Holiday Travelers to Spend More, Stay Longer
by Dori Saltzman /

Consumer Plans for Holiday Trips Include Higher Budgets
Almost 50% of Americans are planning to spend more on holiday travel this year as compared to last year and 21% say they’re taking a longer trip, according to the most recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. The average budget for a family of four is $2,636, up almost $200 from last year. Also, 19% said they plan to stay in better accommodations, 12% chose more expensive destinations, and 17% said they’re traveling with more people. Despite the budget increase, money is still the most important factor in vacation planning – 40% said budget is the key decision-making factor when making holiday travel plans, as opposed to destination (25%) or travel experience (11%).

Florida Resort Offers Flash Mob Amenity . . .
Resorts and destinations are turning to flash mobs as a way to draw in both consumers and travel sellers. Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort is now offering the Marco Island Flash amenity, in which guests can arrange a personal flash mob dance as an accompaniment to a proposal, birthday/anniversary celebration, or family reunion.

. . . and Jamaica Launches Flash Mob Contest for Agents
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) on the other hand has launched a flash mob dance contest for travel sellers. Agents are encouraged to team up with colleagues, clients and friends to videotape themselves performing a pre-choreographed dance routine and post it to the JTB’s Facebook page. Dance instructions are available on the Facebook page. The grand prize is a trip to Jamaica. Videos must be uploaded by Nov. 21.

Plan Ahead for Free National Park Days
Next year the National Park Service will waive admission fees 17 times at all national parks. The fee free dates will be: January 14 to 16, April 21 to 29, June 9, Sept. 29, and Nov. 10 to 12. Many park-related hotels, restaurants, gift shops and tour operators will offer specials on these days as well. Additionally, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service will waive their entrance and standard amenity fees on the same dates in January, June, September and November.

Barbados Commits to Full Accessibility
Travel agents serving clients with physical challenges take note. The Barbados Council for the Disabled has launched a new flagship program called Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB), in conjunction with the Barbados Tourism Authority, Ministry of Tourism and Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. As a result of the program, which has been in the works for the past two years, the island now features an abundance of accessible hotels, bathrooms, restaurants, parking areas, and wheelchair access, as well as assistance for the blind and visually impaired. More info is available at