American Airlines is losing important customers

October 10th, 2012 by Mariah

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Dogged by ongoing service problems, troubled American Airlines is beginning to lose its most lucrative group of clients — business customers. Overall, the number of passengers flying American Airlines fell 4% in September to 8.3 million, the airline said Monday. The airline was also forced to cut domestic flights by almost 6%.

 

The airline has been struggling with flight delays and cancellations in the wake of pilot anger over their contract situation.

Several business travelers told CNNMoney that their firms are avoiding American flights and won’t be returning any time soon.

“If someone has to be somewhere for a meeting, there’s no way I can take a chance and book American,” said Zalmi Duchman, CEO of TheFreshDiet.com, a daily meal delivery service. He said it’ll take at least two or three months of normal service before he considers using American again.

Jim Angleton, president of AEGIS FinServ Corp, a credit and debit card issuer, said his firm has found alternatives, including greater use of video conferencing, driving more and even private plane charters.

Angleton doesn’t plan on giving American another chance. “Some of my people have gotten really burned by some of the nonsense going on,” he said. “I can’t afford to allow the problems with the airline to affect my business.”

Next month’s results could look even worse, because American’s problems began to surface in the middle of the month. “Most folks had bought their tickets for travel the rest of the month,” said Jeff Kaufman, analyst with Sterne Agee.

Kaufman and other experts agree that it’s tough to win disgruntled customers back once they find alternatives to what had been their preferred carrier.

“In general terms, we’re talking months rather than weeks (to win back lost customers),” said Philip Baggaley, Standard & Poor’s senior credit analyst for airlines.

American has been hit by a high number of canceled flights and delays that pushed its on-time record below 50%. Management attributed these delays to frivolous maintenance complaints by pilots and an increase in pilots calling in sick.

The Allied Pilots Union, which represents flight crews at the airline, denies that there’s any coordinated effort to impede operations. However, it said the pilots are upset because the airline won bankruptcy court approval to throw out the pilots’ existing labor deal. Pilots held informational pickets on Monday.

The airline also had a high profile problem last week when three flights had problems with passenger seats coming loose during flights, forcing it to ground 47 aircraft for inspections.

American Airlines said its revenue per available seat grew 4% in September, which it said was better than competitors such as United Continental (UAL, Fortune 500), US Airways (LCC, Fortune 500) and Delta Air Lines (DAL, Fortune 500). Virasb Vahidi, chief commercial officer for American, said while there were some lost business bookings due to the delays and cancellations, he believes most of those problems and lost revenue are already in the past.

On-time performance has started to improve since APA and management returned to the negotiating table last week.

“As the situation has gotten better, we’re seeing less of that … impact,” he said.

New Review Posted for Buttonville Inn Bed and Breakfast in MI

October 9th, 2012 by Mariah

The following review was added for Inn #12091:

Inn: Buttonville Inn Bed and Breakfast
Innkeeper(s): Ron and Candy
Inn Email: info@buttonvilleinn.com;
E-mail: Anonymous
Date of Stay: 09/14/12
Overall Rating: 4.5
Comments: Beautiful home. Friendly innkeepers. Conveniently located just steps away from modern hike/bike trail. Back-Forty room was nicely decorated with clean, private bath. No TV in room, but one is available in shared main floor area. Delicious breakfast! Ample parking on site with additional trail parking approx. 500 feet away.

Fall Is In The Air…

September 27th, 2012 by Mariah

(CNN) – A new crispness in the air. The red, orange and yellow of the leaves changing colors. The crunch of the first few leaves on the ground.

On that inevitable march toward winter, there are still a few weeks for the casual and determined leaf peeper alike to enjoy the leaves changing color before they fall.

Never mind that it happens every year. “It’s because it’s fleeting is why it’s new every year,” says Mel Allen, editor of Yankee Magazine. In each of his 33 years at the magazine leaf peeping has been a fall cover story.

First day of autumn: Share your photos with iReport

“It’s fall and the leaves are becoming beautiful; apple orchards; and the hawks are flying overhead. It’s a sensual experience,” he says.

“If you were to talk to someone in New Orleans who had had 33 Mardi Gras, they’d still be excited about it,” says Allen. “This is our party.”

Different shades of red, orange and yellow

While evergreen trees such as pines and spruces have foliage that has evolved to survive extreme temperature changes, deciduous (broad-leaved) trees have evolved to drop their leaves and go dormant for the winter, says Ed Sharron, a science communication specialist with the National Park Service’s Northeast Temperate Network in Vermont.

“It’s such stark contrast,” says Sharron, who’s based at Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont. “There are different shades of green, of course, when you start to get that variation of oranges and reds and purples and greens all together. It’s pretty spectacular.”

Ed Sharron: Why leaves change color

Trees that “have been stressed throughout the year by extensive drought or many other factors, they may decide to pack it in early and go dormant for the winter sooner than during a typical year,” Sharron says. “This could cause their leaves to fall off sooner or be browner than normal. Every year is different and you never can tell how good the foliage season is going to be until it’s here.”

The Northeast’s most popular sites

Who cares if it’s cliché to say that first-time leaf peepers should drive New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway; visit Woodstock or Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont, or head north to Acadia National Park in Maine?

“There’s a reason why they’re so popular, and these are places I try to go to every year,” says Jim Salge, a New Hampshire-based trained meteorologist and high school physics teacher who blogsabout the fall foliage season for Yankee Magazine.

If Salge has an extra day this year, he’ll head to Dixville Notch in far northern New Hampshire, where the leaves are likely to peak by late September. “The mountains are really jagged and have a feel unlike anywhere else in the Northeast.”

Photos: Fantastic fall foliage

Between North and South

Northern and Southern trees meet peacefully at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, a National Park Service area that includes the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“In the Delaware Gap I think we have some of the best fall foliage,” says Kathleen Sandt, a park ranger in the national recreation area. “We are on the border of northern species that usually don’t come down south and the border for some of the trees that grow in the southern region.”

The gap is also home to trees living at different elevations. There are sycamores, elms, maples, poplars on a fertile flood plain along the river. At higher elevations, there are various types of oaks and maples to see as hikers head up toward the mountains.

Tree spotters may be pleased to spot the American larch, a deciduous conifer that isn’t found much farther south. It’s a rare combination of a deciduous tree, which means it loses its leaves each fall; and a conifer, which has needles and cones. In the fall the larch’s needles turn bright yellow and fall, like leaves.

“It grows in wetter areas in the park, and it’s spectacular in the fall,” Sandt says.

Head north to Maine country

Fall is Wanda Moran’s favorite season. The Acadia National Parkranger loves the cold and clear weather that is already coming to the Maine island.

“It smells like fall, the leaves start turning and it gets really pretty,” says Moran, a Mainer by birth. “It’s a beautiful time to be here, and it’s a nice hiking and biking time.”

Prime leaf peeping season varies a lot throughout the state, she says. Trees are likely to change colors in Northern Maine during the last week in September, while central and Western Maine leaves will likely peak the first week in October. The coast usually peaks the week of Columbus Day and the week after, and Acadia will peak the second or third week in October.

Moran’s favorite spot at Acadia: “Beech Mountain is a nice place to climb if you want to get up high. It’s a pretty easy climb and you get beautiful views all together, looking way out into the ocean.”

She also likes Baxter State Park and seeing the leaves on the drive from Ellsworth to Bangor on Route 1A.

Leaf peeping out West

Although New England tends to dominate articles about leaf peeping, it’s rumored that trees in colder parts of the rest of the United States also have leaves that change colors.

As Colorado heads toward ski season, its national parks are starting to burst into fall colors. Rocky Mountain National Park is known for Trail Ridge Road, where aspen trees at lower elevations transform to gold among the evergreens. (Trail Ridge Road is also included in Peak to Peak, a state-designated scenic byway.)

Colorado’s White River National Forest, home to the heavily photographed Maroon Bells and 10 ski areas, is also packed with beautiful leaf peeping areas. It’s also the current home of this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree. Check the impressive evergreens out while they’re still firmly rooted.

Not surprisingly, New Mexico’s five national forests also pack a lot of fall foliage at varying elevations. Carson National Forest is home to Wheeler Peak, which at 13,161 feet is the highest spot in New Mexico. Santa Fe National Forest’s 1.6 million acres includes 13,103-foot-high Truchas Peak, within the Pecos Wilderness.

Don’t stress about “peak foliage”

Many veteran peepers go searching for the perfect “peak foliage” moment in Vermont (or Maine or Massachusetts) when the leaves are the perfect combination of red, brown, orange and yellow, where the red farm house in the distance is perfectly in contrast and the apple cider tastes just crisp enough.

“It’s a mythical term,” Yankee Magazine’s Allen says. “There is no such thing.” Fifteen miles down the road, the leaves may have already fallen and another 15 miles down the road, the leaves may not be ready to fall. “Think it of it as a continuum and make it a journey.”

Five fabulous fall foliage train rides

Where are your favorite places to find fall foliage? Does your family have any other fall traditions to mark the end of summer, the harvest and the start of winter?

Cruise Ship Fails Health Inspection

September 27th, 2012 by Mariah

(CNN) – The cruise line Holland America says it was an “aberration” when inspectors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found multiple sanitation violations, including brown liquid dripping on clean dishes and a fly on the buffet, on the line’s ms Veendam.

Enough violations were cited that the CDC gave the Veendam a failing grade.

“While unacceptable for Holland America Line, the unsatisfactory score is highly unusual and an aberration,” Holland America’s Sally Andrews told CNN.

Inspectors don’t tell cruise lines when they’re going to show up, but they visit twice a year as part of the CDC’s vessel sanitation inspection program. The CDC grades ships on a 100-point scale. An 85 or lower is considered a failing grade. The Veendam received a grade of 77.

“Since 1996, Veendam has received passing scores on 32 inspections,” Andrews said. The Veendam is a 16-year-old ship, originally christened by actress Debbie Reynolds, that carries 1,930 passengers and crew, according to Holland America.

Does traveling increase your chance of illness?

Why cruising is ’safer’ since Concordia

According to the CDC report, during the August 19 surprise visit, inspectors found brown liquid dripping on clean dishes, refrigerators out of order, improper installation of anti-entrapment drain covers in pools posing a possible danger to swimmers, faulty dishwashers that managers allegedly failed to do anything about until inspectors arrived and water from a broken ice machine leaking onto the pool deck. The report did not specify what the brown liquid dripping on dishes was, or where it came from.

“One of the cooks doing active food preparation had a goatee and was not wearing a beard restraint,” a CDC inspector noted.

Later in the same report, “A live large fly was near the buffet. This area was in use during the inspection,” the CDC said.

The Veedam’s failing grade is uncommon in the cruise ship industry, an industry that has tried in recent years to keep on-board environments sanitary after illnesses like the Norwalk virus sickened passengers and caused a public relations nightmare.

CDC’s surprise cruise ship inspection (video)

“Very few ships have received a failing score over the last couple of years,” the CDC’s Jay Dempsey said.

In fact, only five ships since 2007 have failed inspection during the CDC’s bi-annual unannounced inspections. Ships are required to take corrective action after inspectors find violations.

All cruise ships that dock at U.S. ports are inspected by the CDC. Reports are then posted on the CDC’s website.

It’s the second time in as many months that Holland America ships have been targeted by officials.

In August, a room tag from the line’s Maasdam cruise ship and sewage washed ashore in Lynn, Massachusetts, leading town officials to suggest the debris may have come from the ship.

But Holland America now says its investigation suggests the debris didn’t come from their ship.

“A detailed letter outlining specifics related to the individual pieces of trash that washed up was sent to local authorities in mid-August and follow up was done with the Coast Guard as well. In general, the items found are not items carried onboard the ship. As for the luggage tag that was found, that particular color/style had not been used by Holland America Line for a year,” Andrews said.

Passenger Sues Southwest Airlines for Spilling Hot Tea

September 27th, 2012 by Mariah

Washington (CNN) – A Tennessee woman sued Southwest Airlines and a flight attendant Tuesday for $800,000 for serving tea she says severely burned her.

On December 28, 2011, Angelica Keller was seated in the window seat of the front row on Flight 955 between Nashville and Houston with a stop in New Orleans.

She ordered hot tea, and the suit says the flight attendant brought her a cup of “extremely hot water” sitting in another cup which contained the tea bag and condiment packets.

Air Force One aborts landing, second try successful

In the “plaintiffs efforts to extricate the tea bag from its position of being wedged between the tilted paper ‘hot cup’ of extremely hot water and the shorter clear plastic soft drink cup, the extremely hot water spilled into her lap at her groin area,” the suit said.

Keller’s body suffered second degree burns and her skin blistered, peeled and she was permanently scarred, the lawyers said.

“Our Customers’ comfort is our top priority at all times, and we safely serve about 100 million drinks onboard every year,” Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said in a statement. “The referenced event is unfortunate, and we are currently reviewing it. We can’t provide additional details due to the pending lawsuit that was filed.”

Southwest does not have tray tables in the front rows of its aircraft, and Keller’s suit said that contributed to the accident.

It also said the airline served the drink in an unreasonable manner and used “hot water at a temperature too hot for use in an aircraft.”

Mainz was unable to provide the standard temperature of the water on Southwest flights, but said it has never been an issue in the past.

The suit, filed Tuesday, seeks $300,000 for property damages, medical bills, injuries and pain and suffering as well as $500,000 in punitive damages.

Happy Harvest from The Anchorage in Mass

September 24th, 2012 by Mariah

Warm days, cool nights…

Experience fall at the Anchorage!

The beautiful weather has made this a fall to remember!

Upcoming local activites:

  • Pumpkin Patch Event at Seacoast Trolley Museum – September 29-30. Pick your pumpkin with admission to the Trolley Museum!
  • Harvestfest! Live bands, ox roast, kids’ pony rides, crafts – Harvestfest is fun for the whole family!

We hope to see you soon!

Sun’n Surf Harvestfest Special

Happy Harvest! Enjoy our fresh fish’n chips for $17.99!

Sun’n Surf Restaurant Hours

The Sun’n Surf is open 7 days a week – serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

Traveling this fall?

Take advantage of our Stay’ N Dine Package!

Two nights lodging and dinner for two on one night of your stay – starting at $249.95*!

*Some restrictions may apply; not valid holiday weekends. Rates vary based on room location. Rate good 9/4/2012 – 10/13/2012.

Don’t hesitate to call us for more information at (207) 363-5112 or email us at info@anchorageinn.com if you have questions.

We are happy to help!

Anchorage Inn

Kudos for thoughtful fliers with babies

September 13th, 2012 by Mariah

(CNN) — Flying with 14-week-old twin boys — as a passenger or as their parents — might sound like a nightmare. But a couple reportedly went above and beyond what might be considered necessary to receive a good manners travel award.

The following note was attached to a goodie bag of candies and other delights, according to an Internet poster on Reddit on who goes by the handle gigantomachy: “Hello! We’re twin baby boys on our first flight and we’re only 14 weeks old! We’ll try to be on our best behavior, but we’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared or our ears hurt.”

“Our mom and dad (AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer) have ear plugs available if you need them. We are all sitting in 20E and 20F if you want come by to get a pair. We hope you have a great flight!”

The photo, posted two days ago, already generated more than 1.6 million views. The poster gave many karma points to the parents for the kind gesture. “The parents were fantastic, and the kids were better than would be expected,” gigantomachy wrote.

CNN tried to contact gigantomachy via Reddit but had not received a response by the time of publication.

A guerrilla approach to flying with kids

“Mom was super nervous and obviously very tired, but still extremely nice to everyone around her. Not a mean or frustrated word from dad either. Saw them meeting his parents at baggage, who were seeing babies for first time, and got a bit teary.”

True or not, the note and the accompanying goodies are an inspiration to parents about to travel with potentially screaming children.

As a parent who has offered other airline passengers a free drink and carried earplugs for those my child might annoy in flight, I celebrate the parents who go above and beyond to consider the comfort of other passengers.

Parents of infants must pack all sorts of equipment and be ready for the slightest scream. Parents of older children should haul a pantry’s worth of snacks and a toy store of games to keep the kiddos busy.

I’ve been in your shoes. Even if you fail, the effort is appreciated.

Take a kid free vacation

September 13th, 2012 by Mariah

(CNN) — Imagine a lovely trip to the Caribbean, your favorite mountain retreat or even Disneyland without hordes of children around.

Even if you have children you adore, it sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Admit it.

“I go places during the week when the crowds are smaller, I’m not anti-kid or anti-people,” writes Matt Hodgetts, who shared his thoughts on CNN’s Facebook page. “I just find it more enjoyable to be at the zoo/museum/shows when there are less people around.”

Kudos for thoughtful parents of babies on planes

Rick Swartz, another Facebook commenter, says, “Kids are great, just not during a vacation. My own kids are grown and gone. I like a little peace and quiet on vacation.”

Now’s the perfect time for that kid-free trip. Most of the children who would be sharing your view of Yosemite or packing your top three theme park rides have gone back to school.

If you don’t have kids, here’s your chance to enjoy one of the benefits of not having them — the freedom to grab cheaper airfares and hotel rooms. If you have kids, it could still benefit you to take some time to reconnect with your significant other.

That’s because the travel industry enters into a so-called shoulder season after Labor Day, when most travelers head back to school or work and airline seats and hotel rooms remain unfilled. While Las Vegas, New York and Chicago were KAYAK’s top flight search destinations for Labor Day, users who wait to travel to these destinations until the following weekend could save 8% to 10% on airfares, according to a KAYAK spokeswoman. Travel prices pick up again for Thanksgiving weekend and drop again until the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel period.

“You won’t just get peace and quiet, but good weather and low prices,” says Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group. “Everyone in the U.S. still thinks of summer vacation and that’s when you take your vacation. People are sort of resistant to traveling in the fall and winter. They should go. You can’t really lose on any angle.”

10 of America’s best lake vacations

Going where it’s ‘hot’

For people chasing warm weather and beaches, American Express Travel recommends this year’s popular South American destinations of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Patagonia (in the south of both Argentina and Chile); and Cartagena, Colombia (just watch out for rain in October and November).

Ever popular for travelers, Europe tends to go on sale during the fall and winter, and Eastern European destinations such as Montenegro and Croatia are still attracting a lot of interest.

In North America, leaf peepers may enjoy rail tours of the Canadian Rockies before winter hits. And California’s Napa and Sonoma vineyards are offering specials connected to the fall harvest, says American Express Travel.

‘Fun Grandma’ makes trips count

Is it really only for adults?

Some vacation spots are exclusively for the 18-and-older set, while others simply have fewer children present because most children are attending school. That doesn’t mean toddlers, home-schooled children or children with varying school holidays won’t be present. If you want a truly adults-only experience, call your hotel to confirm it’s really for people ages 18 and older.

Within the adults-only category, make sure to do your research to find out what type of “adult” resort you’re booking, says Travelzoo senior editor Gabe Saglie. “On some resorts, ‘adult’ can mean risqué while on others, ‘adult’ can mean upscale, quiet and private.”

12 fascinating Civil War sites

Adults-only resorts

Adults-only resorts can be found around the world. Some resorts are adults-only all the time, while others block out certain child-free times of year. Some allow teens but not younger children.

For people traveling to Mexico who want an all-inclusive experience, Live Aqua Cancun was recently named the No.1 resort in Mexico in Travel + Leisure’s reader-driven World’s Best awards. Visitors can enjoy celebrity chef-inspired dining, elegant spa treatments, the resort’s eight pools and the ocean.

For wine lovers, the adults-only Kenwood Inn and Spa in California’s Sonoma Valley offers a private wine bar and Italian-influenced cuisine of chef Steven Snook, a Gordon Ramsay transplant from New York. Ranked by U.S. News as a top wine country hotel, the Kenwood Inn has 29 guestrooms and suites, each with a private entrance (but no television).

In New York, within an easy drive of Hudson Valley museums and 1½ hours from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, the intimate Glenmere Mansion has just 18 rooms and suites for its guests, some of whom arrive from Manhattan via helicopter. The hotel, which was once a private retreat for the wealthy, offers adults a break from the rigors of city life. Even its two fine dining restaurants, which are open to the public, do not allow anyone under 18 years of age.

Adults-only cruising

While some mainstream cruise lines do have adults-only sections, those areas do need to be enforced by ship personnel and would-be cruisers should check to see if passengers report any trouble with “adult” areas being overrun by children.

If you prefer that question never be raised, Travelzoo’s Gabe Saglie recommends checking out truly child-free cruises, including those operated by Carnival UK’s P&O Cruises. (Make sure to choose an “Exclusively for adults” trip rather than a “Family friendly” trip.)

“British-owned P&O Cruises has a fleet of seven ships, three of which are exclusively for adults and offer a smaller-scale, more intimate cruising experience,” he says, “Though not readily marketed in the U.S., they feature several exotic itineraries.”

Making more room at Disney

It’s unlikely that any visit to a Disney theme park will be child-free. Some parents take their children out of school for that visit to Mickey Mouse’s empire, hoping for a more affordable and less-crowded experience. Still, there will be fewer when school is in session.

Sheryl, a grown-up from San Jose who visits Disneyland about six times per year, advises thinking about what you want from the experience. She and her partner are annual passholders who never visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day or on a holiday weekend. Their passes allow them to book trips up to three months in advance. (Sheryl, who is a child psychologist, didn’t want to give her last name and be misconstrued as anti-child.)

“For me it helps to enjoy the experience when I have reasonable expectations,” she says. “I had very different desires and expectations when we went to Disneyland for our honeymoon than when we had a family reunion during spring break. Our honeymoon was during an off-season and our experience was more adult focused.

“Our family reunion had to occur during a school holiday for the children in our lives,” she says. “I went in knowing there were going to be crowds and families, the occasional meltdown and need for children-appropriate negotiation. Both holidays were fantastic and very different.”

Amelia Earhart – The evidence we almost lost

September 13th, 2012 by Mariah

Famous aviator Amelia Earhart seemed to vanish from the sky 75 years ago, but she never disappeared from the American psyche.

Now, the man responsible for leading a 24-year charge to solve one of America’s greatest mysteries explains how an image that might finally crack the case was almost lost forever.

75 years later, the mystery of Amelia Earhart solved?

The search is on

CNN reported Sunday that a 1937 photo may be key in finding, with certainty, the final resting place of Earhart as well as her navigator Fred Noonan, and their Lockheed Electra plane – which all disappeared famously during a doomed attempt at an around-the-world flight in 1937.

New underwater images taken during an expedition by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery to Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific last month show a debris field that may contain wreckage of the Lockheed Electra. But the debris field might never have been uncovered without a photo taken just months after Earhart disappeared that TIGHAR researcher’s now believe show the upside-down landing gear of a plane protruding from the ocean.

But the 1937 image has a story all its own. And the latest breaks in the investigation were almost as elusive as the mystery of Earhart itself.

“It’s funny, when I was growing up and somebody asked me what do you want to be when you grow up, I didn’t say I wanted be the world’s greatest expert on Amelia Earhart,” Richard Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told CNN by phone from the organization’s Delaware headquarters on Monday.

Gillespie, in fact, was somewhat reluctant to take on the case. But as an aviator and investigator the clues eventually began to persuade him.

“It’s kind of an interesting and somewhat convoluted story,” Gillespie said. “In the very early days of the project in the ’80s – ‘88, ‘89 – we became aware that the first expedition after she disappeared was a British expedition,” Gillespie said.

That expedition was conducted by two British Colonial Service Officers, he said.

At that point TIGHAR hadn’t yet the developed a theory of what happened to Earhart and Noonan, but they believed the pair had somehow landed on a hot and inhospitable South Pacific island called Nikumaroro, then-called Gardener Island and had decided to investigate.

Gillespie shared TIGHAR’s early attempts at solving the Earhart mystery with a magazine, which ran an article on the topic. The response to the story was one he never expected: One of the original investigators surfaced.

Eric Bevington, one of the officers who first set out to find her in 1937, wrote a letter to the magazine’s editor more than 50 years after the first search for Earhart. He still was alive, living in the South of England, and said he had saved his old documents from the inaugural expedition.

Gillespie and his wife, TIGHAR President Pat Thrasher, decided to visit Bevington in England. In January the couple found themselves in his home, looking at evidence gathered on Gardener’s Island, only three months after Earhart went missing.

“We went over and spent a couple of days and he had a journal he kept on that trip,” Gillespie said. “And he had a photo album.”

Together the group pored over the pages of the album. There were two or three dozen wallet-sized images filled with notation, Gillespie said. Thrasher, also TIGHAR’s photographer, documented the experience taking photos of her own and making copies of the original images.

The big break that almost wasn’t

Gillespie became particularly interested in one of the Bevington photos that showed an image of another wreck on Gardner Island. In 1929, British steamer ship, the S.S. Norwich City, collided with a reef on Gardner, and Gillespie began to suspect Earhart and Noonan might have used the wreckage for shelter.

He was so interested that he blew up an image that had captured it on the right side, and cropped out the left side of the photo entirely.

“For the next 21 years every time I pulled out that book of photos I looked at that photo and I was only looking at the right-hand side. I had cropped out the left and I forgot I had cropped it,” Gillespie said.

In February of 2010, TIGHAR was preparing for an expedition to Gardner’s Island, when the group’s forensic imaging specialist, Jeff Glickman, asked to examine all of the negatives from Gillespie and Thrasher’s 1992 trip to England.

Gillespie said Glickman called him up one day and asked about the Bevington photo: “What’s that thing sticking out the left side of the frame?”

After all those years, Gillespie didn’t remember a left side of the frame existed. A discussion ensued and finally Glickman scanned the original and sent it to Gillespie.

“And it’s plain as the nose on your face,” Gillespie said.

An image of a something protruding from the reef. Something TIGHAR now believes is the wreckage of the Lockheed Electra.

Finding proof

By 2010 TIGHAR had gathered a small mountain of circumstantial evidence to develop a theory about what really happened to Earhart 75 years ago. Enough evidence, Gillespie says, to convince him in his heart that they are on the right track. But not enough he said to produce a “smoking gun.”

In the endless search of historical documents, Gillespie said the group uncovered records that showed a British man named Gerald Gallagher found human bones, a piece of a man’s shoe, a piece of woman’s shoe and a box for a sextant, which is a navigational device, on Gardner Island in 1940. Suspecting it was Earhart, Gillespie said the remains were examined by a British colonial service doctor named David Hoodless who dispelled the theory saying the bones belonged to a stocky male, and the sextant was a mariner’s sextant, not aeronautical.

Gillespie, however, says he found the archived documents of the bones in 1997 in the Republic of Kiribati. Upon more modern analysis, he says the bones found belonged to a white female who stood about 5 foot 7 inches, just like Earhart. The mariner’s sextant he said was well-known to be used as a backup by Noonan.

TIGHAR keeps copies of all of its documents online. The bones, he says, have never been recovered.

Gillespie said TIGHAR also interviewed a woman named Emily Sikuli in 1999 who who now lives in Fiji. Sikuli, he said, claims that she lived on Gardner’s in the 1940s when her father was working there for the British government attempting to colonize the island. Gillespie said she pointed them to the same spot as the protrusion in the Bevington photo and recalls seeing plane wreckage.

Though Gillespie said the story mirrors TIGHAR’s findings, it is hardly proof.

TIGHAR has made nine expeditions to Nikumaroro and found a smattering of circumstantial evidence. The documents, an American-made zipper from before 1937, a handful of jars believed to be from American-made cosmetics in the 1930s.

And now, analysis of a high-def underwater camera of a debris field where the Bevington photo showed potential wreckage in 1937 may have found a fender, a wheel and portions of the strut of an airplane in the depths of the South Pacific.

If the evidence keeps mounting, Gillespie said the next step will be to try and recover the pieces.

“A lot of our researchers have everyday lives that aren’t nearly as much fun as this detective work,” Gillespie said. “and I think we are teaching some important lessons about methodology and how you go about finding what’s true.”

Gas prices jump back up in Hurricane Isaacs wake

September 13th, 2012 by Mariah

(CNN)–Gas prices have jumped nearly 8 cents a gallon over the past two weeks, and are approaching the high for the year, according to a survey published Sunday.

The average price of regular is now $3.84 a gallon, just 13 cents below the peak that was reached this year in April, the Lundberg Survey found.

“It’s due mostly, but not entirely, to storm-related refinery shutdowns,” said publisher Trilby Lundberg.

Hurricane Isaac and the resulting power outages caused refineries to close, particularly in the Gulf region.

About a penny in the price jump is the result of a slight rise in crude oil prices, Lundberg said.

If crude oil prices remain stable, “then we will probably not see another rise in the next couple of weeks,” Lundberg said.

Some U.S. refineries will be entering planned maintenance periods, but some refineries that shut down for the storm are re-opening, she said.

Also, U.S. demand generally drops in September.

The Lundberg Survey tabulates prices at thousands of gas stations nationwide. The latest survey was taken Friday.

The city with the highest average price in the latest survey was Chicago, at $4.30.

The lowest was in El Paso, at $3.44.

Here are average prices in some other cities:

Boston: $3.83

Long Island: $4.03

Atlanta: $3.91

Cleveland: $3.78

Houston: $3.65

Tulsa: $3.70

Seattle: $4.06

San Francisco: $4.19

Ask For The Sale To Increase Bookings By 440%

August 1st, 2012 by Mariah

The study which is entitled “The Factors That Lead to More Reservations: A Statistical Analysis of Scored Phone Calls and Bookings,” is a collaborative effort between ContactPoint LLC and Dr. Kyle Wells, PHD, MBA, of the Udvar-Hazy School of Business at Dixie State College.

ContactPoint and Dr. Wells analyzed 4400 recorded actual phone calls from 30 hotels in 14 states. The population included hotels from market segments including economy through upscale. The calls analyzed were not “staged” mystery shopping calls, but rather real calls from real hotel prospects recorded using ContactPoint’s LogMyCalls call tracking and monitoring tool. The researcher’s objective was to find out what specific actions, words, and tactics increased the likelihood of the caller committing to a reservation.

As a hotel sales trainer, what stands out the most for me is that the simple act of offering to secure the reservation made the caller 4.4 times more likely to book the reservation. Put another way, that means the hotel or call center has a 440% greater chance to get the sale if the agent just asks. Yet the study also found that hotel Guest Services Agents (GSR’s) in the study only asked for the sale 52% of the time; call centers ask even less frequently at just 42%. With a sales tactic as important as this, it makes one wonder why this is not used 100% of the time.

The results also found another huge area of opportunity, which is to train the staff to overcome resistance to booking. The study found that in 610 of the 4400 calls analyzed, the potential guest exhibited some resistance to reserving a room. This resistance ranged from the price being too high, to the property not being centrally located, to the potential guest just calling for “information.” Regardless of the reason for the caller’s resistance, the findings show that persistence pays off more than any other single thing a GSR or reservations agent could do. When agents refuse to give up and instead use any number of methods, such as reiterating the value, creating urgency, or removing barriers to booking now, callers who initially resist are 12.6 times more likely to book the room.

It goes without saying that simply asking for the sale and overcoming resistance alone will not alone increase call conversation rates, and the study confirmed the influence of other factors as well. As a trainer I’ve often said that closing the sale starts with the opening greeting and a positive first impression. The study seems to support this philosophy.

The results revealed advantages to using other sales basics, such as using the caller’s name, which made it 2.5 times more likely that the caller would want to secure the reservation. The findings also suggested that rather than simply reading a list of features, using vivid adjectives when describing the rooms, the grounds, the views, and the room attributes, results in the caller being 1.6 times more likely to book the room.

Taken collectively, if all of these sales essentials are used consistently by all GSR’s or reservations agents, the potential impact on call conversion can be very significant.

Even if your hotel, resort, vacation rental, or call center is not within the demographics of the survey’s mainstream population, the results seem to prove a direct correlation between the use of basic sales tactics and increased call capture rates.

It is a great reminder of the importance of training and coaching every associate who is staffing “The Storefront Window” of your hotel or resort. Take a moment to calculate the potential ROI on even a small increase in call conversion.

First calculate the potential value of every transient phone call you receive:

- Transient average rate x transient average stay.

- Add “Average revenue per guest” if you are a full service hotel or resort with numerous revenue generating outlets. (i.e. Spa, golf, F&B, gaming, retail.)

Then take that potential revenue per booking and calculate the potential revenue if every GSR or reservations agent got just one more sale per shift. Although the resulting number should be enough to catch the attention of the executive management team, this study now shows that the ROI could be significantly more than one more booking per day.

Here are some training tips for your next in-house meeting:

- Always ask for the caller’s name and use it conversationally throughout the call.

- Determine whether the caller has stayed previously, and if they haven’t then paint a picture of the hotel experience using vivid language, rather than listing available features.

- Remind your staff that closing the sale benefits everyone, including the caller as it ensures availability and locks-in the rate.

- When caller’s resist an initial attempt to secure the sale, ask questions such as “Is there something special you’re looking for that I’ve not mentioned?” to find out if the caller has a “product” or price objection.

- For “product” objections, offer alternatives and reiterate benefits of what you “do” have and what “is” available.

- For price objections, reiterate value. If low to moderate demand, offer lower-rated room options or specials.

- Create urgency and remove barriers to booking right now and ask for the sale again.

By training your GSRs and Reservations Agents to use sales techniques such as these, your hotel will not only convert more inquiry calls into bookings, and along the way provide a positive first impression of your hotel’s overall levels of guest service excellence.

Note: To download a free copy of the study for your hotel, management company, or call center, just click on the following link: http://logmycalls.com/hotel-study

Doug Kennedy

July, 2012

Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades.

Visit KTN at: www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com

The Rising Mobile Tide Five Trends for 2012-2013

August 1st, 2012 by Mariah

One thing is certain: the mobile channel is here to stay. The research – from a number of different sources – backs this up. IDC predicts that by 2015 smartphone sales will reach 982 million and according to Morgan Stanley, by 2014, mobile web users will surpass ‘traditional’ desktop Internet users. Travel firms, it seems are taking this seriously too; a recent Airline IT Trends survey finds that nine out of ten airlines are planning to sell tickets via mobile by 2015.

Unsurprisingly emerging trends and opportunities in mobile will be a central theme at EyeforTravel’s fast-approaching Travel Distribution Summit, North America which takes place in Las Vegas from September 13–14.So what are the emerging trends and opportunities? EyeforTravel.com goes in search of answers and identifies five central themes for mobile.

1. Smartphones are here to stay; not just for the last minute!

For online hotel booking firm, HotelTonight, the single biggest trend to emerge in 2012 will be the continued penetration of smartphones and the resulting shift of everyday activities from PC-based websites to the device in the customers’ pocket. “We believe the smartphone will become the new laptop and the resulting opportunities and challenges for businesses will be extreme,” says Jared Simon chief operating officer of HotelTonight.com. So which platforms is HotelTonight focusing its energy: on iOS and Android, of course although Simon says “we are always ready to move on a dime to take advantage of trends in this fast-paced mobile environment”.

Chris Blakely, vice-president of client services at comScore seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet. For him the biggest trend for 2012 is: “Continued growth of smartphone ownership in general, and the use of Android and iOS platforms in particular which are the core “rising tide that lifts all boats”.

For many firms, says Max Starkov president and chief executive of HebsDigital, the mobile channel is already a real travel planning and hotel distribution channel and this is especially true for so-called ‘drive-in and last-minute travel markets’. But going forward, even that may be changing. Priceline.com vice-president for corporate strategy, Todd Henrich, says that all the research points to the fact that consumers are becoming more mobile and before long they will be booking travel via mobile too – and this, he says, “this won’t necessarily just be the case for last-minute bookings”.

2. M-Commerce is ramping up but it is still the Wild West

It may still be a minority of smartphone users who are using their phones to transact, pay bills, shop and interact but this is changing as consumers become increasingly comfortable using their phone for commerce. This trend will only continue. In fact during May, online travel agency, Orbitz, reported that 6 million people used a mobile device to shop for travel, more than doubling numbers on the previous year. During the first quarter of the year, more than 9% of Orbitz hotel bookings were made via mobile devices.

Comscore, for one, is seeing big across-the-board growth in categories involving mobile transactions. “Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using their phone for commerce and this is a trend that will only continue,” says Blakely.

But when it comes to what technology will win the day in mobile commerce this is still very much the Wild West.

Any technology that makes commerce even easier on mobile devices is going to gain huge traction. I’m looking forward to the day that I no longer have to carry a wallet, and I think that day isn’t too far off. NFC isn’t the only means of getting there, but it certainly looks like a promising one,” says Simon.

Blakely, however, is not so convinced. Today, he argues, NFC-enabled handsets are owned by a very small number of consumers and there continues to be lots of jockeying among credit card companies, mobile operators and others for a piece of the ‘payment pie’. “That said we’re seeing a rise in the use of phones for making online payments via existing services like PayPal and a host of startups offering point-of-sale solutions for payment and loyalty tracking such as Square and Level Up,” says Blakely.

3. The merging of social, local and mobile is “not just a flickering hope”

There is continued growth in social, local and mobile and while this is great news for travellers, the providers of travel should not forget that it presents several opportunities. “It’s never been easier for people on the go to navigate a strange city and discover places, find merchants or a great meal while travelling,” says Blakely.

Firms like HotelTonight and Uber, that have embraced mobile as an entirely new medium with completely different user dynamics and use cases are not just a flickering ‘hope’ right now, they are “hot and will continue to gain momentum,” says Simon.

He also believes that pure social players will need to adapt their offerings to the increasing utility function of smartphones or risk becoming “afterthoughts”. Foursquare is one firm that understood this changing dynamic: it has has morphed from a location check-in service to one that provides full-featured local discovery and recommendations and opportunities for sales too.

While calling Facebook ‘hype’ might be a step too far, in recent months the firm has certainly been grappling with how it monetises use of its ‘service’ on a mobile phone – this is something it will be thinking about very seriously.

4. Discounting in the mobile channel is a mistake

“The most common mistake made by hoteliers today is discounting in the mobile channel,” HebsDigital’s Starkov. He cannot stress this strongly enough. And so what are his top tips:

  • Avoid the temptation to discount! Don’t discount via mobile discounters, OTAs and Flash Sales Sites.
  • Invest in your mobile website and mobile marketing to boost last-minute reservations.
  • Market your true best available rates last-minute.
  • Maintain rate parity and brand integrity at all times.

5. Crystal ball gazing…think geography, TV, marketing and tablets

“Services that take into account geographic, usage and other contexts to know what users want before they actually do are not too far off in mobile,” says HotelTonight’s Simon.

For Blakely the thing to be watching closely is multi-screen services that allow you to seamlessly move from phone to tablet to computer to TV and back again, providing cloud-based syncing of content, experiences and shopping carts.

According to Google, 7% of all searches already come from tablets versus 14% from mobile and 79% from desktop. But watch out for rapid growth in this channel too; while most tablet usage is currently occurring in the home, it is fast becoming a go-to device for road warriors. Whatever your view today on tablets, Starkov president says 2013 will be the year this channel really takes off.

If anything says Starkov, travel marketers should be budgeting more for mobile “Marketers should be spending at least 15% of their overall digital marketing budgets on mobile marketing initiatives,” he says. This includes a bigger focus on optimisation, upgrades to the mobile website, mobile SEO, mobile display advertising and text marketing initiatives – to name but a few. So put those on the list for the coming year.

If you are in any doubt that mobile is going to be centre stage for the foreseeable future, please take a bow and leave now.

By: Hotel News Resource

 

Flying chefs serve up fine dining in sky

August 1st, 2012 by Mariah

(CNN)-Gourmet cuisine has long been a staple of business class and first-class menus. But a number of airlines are taking the in-flight meal to new heights by bringing chefs on board to serve up a fine dining experience in the sky — scooping up culinary awards in the process.

Etihad Airways has gone as far as to poach expert cooks from a number renowned Michelin-starred restaurants since launching its “Flying Chef” service on long haul flights late last year.

The concept has thus far proved a recipe for success, with the Abu Dhabi based airline winning the award for best first-class catering at the 2012 Skytrax World Airline Awards earlier this month.

But given the cramped kitchen conditions of the airplane galley and the complexities of cooking at altitude, is it really possible to rustle up meals worthy of the masterchefs whilst cruising at 35,000 feet?

According to Werner Kimmeringer, head of guest experience and catering at Etihad Airways, unequivocally, yes.

“We introduced chefs in our first class cabin so we could offer a five-star restaurant style of service,” says Kimmeringer.

“Our first-class guests receive unparalleled attention and choice — for example, the opportunity of having their personal chef tailor-make dishes based on their individual tastes and preferences,” he adds.

Kimmeringer highlights the “balik style smoked salmon” and “pan-seared scallops with a parmesan cheese sauce” as particular examples of the gastronomic complexity of the Etihad first-class menu.

“The chef can talk (to) and recommend food directly to our guests and make suggestions of what they might like on the menu,” says Kimmeringer.

“He is able to personally adjust seasonings and recommend menu and beverage choices to each guest. They can also make changes to existing menu items … changing sauces or taking out particular ingredients.”

Some industry experts, however, are less effusive about the possibilities of in-flight chef operations

According to Gottfried Menge, group director of culinary excellence at Gate Gourmet, an independent provider of airline catering services, there are a number of factors that restrict the cuisine chefs can produce whilst airborne.

“Because of the (safety) limitations on the aircraft there are no items like a frying pan where a chef is cooking and tossing things up in a different way,” says Menge.

Knives and other sharp implements are also not permitted aboard airplanes, tying chefs’ hands yet further. As a result, most food is still prepared on the ground before being reheated en-masse in a steam pressure oven whilst in the air, Menge explains.

The chef can then alter the ingredients slightly or add extra dressings to meet the individual tastes of passengers. On the whole, however, meals are prepared in much the same way as they always have been, he adds.

Menge says there are inherent challenges when it comes to preparing food at altitude.

“The cabin pressure of being at 35,000 feet in the air means you lose about 10% of your taste buds,” he says. “Therefore the food always has to be stronger or there will have to be a little bit more seasoning, which obviously alters the taste.”

But Michael Braun of Austrian Airlines – one of the first organizations to introduce a chef service aboard its flights — is adamant that on-board chefs can bring benefits.

He says that they can help deliver a superior level of customer service, strengthening the carrier’s brand image and differentiating them from competitors flying similar routes.

“We do our best to make a flight with Austrian a high-level experience, which is why we have one chef on board of every single long-haul flight,” says Braun.

“The menus are … refined á la minute by a chef who will pamper the palates of our guests on board. (This) service is highly valued by our customers,” he adds.

In spite of the many complexities of aerial cooking, Menge agrees with Braun that on-board chefs can still add value to the in-flight customer experience.

“It’s much more interactive if the chef can come out and say hello to the passengers rather than the crew just handing out menus and then food,” he says.

“I think it makes a big difference if a chef with passion is on board to explain the food to customers, for the visual appeal it will also look much nicer.

“This can really help the airline company go the extra mile in presentation and service,” he concludes.

 

Needle found in Air Canada flight

August 1st, 2012 by Mariah

(CNN)-A passenger on an Air Canada flight found a sewing needle in a catered sandwich during a flight Monday, the airline said.

Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, said Tuesday that the airline is “working closely” with its caterer, which he didn’t name, to “ensure heightened security measures have been put in place.”

The police are investigating the incident, which occurred on a flight from Victoria, British Columbia, to Toronto.

“Safety is always our top priority so we are taking this matter very seriously,” Fitzpatrick said, adding that it appeared to be an isolated incident.

The FBI and Dutch authorities are also investigating reports of needles found in six sandwiches on Delta flights from Amsterdam to the United States two weeks ago.

Gate Gourmet, a 20-year-old company that provided prepared sandwiches to Delta, said the sandwiches originated at the firm’s facility in Amsterdam.

The company said it is one of the caterers that serve Air Canada but not the airline’s provider out of Victoria — from where the flight took off.

“We are cooperating fully with Air Canada and have complied with our customer’s request to its caterers to heighten food safety procedures, including inspection and screening of all products boarded on flights,” said Gate Gourmet spokeswoman Christina Ulosevich. “We are working closely to support our customer, including cooperating with the authorities investigating the incident.”

 

Small U.S. Farms Find Profit in Tourism

July 18th, 2012 by Mariah

 

SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — For all the talk about sustainable agriculture, most small farms are not self-sustaining in a very basic sense: they can’t make ends meet financially without relying on income from jobs off the farm.

But increasingly farmers are eking more money out of the land in ways beyond the traditional route of planting crops and raising livestock. Some have opened bed-and-breakfasts, often known as farm stays, that draw guests eager to get a taste of rural living. Others operate corn mazes — now jazzed up with modern fillips like maps on cellphones — that often turn into seasonal amusements, with rope courses and zip lines. Ranchers open their land to hunters or bring in guests to ride horses, dude ranch style.

Known as agritourism, such activities are becoming an important economic boost for many farmers.

Early each morning, Jim Maguire milks the sheep and goats and feeds the pigs on his small dairy farm here before heading off to his day job as a public defender in San Luis Obispo County. His wife, Christine, makes cheese and tends the animals.

But in recent years, Ms. Maguire has added some new chores: changing linens and serving food to the guests who stay at Rinconada Dairy’s two bed-and-breakfast units, one in a private wing of the farmhouse and the other in a remodeled corner of a barn. Money from the paying guests is now enough to pay for the animals’ feed, one of the farm’s biggest expenditures.

“The whole idea is to get the farm in a productive state so that it carries itself, so that it pays its own way,” Mr. Maguire said early on a recent morning as he watched sheep file onto the raised stainless steel platform of an automatic milking machine. “The farm stay is an important economic portion of that.”

The United States Department of Agriculture predicts that this year the average farm household will get only about 13 percent of its income from farm sources. Agritourism is appealing because it increases the family’s income from the farm, potentially reducing the need for off-farm jobs.

The U.S.D.A.’s census of agriculture, which is conducted every five years, estimated that 23,000 farms offered agritourism activities in 2007, bringing in an average of $24,300 each in additional income. The number of farms taking part fell from the previous census, in 2002, but at that time the average agritourism income per farm was just $7,200.

California, the nation’s largest farm state, was among the leaders in agritourism, according to the census, with nearly 700 farms averaging more than $50,000 in agritourism income.

The agritourism movement is fueled by city dwellers who want to understand where their food comes from or who feel an urge to embrace the country life.

Scottie Jones, who raises sheep and runs a farm stay in Alsea, Ore., received $42,000 in U.S.D.A. grants to start a Web site, Farm Stay U.S., which maintains a listing of farm stays around the country. The site began last June and now includes more than 900 farms and ranches, with about 20 listings added each month.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms acts as an online clearinghouse for people who want to trade labor for lodging on a farm, with stays ranging from days to months. Ryan Goldsmith, who manages the group’s branch in the United States, said that interest had grown strongly. Currently more than 11,600 people are registered as members of the American branch, with access to a database of about 1,300 farms, in all 50 states.

Even the corn maze, a staple of rural tourism for decades, is becoming more popular.

Brett Herbst, the owner of The Maize, a Utah company that designs and creates corn mazes, estimated there were more than 1,000 mazes around the country each year, from simple versions to complex behemoths that include games for visitors, with clues delivered by text message. His company expects to build about 220 mazes in the United States this year, about 20 more than last year. Ten years ago he created about 130 mazes.

“It’s virtually impossible to make a living just off traditional farming on a small farm,” said Mr. Herbst. “This really provides an opportunity to keep the land, keep a family farm existent, even amongst urbanization, and allows someone to depend less on an outside job for their income.”

Still, there are hurdles. For example, many farmers complained about insurance costs, which rise with the number of farm visitors.

For years, Christine Cole has charged for tours of her farm, in Sebastopol, Calif., where she keeps horses, raises vegetables and chickens and has three farm stay units.

At the end of April, her insurance carrier dropped her, although she said she had made no major claims. She began looking for new insurance, she said, but was repeatedly turned down. She said insurers seemed unwilling to cover the broad range of activities on her farm. Finally, she found a policy that cost her almost $9,000 a year, about triple the cost of her previous coverage.

“That is more than 10 percent of my income,” Ms. Cole said. “I broke down and cried.”

Some states have acted to make it easier for farmers. Next month, a new law will go into effect in Indiana to limit the liability of farmers when someone is injured on their property while participating in agritourism activities.

Although many farmers said they enjoyed the city-country interaction at the heart of agritourism, it takes a particular type to pull it off.

“If you’re not a people person, forget it,” said Vince Gizdich, who runs Gizdich Ranch, in Watsonville, which includes a “Pik-Yor-Self” operation with berries and apples. The ranch also has a farm stand and a pie shop. As Mr. Gizdich talked with a reporter on a recent afternoon, he was interrupted repeatedly by people popping into the shop or customers calling to ask when his boysenberries and olallieberries would be ripe.

Bonnie Swank, of Hollister, Calif., runs a corn maze and haunted house each fall on land that grows vegetables the rest of the year. At a recent agritourism workshop for farmers sponsored by the university extension service, she explained the extensive planning that goes into the annual six-week extravaganza, which can draw up to 30,000 people and brings in about a quarter of the farm’s annual revenue.

“People look at what we’re doing and they say, ‘We could do that and make a lot of money,’” she said. “It’s not that easy.”

Kim A. Rogers understands the hard work. For seven years, she and her husband ran a farm and orchard in Templeton, Calif., along with a busy bed and breakfast.

Finally she had an epiphany: farming was exhausting work and the bed-and-breakfast was providing an increasing portion of their income. So last year she and her husband pulled up their 700 fruit trees and became full-time innkeepers, with a cottage and a bungalow that rent for $150 to $285 a night.

They still have a few sheep, hens and a large vegetable garden — enough to maintain the farm feel.

“A lot of people just want that rural farm experience,” she said.