PODCAST – ReThink: Travel Retail


At the beginning of 2020 the travel retail distribution channel represented one-third of revenues for some traditional beauty brands.

The global pandemic exposed the beauty industries over-reliance on this sector that had been a ‘growth winner’ for years. 

With many traditional retailers doors still shut what should/could the post-pandemic travel retail experience look like? 

This months panel 

Nicole Fall CEO & Founder at  Asian Consumer Intelligence

Laura Saunter Senior Retail analyst at Global trends agency WGSN

Ashley Dudarenok Founder of ChoZan and Alarice

Discuss how to ReThink -Travel Retail 



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Utah women’s hoops regular-season finale canceled due to COVID-19; Pac-12 Tournament participation in doubt


The Utes were scheduled to play Colorado on Sunday afternoon at the Huntsman Center.

(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo) Utah guard Niyah Becker (14) shoots a foul shot in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game against Stanford on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Sunday morning, less than two hours before the Utes’ regular-season finale was scheduled to tip off against Colorado at the Huntsman Center, the athletic department announced the game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Utah program.

The University of Utah women’s basketball team’s regular season is over, and its participation in the Pac-12 Tournament later this week is now in doubt.

Sunday morning, less than two hours before the Utes’ regular-season finale was scheduled to tip off against Colorado at the Huntsman Center, the athletic department announced the game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Utah program.

The news release gave no indication of a program pause or shutdown, but the timing of the cancellation puts Utah’s postseason in doubt. The Utes are locked into the No. 10 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament, which begins Wednesday at Michelob Ultra Arena, formerly Mandalay Bay Events Center.

After the cancelation announcement, Utah provided a short statement to The Salt Lake Tribune regarding the Pac-12 Tournament.

“A decision regarding the Pac-12 Tournament has not been determined yet. We are in the preliminary contact-tracing process and updates will be made available at a later time.”

Utah’s travel timeline to Las Vegas this week is still under consideration.

The Pac-12 previously announced that in the event one or more teams cannot play in the conference tournament, the bracket will be modified and the remaining teams reseeded. The bracket will become final on Tuesday at noon. If a team needs to drop out after Tuesday at noon, the bracket will not be modified and the opponent of the team dropping out will receive a bye into the next round of the tournament.



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ACCD: SBA applications for PPP, essential commuter travel loosened


Exclusive PPP Access for Small Businesses

From now through March 10th, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) is accepting applications for relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) exclusively for businesses with fewer than 20 employees to ensure equitable access to the program. More details are now available, as well as additional information for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals looking to receive more financial support.

The Vermont District Office of the SBA can assist those interested in the PPP and offers free weekly webinars. The PPP First and Second Draw webinar is held on Wednesdays at 9:00am and covers options, terms, eligibility, and the application process. The weekly PPP Forgiveness webinar is on Tuesdays at 11:30am and offers an in depth look at the forgiveness process.

Travel Guidance Update

Residents of communities within five miles of a Vermont border with a neighboring state may now complete essential and necessary travel between border towns that occurs in the same day, without quarantining upon return to Vermont. Residents should consult the travel FAQ on this topic for additional guidance.

People who are fully vaccinated may travel to Vermont and return from out-of-state travel without quarantine restrictions, once 14 days have passed from when they received their final dose. Additionally, people who meet this vaccination criteria may now gather with one other household at a time.

Vaccine Distribution Update

The Department of Health has announced that Vermonters aged 65 and older are now able to get COVID-19 vaccines at Walgreens locations throughout the state. There are no walk-ins, and appointments must be scheduled online or by calling 1-800-Walgreens.

Starting Monday, March 1st, Vermonters aged 65 and older will be able to get COVID-19 vaccines through the statewide clinics. Vermonters can prepare by creating an online account now to make sign up easier when the time comes. Visit the Department of Health website for frequently asked questions, tips and tricks, a short video on signing up, and more.

Nomination Process Open for Commission on the Future of Vermont Agriculture

Residents interested in serving on the Governor’s Future of Vermont Agriculture Commission may now put their names forward for nomination. The Commission is charged with developing long- and short-term strategies and specific action plans with measurable outcomes to ensure that Vermont remains a vibrant agricultural state into the future. Nominations are due by Friday, March 12th.

Take Vermont’s Outdoor Economy Survey

The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance has launched a survey to capture the current scope of Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy. The pandemic has heightened the importance of outdoor recreation as an economic driver for Vermont’s communities as people turn to physical activity and the mental health it affords. The survey intends to capture the state of Vermont’s outdoor businesses and organizations by gathering benchmark data, change trends, and needs for future sector support and development in the areas of financing, workforce, infrastructure, and branding.

To contribute your information to the report and recommendations, the Vermont Outdoor Economy Benchmark Survey will be open until March 8th at 5:00pm.

Source: Agency of Commerce & Community Development 2.28.2021 



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Utah women’s hoops regular-season finale canceled due to COVID-19; Pac-12 Tournament participation in doubt


The Utes were scheduled to play Colorado on Sunday afternoon at the Huntsman Center.

(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo) Utah guard Niyah Becker (14) shoots a foul shot in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game against Stanford on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Salt Lake City. Sunday morning, less than two hours before the Utes’ regular-season finale was scheduled to tip off against Colorado at the Huntsman Center, the athletic department announced the game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Utah program.

The University of Utah women’s basketball team’s regular season is over, and its participation in the Pac-12 Tournament later this week is now in doubt.

Sunday morning, less than two hours before the Utes’ regular-season finale was scheduled to tip off against Colorado at the Huntsman Center, the athletic department announced the game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Utah program.

The news release gave no indication of a program pause or shutdown, but the timing of the cancellation puts Utah’s postseason in doubt. The Utes are locked into the No. 10 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament, which begins Wednesday at Michelob Ultra Arena, formerly Mandalay Bay Events Center.

After the cancelation announcement, Utah provided a short statement to The Salt Lake Tribune regarding the Pac-12 Tournament.

“A decision regarding the Pac-12 Tournament has not been determined yet. We are in the preliminary contact-tracing process and updates will be made available at a later time.”

Utah’s travel timeline to Las Vegas this week is still under consideration.

The Pac-12 previously announced that in the event one or more teams cannot play in the conference tournament, the bracket will be modified and the remaining teams reseeded. The bracket will become final on Tuesday at noon. If a team needs to drop out after Tuesday at noon, the bracket will not be modified and the opponent of the team dropping out will receive a bye into the next round of the tournament.



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Playa Resorts Honors Top Travel Advisors at VIP Event in Puerto Vallarta


Playa Hotels & Resorts is not holding back when it comes to supporting the travel advisor community. The company just wrapped up another successful event, this time honoring top agents at a VIP FAM trip in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The three-night event was held at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.

“We have these events to keep showing them all the new changes and what’s going on with Playa Hotels & Resorts, and we feel that their personal experience of being here is the best way for them to get out and sell it,” said Andrea Wright, Vice President of Travel Industry Sales, Playa Hotels & Resorts.

“They feel it, touch it, taste it, and it’s very easy for them to sell. It also has been extremely paramount and important this year that they show all of their clients that it is safe to travel and kind of go through the process, including all of the safety protocols.”

Welcome event at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
Welcome event at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. (photo by Codie Liermann)

The Playa team kicked off the first night by welcoming travel advisors with cocktails and dinner amongst a stunning terrace set up.

In attendance with Wright were Kevin Froemming, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Playa Resorts; Fernando Cardoso, Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta’s General Manager; and Pilar Alvarado Robles, Director of Sales, Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. Encouraging messages of high hopes for a great year ahead filled the air.

Jessica Pressler, travel advisor with Blissful Honeymoons and Destination Weddings, felt Playa took a chance on her by inviting her to the Los Cabos event back in the fall. It didn’t take her long to reap the rewards of attending an in-person event.

A Playa presentation by Andrea Wright
A Playa presentation by Andrea Wright. (photo by Codie Liermann)

“I just saw how dedicated they were to travel advisors through the hardest time that we’ve ever been through. Shortly after the event, I closed a wedding with Playa, and I’ve been booking them ever since,” Pressler explained.

“My rep Michelle Payette is amazing. She is the most prompt BDM I’ve ever worked with for the seven and a half years I’ve been in the industry. She wants my business to grow, and I can see she cares.”

With learning, connecting and experiencing in mind for what Playa envisioned these agents getting out of the event, Thursday was a day packed full of opportunity.

Travel advisors attending a Playa seminar
Travel advisors attending a Playa seminar. (photo by Codie Liermann)

The morning began with a site inspection and a Playa presentation so the advisors could learn a bit more about the property they were staying at as well as new updates with the company in general.

The afternoon provided opportunities to connect with both other agents and the destination itself through optional excursions such as exploring downtown Puerto Vallarta and the Malecon boardwalk, an aqua journey and a jungle tour. Agents could also simply choose to enjoy everything the Hyatt Ziva has to offer like the various pool areas, beach, kayaking and paddleboarding, among other amenities. After a day of fun, the evening wrapped up with a karaoke contest at Hyghlightz Sports bar.

Travel agents at Playa's VIP FAM event
Travel agents at Playa’s VIP FAM event. (photo by Codie Liermann)

Friday morning began with beach yoga for those who were interested followed by two different seminars put on by Playa BDMs Jermaine Humphrey and Randolph TenEyck. Pressler took advantage of all the opportunities to connect and grow with fellow industry workers.

“I love just networking with other travel advisors and Playa reps. I continue to feel the love from Playa, and I’m making friends which is one of my favorite parts of these trips in general. They allow you to connect, talk business, figure out what is working and not working and how we can make things better for each other and the industry in general,” she said.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. (photo by Codie Liermann)

Many of the travel agents mentioned that Playa is the first hotelier to offer these types of events during the pandemic, and they are witnessing the revenue it creates almost immediately. They not only feel but truly appreciate the support Playa offers, and it transitions into increased sales with the company.

Froemming explained that taking care of customers, partners and employees remains at the top of the list for Playa Hotels & Resorts.

“One of the things we’re so proud of is our employees that take care of the guests. For me, it’s really hard not to bring people down to see this because it is so different. ‘Service from the heart’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s something that’s ingrained in all of us. It comes from a philosophy of saying ‘if we take care of our people, our people will take care of our customers,’” he said, adding that bringing agents on these events to meet the staff allows them to develop a deeper, long-lasting and meaningful connection with both the people and the place.

Playa Hotels & Resorts focuses on service from the heart
Playa Hotels & Resorts focuses on service from the heart. (photo by Codie Liermann)

Froemming pointed out the fact that travel advisors and Playa employees say it all when they entrust their most special moments with the company. From a romantic proposal and a destination wedding to family fun and a girls getaway, Playa has a way of bringing travelers’ dreams to life.

The event concluded with an immaculate farewell dinner on the beach. With gourmet cuisine and delicious drinks flowing, local live music filling the air and a classic Puerto Vallarta sunset on the horizon, travel advisors relaxed and took in the final evening of bliss before heading back home to hit the ground running.

Travel advisors enjoying a FAM trip
Travel advisors enjoying a FAM trip. (photo by Codie Liermann)

Pressler is thrilled with her new partnership with Playa, and she plans to continue giving them her support. “They are investing in us here, and I’m excited to continue to give them business because through the hardest time in our industry and in my career, they’ve made me feel supported, and that’s the most important thing as a travel advisor. We need support through this difficult time,” she said.

Armed with the tools they need, Wright hopes this VIP FAM trip provided agents with excitement for the year ahead: “I hope they find a newfound energy and get some excitement that 2021 is going to be a good year. It’s time to start looking forward and get excited about the future.”





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What It’s Really Like to Go on a Colorado Ski Trip During the COVID-19 Pandemic


What It’s Really Like to Go on a Colorado Ski Trip During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Travel + Leisure

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Alaska schools left to forge their own plans ahead of a spring break without COVID-19 travel restrictions


Like school principals around the state, Andrea Everett has been fielding spring break questions from Dena’ina Elementary parents preparing for something they haven’t done in a year: travel Outside.

WIthout a statewide COVID-19 emergency declaration in place, Alaska’s relatively strict travel testing and quarantine requirements shifted to a recommendation earlier this month.

At Dena’ina, a school of about 365 students west of Wasilla, families are asking what they should do. Everett said most told her they plan to test and self-isolate for five days even though it’s no longer required. A number of teachers timed their breaks so they could isolate before returning.

“Quite frankly, all of our families minus a couple have said they’re just going to follow the recommendation and go ahead and do it, because they want our schools to be open,” she said.

As spring break looms in March at schools around Alaska, the state’s large districts are issuing widely different travel guidelines in the absence of state restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Anchorage School District will require either pre-travel testing or “strict social distancing” before students or staff can come back. Mat-Su, Kenai Peninsula, and Fairbanks North Star borough districts are recommending testing and self-isolation but say anyone without symptoms can return to school.

Juneau schools will shift everyone to remote learning for a week when classes resume “so that anyone who may travel over the spring break week has time to quarantine and get tested before they return to school,” said district spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett.

School officials say they found themselves making tough decisions to arm families of students and staff with post-travel specifics before they left the state.

That’s due to the vacuum created earlier this month when state lawmakers and Gov. Mike Dunleavy allowed Alaska’s COVID-19 emergency declaration that authorized the state’s travel restrictions to expire.

The state’s travel orders enacted last summer were some of the strictest in the country, though largely voluntary: people arriving in Alaska from out of state had to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or practice strict social distancing for 14 days unless they got a negative result on a second test.

Officials relaxed those restrictions in October to one test or a 5-day social distancing period, and lifted restrictions for people traveling for less than 72 hours.

Inbound passengers Alex Koehler and Melissa Engelhardt listen to instructions from Marvell Robinson at the COVID-19 testing site in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on July 17, 2020. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

Now without the declaration in place, a state health advisory has replaced the mandates. It says travelers “should consider” testing within 72 hours of the trip and taking a second test at least five days after arriving in Alaska, following strict social distancing protocols until results come in. Travelers still must contact state public health officials if results come back positive and self-isolate until cleared.

Generally, fully-vaccinated travelers should still get tested but don’t need to practice social distancing while waiting for results.

Anchorage, where normally as many as half the families in the district travel out of state during spring break, is the state’s only large district to require either testing or strict social distancing. Traveling staff or students can’t come back without a negative test taken up to 72 hours before traveling or any time after coming back to Alaska. People who don’t want to get tested must stay out of school for 10 days.

Administrators took that step last week after realizing municipal officials had no plans to issue more restrictive travel guidance, said Jen Patronas, the district’s health services director.

“The nurses and the teachers were worried that without any type of policy in place that we were just going to bring COVID or a different strain of COVID into our school buildings,” Patronas said. “That was a concern of ours as well.”

Administrators checked with risk management and legal departments and believe they have the authority to require those steps in order to protect student and staff safety, she said.

Officials at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, however, determined they couldn’t take action more stringent than the state, according to district spokeswoman Pegge Erkeneff.

The district is “strongly encouraging” families get tested upon their return and practice strict social distancing while waiting for test results, Erkeneff said.

In Mat-Su, which this week had the highest average daily COVID-19 case rate in the state, school officials say they will encourage either testing or strict social distancing but can’t require it.

The district sent an email to families at the start of the week: All District employees and students are recommended to follow the guidelines and strictly social distance or quarantine after out of state travel unless they have completed the vaccination series, or they have had COVID-19 in the past 90 days. However, these recommendations will not impact an employee’s ability to return to work or a student’s ability to return to school or participate in district-sponsored activities.”

That policy gives district principals and school nurses a certain comfort level and families the ability to change plans if they’re not willing to take the recommended steps to return, district spokeswoman Jillian Morrissey said.

“As we are getting closer to spring break, it’s clear that a lot of our families are geting ready to travel, some of them for the first time in a very long time,” Morrissey said. “We needed to be clear.”

The Juneau School District is requiring all students learn from home through April 5 after spring break ends and also has screening questions for students, Bartlett said.

Fairbanks North Star Borough School District superintendent Karen Gaborik explained that district’s policy in a Feb. 19 newsletter: “Strict social distancing is no longer a requirement after traveling outside Alaska, unless you test for Covid, so staff or students can return to work/school immediately unless they are symptomatic.”

The district is mirroring the state’s new health advisory, recommending testing and self-isolation.

All the districts emphasize the fact they’ve already got COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place. The travel policies are on top of existing measures.

But some say the absence of comprehensive, statewide schools policy fails to protect families fleeing the dark, cold, and same four walls, as well as others they come in contact with when they get home, even in Anchorage, which is adopting the strictest standards of the big districts.

Chris Saddler, an infection control nurse and Anchorage parent, urged state and school officials to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines to test three to five days after travel but also quarantine for seven days post-travel.

“With Spring Break coming up, you will be jump-starting another Covid-19 surge in Alaska. And this time it will bring all the new COVID-19 variants our students and their parents have picked up while they’re traveling,” Saddler wrote in a recent email to various ASD officials including the school board, as well as health officials and the Daily News.

The email elicited a response from the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink.

The state “strongly” recommends a second test after travel following the CDC modeling of transmission associated with travel, Zink wrote. She noted that free airport testing continues and encouraged Alaskans to use stay home and quarantine for seven days even if they test negative.

“The airport travel testing will remain open and free for Alaskans to test and encourage all Alaskans to use these guidance to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19,” Zink wrote.



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