By Jeff Bollig
In June, Acendas Travel President Brent Blake dipped his toe in the water by taking a quick, two-day trip from Kansas City to Minneapolis.
His goal was to experience the parking shuttle, airport, airplane, rental car,.hotel and restaurant experiences. All-in-all, he found his exploration to be better than he expected. According to Blake, the various aspects of the trip emphasized safety and sanitization. Sure, there was distancing and a change in processes, but Blake did not find the journey to be onerous. For a look at that experience, watch a video here.
“I guess you might say I was pleasantly surprised,” Blake said. “We flew Delta and it was obvious they put the traveler first. We also found at each point of our trip the various employees were masking, social distancing and sanitizing touch points. Since that date, we’ve seen air travel increase because there is a growing trust factor in the activity.”
Fast forward to early August and you might say Blake was ready to jump in with both feet. Interested in seeing what a more “involved” trip might entail and wanting a vacation, his travel party of six booked a trip to Las Vegas. They traveled on Southwest Airlines, stayed at the Aria Resort & Casino, and partook of activities on “The Strip.” What they encountered was what they expected: masking, social distancing, continual cleaning — and a whole a focus from staff on making the experience safe and enjoyable.
Specifically, the state of Nevada had health officials on site to help the resort monitor activity. That meant the resort was at a reduced capacity of guests, restaurants were less crowded; plexiglass was added at points of interaction at the front desk and casino; and swimming pool monitors enforced distancing in the water and on the deck.
“There was an outstanding effort by the staff to make it enjoyable for us,” Blake said. “It isn’t exactly the same as the past. For example, there were no shows or performances. But we weren’t restricted to the point where our enjoyment was limited with any significance. We had a great time. We received numerous upgrades and the staff really went out of its way to make sure the guests were being supported.”
So, how did the travel party rate the “Vegas Lite” experience?
“You know, as we were waiting at the airport, we did a bit of debrief just as we would with our businesses.” Blake said. “As we went around the group, everyone said they were ready to come back. Everyone said it was better than expected. From my perspective, the various staff members were awesome. Very helpful, but they also set a great example with masks and distancing. It was a very welcoming environment from start to finish.”
And it didn’t hurt that the group walked away with $700 from the roulette wheel, either!
NOTE: For more on Blake’s trip to Las Vegas, click this link to hear an interview with KMBZ radio host E.j. Becker.