Relaxation Day Survey Says Millennials Work Harder

Relaxation Day

The third annual National Relaxation Day is coming up August 15, 2012, and Princess Cruises is once again asking, “Do you need a vacation?” In their just-released Relaxation Report survey findings, Princess Cruises has some interesting results.

“It’s evident through our survey findings that Americans’ approach to relaxation and vacationing is changing with each generation,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president in a press release reported in SF Gate.

Millennials work harder than Boomers says the survey, noting that a third of most Boomers work on vacation while about double that amount of younger Millennials work rather than relax while on vacation. Eighty-three percent of those who get vacation time, regardless of age, said they didn’t use it all because they either had too much work to do or couldn’t find time to take off.This year’s survey got right down to preferred beverages while on vacation as we see in this first infographic.

Continuing along, the Relaxation Report found that 85 percent of all workers say it’s more relaxing when they go on vacation than when their boss does. Sixty-four percent of parents have taken a vacation without their child, 46 percent felt guilty about it, moms more than dads.

Sitting on the beach on a resort or cruise vacation or pausing for a break when hiking or camping, those surveyed had strong feelings on which social media platforms they might use too. This next infographic shows the clear winner.

[Infographics courtesy Princess Cruises; Flickr photo by graphistolage]

Travel scam watch: vacation club not what it promised

Travel ScamThis time its travelers from Tennessee claiming the use of misleading and high-pressure tactics to sell memberships in a travel club where members would be entitled to huge savings. Vacation Station is the latest company accused of running a travel scam by not delivering promised savings or service on what they said would be access to discounted vacations.

Tennessee residents have filed complaints about The Vacation Station which operated in a Tennessee office park until moving out last month. Those complaints, and hundreds of others filed in other states, accuse The Vacation Station of using misleading and high-pressure tactics to sell memberships for $2000 each.

“They had so much pressure on you it was almost like you couldn’t leave without doing it,” Kim Eldridge told newschannel5.com.

“It cut out the travel agent. It cut out all that other stuff. You were supposed to get trips really cheap,” explained Eldridge. The problem is that the trips offered by The Vacation Station were more expensive than they found elsewhere, sometimes much more expensive.

The Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee has received a total of seven similar complaints against the travel company.

“You’re really paying for something in advance that has little value when you try to apply it in the marketplace,” said Kathleen Calligan, President of the Better Business Bureau in Middle Tennessee.

The Vacation Station’s owner defended his company saying it quickly resolves consumer complaints even though most stem from the actions of third-party marketers reports the Tennessean.

“We probably dealt with 30,000 or 40,000 people in Nashville, and there’s only been six complaints,” Vacation Station owner Randy Gardner said. “I’ve done nothing wrong. If you’re in business, you get complaints. It’s gonna happen, but we always handle complaints.”

Maybe they do but paying attention to a few red flags when considering these sort of deals can go a long way to protecting consumers. Let’s take a look.

One sign that something is wrong with this deal goes back to that comment about how joining the club “cut out the travel agent”.

Travel Agents are not middle-men that cost consumers money.

Quite the contrary, a good travel agent on our side will eliminate the possibility of being scammed. Travel agents are paid a commission by cruise lines, hotels, travel and tour companies. That commission is not part of what consumers pay.

Our friends at Walletpop have 10 tips on how to avoid online scams from Undercover Tourist, a legitimate supplier of online discount tickets to Orlando, Florida-area attractions:

  1. Check if the vendor is an authorized dealer. Look for an authorized seller seal. Undercover Tourist has contracts with Disney and other companies in Central Florida to sell their tickets, Ford said.
  2. Research online. Do you find any feeback on the site, such as in online forums, blogs or groups?
  3. Check contact information. If there’s a telephone number, is the phone answered quickly by friendly staff who are helpful about the product? Is a physical address listed? Can you contact the company via e-mail, and if so, are your questions answered promptly?
  4. Press coverage. Is the Web site mentioned in magazines, newspapers on TV or guidebooks?
  5. What is the refund policy?
  6. Hidden fees — are there any?
  7. Shipping costs and speed. Are they clear and how long does delivery take?
  8. Web site design. Professional and organized? Easy to use?
  9. Security certificate and VeriSign logo or equivalent. Are the checkout pages secured with a padlock visible in the browser?
  10. Too good to be true. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is, or there’s a catch.

But this particular travel scam with the Vacation Station involved one-on-one high-pressure sales tactics which are a bit harder to get away from.

Internet scams we might have doubts about can be eliminated by closing a browser window and moving along to something else. When a professional scam artist is sitting right across the table, pushing all the right buttons and creating a fabulous opportunity, it can be harder to shut it all down.

Also called “boiler room scams” the Connecticut Department of Banking offers some good tips when dealing with high-pressure sales tactics

  • When hounded by high-pressure sales tactics on the telephone, simply hang up (or walk away).
  • Don’t be misled into believing that you’ve been “specially chosen” to receive the salesperson’s offer. Salespeople often call hundreds of prospects daily with automated phone technology, and they may use the same sales script to tell everyone that they’re getting a “special deal.”
  • Don’t be impressed by a salesperson’s title. The “senior vice president” on the telephone line may really be just a junior employee of the firm. Titles can be easily handed out to salespeople without any relationship to their actual work experience.
  • Don’t feel foolish for failing to act on a caller’s sales pitch. If the caller truly had a great investment prospect, would he or she be phoning strangers? Remember that salespeople make money through commissions on sales; if they don’t sell you anything, they may not earn anything.
  • Do not make an immediate decision. Get written information first about the firm, the salesperson and the investment. Ask the salesperson to provide any promises or claims in writing. Always feel free to seek independent advice about potential investments from a trusted professional (lawyer, accountant or broker).
  • Know your risk tolerance for a possible loss of your invested monies.
  • Avoid investments you do not understand. The greater your degree of ignorance, the greater the chance that you will be swindled. Be wary of investments in less seasoned companies, businesses that are long on promise and short on operating history.
  • Don’t give out your credit card number or other personal financial information over the phone to strangers.

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Finding Good Travel Deals

How to Travel to Cuba if You Are an American

travel to CubaWhile restrictions still apply, the long-awaited guidelines defining who can travel freely to Cuba were released and made official this week. Supporters of the changes say more exposure to Americans will lead Cubans cutting the ties with their government.

The new rules allow journalists plus religious and educational groups to travel to Cuba pretty much whenever they want to. They also allow Americans to send up to $2,000 annually to Cuba. That is limited to $500 per quarter (up from $300) and that money must be intended to support private economic activity.

One of the biggest changes brings back licenses for people-to-people educational exchanges (like foreign-exchange students) which the Bush administration suspended. Back in January the Obama administration lifted some restrictions to Cuba.

But let’s back this up a little bit. Are you looking to travel to Cuba? You can.

It is commonly believed that U.S. citizens and foreign residents are forbidden by law to travel to Cuba. This is not true. The often-misunderstood guiding legislation behind that belief is the Trading with the Enemy Act under which the restriction is not on travel but on the spending of money in Cuba.Of course one can practically equate the ban on spending money in Cuba to a travel ban because in normal circumstances a visitor must spend on accommodations, food and other necessities.Exceptions to the ban on spending money in Cuba are allowed by licenses issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department. When you see a news report of a government “sanction” against some country, these are the people that administer and enforce those economic and trade sanctions.

While specific individual requirements must be met as to the nature of your travel to Cuba, it can be done. This is a really good example of travel plans that can benefit greatly with the aid of a qualified travel professional. USA Cuba Travel specializes in travel to Cuba and arranged for over 100,000 Americans to get there last year. They urge would-be travelers to Cuba to take a very realistic view of what is ahead of them.

“Cuba which is still a socialist country, lives at a slow pace. At the same time, the country is very popular with the almost 2,000,000 tourists who travel there each and every year. In Cuba there is no central reservation system equipped with sophisticated computers that is open 24 hours a day” the company says on it’s website adding “It takes time, (up to one week) to make any reservation”

Flickr photo by twicepick

Australians can’t wait to leave: outbound travel up 3X over 20 years

It looks like the best place for vacation, if you’re Australian, is anywhere else. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, outbound travel surged from 2.1 million a year to 6.8 million a year over the past 20 years. For the 12 months ending last June, 6.8 million overseas trips originated in Australia. Two decades earlier, it was only 2.1 million. At today’s levels, there are 31 overseas trips made per 100 Australians.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The ABS says the unprecedented increase is due to a combination of factors including more affordable travel and accommodation, partly due to the strength of the Australian dollar, and increasing competition between airlines.

What’s really interesting is that Australians are leaving the homeland for fun rather than profit: leisure travel was good for 82 percent of overseas trips.

So, if you’re Australian, where do you go? Well, New Zealand. The country’s neighbor attracted 1.1 million Australians.

[photo by Pascal Vuylsteker via Flickr]

No luxury: five people who have no choice in travel

It’s easy to see the world only from your own point of view. After all, what choice do you have? Even the best efforts at empathy and telepathy will still leave you unable to truly put yourself in another person’s shoes. In the travel world in particular, it can be difficult to understand why the person with whom you’re jockeying for an armrest is on the plane at all. Try as you might, you’ll never really be able to grasp the whole story.

So, when I see sweeping pronouncements about why people travel, it makes me stop for a second. I ran into a tweet recently that proclaimed, “Traveling IS a luxury!” In some cases, this is doubtless true. While you may need to get out on vacation for a while, do you really need to go somewhere that requires a flight? Or, if you could suck it up and drive, even if it’s bit longer and something of a pain, you certainly aren’t forced to buy a ticket instead. Limit your perspective to these scenarios, and the statement makes sense.

But, what about everyone else?

There are many reasons why people travel, and there isn’t really a choice for some of them. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Let’s take a look at five people who fly of necessity – not to satisfy an unnecessary urge.1. Business travel
Okay, this is pretty obvious. When your boss tells you to get on a plane, that’s what you do. There are legions of corporate folks out there who fly weekly (or more) for sales meetings, client service and other business-related reasons. Their jobs are on the road, and they fly to work the way some people drive. The formula is pretty simple: no travel = no paycheck.

2. Family emergencies
This may be infrequent, and it doesn’t matter until you’re the one going to visit a relative in need. With some families spread out over several time zones, responding to an urgent matter may require a flight. I’m not sure I’d call this sort of flying a luxury … let’s be realistic.

3. Children visiting parents
Visitation is a serious matter, and it’s often not left to chance. There are rules put in place for when separated or divorced parents can see their kids. Complying with a court’s decision is not a luxury … nor is the time that a parent and child spend together.

4. People in uniform
Well, they may not always be in uniform – but if you see great posture, little body fat and a short haircut, do the math. The passenger may be en route to a new duty station or training environment (not to mention parts unknown or undesirable). Flying doubtless is not a luxury for this passenger. Rather, it’s a means to ensuring your ability to move freely. Let’s not forget about the military!

5. Airline employees
Of course, these people aren’t flying recreationally. Realistically, they’re only flying because you are. So, whether you’re in the air for business or pleasure, keep in mind that they are with you strictly for the former.

[photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr]