Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Global Entry With Top Travel Agent Jen Maki

With a click of the mouse and $100 later, I had applied for Global Entry.  Within two weeks I was notified via email that my application had been accepted and I was invited to set up an appointment to have a face to face interview to finalize the process.  As I looked over the upcoming four months on the calendar, I tried to find the most convenient time that would work for the appointment since I needed to do it at the MSP airport, or any other Global Entry offices around the USA.  Even though my calendar showed I'd be traveling through Charlotte, Ft Lauderdale, Dallas, Miami and Detroit, there were no appointments that were available for me to coordinate with.  So, I made a special visit to MSP when I wasn't traveling and made it a special Mother Daughter weekend instead.  

The airport was eerily quiet for a Friday, however, that was to my advantage; easy in easy out and what I like to call "rock star parking"!!  I was armed with my passport, drivers license and invitation letter.  Unbeknownst to me, they were armed with my background check, rap sheet and soon my full set of fingerprints, which by the way, when he did so, complimented me on my large turtle gemstone ring.  Some call this Big Brother at its finest, I call it simplicity, and heck, when he notices my jewelry to the positive, he's golden in my opinion. Officer Wille, who was still wet behind the ears, successfully butchered my married name, maiden name and city of residence all while being so dang cute at the same time.  He said it didn't matter, what did matter was why I was there.  Next came the questions.  Simple for me, because I'm 'that girl' who would be labeled as "don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do"; I was going to refer to that song but was positive Officer Wille wouldn't be familiar with such an "oldie".  Within five minutes the interview portion was done and the remainder of the appointment would be going over the features and benefits of Global Entry.  This is  strategically stalling for the computer to tell him whether I was approved or not.  Since I was given the green light, he then proceeded to show me how the kiosk worked and and I was off for my weekend of girl time.  

So what are the features and benefits of Global Entry? Let me count the ways:

1. Fast Pass Through Customs and Immigrations
Where what has taken me up to THREE HOURS standing in lines upon my return to US soil, other Global Entry card carrying members have sprinted through in under THREE MINUTES! 'Nuff said!

2. Eliminate the Need to Carry a Drivers License
Who likes everyone to see how much you weigh or how tall you are? Wait, you don't really tell the truth on those, do you?  My fitness goal is to actually weigh what I told the DMV I do.

3. Qualify for TSA Precheck
Although altogether separate programs, they are like peanut butter and chocolate or Nutella and  a spoon!  Not only do you qualify for the line where you don't have to disrobe down to nakedness aka: no sparkly jewelry, belts or light jackets, you also can keep your espadrilles on,  iPads in the bag and simply toss your iPhone and loose coins into the pastel bowl and walk through the line!  Did I mention that there are usually only pilots, crew members and frequent travelers in this line?  Therefore, it is a swift pace sans strollers or novice travelers.

Ready to take the plunge?  Apply now and let me know how much happier you are upon your return to US soil.  No more hang ups, hassles or missed connections!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

5 Reasons to Call a Travel Agent For Your Next Vacation W/ Jen Maki

So many times I'm asked, "Do people still use a travel agent?" with a tone in their voice like we're talking about a rotary phone or an 8 track player. No, travel agents aren't dead, however, like everything, some are better than others. In addition, some people still like to DIY, however, this short list will help you decide if working with a travel agent is for you.

Saves Time: Did you know that the average person who books online has spent about 5 hours in research alone? Why waste five hours researching only to end up full of self doubt wondering if you really got the best vacation you were looking for? We all have busy lives and most of us would agree we don't have enough hours in a day already. Do what you do best and hire the rest!

Expertise: I understand it's fun to look at all the options at first, however, anyone can make a picture look good. Have you actually been there to know if that resort is really beach front, or has the photo been edited and truly, the resort is across the street from a heavily populated public beach? I have personally traveled to over 14 countries in the past three years. Chances are, I've been there, seen that, ate that, touched that, experienced that. 14 stamps can't be wrong.

Real Person: This is my favorite. Although the dot com travel agencies have a call center, it's likely "Irene from Detroit with the heavy Indian accent" is not really in Detroit, nor is her name Irene, in fact, she's probably never been to the any of the destinations you are calling about nor can she understand you any better than you can understand her. My clients have access to me 24/7 while traveling in addition to another 800# in case I'm not available. Never will they be stranded, even in the brutal Midwest winters, Volcanic Ash clouds or aboard a defective cruise ship.

They think of the whole package: A great travel agent will encompass much more than just the plane tickets; they will design your entire experience. This doesn't mean you have to book all of these experiences, but how would you know the difference, if they never offered it. You don't fly to Jamaica and stand in line with the hundreds of other people who don't know any better. Instead, you arrive like the VIP you are!

Saves You Money: Did you know that travel agents still have the best deals? It's true. We also know the ins and outs that will save you money. Some agents charge a fee for their Time, Expertise, Human Factor and Total Package. And why not? If at the end of the day they save you time, money and hassle of trying to DIY, they should! Did you know that at Divine Destinations we will gladly price match ANY package you find online and give you a $50 credit towards your next vacation? It's true!