth would be clear or faintly yellow.)3. Osama bin Laden wasn’t killed until 2011.In an interview with Slate, showrunner Vince Gilligan acknowledged an inconsistency in the timeline of the show, pointed out by a writer:The writer said to me: “I thought this show took place in 2007, and it’s only been a year since then, but last week you had someone mention the Osama Bin Laden assassination. How do you reconcile that?” I had to say, “Well, honestly, I don’t.”4. A lot of the Spanish accents are terrible.I’ll let Slate’s Juliana Jiménez, a native Spanish speaker, explain:The terrible Spanish accents amount to perhaps the most egregious flaw in the show. Really, they couldn’t find actors who actually speak Spanish? Gus’s accent was one of the worst — it didn’t sound remotely Chilean, and in fact it barely sounded like Spanish at all — and he was one of the most important characters on the show! Misplaced intonations, random pauses, choppy flow . . . it was one of the most unintentionally awkward Spanish accents I’ve heard on television, and not for lack of competition.5. Hydrofluoric acid would not eat through a bathtub.Walt and Jesse’s method of disposing of bodies is real — in Mexico, it’s called the guiso, or “stew” — but MythBusters has shown that no amount of hydrofluoric acid would have eaten through that tub.6. No one’s aim is that bad.In one of the show’s most climactic moments, the standoff at the end of “To’hajiilee,” eight gunmen all take aim, unleash a firestorm of bullets, and all miss. This is improbable at best. While the accuracy rate of trained law enforcement can drop as low as 18 percent in firefights, scores if not hundreds of shots were fired before anyone got hit.7. You can sometimes see the crew.8. Meth doesn’t make you hallucinate.In Season 1, Jesse smokes meth and has an elaborate hallucination: He sees two Mormon missionaries as hulking bikers armed with a sword.But as former meth addict and dealer James Salant pointed out in GQ, “Meth does not induce hallucinations. It is not a hallucinogen.”9. The chemistry doesn’t always add up.Scientific errors go all the way back to the pilot, as chemist Jonathan Hare pointed out for the BBC:In one scene, in their makeshift mobile meth lab out in the desert, Walt is being threatened by two gangsters. He improvises a method to gas them by throwing red phosphorus into hot water. . . . He later explains to Jesse that this reaction produced poisonous phosphine gas. Red phosphorus can react with hydrogen to produce phosphine — but not with hot water.Of course, since “Breaking Bad” is pulp, perhaps it’s OK for it to make up its own laws of chemistry.© 2013, Slate Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:National Police announce operation to combat crime wave in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone Following recent crime wave, Solís announces new investment in San Carlos police force Group show ‘Valoarte‘ surprises and impresses at Avenida Escazú Announcing ‘News and Brews,’ a Tico Times event When we picture waterparks, we think of shining afternoons – days so bright and hot that the water ripples with sunlight. Children splash with élan, parents soak up rays in reclining chairs, teenagers toss beach balls. Everywhere bodies slip down long slides, crashing into the pools and making onlookers squeal. This is the stuff of postcards, the images that scream, “Wish you were here.”We don’t picture an overcast Monday, the air cool and moist, the park nearly devoid of people. Holidays are usually good for tourism, but not Costa Rica’s Independence Day, when pretty much everybody is attending a parade or enjoying a day at home.Yet this was my only chance to visit Kalambu, the waterpark that had just opened outside of La Fortuna. I was in the general vicinity already, and I had driven through rain and mist to reach its gates. If I was going to visit Kalambu in the foreseeable future, I would have to go now.“Welcome!” said the chipper young man at the ticket booth.“Thank you,” I said. “One, please?”“One?” he said. He hesitated for a split second, as I knew he probably would. What 34-year-old visits a remote waterpark on a drizzly day, much less alone? Surely somebody was joining me. But no, it was just me, hands clumsily stuffed into the pockets of my cargo shorts.The moment was awkward enough, but the woman who stood nearby was crushingly attractive and friendly, the kind of twenty-something every breathing heterosexual male yearns to date in college. Her presence made everything worse. She worked for Kalambu and was clearly waiting for me to finish paying admission so she could show me around. And here I was, flying solo in a park that was obviously designed for vacationing families and their young offspring. I felt like 85 kilos of pure security risk.But the two staffers printed my receipt and wrapped a waterproof band around my wrist, careful not to entrap any arm hair – and never once did they stop smiling. I thanked the cashier, who offered a cheerful “¡Pura vida!” His compañera escorted me through the entrance and gestured toward the park.“This is the children’s area here,” she said, pointing to a large structure filled with slides and topped with a giant bucket. “Over there is for the adults. You can rent a locker over there. It’s only 1,500 colones.”As she gave me directions, the giant bucket – which was designed to look like an old-timey water tower – overturned on its axis points and dumped water all over the screaming children below.I thanked her profusely and headed toward the lockers.I had never really been to a waterpark, but when I received a press release from Kalambu, I was curious. Not because it was a waterpark, but because it was a thermally heated waterpark.•Unlike amusement parks and regular public swimming pools, waterparks basically didn’t exist until the 1940s, and they were slow to catch on. A waterpark requires enormous volumes of fresh water, chlorinated and pumped aggressively through a complex plumbing system. But according to the World Waterpark Association (yes, there is such a thing), the real waterpark pioneer was George Millay, who created Wet ‘N Wild in Orlando, Florida, in 1977. Millay also founded SeaWorld, for what that’s worth.Not surprisingly, most waterparks exist in North America, which boasts more than 1,000 of them, while the rest of the world has about 600.Costa Rica’s most famous waterpark is Ojo de Agua, which stands on a natural spring and pumps its water to Puntarenas. Many of my Costa Rican friends hold a classist view of Ojo de Agua, just the way friends in the United States make fun of Wildwood, New Jersey, but the humor is lost on me, and someday I’d be curious to go. (Coming from New England, I’m unaccustomed to being able to swim outside anytime of year, give or take a tropical rainstorm). Abandon all dryness, ye who enter here. Courtesy KalambuBut Kalambu is different: The park stands just a few kilometers outside of La Fortuna, on the road to Lake Arenal. Like many of the high-end resorts that cluster along the edge of the volcano, Kalambu harnesses its metamorphic energy in order to heat its thermal pools. In theory, Kalambu isn’t just fun in the sun: It’s also a place to soak in naturally warmed waters, like a spa.That was enough incentive to go. Kalambu celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 13. Two days later, on Independence Day, I had an appointment just north of La Fortuna. The timing was perfect. •“This one,” said the businesslike park employee, “is slow.” He pointed to one of the slides. “This one is fast. And this one – this one is really fast.” A guest (not the author) rides down one of Kalambu’s trademark slides. Courtesy KalambuIn order to reach the slides, you have to climb a tall platform that overlooks the park, and by the time I reached the top, the clouds had cleared away from Arenal Volcano. I paused to take in the view: The newly finished park looked nice, with its multiple pools and freshly roofed buildings, although it was clearly a work in progress. Just beyond the walls lay stretches of gravel and dirt, darkened by recent rains. Building materials and construction equipment were still piled on the fringes. Kalambu had opened, but expansion seemed imminent.The slides were the usual plastic tubes that curl around each other, their floors full of running water. I opted for the slide with medium velocity and sat down. The park employee signaled to someone far below, gave a thumb’s up, and said, “Go!”The water swept me down, and soon my face was subsumed in froth. I couldn’t see anything. As my body flew down the tunnel, water sloshed violently around me, and I realized that the only slides I had ever used were comparatively short. I felt myself plummet faster and faster, my eyes stung by the blinding torrents. I wanted to press my palms against the walls, but I had been instructed to cross my arms like a mummy.When the slide spat me out, I smashed into the water with incredible force, my head falling backward into the pool, forcing me to spin completely around. When I surfaced, I spat, sneezed out water, and cackled with delight.The slowest slide proved to be the most enjoyable – an elegant glide down long curves, until the slide gently deposits you back in the pool. The fastest was different: It was an actual slide, uncovered, so that the slider can see his fate. From the top of the platform, it seems like a straight vertical drop. Riding down the slide felt like jumping off a water skyscraper and raking my body down the windows as I fell. Except awesome.I made my way to the inflatable tube ride, which stood only a short distance away. Kalambu has a variety of inflatable tubes, some as small as truck tires, others as large as fishermen’s rafts. I lifted the smallest tube out of the water and made my way to the second platform. Another smiley park employee gave suggestions as to how to mount it: I could sit up, lie back, or even lie on my stomach. After a quick thumb’s up, he pushed me into the water and I started my descent.Known as “The Mammoth,” this ride is described in press materials as “374 feet of exhilarating madness from over 4 stories high!” The madness is like a slower, sillier version of whitewater rafting: The tube bounced against the walls of the chute, whirling around and around, so that for half the ride I was facing backward. The suspense softened, and the last few whirls were relaxing. I plunked back into the pool, landing awkwardly, and fell clear off the oversized donut.The larger inflatable craft are designed for more people – up to four at a time – and there is no shortcut to the top. Because there were no lines (or even many other people), I huffed my way up the staircase, heaving the raft over my head. It reminded me of portaging a canoe; for everyday toys that were mostly full of air, they were surprisingly heavy. I promised myself to restart my weightlifting regimen when I got home.•Waterparks are hokey places, the stuff of Winnebago vacations and Chevy Chase movies. As the global water crisis becomes more urgent, the public will likely become more critical of such frivolous uses of water, no matter how it is received or reused. While water is hardly scarce in the San Carlos region, Costa Rica’s tourism sector has stirred plenty of controversy with the way upscale resorts use water resources.But for what it is, Kalambu is a pleasant diversion: The staff is impeccably friendly and accommodating. While the restaurant wasn’t yet open, the snack bar was, and their cheese-drizzled burrito reminded me of summers at the county fair. Coming on a Monday meant never waiting in line, a luxury that few visitors would ever enjoy. At times, I felt like I had the entire place to myself.Then I slipped into the thermal pool, where the water was significantly warmer than the air, and guests gathered beneath the synthetic waterfalls. Clouds drifted past the volcano, occasionally dispersing enough to reveal its jagged summit. Teenaged couples waded toward the corners of the pool to vigorously make out. Fathers held infants in the air, making cooing noises.I don’t expect to return to Kalambu, unless I have to babysit a child or two. But I could see that the place had potential. If the park expands, it will draw international attention. Water rides and thermal pools and a view of a perfect volcanic cone? For the suburban vacationer who prefers an antiseptic alternative to actual rivers, Kalambu will fit the bill.After a couple of hours, I decided it was time to go. I plodded toward the lockers, toweling off as I went. But then I paused.Just one more trip down the medium-fast slide, I thought. For old time’s sake. 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first_imgRelated posts:FEDEFUTBOL official: FIFA scandal won’t affect Costa Rica’s upcoming matches FIFA: The ‘World Cup of fraud’ Switzerland will rule on FIFA extraditions next month Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li pleads not guilty in FIFA corruption scandal Eduardo Li, the ex-president of the Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) accused of corruption in connection with the ongoing FIFA scandal, will request to be released on bail from a New York state prison, sources close to the situation told the AFP on Wednesday.The motion proposing bail for Li will be presented either Thursday or Friday, according to the sources. Li was arrested in Zurich on May 27, 2015 when the “FIFAgate” scandal began and was extradited to the United States on Dec. 18.Li could ask for a trial as early as next week, possibly on Feb. 10, so that a federal judge from Brooklyn looks over the bond request with prosecutors and Li’s defense team.Upon being extradited, the 57-year-old Li said he is innocent of the 19 charges against him, which include fraud and money laundering while he was the head of Costa Rica’s football federation, FEDEFUTBOL. He has been detained in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since his extradition.See: FIFA-Gate – Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li allegedly received 6-figure bribe, says US indictmentAfter Tuesday’s release of Honduras’ Alfredo Hawit, the suspended president of CONCACAF, Li is the only remaining FIFA leader who remains in a U.S. prison.In all, 39 FIFA figures and two sports marketing companies are caught up in the indictments handed down by the U.S. Justice Department in May and December of last year. Already 12 individuals have declared themselves guilty, seeking to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a reduced penalty.The wide-sweeping scandal also affected resigned FIFA president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, who was suspended from any involvement in football for eight years, as was former UEFA president Michel Platini. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgCosta Ricans celebrated Pride Month with a Pride March on July 1. A sea of rainbow colors, signs and national flags spanned from Paseo Colón to the Plaza de la Democracia in San José.Participants included representatives of public sector entities and private businesses, as well as the embassies of Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, and more. An estimated 200,000 people — and an undetermined number of animals — participated in the march, which comes at a time when international court decisions and presidential politics have placed LGBTQ rights front and center in Costa Rica.Take a glimpse into the celebration of love with families and friends that took place in Costa Rica this past Sunday. Jonathan Jiménez / The Tico Times Jonathan Jiménez / The Tico Times The sign reads: “I march for my diverse students”. Jonathan Jiménez / The Tico Times Jonathan Jiménez / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times Francisco Cubillo / The Tico Times The sign reads: “Lutheran Church present”. Francisco Cubillo / The Tico TimesAbout our freelance photographers:Francisco Cubillo: Costa Rican photographer and journalist in the making. Jack of all trades, master of some. Instagram: @cubillomoraf Jonathan Jiménez Flores: Photographer and audiovisual producer. Credits include La Nación, Semanario Universidad and La Voz de Guanacaste. Instagram: @jjimenezfl Related posts:How Sean Miranda made history in Costa Rica Inside Costa Rica’s Pride Costa Rica’s high court: Same-sex marriage should be legal (someday) An afternoon with Frida Cartascenter_img Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_img Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life Top Stories Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Polimeks built Ashgabat’s Arch of Neutrality, a three-legged 75-meter-high arch topped by a gold-plated statue of the idiosyncratic late President Saparmurat Niyazov that rotated so that it would always face the sun. That monument has since been moved to the edge of the city, and Niyazov no longer rotates.Turkmenistan has been on something of a record-busting drive for years now.In 2001, Guinness gave its seal of approval to the largest carpet in the world, which measured 301 square meters and weighed 1,200 kilograms. Then in 2008, it was the turn of a flagpole measuring 133 meters tall.In 2010, the Oguzkhan 27-hectare (67 acre) fountain complex, which comprised 27 cascades, was recognized as the largest of its kind.And for another record that few people probably even knew existed, Turkmenistan last year secured the prize for the world’s largest architectural representation of a star, which forms the body of the 211-meter-tall Ashgabat television center.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) This natural gas-rich nation has developed a fixation for record-breaking. In 2001, it was recognized as having woven the world’s largest carpet. In 2008, it claimed the title for the world’s tallest flagpole, although it has since been overtaken by North Korea, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.The 24-cabin Ferris wheel is enclosed in a glass-fronted snow-white steel structure that also houses the Alem entertainment center. Facilities include a bowling alley, two cinema screens, a restaurant, and a planetarium equipped with star-gazing equipment.Over two decades, since former Soviet Turkmenistan gained independence, the capital, Ashgabat, has been transformed from a drab provincial backwater into a city packed with grand and idiosyncratic buildings.The body of the structure housing the Ferris wheel is built in the shape of the eight-sided star of Oguz Khan _ a legendary Turkic Khan described as the progenitor of Turkmens _ and is decorated in national motifs. The roundness of the building, which is topped by a 17-meter spire, lends it the appearance of a colossal sundial hovering above a massive pedestal.State media reported that the observation wheel was built by Turkish company Polimeks, which accounts for the vast bulk of major projects in Ashgabat together with Bouygues of France. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Associated PressASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) – The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan has earned another spot in the record books with the world’s largest Ferris wheel in an enclosed space.State newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported Saturday that Amanda Mochan of the Guinness Book of World Records was on hand for the unveiling of the Ferris wheel, which stands 47 meters (154 feet) high and cost $90 million to construct. Four benefits of having a wireless security system New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

first_imgThe agency says the rules are necessary to make clear which waters are regulated under the Clean Water Act in the wake of decades-long uncertainty and two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the issue. The 2001 and 2006 decisions limited regulators’ reach but left unclear the scope of authority over some small waterways, like those that flow intermittently.Democrats said blocking the rules could mean even more uncertainty for landowners who don’t know if waters on their land are regulated. They said the GOP bill is premature because the EPA and Army Corps have not yet released the revised, final version of the rules.“We’re being asked to vote on killing something that nobody has read,” said Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon.Across the Capitol, several senators introduced a bill last month that would lay out what bodies of water should be covered under the rules and force the EPA to rewrite them by the end of next year. Sponsors included Democrats who have heard from their constituents on the proposal and said it is aggravating longstanding trust issues between rural areas and the federal government.“It’s the perfect example of the disconnect between Washington and rural areas,” said Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly of the rules. Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who also backs the Senate bill, says the water rule is the number one issue she hears about from farmers. WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Tuesday voted to block government rules that would clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from pollution and development under the Clean Water Act.The rules proposed last year by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have fueled political anger in the country’s heartland, becoming a top issue of concern for many farmers and landowners who say there are already too many government regulations affecting their businesses. Top Stories ___Find Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mcjalonickCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Broadly, the EPA’s proposed rules would assert federal regulatory authority over streams, tributaries, wetlands and other flowing waters that significantly affect other protected waters downstream. That means landowners would have to obtain permits for practices or development that may pollute or destroy the waters.“We’re making a targeted effort to protect the waters that matter most,” McCarthy told the National Farmers Union audience.Farm groups are particularly concerned over what they say is an overly broad definition of tributary and whether common farm ditches would be regulated. EPA says it would only regulate farm ditches that are constructed through wetlands or streams and flow year-round.The EPA has been working to clear up misconceptions, putting to rest rumors that puddles in your back yard would be regulated, for example. Farming practices that are currently exempted from the Clean Water Act — plowing, seeding and minor drainage, among other things — will continue to be exempted.Many landowners aren’t swayed.Missouri rancher David Luker says he’s already spent thousands of dollars trying to comply with the Clean Water Act because several shallow streams run through his farm. “It seems like you can’t do anything anymore without some agency being in control or having oversight over what you are doing,” Luker says.center_img FILE – In this Nov. 5, 2012 file photo, then-North Dakota Democratic Senate candidate, now Sen. Heidi Heitkamp speaks during a campaign stop at Granny’s Restaurant in Grafton, N.D. Government rules to clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from development and pollution are fueling political anger in the country’s heartland. “We’ve got a whole lot of pent-up frustration and concern because it seems like every time they turn around, there is a new set of regulations for farmers to be concerned about,” says Heitkamp, who is backing the Senate bill. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File) The House bill, approved 261-155, would force the EPA to withdraw the rules and further consult with state and local officials before rewriting it. The White House has threatened to veto the legislation.The EPA says its water rules simply clarify — and don’t expand — what smaller bodies of water are regulated under the Clean Water Act. Administrator Gina McCarthy says one out of three Americans gets their drinking water from sources that aren’t clearly protected, and the rules would make sure those waters aren’t polluted.Republican Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he believes the proposed EPA and Army Corps rules are “purposely vague” and that they would expand the government’s authority over these small bodies of water, despite what the agency says.“Not all waters need to be subject to federal jurisdiction,” Shuster saidEPA officials have acknowledged they may not have written the proposal clearly enough, and said final rules expected in the coming months will better define which waters would fall under the law.“I want to tell you up front that I wish we had done a better job of rolling out our clean water rule,” McCarthy told the National Farmers Union in March. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

first_imgBOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Two bombs exploded in different parts of Colombia’s capital Thursday, wounding eight people in attacks that appeared aimed at a private pension fund, authorities said.Officials said none of the wounded suffered serious injuries.The first blast occurred in offices of the Porvenir fund in the financial district of Bogota and seven people were injured there, city Health Secretary Mauricio Bustamante said. The eighth victim was wounded by a blast at a Porvenir branch in the Puente Aranda area in the west of the city. Gen. Humberto Guatibonza, commander of the Bogota Metropolitan Police, said investigators were interviewing witnesses and reviewing footage from security cameras in the areas around the two explosions.Defense Secretary Luis Carlos Villegas said the explosions were meant to intimidate people and called whoever was behind them terrorists.President Manuel Santos’s office said he was returning early from a trade conference in Peru to oversee the investigation.No one claimed responsibility for the blasts, which came at a time of increased tensions between the government and the country’s biggest rebel movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Both sides in Colombia’s five-decade conflict have been stepping up attacks in recent weeks, putting strains on peace talks that have been going for two years in Cuba.Although speculation was rife that the attacks were orchestrated by the FARC, there wasn’t any immediate evidence linking the rebels to the blasts. Colombia’s criminal gangs are known to detonate small explosives as a way to intimidate extortion targets.The explosion in the financial district happened seven blocks from U.S. Ambassador Kevin Whitaker’s official residence, where he was hosting dozens of people at a reception to celebrate the Fourth of July. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision?center_img Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

first_imgAirAsia X could be including flights between Australia and New Zealand by the end of the year but will not be catering to popular cities Melbourne and Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the airline, which is 16 percent owned by AirAsia, is expected to designate flights from the Gold Coast and Perth to either Auckland or Christchurch.    Mr Osman-Rani said, “The airline would have a golden opportunity to enter the trans-Tasman market if Virgin Blue’s proposed alliance with Air New Zealand resulted in the airlines shedding flights.” <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1cf74/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F Excite Holidays has launched a wholesale airfares module boosting the company’s product portfolio.Managing Director George Papaioannou exclusively told e-Travel Blackboard that the decision to launch all-year-round wholesale airfares and earlybird wholesale airfares was made to meet travel agent demand. Earlybird wholesale airfare deals are available with the Agent Only Wholesaler provided a minimal land component is booked and paid on the company website.Premium carriers such as SQ, EK and VS will honour the Excite Holidays Earlybird deals, effective immediately.Excite Holidays is Australia’s foremost supplier of hotel accommodation, and the fastest growing supplier to the national travel trade. The company provides reservations to 70 000 hotel properties worldwide, with a view to increasing inventory to 100 000 by the end of the year.last_img read more

first_imgThailand has once again been affected by floods, with heavy rain in the past week inundating tens of thousands of homes in southern Thailand including tourism areas. Southern provinces located on the western coast of Gulf of Thailand including Yala, Pattani, Songkhla and Narathiwat have been worst hit with flash flooding and mudslide alerts have been issued. Residents were ordered to evacuate on Sunday night as floodwater reached 2 meters deep and a disaster status was announced.  Tourists celebrating the New Year in the area were stranded in their hotels as roads and railways were cut off. Torrential rain in the south was caused by the combined effects of the north eastern monsoon in the Gulf of Thailand and a low pressure cell covering northern Malaysia, according to the meteorology station in Yala. Popular island getaways for tourists in the Gulf of Thailand like Koh Samui experienced large waves and rain over the past two weeks, while the west coast tourist hotspot Krabi also recorded heavy rain with warnings of landslides.Still recovering from flash flooding and landslides last March, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej said the damage caused by the waters that claimed over 800 lives was the “worst ever”. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.Wlast_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Singapore’s new low-cost carrier, Scoot Airlines has announced it will make Gold Coast its second international route, with a five times weekly service to tap into the growing travel market between Singapore and Queensland.Commencing from June this year, the new flights come on the back of the airline selecting Sydney as its first international destination and according to Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy will give the country “greater exposure” to South East Asia.  “With Australia sitting on the periphery of the region it is vital that our aviation development strategy keeps Australian routes on their consideration list and leverages partnerships to secure the additional capacity we need to reach our 2020 growth targets,” Mr McEvoy explained. Gold Coast Tourism chief executive Martin Winter described the new direct services as “vital” and a long term goal for the region. “Gold Coast Tourism has led the way in developing the Asian travel market over the past five years through dedicated resources, continuous marketing campaigns, and a relentless program of travel industry partnerships and education,” Mr Winter added. “The benefits of that strategy have already made an impact with visitation from markets such as China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia consistently increasing and offsetting declines from more traditional source markets, now direct access out of Singapore will amplify that success.”According to Tourism Australia, Singapore is Australia’s sixth largest inbound market and has the potential to grow to between $2.3 billion and $2.8 billion in overnight spending by 2020.last_img read more

first_imgQantas maintenance facilties under pressure Consolidation options and drastic labour cuts look to be a certainty for the Australian carrier. Last week Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) federal secretary, Steve Purvinas warned of the airline’s unsustainable maintenance facilities. Qantas have become more transparent regarding these difficult issues, it was reported in The Australian. “The problem we are trying to solve is an anticipated 60 per cent reduction in labour demand over the next five years,” Head of Heavy Maintenance for Qantas, Tony Lowery said. There is a very real possibility that the airline may shut down two of its three maintenance facilities, consolidating business and culling jobs. “The criteria we are examining to help us make the best choice include: ongoing operating costs in the context of keeping existing heavy maintenance on shore, capital costs, and ability to support new systems of maintenance,” Mr Lowery said. A lobbying war has broken out between Victoria and Queensland for the rights to keep their state’s maintenance facilities open. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

first_imgThe Creativity and Innovationcategory was awarded to Jim DeGroot, Financial Systems Administrator, Canada.  Jim developed and built an additional financial system for HRG North America to provide HRG’s management with exceptional reporting capabilities.The Implementing Best Practice category was awarded to Pawel Ogrodnik, Finance Director, Poland.  Of his own volition, Pawel created tools to manage increased volumes and control costs.  He continues to work on front, mid and back office systems to automate processes, simplify working procedures for operational staff resulting in significant overall savings.The Improving Client Satisfaction or Performance category was awarded to Jenny Bai, Head of Beijing Office, China.  Jenny assisted with implementation of a comprehensive project for a major automotive client and, whilst demonstrating exceptional leadership skills, has consistently ensured client satisfaction during a time of significant growth in the Beijing office.The CHOICE Team category was awarded to The Livingstone Project Team, which incorporates members from France, Sweden, Germany and the UK.  The team was responsible for a thorough overhaul of HRG France’s mid and back office system and demonstrated the value of a cross functional regional team working to improve efficiency and accuracy.Whilst the CHOICE Awards acknowledged individuals for their approach to particular projects and activities, their creativity and innovation and the examples they have set will be implemented wherever possible across the company to continue to improve global service delivery and efficiencies. Source = HRG Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), the award-winning international corporate services company, held its first annual CHOICE Awards at The Cumberland Hotel, London, on 15 June to recognise and reward its employees.HRG’s CHOICE Awards celebrate exceptional employees who have gone the extra mile to exceed client expectations and ensure top quality service.  Selected from 339 nominations and 76 shortlisted candidates, the winners bring HRG’s philosophy of ‘People going further’ to life by acting as driving forces in their specific areas of expertise, whilst remaining united in a common purpose.Commenting on the award winners, David Radcliffe, Chief Executive of HRG, said:  “At HRG, people are our greatest asset.   Through the CHOICE Awards we aim to commend the remarkable effort of those employees around the world who go above and beyond, reflecting the values that our company is built on.“The quality of entries to this our first CHOICE competition were remarkably high, making it difficult to pick just one winner for each category.  It’s immensely satisfying and encouraging that so many of our employees share a common work ethic and commitment to improving the business, wherever they are in the world.  I would like to offer my personal congratulations to all the winners and nominees, as model examples of ‘People going further’.”The Above and Beyond category was awarded to Greg Easter, Business Travel Consultant, UK. Greg co-ordinated 460 passengers for a banking client during the run up to their Asia conference.  In addition to his ‘day job’, for three consecutive days Greg worked on both Singapore and UK time to ensure that the client had readily available, up to the minute information available in every appropriate country.last_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H Hartfield-Jackson welcomes some 92 million passengers per year. Image: AP Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson Airport may be the world’s busiest airport but it is also America’s best, a recent survey by Travel Leaders Group has revealed.According to the study, the Georgian hub ranked among the top three airports in most categories polled, including best US airport for connecting flights, and best airport for business travel.  Polling the group’s agents, the Travel Trends Survey also found the Atlanta airport was the hub of choice for amenities and for dining.With respondents allowed to choose up to three airports in each category, there were also positive results for Dallas/Fort Worth, which finished among the top five airports in every list, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, which placed in the top four airports in all but one list.      Experiencing mixed results, Chicago O’Hare ranked well in each index but was voted the worst airport for connecting flights.  With dining “the most significant” area of change at airports, Travel Leaders Group chief executive Barry Liben said that hubs had “transformed considerably in the last decade to accommodate the shift in the amount of time travelers spend there”.“More amenities have been added to appeal to travelers – and in many cases, to occupy their time – while they wait for their flights,” he stated. “At some of the busiest airports around the United States, there has been an explosion in service such as mini spas and salons, along with a retooling of the retail space toward higher-end goods and electronics.”Full results of the study:Best airports for connecting flights: Atlanta (40.5%), Charlotte (25.2%), Dallas/Ft. Worth (24.3%), Houston Intercontinental (18.2%) and Detroit (17.5%)Worst airports for connecting flights: Chicago O’Hare (56.3%), New York (JFK) (39.4%), Atlanta (33.0%), New York (LGA) (13.7%) and Newark (12.2%)Top airports for business travel services: Atlanta (42.2%), Chicago O’Hare  (29.8%), Dallas/Ft. Worth (20.5%), Minneapolis/St. Paul (18.3%) and New York (JFK) (15.2%)Best amenities: Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Las Vegas.Best dining: Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth and San Francisco.Best for families: Orlando, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/Ft. Worth.The Travel Trends Survey took into account the opinions of just under a thousand Travel Leaders Group owners, managers and frontline travel experts.last_img read more