July 10, 2015 - Halal tourism is a promising opportunity for the travel industry worldwide

The number of Halal travellers is expected to grow from 117 million in 2015 to 168 million by 2020. Eventually, Halal travellers will represent 11% of the market with an expenditure projected to grow to more than $200 billion in 4 years, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating GMTI 2016 Report.

Happy saudi arab couple looking a tablet together on a white wall background

Lights Travel has just completed its Halal Travellers 2016 study, which was conducted by the UK-based research firm Context Consulting. The study found that the preferred destinations for Halal travellers are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, UAE, Turkey, Qatar and the UK. All of these countries have secured the infrastructure needed to serve these travellers.

April 2, 2015 - Why Travel Agents Should Blog

In today’s competitive marketplace, travel agents are working harder than ever to acquire new clients while maintaining the ones they already have. This often leaves travel advisors with little time to think about anything beyond responding to client requests. But savvy travel agents know that in order to sustain long-term growth, some marketing — especially online marketing — is an essential part of any business plan.

Even as travel agents are beginning to add social media components such as company Facebook pages into their marketing mix, few are spending much time making regular updates to their website and fewer still are doing any form of blogging.

Agents need to reconsider adding blogging to their social media mix, as the numbers demonstrating impact are compelling. According to HubSpot, an online marketing platform, companies that blog get 55 percent more website visitors. More importantly, 57 percent of all businesses have acquired a new customer through their company blog.

What Is Blogging?
In the “olden days” — back around 2008 — a blog was essentially an online diary. The first blogs were date-sorted records of activities and announcements that could be updated as frequently (or infrequently) as a user preferred.

But blog software and platforms have advanced rapidly, and the definition of blogging is changing. Today, nearly one-fifth of all websites in the world are powered by WordPress, a hugely popular blog platform — although not every WordPress-based website considers itself a blog.

So What Is a Blog, Then?
Merriam-Webster defines a blog as “a website that contains online personal reflections, comments and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.” While this isn’t 100 percent accurate either — plenty of corporate blogs are neither personal nor reflective — at their core, blogs are websites that contain some form of dynamic, personalized, regularly updated content.

Still not sure if blogging is for you? Following are four of the many reasons you should consider blogging to support your business and marketing goals.

May 10, 2014 - VIP Service in Jamaica

We believe your luxury vacation should be enjoyable and seamless from beginning to end. That’s why we can now offer a VIP airport lounge experience at the Montego Bay Airport in Jamaica.

Discerning travelers can receive VIP arrival and departure service from $80 per person to include: Fast-track through immigration and security;Welcome beverage and cool towel;Personal escort to your transfer;All inclusions of the VIP Lounge

As always, Lights Travel Company looks forward to providing you with the highest level of service throughout your trip planning process. Why not continue that level of luxury service and experience Jamaican hospitality as soon as you arrive or right up to the minute of your departure?

Sep 20, 2014 - Ireland/Scotland Murder Mystery Trip

Have you ever marveled at the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and the Ring of Kerry? Have you ever thought about kissing the Blarney Stone? Do you have a hankering to sip some Irish Coffee, toast with a glass of Jameson’s, and raise a pint of Guinness?

Would you like to look upon Loch Ness and search for that Monster or stand where Shakespeare’s Macbeth stood? And what would it be like to chase a little white ball on beautiful green rolling hills in the country where golf originated? Have you ever wondered what was really beneath those kilts?

And do you like a good murder-mystery . . . one in which you can help solve the crime and even participate, if you so choose?

If you answered “yes” to any (or all) of the above questions, then you should join us as we explore Ireland and Scotland!

Carmel Travel Company and Murder Takes a Holiday is excited to announce their 2014 Murder-Mystery Luxury Tour to Ireland and Scotland (with an optional add-on to southern England)!

Our fully guided luxury tour begins on Thursday, August 28, 2014, as we depart the USA for Shannon, Ireland. We’ll spend 6 nights in beautiful Ireland! As soon as we clear customs, we’re off to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren before we head on down to Bunratty, our first “overnight.” We’ll visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park before hitting the local pub at Durty Nell’s to toss back a few pints and enjoy the local entertainment. The next morning, we’re off to Killarney, where we’ll visit Foynes Flying Boat museum, the place where Irish Coffee was invented! We’ll next take a “Jaunting Cart Ride” to the Muckross House and hear about the history and walk about in gardens. The next day finds us admiring the Ring of Kerry, as we soak up the local culture along the drive, and then we’ll have another overnight in Killarney, where we’ll enjoy a sumptuous dinner. We’ll be heading south next – toward Waterford. But first, we’ll stop at Blarney Castle, The Titanic Centre, and The Old Middleton Distillery, home to Jameson Whiskey. And before progressing onward to Dublin, we will visit Waterford Crystal and Powerscourt House and Gardens. In addition to an informative Dublin city tour, we’ll visit Guinness Storehouse and enjoy an evening of River Dancing. Of course, along the way, we’ll visit more few pubs and become immersed in the local culture and enjoy the entertainment! We’ll next fly to Scotland for another 6 nights!

After landing in Glasgow, we’ll be whisked away to our first stop: Inveraray Castle, which, many of you will recognize as the “home” to the third season, last episode, of Downton Abbey. We’ll then stop at Loch Lomond, one of the most beautiful lakes in Scotland, prior to our first overnight in Oban, a small Western coastal town. From there, we’ll journey to Inverness for three nights. We’ll be visiting the Loch Ness Museum, Glenmorangie and Glen Grant Distilleries, and Cawdor, Ballindalloch, and Blair Castles. We’ll enjoy a cruise on Loch Ness, all the while searching for that mysterious monster! We’ll even have time to shop in the nearby towns of Tain (home of the famous pottery) and Elgin (for some of Scotland’s premiere cashmere). On the way to Edinburgh, we’ll visit Edradour Whisky Distillery and beautiful Scone Palace. While in Edinburgh, we’ll enjoy a city tour that includes Edinburgh Castle. One of our Edinburgh evenings will be spent in the catacombs, and we’ll even experience a paranormal – ghost tour!

Throughout our Irish and Scottish stays, we’ll be unraveling an original murder-mystery: When Irish Eyes Stopped Smiling on the Bonnie Shores of Loch Ness. You can become as involved as you wish in this readers’ theatre murder-mystery virtual “Clue® Game.” You’ll either have a role to portray, or you’ll sit back and watch. You’ll experience private parties as a reader or as a participant. You’ll receive clues that will bring you closer to the solutions, while learning more about your beautiful surrounds! You’ll also enjoy a lavish farewell dinner and even have an opportunity to win prizes. And the first one solving all aspects of the crime will win $200.00.

Included in the Irish/Scottish portion of the tour are 12 breakfasts, 12 dinners, and two lunches. We’ll be staying in four-star hotels, inns, or castles. And we’ll enjoy the comfort of plush motor coaches – complete with knowledgeable tour guides. Luggage porterage is also included! So you just have to sit back and enjoy!

The murder-mystery segment of the tour ends on Wednesday morning, September 10th. But if you aren’t ready to return to our side of the pond, then we invite you to continue with us as we journey to England!

We’ll fly from Edinburgh to Birmingham, where we’ll be on our way to Warwick Castle. Our next stop is Stratford-upon-Avon, where we’ll tour the town and enjoy an evening theatrical performance. Our second day in England finds us in Newbury, home to Highclere Castle, or better known as Downton Abbey. We’ll enjoy a full day at “Downton!” The next morning, we’re off to Windsor Castle and that afternoon, we’ll enjoy a London city tour. The next two days are “free”; you may choose from a variety of planned excursions and/or just wander about at your own pace. You may like an unconventional “Beatles” tour; or perhaps your interests lie at 221B Baker Street. And there are always the Haunts of Jack the Ripper. And don’t forget to visit Selfridges, Harrods, and the London Eye. And what London visit would be complete with attending at least one theatrical presentation? So many things to do! The choice is yours . . . until the tour ends on Sunday, September 15, 2014.

Included in the English portion are five breakfasts and three dinners. All accommodations (five nights) are four or five star. We’ll enjoy the comfort of plush motor coaches with knowledgeable tour guides (where applicable); luggage porterage is also included! So once again, just sit back and enjoy!

We hope we have enticed you! For specific details and pricing, just email diane@carmeltravelcompany.com. We look forward to having YOU join us as we explore Ireland, Scotland, and England!

Discerning travelers can receive VIP arrival and departure service from $80 per person to include: Fast-track through immigration and security;Welcome beverage and cool towel;Personal escort to your transfer;All inclusions of the VIP Lounge

January 29, 2014 - 10 Reasons Travelers Should Consider Using a Travel Agent

1. Accountability and Personal Service: A travel agent’s job is on the line with every trip. We have a boss to answer to—or we are the boss! We are real people you can speak with to work things out, not a different operator each time you call or a computer screen staring back at you. We will remember your name, your anniversary, details about your previous travels and can even email you when great deals come across our desk!

2. Insider Knowledge: Our travel agents have been doing their jobs for years and know all the ins and outs. Instead of deciding where to go based on anonymous comments on a website, speak to someone who does this for a living! We are daily immersed in the travel world with new tips, policy changes, awareness of low and high travel seasons to various destinations, resort closures, company take-overs, construction…and the list goes on.

3. More for your money—not just the cheapest deal but the best value: Many resorts and cruise lines are part of a consortium and only offer exclusive rates to those groups. Your travel agents are part of those groups too so they can offer you deals no online site can.

4. Setting an Itinerary: While some people enjoy “just winging it,” a travel agent can give a clear-cut schedule of what will be happening on a day-to-day basis, and keep clear records of everything that is included in the trip.

5. Budgeting: A travel agent can help map out exactly how much a trip will cost, so there are no surprises. Does that excursion on Monday include lunch, for example, or do you have to buy your own? Does it pay to take the drinks package on the cruise ship, or pay for the excursions in advance? We can guide you and save you money!

6. Insurance-For Life’s Little Mishaps: Things happen. A travel agent can advise you on which insurance policies are needed, from trip cancellation to medical emergencies based on your specific circumstances. We also insure that you will have the correct travel documents, so you don’t end up missing out on anything!

7. Resources & Exclusivity: At the touch of the fingertips, travel agents have resources a traveler simply does not. We have direct access to every airline simultaneously. Hiccups happen and when they do, you have someone to catch those issues ahead of time and once the trip has started- a singular person you can call to navigate those issues for you.

8. Experience at Making Memories: Travel agents are in the business of making awesome memories! There are so many small details that are important to making a trip unique. We offer tips for everyone from thrilling options for the more adventurous, cultural options for historians, and unique culinary experiences for the foodies! We are keenly aware of the best places for kids and the types of activities they enjoy. And on the flip side, for the adults that want to get away from it all, including the little people, we know where those tucked away places are hiding.

9. Time savings: Spending hours and weeks researching the perfect trip can take up a ton of time during a busy work week. A travel agent will spend time getting to know you and what you are looking for, and then put together an entire vacation customized for you and your companions. Like doing the planning? That’s ok too! We want your input and will use it to cater the trip to your specifics while offering you expertise and protection.

10. A Local Small Business: Your local travel agents are your neighbors and friends. By supporting our local business, you are supporting local families. We enjoy being part of a community of people who recognize the importance of small business ownership. We make the majority of our income on commission and charge our clients below industry standards for any labor outside our commissionable fare because we value our relationships with them!

Sep 11, 2013 - 11 Secrets To Becoming A Professional Travel Blogger

Want to become a professional travel blogger? Learn how to grow & improve your travel blog with my best tips after 5 years of professional blogging.

What exactly is a professional travel blogger? Well anyone can start a blog and become a “blogger”. The barrier to entry is small, which has benefits and disadvantages. For example there are currently thousands of personal travel blogs online — so standing out from the crowd is tough.

However my definition is those who earn a good portion (or all) of their income from travel blogging are considered professionals. This list is MUCH smaller. If I had to guess, I’d say less than 100 people make decent money directly from their travel blogs.

Fortunately I happen to be one of them after years of trial & error attempting to turn my passion for travel into a business. Which is why I’ve decided to share some of my best secrets with you today.

While I could go into the different ways travel bloggers make money, that’s not what this particular post is about. Everyone and their grandmother asks me how I make money from my travel blog, but the question they SHOULD be asking is how did I build an audience.

Because the hard truth is you’ll only earn income with your blog once you have a decent audience. Readers first, money later.

So today we’ll cover a few different techniques for building an engaged audience on your travel blog, as well as unique tactics for getting yourself noticed by companies looking to work with bloggers.
1: Create Useful Content
2: Do Interesting Stuff
3: Guest Posting
4: Rock Social Media
5: Major Press Features
6: Art & Science Of SEO
7: Build An Email List
8: Advertising
9: Professional Networking
10: Hire Others To Help
11: Personal Branding

More information here.

Jul 1, 2014 - Welcome

Welcome to the new home of Lights Travel Company.