"Instead of "we almost” let the world say about us,” we did." – Don Ward……………… Doing the 'Hard' yards in search of 'The Perfect Pint' within the Emerald Isle and shores beyond – Definitely a Bog to bookmark if you have an adventurous spirit, that likes to travel whilst enjoying - the odd pint of Guinness,beer,or wine depending on the mood,the 'company',and the environment!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New 'Bank' Provides Missing Links for Finding Cheap Airfare Deals

The work front has been decidedly busy recently and my Blog is having to take a back seat in my ‘to do’ list. Been endeavoring to assist with the publishing of a new website which is intended as a first step in building a foundation for the eventual publication of our Irish site. The Site’s Primary focus, as you will see below, is sourcing of international airfares – yep – hey if you’re outsida Ireland slipping in by air is the easiest way to go.

12 months in the making, launch delayed 3 times, the green light is finally on – it’s a go! “AirBank-travel.com hit the cyberwaves at 12.00 last night and whew – there were a few good stories created in the development of the site. The following is our press release that was issued today to mark the occasion.

Alton Bay, NH (PRWEB) June 14, 2006 -- The recent launch of AirBank-travel.com -- a new 'Bank' focused on sourcing the best international airfare deals -- is demonstrating that the goliaths of the on-line travel sites can be beaten in the market for the cheapest airfare deal by experienced agents with an intuitive feel, objectivity, old fashioned customer service, and the intelligent use of technology applied in the best interests of the consumer.

“What is the real price of a cheap airfare deal from the Internet?” asks Jeanne Crouse, President of Great Escape Travel Services and co-developer of AirBank. “How confident can Internet buyers of airfares be that they are getting the lowest airfare? Those questions were recently answered in a December 2005 investigative report by Consumer Reports' Webwatch. The report concluded that travel search engines will not always offer the lowest airfare.

“After years of booking airfares, the Webwatch results confirmed my experiences,” said Crouse. “Pricing cheap airfares can be like trying to get a fix on the height of a roller coaster at any given point in time. AirBank is a top performer against the big online travel agencies and travel search engines. We find the cheapest international airfare price -- with a flight itinerary that makes sense -- approximately 80% of the time." She added, "If AirBank cannot deliver the lowest airfare, we'll tell our clients where to find it. Our mission is to find the best airfare deals for our clients."

According to Crouse, the basis of AirBanks' success is the intuitive feel experienced agents develop in knowing where to find the 'best' cheap airfare and working on the 'inside' of the industry with the bank's blue chip supplier members. Using big volume based relationships, supplier members of the bank purchase airfares in advance for resale at substantially reduced prices.

The AirBank supplier members have deep pockets. In addition to meeting stringent performance criteria, members must purchase tickets to the value of at least $20 million annually.

Crouse went on to say that clients' confidence in AirBank stems from more than its solid foundation and results: The 'Bank' has no bias on which airline it uses, advice is objective, convoluted itineraries with multiple stopovers are simplified, airport taxes are minimized, the cheapest price is the real price and problems are sorted by real people.

"How valuable is a client's time?" Crouse asked. "The 'cheapest' flight may have 4 stopovers and take 2 days. For a few dollars more, we may find a flight that arrives the next day. The overall value to our clients is much higher."

AirBank has found its niche in the air travel market and may be a "silver bullet" for consumers. The biggest is not always the best. And while AirBank's clients are having fun traveling, they are also doing good -- all net profits from AirBank are donated to causes involved in conserving the environment and developing entrepreneurial spirit within young people.

About AirBank:
AirBank is a division of Great Escape Travel Services LLC . Jeanne Crouse, president and co-owner first entered the travel industry in 1992, is a graduate of the University of Hartford, MBA and the University of Kentucky, MFA and was honored as the first recipient of Hartford College's Businessperson of the Year award.

About WebWatch:
Consumer Reports' WebWatch is a project of Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and ConsumerReports.org. Excerpts quoted in this release were drawn from a December 20th 2005 Webwatch report by William J.McGee entitled Do Travel Search Engines Deliver?- An examination of the Leading Sites. (http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/dynamic/travel-reports-aggregators.cfm)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Nuts with SouthWest

Without doubt my favorite local airline is SouthWest. A couple of years after arrival from downunder I ‘found’ them and have carried the SouthWest Rapid Rewards card since ’99. Simply they are a great airline and I love the fun way they so consistently indulge in “spreading the LUV”.

My 'Freedom of the Seas' trip had its start on a 7.15am SouthWest flight from Manchester Airport,NH. Travel Tip:An early on-line check in ensures a place in the 'A' queue and a choice of the best seats! My rather long legs appreciate being able to secure the 'exit' seat, which was duly found for them.

Needing a nap (3.00am wake-up) I hit the overhead button and asked the responding Flight Attendant for a pillow. Boy it was obvious that I was not the only one who had had an early start and didn’t really want to be on the plane. The look she gave me was one of being put out to do me a favor – I’m sure you have experienced the look :-)

Wow, was I mistakenly on NorthWest -I found myself looking out the window to check the plane’s color scheme –nope ok…then, dammn-it, my ‘friendly’ Flight Attendant compounded the sense of dislocation that I was starting to feel when she gave me only one of their famous packets of NUTs!

Yes she handed me over only one packet of NUTs – broke me record- in the past a smile + accent has always secured at least a couple of packets of NUTs. The day was not starting well. My mood was darkening – I had already lost my Swiss army knife coming through customs – being half asleep I had forgot to put it into my checked-in luggage..ugh!

Nuts aside, SouthWest are an exception amongst the lowest airfare airlines regarding food. Having missed breakfast I was pleased to get a box of ‘Travel Snacks’ – they were good and there was even a ‘Time Flies’ sweepstake to exercise ones mind on the packet. Ever hopeful I thought on landing perhaps another Flight Attendant or even the Captain may burst forth to ‘spread some LUV’ and cheer us up. It was not to be.

Stopover in Orlando Airport. 55 minutes before the next flight to Fort Lauderdale – great I thought, plenty of time to give my pipe some fresh air and lighten up the mood – I jumped on the shuttle and was too preoccupied on getting out the door to notice the length of the queue moving through security. It was almost very expensive smoko break – It took me 45 minutes to get back through security. Travel Tip: When taking a break between flights allow ample time to get back thru security.

I jumped off the shuttle and broke into a run – now my recent sessions at the gym paid off – I managed to just get through the doors as they were about to be closed. Finally found the last seat on the plane threw my luggage up top and , relieved, squeezed in to the sounds over the speaker of SouthWest ‘spreading the LUV’… I was home – this was the real SouthWest and promptly proceeded to drift off on my overdue nap dreaming about the green of Ireland.

Woke up hitting the tarmac of Fort Lauderdale Airport looking forward to my ‘Freedom of the Seas’ adventure and seeing if I could find an Irish connection on Board – even though – I’d missed me NUTS.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Catch-up on arrival Home

Home again and, after a hectic eventful few days it was great to finally arrive at Manchester Airport albeit at a less than respectable hour – 11.30pm. My in-tray is almost caught up on and soon I’ll have time to recount some of my ‘adventures’ before, on-board,and after my trip on the Freedom of the Seas and it's Irish Connection.

Having a preference for small ‘ships’ the trip was embarked upon with a somewhat reluctant attitude to previewing the ‘Freedom of the Seas’ – the world’s largest cruise ship. I’m a Star Clippers, Cruise West, Sea Dream Yacht or Seawind 1160 Cat kinda guy.

Attitude improved after serious talk with self. Our host was a generous one – a 2-day party afloat with no need to reach for one’s checkbook or credit card! Decided to do something different – Set myself a mission – Why not get the real feel of the floating city that I was on by reading it’s ‘townscape’ seeing how many people behind the scenes I could meet and – what the heck – see if I could even manage to corner the captain – and find a ‘perfect pint’…. Ha, attitude improved significantly – I was going on board with a sense of purpose…

Coming up soon – the outcomes of my ‘Mission……

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Freedom of the Seas v's The Garden

Another beautiful day waiting for me outside.. After the recent rain we have had I can almost see the warm weather encouraging the grass to grow whilst I am watching – hmmm -a major pile of lawn clippings in the making for the compost bin next weekend. .

Bit grumpy today. Now that we have finally a spell of good weather I’d prefer to be spending the weekend planting the garden out but today finds me preparing for a 4.00 am start tomorrow to leave dodge for a few days – destination Miami.

I have been invited to have a sneak preview, test drive and review the largest cruise ship in the world – Royal Caribbean’s ‘Freedom of the Seas’ before it goes into service – in 7 days, 4hrs, 22mins, 47secs – howszat for some trivial preciseness.

Having 160,000 tons supporting 3634 passengers – I could park all the permanent residents of our town in it and still have 31 berths free. It replaces Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 as the world’s largest cruise ship. Gets me thinking of cruises to Ireland. The Queen Mary doesn’t pull into Ireland so I doubt if the freedoms of the seas will – perhaps a good thing – what do you think?

Their promotional spin is:

Freedom of the Seas


Setting sail for the Caribbean in June 2006, our largest ship yet - Freedom of the Seas! Though we're not quite ready to reveal all of the spectacular features, rest assured this Royal Caribbean International masterpiece will come complete with a rock-climbing wall, Royal Promenade and ice-skating rink. We'll also be including extensive WiFi capabilities and connectivity for cell phones as well as flat-screen TVs in every stateroom. What else could we possibly put on a cruise ship? You'll be amazed. More astounding details coming soon!

Keep tuned in – I’ll be recounting an insiders view of the above on my return.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Destination: Ireland

What a beautiful morning outside – blue sky clear after the heavy rain that we had last night. A delightful smell is wafting through my open office window - it has its origins in the flowering Lilac trees outside. The scent is especially pungent thanks to the night’s rain.

Looking outside I see shimmering glimpses of our lake through the dense green of our surrounding oak, maple and pine trees. The green vista helps sharpen my thoughts which right now are focused on the emerald isle of Ireland. What could the content of my first Post be? Nearby a cluttered pile of post-it notes offers a variety of choices.

Heck let’s keep it real simple – I want to get out into the garden and enjoy the day.

My blogs destination is to diary the creation and parking of a little touch of Ireland within a piece of Cyberspace real estate. What better than a few words from the beginning of an article on the real Ireland The article was published recently by Jim Langford initially targeted for travel agents and reprinted with permission from him.. (Our eventual website will contain the full article.)

“Destination Ireland
By James Langford.

As your plane begins its descent toward Dublin International Airport, and you cross into your fifth time zone as well as clear the western coastline of Ireland, if you're lucky enough to have a window seat, you can look down and see Eire, the green island. First time visitors are always amazed how rich the color of the island actually is and how it looks from the air. Just ask your local friendly neighborhood astronaut.

I cannot explain it, but Ireland will fill your clients, especially those who are explorers and have a sense of history and imagination, with a sense of wonder. That landscape is not only a part of the mystique of the island, but it is a critical part of the Celtic heritage and the people who eventually became the Irish.

Ireland has always been the home of dreamers, poets, writers of all disciplines, dissidents and warriors. It also has always been charmed.” ………

For now – do come back – this is the beginning of quite a story ....