The pandemic is not the first cataclysmic world event the travel industry has been forced to weather in the last decade.
High-profile aviation disasters, unrest in destination spots and even the eruption of an Icelandic volcano; all have had a direct impact on folks’ desire to fly abroad.
But somehow tourism has always found a way to steady its wings and fly forward.
It’s too soon to say how this new reality will pan out, but experts are cautiously optimistic that the travel biz will eventually bounce back, if not explode.
Meanwhile, where do we go if we can’t go farther than our comfy armchairs?
North Salem’s Frank Bastone has a few suggestions.
Known as “The Vacation Therapist,” he collaborates with clients who “desire a concierge-level of service in planning their dream vacations so that they can relax and enjoy a ‘WOW’ experience on their journeys around the world.”
An avid wanderer himself, the founder and owner of Pinnacle Trips claims his personal perspective helps him craft recommendations for hotels, cruises, restaurants and tours.
His company motto? “We Plan—You Relax.”
But now, with stay-at-home health restrictions firmly in place, that has wisely morphed into “Dream Now—Travel Later.”
Part one of his multipronged approach—a series of destination spot videos.
He hopes that folks can temporarily assuage their wanderlust by deploying their mind’s eye instead of their plane tickets. And, of course, dream about and plan for future trips.
Bastone worked in sales, marketing and retail right after college. After going back for his MBA in Information Systems at Pace University, he spent more than three decades working for Merrill Lynch, GE and Aetna before retiring to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Putting together the videos should be a piece of cake for the former software development manager.
Bastone’s first project will explore cruises on the Danube, Europe’s second-longest river. Some of its ports of call include the elegant and influential cities of Budapest, Vienna and Prague. He will also use a combination of slides and videos to give folks a virtual swing around the tour boat itself.
Meanwhile, he is filming interviews with industry leaders such as Tauck, a luxury tour agency based in nearby Wilton, Conn.
The first video will feature a Tauck destination spot, Portugal, one of the new hot places to vacation. The southern European country has recently emerged from the shadows of France, Spain and Italy by dint of its beautiful, meandering coastline, colorful and sprawling inland views and burgeoning wine culture. It’s cheap, too. The cost of a hotel room, even in the capital, Lisbon, runs about $80 a night. Local fare is also reasonably priced.
Bastone, known for rocking wild tropical shirts, will narrate. But don’t be fooled by the pink flamingoes fandangoing behind him; they were captured on film by the amateur photographer while he himself was frolicking on Renaissance Island, a private resort off the coast of Aruba in the southern Caribbean.
Going down yet another digital path, Bastone hopes to put together Powerpoint presentations with tips on such subjects as how to pack for a trip. (He recommends bringing a change of clothes in your carry-on in case the airline misplaces your luggage, and a bathing suit, so you can dive right into the pool while waiting to get into your hotel room.)
Bastone will be posting all of this on his company’s website and his new YouTube channel. He also plans to work with a company that produces 360-degree videos that have an almost 3D effect when seen through a special device.
On the possible itinerary so far are the Colosseum in Rome; the Vatican Museums, and the ruins of Pompeii, an ancient city in Italy instantly wiped out by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Bastone agrees that it’s a “Brave New World,” as travel goes.
“We’re adapting; you have to,” he says.
Bastone is also a freelance writer. Among the local magazines he has written travel-related pieces for are Ridgefield Neighbors and Westchester Senior Voice, both of which are right up his alley since the majority of his clients are boomers, active seniors and busy professionals.
He and his wife, Fran, have three grown sons. Steven’s an equity trader; Derek, a New York City teacher. Jeff’s a physician’s assistant at a New York City hospital. He’s “right on the frontlines” of the coronavirus fight.
And that’s reason enough to fervently pray, his proud padre says, that “once this thing is over, people can go back to their normal lives.”