Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Travel Reviews Make Vacations Better For All

Some of you that are reading this may have just come back from a vacation and want to share your experiences about the places you visited. I certainly hope that most of the experiences were great, but there are always a few dreadful ones here and there. Over the years, I have personally read thousands of reviews on everything from toothbrushes to hotels. It's important that consumers leave reviews because it makes the buying experience better for others and helps good companies grow. However, I have increasingly noticed that reviews have gotten lazy. It's becoming rare to find reviews that are helpful to travelers even though they have good intentions. I would like to take a moment to explain how to make a helpful review.

1) Briefly explain why you bought and who was involved.

Bad Example: This was a great hotel! All of us had a great time.

Good Example: We booked this hotel for a family vacation and enjoyed our experience. Our family consisted of 2 teenagers (14 & 16) and 2 adults in their mid 40's.

2) Explain what and why you purchased. Be somewhat specific as a broad review is not helpful.

Bad Example: We booked the TripShock Suites and we loved it. There was nothing bad to say about it.

Good Example: The reason we selected the TripShock Suites is because of it's large lazy river and proximity to the harbor. We decided to go with the two bedroom condo because we wanted the privacy and full kitchens it offers. It was a great selection for our family.

3) Although some reviews can be novels, discuss two pros and two cons of the purchase. 

Bad Example: We hated the front desk, they were very rude. However,we enjoyed the pool and the easy walk to the beach. 

Good Example: The stay started off a little concerning as our room was not ready until 6pm. The front desk told us that they were short on housekeepers. We also experienced very slow service at the restaurant downstairs and decided not to eat there after our first time. We did however find the hotel concierge very helpful and put together some exciting tours for us. The property also is very clean and the furnishings are modern and classy.

4) Offer constructive criticism and recommendations for the property and other guests.

Bad Example: All the hotel staff needs to be fired. I would never stay here again and will tell everyone never to go.

Good Example: If we stayed again, we would suggest to the hotel to improve their staffing situation and make sure there is enough housekeepers and servers. It was an inconvenience for us to check-in late after driving all day. Also, considering the high cost of the meals at the hotel, we shouldn't have waited over an hour to get our meals. We recommend to call the hotel on the day of arrival just to make sure the room is ready because if it isn't, then you can hit up some of the attractions nearby while waiting. 

5) Close out the review with your overall feelings

Bad Example: Stay away, this was the worst place you'll ever go to.

Good Example: Overall, we enjoyed our stay and will make a trip back again. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why is Destin's Crab Island So Popular?

Over the past decade, most tourists would make a pit stop to crab island to hang out on the sandbar and enjoy the views. It wasn't much more than a safe place to anchor the boat and socialize with the various people hanging out at the island. As each year passed, the scene at Crab Island has slowly turned into an attraction of it's own kind. A mixture of family fun and adult entertainment (the non-pornographic kind) has overrun this sleepy little spot, which has some people excited and others upset. Regardless of what type of atmosphere you prefer at Crab Island, there isn't much that can be done to stop the growth of this party spot.

So what makes Crab Island so Popular? The answer is not one sided as there are several factors that come into play. The main reason people go to Crab Island is because it's a social scene. Tourists and locals get to enjoy each other's company over food and drinks. There are volleyball nets setup and even a floating stage with live music nearly every day in the Summer. Floating restaurants and watersport companies have made themselves a home at Crab Island with providing more family entertainment with slides and ice cream. Kids enjoy the shallow water and play games while mom and dad float around the island. The scene can be hectic at times on a busy Summer day, but sometimes more people make it an interesting experience.

If you're looking to make Crab Island part of your next Destin vacation, take a few of these tips provided by MyCrabIsland.com

1) Crab Island is more adult orientated after 1pm. We recommend families visit in the morning.
2) Leave early to find a good spot to anchor your boat.
3) Make sure to use the restroom prior to departing to Crab Island. There are no restrooms available at the site.
4) Lock up your personal items when your boat is unattended.
5) If you are not an experienced boater, it's sometimes best to have some of your people get out in the water and guide the boat into a spot rather than trying to drive through Crab Island.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Record Summer on The Gulf Coast - Sun, Sand & Happy Travelers

The Summer season is nearly half over and there are very little complaints about how great of a season it's been (Other than the traffic). The weather has been favorable with only a few days of rain days making this outdoor destination very favorable for travelers. If you have traveled to the area last year, you may have noticed the significant rainfall the Gulf Coast had that made for a very tough vacation for some. With more than 80% of our activities based outdoors, the area loses it's appeal when the fishing charters and waterparks are closed down most of the week.

Because the Summer has been so busy, travelers are noticing that booking tours and other activities last minute is difficult. Even some of the most flexible tours are being booked up several days in advance. Even more, the hotels are completely sold out entirely for the month with occupancy percentages near 100%! We are definitely not saying to avoid the Gulf Coast because it's so busy, we are just making sure that there is some advanced planning going on. Here are a few tips we recommend to make sure your vacation is a win during these busy times.

1) We know you hate waking up early on vacation, but as they say, the early bird gets the worm! Most tour companies will have last minute availability and maybe even a discount if you take early tours. Sometimes, it's not bad to take an early trip because the weather is nice!

2) Book your hotel Sun-Thur for the best chance of getting a room. If you only can travel weekends, I would call the hotels directly and keep checking if they have cancellations. If you are put on a waiting list, they will probably NOT call you back because they are so busy. Just keep calling and you should get a room!

3) The traffic is really bad here right now due to the influx in tourism. Make sure to plan your routes carefully and show up extra early for your tours so you don't miss them.

4)  Confirm your reservations with the hotel or tour company because with it being so busy, people make mistakes and you don't want to be on the short end of the stick. Have an itinerary planned out just to make sure you are on time and have the right tickets and contact info.

Lastly, have some patience during this busy time. With the influx of phone calls and customers these businesses are getting, they are very busy and may need some more time to assist you. Vacations are supposed to be a relaxing time so kick back, enjoy and think a little less. Enjoy your time on the Gulf Coast!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Check Out The Latest Water Attractions in Destin, FL!

2014 seems to be the year of thrill rides here in Destin. We have introduced two new boats here on the Harbor that offer a fast paced, wave ripping, arm throwing good time!

The Screaming Eagle is an American themed boat with a beautiful wrap of old faithful. The trip will take you through the East Pass while the captain and first mate offer the recollections of the history of Destin. Once you hit the East Pass, get ready to hit some waves with speeds over 45 MPH! This trip is great for families with the exception of young children (under 3) and pregnant women. Book the Screaming Eagle Online on TripShock today. 

The Hydrojet (AKA The World's Largest Jet Ski) is a 24 passenger vessel that sits customers like they are actually riding a jet ski. There is no boat quite like this so get ready for a most unique experience. Exceed speeds over 40 MPH while hitting waves and spinning 180 degrees at a moments notice! Hang on tight and enjoy this exciting excursion! Book your seats online for the Hyrdojet through TripShock.