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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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Biden Is Latest Dem to Support Ridiculous Free Housing Proposal

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Biden Is Latest Dem to Support Ridiculous Free Housing Proposal

Presidential candidate Joe Biden is the latest Democrat to throw their support behind the ridiculous idea that housing should be free

During an appearance yesterday, Biden said he agrees with “forgiving” both mortgage and rent payments. He says this as the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic and 38 million Americans are without a job.

“There should be rent forgiveness and there should be mortgage forgiveness now in the middle of this crisis. Not paid later, forgiveness. It’s critically important to people who are in the lower-income strata.” said Biden

Tara Raghuveer, housing campaign director at People’s Action, a political network devoted to grassroots organizing, aired her opinion. She said, “The tenant is the most vulnerable person in the economy right now.”

She added, “The alternative to not canceling the rent is complete bottoming out of the market. And tens of millions of people literally never financially recovering from this moment.”

Calls for Housing Relief

Biden’s call for rent and mortgage relief echoes efforts by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. Omar introduced legislation that would bar landlords and lenders from collecting monthly payments. It would also impose late fees “through the duration of the pandemic.”

Under Omar’s plan, renters and mortgage borrowers who skip payments wouldn’t need to pay back anything once the rent and mortgage forgiveness policy ended. And any lender or landlord who violated the plan would face penalties.

Correctly, housing industry experts point out that allowing renters to skip payments also needs to consider the consequences of the landlords not being able to pay their own mortgages on the property.

“If multifamily landlords, particularly the small mom and pop landlords who own just maybe one to four units can’t make their mortgage payments and can’t stay in business, those are affordable units that are going to be lost to the private market,” said Flora Arabo, the national senior director of state and local policy at Enterprise Community Partners.

“Rent forgiveness without rental subsidies could be pretty catastrophic for tenants,” Arabo said.

Omar’s plan addresses these concerns, supporters say. It does so because it creates a fund for landlords and lenders so that they could recoup any losses.

Not surprisingly, Raghuveer’s organization, People’s Action, worked with Omar in drafting the bill. The organization threw in more stipulations for landlords to collect those funds. These include providing information on their revenues, refraining from discrimination based on the source of income, and other tenant protections.

Biden’s Impact

Biden’s support for the rent and mortgage forgiveness plans doesn’t really mean much. However, the biggest problem with these free housing proposals is that they demonize landlords. They let the tenants immediately skip payments, but force the landlords to deal with bureaucracy and red tape to receive relief funds.

According to the Census Bureau, individual investors own nearly 75% of our nation’s rental units, not massive corporations. Those mom and pop landlords likely aren’t any more sophisticated than their tenants. They would also find themselves in the same dire financial situation should they lose the ability to collect rent.

Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said in a recent interview, “Rent cancellation proposals do not adequately address the problem and fail to recognize that many property owners are in the same dire situation as their residents — substantial loss of income amid ongoing financial obligations.”

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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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