Traveling With Professional Help
By Fred Mayo
From Issue 21: Winter 2014
When you walk into the office of New Paltz Travel Center, Colleen Gillette greets you with a bright and welcoming smile. Behind her, you can see an entrancing wall mural of a beach in the Caribbean which prompts fantasies of a relaxing beach vacation in an exotic locale. It is clear that New Paltz Travel Center wants to help you plan a trip of some sort; in fact, Ms. Gillette, president and owner, specializes in helping her clients find the right trip; her motto is “Let’s make it happen.”
The agency works with both corporate clients all over the country (about 35 % of the business) and leisure travelers (65% of the business) most of whom come from all over the Mid-Hudson area—Gardiner, High Falls, Highland, Kerhonkson, New Paltz, Rosendale, Stone Ridge, Tillson, and Wallkill—with most of them residing in Gardiner or New Paltz.
Travelers from this region are, this year, booking all inclusive resorts, foreign independent travel, and customized trips. While river and ocean cruises remain popular, many local residents plan to travel to Europe (Italy, England, Scotland, and Ireland), South America (Argentina, Chile, and Peru), and Hawaii in the next year. An increasing area of interest is ocean cruises, river cruises, and guided tours run by established tour companies. Some people plan their trips six to nine months ahead and some are more spontaneous, just desperate to get away.
Over the years, the travel business has morphed from booking travel, lodging, and trips to using a wide range of problem solving skills to serve customers with a number of travel challenges. These days, personal attention is the hallmark of travel professionals. As Colleen says, “You sit with people, you draw them out, you find out what people really need instead of what they say they want, and you provide advice and help for people who want to travel.” And people are traveling more and more, selecting escorted tours at a high level of quality.
New Paltz Travel Center was originally opened in the sixties as part of the Kingston Travel Center, the New Paltz Travel Center, and the Newburgh Travel Center. Since then, the New Paltz office has moved several times in town and it has changed ownership. It is currently located at 15 Plattekill Avenue (where it moved this summer), across from the Village Tearoom in the center of the Village of New Paltz. Since most of the clients do their travel planning over the phone or through email, the office is small; there is no need for lots of storefront space and piles of brochures. Travelers are more sophisticated and they know what they want. Clients and potential travelers come to the office to pick up documents, check on details or otherwise say hello to Ms. Gillette, a travel professional with thirty-five years of experience in the industry.
Colleen described some of the newest trends in the travel industry:
• The change in the role from travel agents to travel professionals who advocate for and collaborate with customers
• Business travelers booking trips with shorter lead times than previously
• Leisure travelers purchasing more travel insurance
• Increasing numbers of people booking deluxe and first class guided group tours
• Travelers using more software applications in their research and booking
• More multi-generational groups —grandparents, parents, and children—traveling together.
With so many options for travel and an increasing demand for it, individuals will find this agency a great help in sorting through and following up on all the details necessary for a successful trip. Colleen can help travelers on a fee-for-service basis, commissions, or some combination of the two. The value of her services comes from her extensive information about options and her ability to individualize a trip that makes it special for travelers.
For more information, consult www.newpaltztravel.com which offers a wide range of information about vacation options and access to many other travel resources.