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4 Unique Benefits of Hiring a Travel Agent

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Benefits When Hiring a Travel Agent

If you have the time and ability to plan your vacation, go for it. Some folks love browsing the internet for top-pick vacation destinations and researching flight deals and hotel reviews.

But if logistics and scheduling aren’t your strong suits, leave it to a pro. As conventional wisdom teaches us: always outsource your weaknesses.

You may be wondering what a travel agent can do that you can’t do on your own. Here are four unique benefits of hiring a travel agent that you won’t get doing it alone:

1. Save time and headaches

Saving money is important, but sometimes saving yourself time and hassle is more important. There is a lot to figure out when planning a vacation, especially if you have kids.

You need to pick out clothing, probably clean them, fold them, change your mind about them, unpack them, and repack them again. Now repeat that process with your kids.

You’ll have to text some friends to see if they can pet-sit and house-sit for you while you’re gone. Don’t forget to make arrangements at work while you’re absent, like changing your work voicemail.

On top of all of that, you need to figure out a destination that suits everyone’s needs. Then research flights, hotels, and plan your daily schedule for your vacation.

Travel agents can save you tons of time that you can spend on other important details. They can also save you the hassle of choosing a good destination and do the legwork of getting you there on your budget.

2. Suggestions for destinations

Experienced travel agents have helped hundreds of people like you get to places all over the world. On top of that, they receive detailed reviews of all these destinations.

That means they can match your desires with a perfect vacation destination.

They know which beaches are clean and uncrowded and what’s the best time of year to visit them. They know the best resorts for skiing and which cities have the best tourist attractions.

You can tell your agent what you’re looking for in a vacation. And they can give you a perfect suggestion that fits your needs, whether you want to go camping in the deep mountains or give your kids a fun-filled adventure at an amusement park.

In one regard it’s fun to use a travel agent. This is someone you can geek out with about vacation details. Researching on a computer at home is fun, but it’s even more exciting talking to a professional who shares your passion.

3. Insider knowledge and deals

Over the years, travel agents have built key relationships and knowledge within their industry. They know which airlines are the cheapest and friendliest. They know which hotels have great customer service and how close they are to tourist sites.

Travel agents also have access to deals and perks that most people do not. They can waive fees, get room upgrades, and get reservations at coveted resorts and tours. Sometimes they have credits with resorts that you can use towards the spa or for food.

In some cases hiring a travel agent can pay for itself.

4. Additional help when on vacation

Not only do travel agents help plan your vacation, but they also provide on-call assistance when you run into trouble. Sometimes flights are canceled or hotel bookings don’t work out.

Lucky for you, an expert is only one call away. Travel agents can quickly find another flight for you or a hotel room replacement. Even if you don’t use this additional service, knowing it’s available can bring peace of mind.

A separate but related option is travel insurance. You can insure your vacation through your agent. This way if your child becomes ill at the last second and you have to cancel your $1,500 vacation, it’s insured.

Vacationing is about relaxing

The whole purpose of going on a vacation is to relax. Researching flight options and reading hotel reviews can feel more like work than relaxing.

Travel agents take out the headache and work of planning for a vacation. Why not spend some money to make your vacation smooth and frustration-free?

Treat yourself to a vacation and a travel agent.

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Entertainment Companies and Retailers Could Face Mass Extinction

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Entertainment Companies and Retailers Could Face Mass Extinction

Whether or not the country decides to enact official lockdown measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus, some cities like Los Angeles New York City are taking their own measures to try and halt the spread.

Mayors in both cities ordered bars to close and restaurants to only offer take-out and delivery services.

On top of that, movie theaters and concert venues in both cities have been ordered to close.

How other cities handle the coronavirus outbreak remains to be seen, but it’s clear that any business that relies on people gathering in one place could face a serious survival threat in the coming weeks and months.

Here are a few industries and businesses that could face extinction in the coming months if the coronavirus outbreak become a full on pandemic here in the US:

Entertainment companies

The first ones to come to mind are theater companies if the order to close becomes widespread. The largest two are Cinemark (NYSE: CNK), AMC Entertainment (NYSE: AMC). Also consider National CineMedia (NASDAQ: NCMI) which runs all the ads you see before a movie.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities says “There is a genuine concern that [coronavirus] will limit theatrical attendance globally, whether driven by theater closures or fear of contamination.”

Also look at financial pressure being put on companies in the food and entertainment space like Dave & Buster’s (NASDAQ: PLAY).

Particularly vulnerable could be Diversified Restaurant Holdings (NASDAQCM: SAUC), which operates 64 Buffalo Wild Wings Franchises. With restaurants forced to shut down, the company could focus more on take-out orders for it’s popular wings and appetizers. 

However, with nearly every major sports league shut down, including the upcoming NCAA March Madness tournament, there’s little need for large orders of wings to feed family and friends at home.

Retailers

Most vulnerable could be the already struggling retailers like Ascena Retail Group (NASDAQ: ASNA) which owns brands like Ann Taylor, Loft and Lane Bryant.

JCPenney (NYSE: JCP) has managed to hold on a lot longer than many predicted, but this latest blow could be the final one for the company originally founded in 1913. The company’s footprint is now so small that any drop in business due to shoppers staying away could be fatal.

The last retailer is GNC (NYSE: GNC), the seller of supplements and vitamins. This one might be a “beating a dead horse” type of investment as the share price has already plunged from 98% in the last five years. But there’s never any foot traffic in the stores despite near-permanent sales and discounts, so this could be the final straw.

On the other side of the coin, if there are quarantine efforts put into place, it’s clear that a vast majority of Americans will simply double or triple their orders from Amazon for all their purchases. We will also likely see viewing time on Netflix soar. 

Also expect a massive uptick in business for delivery companies like GrubHub (NYSE: GRUB).

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RetailMeNot’s Five to Buy in February

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RetailMeNot's Five to Buy in February
Image via Shutterstock

The wintry temps may make you cold, but February deals are sure to warm your heart. It’s not only a great time to shower your valentine with roses and gifts, but it’s a great time to make other smart and timely purchases as well.

The shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot, Sara Skirboll, agrees. “With the biggest football game of the year, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day on the horizon, retailers will offer tremendous savings on a variety of categories — from TVs and TV dinners to all of your Valentine’s Day needs.

1. Play Cupid

With Valentine’s Day this month, shoppers might be struggling to find the right present that symbolizes their love. You can never go wrong with a customized gift made especially for them. This month, shoppers looking to go the extra mile for their loved one will save an average of 40% on items like personalized photo albums, picture frames, wall art and more. You name it, they make it — and just because it’s customized doesn’t mean it will break the bank. Turn to retailers like Shutterfly who is offering a RetailMeNot exclusive for 28% off your regular priced purchase.

2. Ding-Dong Deals

While some might make dinner reservations at the fanciest restaurant in town, many will opt to eat at home. Those who do can take advantage of special promotions and discounts. In fact, diners can save an average of 30% off all month long, so be sure to search the food delivery deals from RetailMeNot. Right now, DoorDash is offering 25% off your first purchase and Postmates is offering $15 delivery credit for existing users.

3. Flower Power

Everything’s coming up roses! According to a recent RetailMeNot survey, 46% of shoppers plan to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day this year, up from 34% in 2019. Many florists will be offering promotions and discounts to help shoppers prepare for the holiday. This year, retailers like 1800Flowers are having up to 40% off flowers & gifts and FTD is offering a RetailMeNot exclusive offer for 20% off sitewide.

4. Get Your Game On

Attention sports fans: Discounts on electronics are not strictly reserved for Black Friday! In fact, February is the second-cheapest time of year to buy a new TV. With the big game right around the corner and March Madness close behind, manufacturers will use those big-time events to highlight big savings on big-screen sets. Another reason for the markdowns is that new models will be released next month, so retailers will be looking to make room for new inventory. Shoppers in the market for a new TV should head to Samsung where they can get 10% cash back with RetailMeNot, and Best Buy where they can find up to 64% off clearance items.

5. Meet Your (Price) Match

Life can easily get in the way of finding “the one,” but online dating sites and convenient mobile apps are here to help. Those looking for love are in luck: Dating sites can offer up to 75% off enrollment fees to encourage singles to put themselves out there. Dating sites like eHarmony are offering 35% off all subscriptions and OkCupid is offering free membership.

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STUDY: Being Wealthy Adds 9 More Healthy Years to Your Life

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STUDY Being Wealthy Adds 9 More Healthy Years to Your Life
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By Amelia Hill

Being wealthy adds nine years to healthy life expectancy: a life free from disability and pain, according to transatlantic research.

The 10-year study, conducted across the UK and US, looked at all the social and economic factors behind the reasons why people sink into ill-health as they age.

“We found that socio-economic inequalities in disability-free life expectancy were similar across all ages in England and the US but the biggest socio-economic advantage in both countries and across all age groups was wealth,” said Dr Paola Zaninotto, a professor in epidemiology and healthcare at University College London, which led the research.

Published on Tuesday in the Journal of Gerontology, the data from 10,754 UK adults aged 50 and older, and 14,803 US adults over 50, examined how long people can expect to live free from disabilities and to what extent socio-economic factors play a part.

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the US Health and Retirement Study both found that while life expectancy is a useful indicator of health, the quality of life as we age is crucial to determining our health.

“By measuring healthy life expectancy we can get an estimate of the number of years of life spent in favourable states of health or without disability,” said Zaninotto.

“We know that improving both the quality and the quantity of years that individuals are expected to live has implications for public expenditure on health, income, long-term care of older people and work participation and our results suggest that policy makers in both England and the US must make greater efforts into reducing health inequalities,” she added.

In both countries people in the study were divided into groups based on total household wealth. Comparisons were made between the richest and least wealthy groups.

The paper shows that at 50 the wealthiest men in England and the US lived about an additional 31 healthy years, compared with about 22 to 23 years for those in the poorest wealth groups.

Women from the wealthiest groups from the US and England lived around an additional 33 “healthy” years, compared with 24.6 and 24 years from the poorest wealth groups in England the US respectively.

Recent ONS statistics also showed that those aged 65 are seeing their healthy life expectancy increase: since 2009, men in England and Wales aged 65 have gained 31.5 weeks of life and 33.5 weeks of healthy life. Women of the same age have gained 17.4 weeks of life and 23.3 weeks of healthy life over the same period.

But the data also revealed that children born today are likely to spend a larger proportion of their lives in poor health than their grandparents.

They will also benefit from substantially smaller increases in their life expectancy than those born a few years earlier, in the first decade of the 21st century.

In contrast, the proportion of life expected to be spent in good health in the UK has decreased between 2009-11 and 2016-18, from 79.9% to 79.5% for males and from 77.4% to 76.7% for females.

This article’s headline was amended on 20 January 2020 to more accurately reflect the content of the article.
Copyright © 2020 theguardian.com. All rights reserved.

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