Hi - I was recenlty interviewed in a recent article in the Nashville Post. Here is the article!
BY WILLIAM WILLIAMS
Nashvile Post, July-August 2012
Not long ago, most Nashvillians who traveled outside the United States opted for locales that, though beautiful and interesting, were also predictable and not particularly adventurous.
Those standard destinations included — and were almost exclusively limited to — Italy, France Mexico (the touristy coastal areas, no less) and the United Kingdom. Sunbathing in Cancun, riding a gondola in Venice, marveling at the Eiffel Tower in Paris... all joyous and memorable — and all experienced seemingly by millions of folks millions of times.
Indeed, Nashvillians still enjoy common international travel destinations. But increasingly more locals are getting adventurous with their sojourns. In 2012, the city’s world travelers are often choosing Turks and Caicos, Patagonia and Atacama, and the Nile and Euora rivers.
Rome and London are being rivalled by (or at least supplemented with) Dubai and Amman. Ocean cruises are yielding some popularity to river cruises. Ten days outside the country has transitioned to 20 days. Luxury spas and yoga classes are gaining favor. Travel budgets are bigger.
“There is not a continent or country that we don’t have Nashvillians visiting? said Janet Krebs, a partner and travel advisor with Belle Meade Travel. “We have clients visiting Bhutan. We have people clamoring for trips into Jordan. There are destinations like Iran and all over South America. I had clients who went to the Artic to view polar bears.
“A lot has to do with television and the Internet” Krebs added. "Once they see it, they want to go there”
Krebs said the emergence of various trends, including the use of the above mentioned Internet, during the past 10 years or so has significantly altered the travel culture. People can more effectively research their destinations prior to departure, and travel companies have instituted safeguards for those touring countries that are perceived as less than accommodating to westerners.
“We have the ability to send people to remote places and have the confidence they will be safe and properly escorted while they’re there” Krebs said. “People realize that when they travel, they need somebody who has their back and will take care of things if something goes wrong”.
Perhaps most noteworthy is this: More than ever before, spending time outside the U.S. is a major part of many young Nashvillians’ world view and cultural frame of reference.
“Younger people in particular request more exotic places, which is good” said Krebs, who has worked within the industry for more than 30 years. “The world has become a smaller place. We now have younger people who grew up traveling. They now take their children with them, they are totally global”
Pam Wright, president of Wright Travel, said the industry is changing rapidly, with Nashvillians embracing those changes.
“Overall, what we’re seeing is more people who want ‘customized’ vs. ‘packaged’ tours” she said. “People are willing to spend more (about 20 percent)” And they’re willing to spend big. Wright said some of her clients will allot up to $40,000 for a one month get-away.
Places that a mere 15 years ago would have drawn gasps had they been mentioned as destinations for Nashvillians - visualize Cambodia, China, Iran, Jordan and Vietnam — are now acceptable and even embraced.
“Another popular trend is the Europe river cruise” Wright said. “And we have travelers to Europe who want villas instead of hotels”.
Changing trends with international travel even include wardrobe.
David Levy owner of Levy’s Clothier for Men and Women, said some of his clients make purchases — many involving clothing pieces appropriate to the countries to which they will travel and/or items that can withstand the demands of multi•day suitcase packing — as they prepare for their journeys.
"We hear that quite often — particularly for business trips?” Levy said. “They need to update their wardrobe for travel. We have numerous items that are wrinkle free and wrinkle resistant, stain resistant technology for trousers, and nano technology (a lot of which is done in Oak Ridge). We have micro-fiber undergarments for guys”
Others wait until they arrive in a foreign land before they update their outfits.
“There is less clothes buying [pre—trip] than there used to be, Levy said. “It seems [to some] to be a greater value to buy overseas”
With some locals willing to buy once they reach their destinations, Levy is ready to prepare them well.
“Because of the predominance of the Italian fashions in a men’s store like ours, our conversations focus on Italy” he said. “We talk a lot about where clothes are made within the country. Wool is manufactured in Biella and Milan. We even have a map of Italy”.
Trends aside, foreign travel for Nashvilians is expected to remain very popular. Locals have tastes and expectations that have elevated significantly during the past few years.
For example, Belle Meade Travel’s Krebs said some of her clients enjoy spending time in Chile’s Patagonia and Atacama.
“They are on opposite ends of Chile”, she said of the two places. “[Travelers] want to see extremes of the country as far as topography, climate and nature”.