Member Spotlight: Go Travel
Member Spotlight: Go Travel
For many people, not being able to travel has been one of the most missed aspects of life for the past year. As vaccines roll out to more segments of the population, savvy travelers are already booking their summer vacations and their 2022 plans to beat the expected demand, especially for cruises. Julia Bales, vice president of Go Travel, a full-service locally owned and operated travel agency, says that three major cruise lines – Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Crystal – just announced the return of cruises for summer 2021, and bookings opened just this week. U.S. ports are not open yet, but U.S. citizens will be able to fly to St. Martin or Nassau, Bahamas, to take a cruise starting in June.
While cruising is a big part of their business, Go Travel is a full-service agency, including a significant corporate travel sector. “We have a great niche with small to medium size businesses that aren’t ready for a full inhouse travel agency but need to make arrangements for between one and 50 people that are traveling for business,” says Bales. Luxury travel, family vacations, flights, hotels, cars, group travel, custom vacations, jets, private tours, organizing group trainings in hotels, or even better on a cruise, for say medical groups or real estate groups are also all part of their areas of expertise. “Anything travel, we can arrange it,” says Bales.
Go Travel was started in 1979 by Bales’ parents. She grew up in Central Florida, left for college and then lived in Asia for 10 years, working on the cruise line side of the business in software development. “Now I’m on the advisor side. I have a great understanding of how the business works on both sides and how to work with the cruise industry,” says Bales.
The company has seven locations throughout Florida and North Carolina and 150 advisors. “Our travel advisors really get to know the clients, learn what their preferences and passions are and are able to recommend the right hotels, excursions, restaurants so that they have the absolute best trip possible.” And having direct, strong relationships with airlines, hotel partners and cruise ships means they can get things done, and their partners want to make sure Go Travel’s customers are satisfied.
Bales and her team have two YouTube channels and regular Facebook Live streaming to keep clients informed about the latest news, delve deep into a particular destination and entertain and entice everyone on the myriad places to explore and have an adventure. “We are doing a lot of digital content and reaching out to our clients so that they can feel confident that when they are ready to travel, they can call their advisor and be guided every step of the way to plan it,” says Bales.
For summer travel, domestic destinations and vacations have been in high demand, and now with the big announcement of cruises starting for U.S. citizens (a few other areas including Singapore and Europe have already been cruising, but they aren’t open to Americans), Bales’ advice is to book now, especially if you want to get on a cruise in 2021.
“There is two years of demand and one year of supply,” she says. These summer cruises will be operating at reduced capacity and will require vaccinations for all adults on board. “The key is vaccinations. If you want to travel, vaccinations will pave the way. Especially for the older crowd that is retired and has had their vaccinations. The good news is for now, lots of suppliers are offering flexible policies so you can book and then get a refund if something gets canceled,” says Bales.