“Buy Tuscany” Event at the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood, CA

Earlier tonight I attended the “Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood, CA.  After a quiet January, it’s time to get out and network again!

It was overcast and foggy, with intermitten rain, in the San Fernando Valley today.  So after a nice drive over Mulholland Drive, Sepulveda Boulevard and then on the 405 to Wilshire…

First, a few pics from the drive over the hill through the billion dollar clusterf*ck that is the construction on the 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass:

New Mulholland Bridge over the 405 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

New Mulholland Bridge over the 405 (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Remember “Carmaggeddon”?  Well here is the finished Mulholland Bridge that was widened and retrofitted! NOTE HOW TWO LANES BECOME ONE LANE BEFORE THE BRIDGE AND THEN WIDEN TO TWO LANES AGAIN ON THE BRIDGE…it totally defeats the purpose of widening the bridge, and you can’t turn right on a red light at the light.

Sepulveda Blvd (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sepulveda Blvd south (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sepulveda Boulevard at 2:30pm on a Thursday, once you get past the closed right lane at the top of the hill (where two lanes turn left and then have to merge into one lane again) and the new freeway onramp (where the cars in the right lane have to get in the left turn lane) is still a great drive.  Note the huge retaining walls along the freeway….will they hold?

Sepulveda Blvd (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sepulveda Blvd (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Traffic Tip: Get on the 405 south at Getty Center, because you never know what traffic will be like on Sepulveda at Moraga, Church and Montana! Again note the retaining wall….

Getty Center 405 Freeway Onramp (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Getty Center 405 Freeway Onramp (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

405 Freeway (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

405 Freeway and the Getty Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Thursday 2:40pm on the 405 Freeway south approaching Sunset, just wait until rush hour.  Note the massive Getty Center on the top of the hill.

405 Freeway and the Getty Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

405 Freeway and the Getty Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Exit the 405 at Wilshire on the brand new ramp that is exactly the same as the old ramp, only longer and now one lane again.  NOTE THAT THEY DIDN’T CHANGE THE EXIT AT WILSHIRE SO TRAFFIC STILL BACKS UP ONTO THE FREEWAY AT PEAK HOURS.

405 Freeway New Wilshire Blvd Offramp (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

405 Freeway New Wilshire Blvd Offramp (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

AND THEY DIDN’T FIX THE INTERSECTION AT SEPULVEDA AND WILSHIRE (the busiest intersection in the western United States) and the construction continues….

Under the 405 on Wilshire east at Sepulveda (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Under the 405 on Wilshire Blvd east at Sepulveda (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

So, I made it to Westwood in good time and arrived early enough to navigate traffic on Wilshire and in Westwood.  I parked in the parking structure next to the Italian Cultural Institute for FREE! The parking guys let me park my own car because I told them I didn’t want to leave the key (I also didn’t want anyone “stack” parking or moving my car). Parking was complimentary for a limited number of guests, so thank you Tourism Italia!

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

It began to drizzle a little after 3pm, so I checked in and sat inside on the red ultra moderne designer couch with a few other early arrivees in the reception area until they opened the Trade Show at 3:30pm.  Note the beautiful Italian marble patio!  It’s a great event space, but unfortunately it rained just enough to make it wet and slippery and they had to change the setup at the last minute.

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The first order of business was the Trade Show.  Meeting with Vendors and Suppliers from Tuscany, the format was sort of a “one-on-one” format for more than one person.  Most of the Vendors were represented by two people and even early on, it was more than two people on my side of the table.  I paired up with one of my co-workers for the presentations at the beginning, but eventually had to go it alone, because of the format. There was a lot of room noise and some of the suppliers had thick Italian accents, so it was very hard to hear the presentations.  I managed to meet everyone, see what they had to offer, exchange business cards and collected a big bag of collateral material from the hotels, tour operators, wineries and other exhibitors.

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Finished with the circle tour of the trade show, I had some coffee, dropped the bag of information in my car, and found a chair in the library to sit in while I waited for cocktail hour to begin.  There was limited seating to begin with, and because of the weather everyone who finished also was waiting inside, so having a seat was “groovy”.

Cocktail hour at last! Prosecco, Tuscan red wine and tray passed appetizers: shrimp, rare beef on toast, and tomato pomodoro soup in little square plastic cups.  I did some networking, drank some Prosecco and ate some hor d’ourves.

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Cocktail hour in the Library

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The next order of business was a very nice presentation in the theatre.  There were introductions, informative speeches, videos of beautiful Tuscany, expressions of thanks and gratitude, a musical performance and a drawing for some very nice prizes.

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Then the Dinner Buffet was served.  On the menu: sausage and peppers, polenta with mushrooms and cheese, pasta with red sauce, fava, bruschetta, toasted bread and breadsticks.  More Prosecco and Tuscan wine was served, but instead I had still bottled water with my food.

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And following the food, there was coffee and mini tiramisu for dessert (not pictured)

"Buy Tuscany" event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Buy Tuscany” event at the Italian Cultural Institute (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

It was a long event 3:30-8:30pm (5 hours plus travel time), but it was well managed (even with the weather adjustments) and informative.  The food was good and the presentation was entertaining.  Overall, it was a pretty nice event and now I want to visit Tuscany!

I thanked my hosts, said goodbye to my friends and co-workers, and drove my car out of the parking lot back to the 405.  There was traffic on Wilshire, traffic getting on the 405 at Wilshire, traffic on the 405 freeway and the Skirball exit was closed.  Nevertheless, I made back to the valley in about a half hour, posted on facebook, and wrote this blog.  Hope you enjoyed my afternoon and evening.  Thanks for reading!!!  Grazie!  Tutte bene!

 

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GUNG HAY FAT CHOY! HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR 2014!

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY!  HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR 2014!

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY! HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY! HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

The Year of the Green Wood Horse! One of the Chinese favorite animals, the Horse provided good transportation for people before automobiles. And the Horse gives people a ride to their destination. The Horse is not only a symbol of traveling, but also a sign of speedy success!

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Hosted Reception at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, CA

The Sportsmen’s Lodge at Ventura Blvd and Coldwater Cyn in Studio City

The staff at the Sportsmen’s Lodge invited our office for a nice cocktail reception and tour of the property.

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Recently renovated, the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City is a real San Fernando “Landmark”, the original lodge opened in the 1880’s.  Read more about the history on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sportsmen’s_Lodge 

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Porte Cochere at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Lobby and Reception at The Sportsman’s Lodge (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Lobby Bar at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Cocktails at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Poolside at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Poolside at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Guest Hallway at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Renovated Standard Double poolside at the Sportsman’s Lodge (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Clean and simple bathroom at the Sportsman’s Lodge (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

There is 30000 square feet of Banquet, Party, Performance, Meeting and Event Space!

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Pond and Garden outside the event center at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The River Rock Bar and Lounge has been renovated and the Patio Cafe is currently “under construction”.

The Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, CA (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

River Rock Bar at the Sportsman’s Lodge (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

In 2007, the Sportsmen’s Lodge was sold to developer Richard Weintraub for approximately $50 million. Plans to renovate the existing hotel and add as much as 300,000 square feet of retail space are ongoing.

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Los Angeles Times Travel Show 2014

Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown Los Angeles: $15 Parking! West Hall LOT FULL so I parked across the street and walked in.  The lot was not full….

Welcome to the Los Angeles Convention Center!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Well, I started this blog with a post about last year’s LA Times Travel Show in February, so it’s almost been a year!  I skipped the “Trade Day” on Friday this year (for a variety of reasons) and got a late start on Saturday.  After navigating traffic on the 101 freeway, I arrived at the Convention Center downtown, paid for parking, parked the car and headed for badge pickup.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Trade Show Floor from the Media Room on the second floor

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I hit the Trade Show Floor and visited the exhibitor booths.  I collected collateral material, brochures, handouts, one sheets, business cards and a little SWAG.  And I said “HELLO” to some of the industry friends I’ve met over the past year who were exhibiting at the show.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dunkin Donuts – Thanks for the Free Coffee!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The ASTA Booth!  Book your next trip right there on the Trade Show Floor!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“Interactive” Booth: Have your picture taken in the newspaper frame!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Cool travel gadget: Transport your breakables in a $20 inflatable protective Vinni bag!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

TOO MANY SCAMS!, BAIT AND SWITCH!, and FAKE RAFFLES!
And NO, I DID NOT win a $75 gift card…Bastards.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: There were too many “Timeshare” operations and not enough MAJOR VENDORS at the Travel Show.  I noted the same thing last year, and hoped this year would be better. Where were the major commercial airlines and hotel chains?  The cruise lines were represented but only with co-op exhibitors like Cruiseplanners.  After attending GBTA, LTX, and the Signature Sales Meeting (read my previous blogs), I’ve seen much better vendor attendance.  They really haven’t done enough to attract the major players to this show.

I’m going to rant a little now.  The high cost of parking is a major deterrent in getting the public to attend!  Parking used to be $6, then it went to $8, then $12 and now $15 for the event.  It’s too expensive, and then they charge the public admission ($10-12 per adult).  The show’s attendance reflects the high cost to attend, in that it wasn’t very crowded, which is nice if you do attend but it sure doesn’t help to attract big vendors and exhibitors.  I didn’t attend the “Trade Day” this year, but last year travel agent attendance was also a little light.  My advice would be to target the TRAVEL INDUSTRY and then allow the public to attend.  The other big problem, as noted above, were the SCAMS, BAIT AND SWITCH, and FAKE RAFFLES I witnessed walking the Trade Show Floor.  I wanted to call the LAPD Bunco and Fraud Investigators after seeing some of the blatant BS.  The show producers should monitor and control the “enticements” because when people feel ripped off they don’t come back next year!  There also weren’t enough MAJOR VENDORS and there definitely wasn’t enough SWAG!  I was able to completely canvas the Trade Show floor and see a few presentations in a couple of hours…it should have taken much longer.

There were some good speakers and nice presentations which were well attended, but the show could have been a lot more entertaining.

Mixing a Moscow Mule at the Taste Stage

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Let’s Talk Turkey!

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Great talk with Alyssa Milano in Petree Hall about her travels with UNICEF in Africa.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

It was such a beautiful day in Los Angeles, it was almost a shame to have to be indoors.  I took this pic of the Convention Center, Nokia Theater, Ritz Carlton, J.W. Marriott and Staples Center from the “smoking” patio just outside the show floor on my way out.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Walking back to the car. West Hall Parking

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Los Angeles Times Travel Show (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And just to add insult to injury, I had to walk all the way back to my car through the West Hall Parking Lot because a little lady in an orange vest didn’t know the lot wasn’t full.

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Where do you want to travel?

JoshWillTravel

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I was a TRAVEL AGENT. 
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Ashland, Oregon Visitor's Map

Ashland, Oregon Visitor’s Map

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Dinner at Melisse (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Melisse (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

New Year *2014*- Where do you want to travel?
Where do you want to go on your next vacation?
How about California, Hawaii, Disney, Mexico, Europe, Alaska or Las Vegas?
A beautiful Waikoloa sunset on the Big Island of Hawaii (copyright 2010 Joshua Weisel)

A beautiful Waikoloa sunset on the Big Island of Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Southern California Destination Specialist!
Los Angeles and environs, Hollywood, Disneyland, Palm Springs and San Diego

Travel Alert! Who ya gonna call? Airline Information Links

Bad weather? Missed Flight? Travel Emergency? Who ya gonna to call?

Bad weather? Missed Flight? Travel Emergency? Who ya gonna to call?

http://www.weather.gov

http://www.flyfaa.gov

http://www.flightstats.com

http://www.flightaware.com

AMERICAN: http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp 
DELTA: http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/alerts-and-advisories/northeast-winter-storm1.html 
JETBLUE: http://www.jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx?intcmp=global_travelalert 
SOUTHWEST: http://www.southwest.com/html/advisories/swa_travel_advisory_201311131386966150044.html 
UNITED: http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx?v_ctrk=HHLN$0-772-2045-1-1156#ExceptionPolicies 
US AIRWAYS: http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx 
VIRGIN AMERICA: http://www.virginamerica.com/news.do?int=news_alertbart_travelAdvisory 

Canadian Airports:

BOOKMARK THIS PAGE FOR NEXT TIME!

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Food, Wine & Theatre in Ashland, Oregon with JoshWillTravel

Luxury Food, Wine and Theatre Experiences in Ashland, Oregon!

Ashland, Oregon Visitor's Map

Ashland, Oregon Visitor’s Map – http://www.facebook.com/theatreinashland

Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Britt Music Festivals, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, the Craterion Theatre, the Camelot Theatre and Southern Oregon University.

The Green Show with Dirty Cello (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Green Show with Dirty Cello (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Check out the 2014 Season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival! “The Tempest”, “Richard III”, “The Comedy of Errors”, “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, “A Wrinkle In Time”, “The Great Society”, “Into The Woods”, “The Cocoanuts”, the (free) Green Show and much more! Right Click for more information: www.osfashland.org

Taste the Fine Wines from the Umpqua, Willamette, and Rogue Valley regions.

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Rogue Valley, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Enjoy Unique Foodie Finds and Elegant Dining.

Lithia Park - Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Walk in Lithia Park, Ski Mount Ashland and Visit Medford, Klamath Falls, Historic Jacksonville and Crater Lake National Park.

Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Ashland, Oregon (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Please enjoy the pretty pictures and insider information on our new facebook page:

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Contact us now for more information! email joshwilltravel@yahoo.com

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VEGAS ANYONE?

VEGAS ANYONE?

Contact me to plan your next getaway! Great deals, luxury experiences and VIP treatment available! Travel, reservations (hotels, clubs, shows, dining, tee times), tickets and more!

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Message or email me for more info at joshuawwilletttravel@gmail.com

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or BOOK YOUR HOTEL ONLINE NOW: http://www.joshwilltravel.agentstudio.com (our expedia affiliated booking site)

TRAVEL ALERT! Who ya gonna call?

The Polar Vortex that has caused such tremendous trouble for travelers this week is a great reminder to always book your trip with a professional Travel Agent!

Bad weather? Missed Flight? Travel Emergency? Who ya gonna to call?

Bad weather? Missed Flight? Travel Emergency? Who ya gonna to call?

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Here’s a travel milestone!

On this day in 1947, Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to schedule a flight around the world.

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