Consider this our highlight reel. Here, we’re spotlighting the stories and features from F1RST Magazine that we’re loving most at the moment.
We’ve got accounts of life-changing adventures, ideas for spending a weekend in your favorite city, corporate Q&As, talks with cultural change-makers, and so much more. This always-changing list is sure to inspire, engage—and make your travel experiences that much better.What Travel Can Teach Us About Love
Travel Trends You Need to Know About for 2021
A different kind of Holiday Travel
Why You Should Consider a Family Vacation Now
How Our Partners Are Keeping You Safe
How Our Partners Are Keeping You Safe
Borders and cities are beginning to reopen, and demand for travel is improving. The result: the travel industry is – slowly but surely – sparking back up. So when you’re ready to travel again, we’re ready to guide you again. Deciding how to get there and where to stay is just as important as deciding where to go in the first place. Which airline should you choose—and are they regularly disinfecting their planes? Should you stick with a car service over public transport once you land? What happens if you forget your mask? Here at F1S, our travel advisors can answer all these questions—and lots more!We partner only with the best of the best, especially when it comes to safety. And it’s no surprise our partners have stepped up in a big way. Here’s a look at some of the ways three of our select partners are working to keep you safe, across all types of travel.
“EmpireCLS has always maintained an extremely high level of duty of care to our guests,” says David Seelinger, Chairman and CEO of the company, which provides chauffeur services in more than 700 cities around the world. “While previously this had to do with the safety and security of the driving experience, the Covid situation has prompted us to extend that duty of care to providing the best possible environment from a cleanliness standpoint.”
And they are doing just that—extensively sanitizing their vehicles, car seats, and other communal items, like chargers, between uses. “We have gone above and beyond with our safety and cleanliness protocols, working with International SOS to develop new regimens, which include electrostatic spraying—which lessens the chances of the virus sticking to any surface—outfitting our vehicles with three-layer air filtration, limiting chauffeur-guest contact, and so much more,” explains Seelinger.
Among other measures, drivers wear N-95 masks, use gloves when touching guests’ luggage, provide masks and sanitizers for passengers, removemagazines from vehicles, and skipp the front seat for passengers. (For a full look, the company created a video highlighting many of these updated protocols.)
“We have been the leader in our industry in terms of developing cleanliness protocols for ground transportation,” says Seelinger. “If someone needs to be driven in a car, the ride-share services simply do not have the control [that] we do over the in-car environment or the cleanliness protocols our chauffeurs must maintain worldwide.”
Whether hopping on a plane was something you did every week for work pre-Covid, or just every few months for fun, you may be hesitant to board a plane these days. But let what Delta is doing ease your fears: “The travel journey from airport curb to baggage claim has been reimagined to provide a safer and cleaner experience, both during and after Covid-19,” explains Matt Kutches, General Manager-Global Sales, Delta Air Lines.
To that end, the airline employed the Delta CareStandard, which includes additional hand sanitizers and plexi-glass shields at boarding, cleaning communal surfaces like kiosks and security bins (they also partnered with Lysol), plus completely sanitizing—via electrostatic spraying—the entire plane. Middle seats are left empty to help with social distancing, pillows are tossed post-use, and you’ll find Care Kits filled with a mask and hand sanitizer and, on some flights, snack bags too.
Also great? Not only did Delta create a Global Cleanliness Division, but they also partnered with the Mayo Clinic. “Deepening our relationship with [the] Mayo Clinic provides additional safety and Covid-19 infection control measures for customers and employees,” says Kutches. The medical center has “developed and will oversee Covid-19 testing of Delta’s full workforce,” he says, as well as advise in a variety of other ways, from helping the customer experience team to creating an advisory council including both Mayo Clinic and Delta execs.
And if you’re still hesitant, Kutches recommends talking with your travel advisor. “Do your research, consult your travel advisor to hear more details on what initiatives Delta has deployed to keep customers and our employees safe throughout the travel ribbon,” he says.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Ready for a hotel stay—even in your own city? (Us too!) Many hotels have upped their safety game, including Four Seasons. “As the significant impact of COVID-19 on global travel became clear, we very quickly understood that our guests would want measures in place to create a safe, worry-free environment when they decided to travel again,” explains Ben Trodd, Senior Vice President, Sales and Hotel Marketing, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “This insight helped guide the creation of our enhanced global health and safety program, Lead With Care, which builds on our already stringent health and safety measures.”
Lead with Care—which is in place in all Four Seasons properties—includes a whole range of different measures, from increased sanitizing (including use of electrostatic spraying and ozone technology) to offering contactless check-in and digital menus at restaurants to “Lead with Care kits” in all rooms, which include masks and sanitizers to (of course) mask-wearing for guests and staff. And to help manage these changes, each property now has a “hygiene officer.” Plus, similarly to Delta, the hotel partnered with Johns Hopkins Medicine International.
“Guests staying at Four Seasons also have the added confidence of being able to control the level of in-person contact and engagement they have with our team through the use of the popular Four Seasons App and Four Seasons Chat,” says Trodd. “Launched in 2015 and 2017 respectively, these well-established digital platforms are a key components of Lead With Care, providing guests with contactless service options, while still fostering connections and creating highly personalized experiences.” Guests can do things like order room service and make spa reservations and, when chatting, real people—on the property where you’re staying—are behind the responses, and they can answer you in upwards of 100 (!) different languages.
“While I can’t speak to other brands, guests should have no hesitation when considering a [stay] at a Four Seasons right now,” says Trodd.
How Travel is Changing and What That Means for You
How Travel is Changing—and What That Means for You (Hint: There are Lots of Good Things Happening!)
As you already know, like so many, many things in 2020, travel is different this year. But so is the travel industry itself. Case in point Virtuoso Travel Week, a gathering of Virtuoso members and partners from around the globe. F1S is a member of Virtuoso, the world’s leading, invitation-only travel network, and this year, instead of the in-person gathering of the past, the F1S team and advisors took to their couches (um, we mean home offices!) and computer screens for the first-ever Virtual Virtuoso Travel Week. And we’re here to tell you: It was a huge success.
“This platform provided me with the boost I needed at this stage of the pandemic,” says Rosalba Chiappetta, an F1S leisure advisor based in Toronto. “It fueled my enthusiasm for the comeback of our business and industry.”
And she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. F1S advisors from across the U.S. and the world found the event super productive, giving them the opportunity to strategize with partners, hear updates from within the industry, and, perhaps most importantly, inspire them as they adapt to the “new world.”
Because, after all, and as we mentioned at the start, travel does look different now. But—and here’s the key–contrary to what you might have heard, many of these changes are positive. How so? One of the most visible—and crucial: The focus on health and safety.
“The most consistent theme of all my meetings was the dedication and time hotels are committing to health and safety,” says Colin Joyce, Marketing and Partnerships Coordinator. That includes measures like increased sanitization, contactless check-in, additional in-room dining options, and leaving a room empty for a full 24 hours between one check-out and another check-in. At Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA, for instance, they replace the air filters in every room between guest stays, says Debbie Lopez, an F1S advisor based in New York.
Plus, hotels are serious about getting staff on board with the procedures, which can help put travelers’ minds at ease. “Almost everyone I asked, whether they closed for a period or not, had given their staff at least two to three weeks of training on updated cleanliness measures,” explains Joyce.
And it’s not just hotels: Lopez notes that travelers arriving in Helsinki are given a Covid-19 test, with results coming back via an app within 6 to 7 hours. While the travelers can leave the airport, they can’t board ships or visit other places until their results are in, helping to curb the spread of the disease.
Thanks in part to these safety measures, people are getting back to traveling. But many, as can be expected, are doing so closer to home than ever before. In fact, another change many advisors noted is the increase in domestic travel.
“Everyone I spoke to seemed to be seeing an uptick in domestic travelers,” says Joyce, who noted that in some European countries, hotels are now at around 60 percent capacity, welcome news when compared to rates a few months back. “Whether the property was in the U.S., Europe, or even a tropical destination filled with foreign visitors, everyone was reporting a domestic increase. Translation: people want to travel and get away, even locally.”
(Check out some of our favorite hotels within driving distance of NYC.)
Adds Chiappetta, “This is an encouraging sign that if locals are ready to venture in their home countries, they will be prepared to explore the world once the borders open.”
Also great? While in the past, many travelers with kids stuck to summer and school breaks to head out of town—even a nearby town—remote learning has given parents more freedom and flexibility on when they travel.
“If schools will be online for extended periods, then why not travel? Online classes can be done from anywhere, as long as there’s good Wi-Fi!,” says Leah Winck, an F1S leisure advisor based in L.A.
(We’ve got you covered there: Our story full of ideas for school year family travel will be up shortly.)
For F1S clients, this travel comeback does come with one additional upside: Their travel advisor. As Chiappetta says, one of her favorite moments of the week was when the representatives from Dorchester’s Hotel Eden in Rome explained how trust is the new luxury.
Being able to trust the hotel where you’re staying, the airline you’re flying, and the services you’re utilizing is critical to feeling safe in this new travel world. And at F1S, our advisors make that even easier. We are in constant contact with our partners, are up-to-date on the fast-moving travel restrictions and changes hitting on an international, national and state level, and are quick to communicate that with our clients, at any time.
But one of the best changes we’ve seen? We saved that for last, because for us here at F1S it’s not a change at all: The movement towards further embracing diversity in the travel industry. Sheila Johnson, the CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, gave the keynote speech at the event’s closing session, and it was as insightful as it was inspiring. “A highlight was Sheila Johnson’s final thoughts on diversity, future of this business, and women making an influence,” says Linda Montemarano, an F1S leisure advisor based in Toronto.
As a female and minority-owned company, First in Service was built on a foundation of diversity. It’s something we are deeply committed to and passionate about—and something that we believe gives us a unique and collaborative view of the world.
As we embrace the changes in the travel industry this year and in the future, we know that our core principals of inclusivity— towards our F1S family, our clients, and our world—is one of the things that will continue to guide us forward.