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Luxury Tours & Cruises Travel Agents in the news

August 7, 2017 | USA Today

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What to Do When Travel Insurance Doesn’t Work
“”I’ve never heard of insurance that did not work as advertised,” says veteran travel agent Michelle Weller, who works for Travel Leaders in Houston. “But I have noticed some people do not read the fine print.””
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July 17, 2017 | Travel Weekly

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Marriott and Starwood loyalists stay true post-merger
“”People have their preferences,” said Michelle Weller, COO for Travel Leaders in Houston. Weller, a self-described “Starwood girl,” estimated that 70% of her office’s bookings are corporate, and, “I rarely find people who cross over.””
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July 14, 2017 | MSN

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Watch out for these Hidden Hotel Charges
“National chains such Sheraton offer some similar services through club lounges, and those creature comforts can be worth the cost for many customers. But don’t get stuck with an unwanted upgrade, said Houston-based travel agent Michelle Weller of retail travel agency Travel Leaders.”
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June 5, 2017 | CNN

luxury tours cruises travel leaders michelle weller
Will tourists Avoid London?
“”We received the most phone calls, emails, and questions after this attack compared to the others,” said Michelle Weller, a travel agent for Travel Leaders, based in Houston, Texas.
“This terror attack, so soon after Manchester and in conjunction with the others [in Europe] earlier this year, made for a particularly strong reaction,” she said. One of her clients has canceled a trip to the U.K. since the latest attack…”
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May 12, 2017 | KHOU TV

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Travel Deals from an Insider
“HOUSTON – Getting a great deal on travel makes the trip that much sweeter.

So, we talk to travel insider Michelle Weller. She’s with Travel Leaders/Future Travel…”
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May 11, 2017 | Washington Post

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From passport cards to Global Entry, which trusted-traveler program is right for you?
““The application process is brutal,” says Michelle Weller, a travel agent with Travel Leaders Network in Houston, “but it’s worthwhile.” Weller says the background check is thorough…”
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April 30, 2017 | USA Today

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How to Win the War on Wrinkled Clothes
“Roll, don’t fold. It doesn’t just save space, it can prevent wrinkles. Michelle Weller, a travel agent with Travel Leaders in Houston, says that for maximum effectiveness, you have to pack the right attire. “I buy clothes that don’t wrinkle and roll them up,” she says. Wrinkles don’t have a chance….”
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December 09, 2016 | Forbes

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Top Travel Agents Reveal What’s Hot In Luxury travel For 2017
“Michelle Weller, Travel Leaders, Houston, Texas

“We are seeing more people heading back to Europe, especially Danube river cruises. Others are taking advantage of some of the unbelievable early 2017 rates in France. Ireland continues to be really big with requests for castle stays. The biggest breakout is New Zealand. Our bookings to New Zealand have tripled in 2017.”
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December 01, 2016 | Travel Market Report

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End Of An Era Part 2: Travel Agents Reminisce
“Michelle Weller, Vice President, Sales and Customer Service, Travel Leaders, Houston
“I’m a Pan Am baby. My parents both worked at Pan Am, in the ticketing office in Los Angeles. They sat across the desk from each other and that’s how they met. I grew up traveling around the world in first class. You always dressed up then, and I still dress up to fly. Every time I see the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ it reminds me of how glamorous it was flying Pan Am…”
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November 09, 2016 | Travel Weekly

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How Not to Be an Ugly American “Just a hello and thank you can make the locals light up,” said Michelle Weller of the Travel Leaders in Houston, Texas. “Then bring along your app that translates. If you cannot say the rest, just translate everything into the app. I used this on my latest trip to Paris and the locals loved it. We made a lot of new friends just by trying to speak the language…”
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November 03, 2016 | Travel Weekly

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Tour ops stake Europe recovery on strong dollar, value-adds
“”Our agents have noticed an increase in interest the last two weeks with all these excellent deals for 2017,” said Michelle Weller, operations manager for Houston, Wis.-based Travel Leaders. “Just today, one agent told me they sent out quotes on Italy and Greece.””
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October 26, 2016 | WSJ Market Watch

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Airlines unveil kid-free ‘no-crying’ zones
“Most Americans are used to being able to buy certain kinds of seats,” says Michelle Weller, the vice president of sales and customer support for travel agency Travel Leaders in Houston. “Some would pay extra for child-free areas…”
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August 19, 2016 | Thrillist

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TRAVEL AGENTS REVEAL THEIR MOST ABSURD REQUESTS
An overnight at Iwo Jima
“Another good one was a request for an overnight stay on Iwo Jima. While the island is a military base and does not allow overnight stays, we arranged a tour with a specialist company that only does historic military sites. They took the nostalgic vet on a tour and he stayed overnight on the boat.” — Michelle Weller, Travel Leaders, Houston, Texas…”
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July 1, 2016 | Travel Pulse

Ask An Agent: What Are Travel Alerts?
Michelle Weller of Travel Leaders in Houston, Texas, said that she would steer clients away from Acapulco. “There are more options and better value in Cancun, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel and Ixtapa,” she said. “Of those who have asked for Acapulco, when I inform them of other options they have always chosen to go to another location…
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June 27, 2016 | Huffington Post

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What Now Orlando?
“Michelle Weller, vice president of sales and customer service with a Travel Leaders franchise in Houston, reported a similar feeling among others vacationing in Orlando. One of her agents checked on his clients to see if they were okay and needed any assistance. “The clients all said they wanted to stay,” Weller said…”
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June 17, 2016 | CBS News

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“With the influx of more and more luxury properties, Mexico has progressively seen an increase in price,” said Weller. “However, it is still one of the best value vacations, especially for families…”
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December 21, 2015 | US News

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Why Even Die-Hard DIYers Need a Travel Adviser
“Travel agents have a network of connections to draw on and deliver influence to you at any time. We negotiate and advocate on your behalf. Because of this leverage we are likely to get a better deal and have clout if anything goes wrong,” says Travel Leaders agent Michelle Weller.
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November 2, 2015 | The Seattle Times

Travel-industry mistakes can work in your favor
Small as they may seem, these issues still have the potential to ruin a vacation. The best recoveries don’t just involve fixing the problem, but saying “I’m sorry” like you mean it, (Michelle Weller) says. The better ones go a step further. …
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November 1, 2015 | Huffington Post

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Don’t Worry, You Can Fix Those Travel Mistakes — Here’s How
“They offer some monetary compensation, loyalty points or a bottle of wine to make up for the mistake,” (Michelle) Weller says. She recalls a recent honeymooning couple that got the wrong room assignment. Fortunately, one of her representatives had the cellphone number of a hotel manager. “She answered her cellphone and moved the couple quickly to not only the ocean view, but an upgraded room category,” she recalls. …
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October 29, 2015 | Washington Post

Ritz Carlton, Egypt

With travel-industry mistakes, it’s all about the recovery
“It can also help to have the right person in your corner, whether it’s a more experienced traveler, a consumer advocate or a travel agent. Michelle Weller, an agent for Travel Leaders in Houston, sees travel-company screw-ups all the time. Normally, they’re fairly minor, like assigning garden-view accommodations instead of ocean-view, or having a limousine service fail to show up at the appointed time. Small as they may seem, these issues still have the potential to ruin a vacation. The best recoveries don’t just involve fixing the problem, but saying “I’m sorry” like you mean it, she says. The better ones go a step further. “They offer some monetary compensation, loyalty points or a bottle of wine to make up for the mistake,” Weller says …
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August 1, 2015 | Market Watch

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5 ways to stop airlines from losing your luggage
“If you want to limit the loss of luggage make sure you check in as early as possible,” notes Michelle Weller. This can help prevent mistakes by gate agents who are rushing to get your bags onboard…
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May 29, 2015 | Travel Agent Central

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Explainer: Cruise Group Sales 101
Michelle Weller, vice president, sales and customer support, Travel Leaders, Houston, TX, says her agency will charter Silversea Expeditions’ Silversea Discoverer for a Micronesia voyage in March 2016. “We have the entire 62 cabins chartered for a total eclipse of the sun,” Weller says. She says an onboard NASA expert accompanying the group knows how to use satellites so the captain can position the ship in the right location for the best viewing.

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May 6, 2015 | Texas Standard

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Houston Gets Ready To Take Texans To Cuba
“Having a nonstop flight going straight into a Caribbean destination is going to be so excellent, not only for people from Houston, but also kind of from all over Texas,” Michelle Weller says. “If you can drive into Houston and then jump on a plane and go nonstop to Cuba I think you’d see A LOT of traffic.”

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May 2015 | Agent at Home

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The Hotel choice
“We are here to sell people the best vacation,” says Michelle Weller of Travel Leaders in Houston. “We don’t sell travel,” she says. “We sell dreams.”

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May 1, 2015 | The Fiscal Times

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7 Ways to Book the Best All-Inclusive Vacation
All-inclusive deals aren’t always lower in price than a vacation booked a la carte, but they’re comparable and they offer the convenience and luxury of leaving your wallet in the hotel room safe for the duration of the trip. “All inclusive doesn’t really mean cheap anymore,” says Michelle Weller an associate with Travel Leaders in Houston. “But it does mean value.”

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April 28, 2015 | The Houston Chronicle

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Tourism board unveils aggressive agenda for drawing visitors
… People come from all over the world to Houston, through the Port of Houston for cruises, through its large airport system for connecting flights or for business trips and conventions, said Michelle Weller, a Houston travel agent with …

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April 6, 2015 | Travel Weekly

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Photo By: Arnie Weissmann

 

With surge in Cuba interest, tour operators add departures
Michelle Weller, director of operations for a Travel Leaders agency in Houston, wrote in an email that most people asking about travel – don’t want a people-to-people tour.

“When Cuba can offer an atmosphere where Americans can hang out at all-inclusives or bar hop in old Havana, dancing to local Cuban music and smoking Cuban cigars at Ernest Hemingway haunts like La Floridita, you will see a massive wave of tourists flood the country,” she wrote…

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February 18, 2015 | Travel Pulse

THINKSTOCK SOLAR ECLIPSE CRUISES TRAVEL PULSE LUXURY CRUISES PRESS

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

7 Best Solar Eclipse Cruises

If this year’s solar eclipse cruises won’t fit into a busy schedule, in 2016 Ring of Fire Expeditions is chartering the Silver Discoverer for its 44th solar eclipse venture. The 17-day quest will explore the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia and Palau. Giving informative lectures onboard the luxury vessel will be astronaut Jerry Ross and Paul D. Maley, who worked at the NASA Johnson Space Center for more than 40 years. The ship embarks on Feb. 27, 2016, from the Solomon Islands and includes fantastic diving opportunities and viewing of the complete solar blackout.

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February 18, 2015 | Miami Herald

CUBA TOURS CRUISES LUXURY

Picture by: Ramon Espinosa

U.S. demand for travel to Cuba rises amid thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations

Michelle Weller, director of operations for a Travel Leaders agency in Houston, wrote in an email that most people asking about travel – don’t want a people-to-people tour.

“When Cuba can offer an atmosphere where Americans can hang out at all-inclusives or bar hop in old Havana, dancing to local Cuban music and smoking Cuban cigars at Ernest Hemingway haunts like La Floridita, you will see a massive wave of tourists flood the country,” she wrote.

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February 18, 2015 | LA Times

SOLAR ECLIPSE CRUISE 2016 LUXURY Silversea-Discoverer

Cruise to Micronesia to see a total eclipse of the sun in 2016
What would you give to see 4 minutes and 7 seconds of totality during a solar eclipse? Eclipse chasers still can find a spot on a cruise to Micronesia to catch a total solar eclipse next year…

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February 5, 2015 | Travel Agent Central

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Top Europe River Cruises for Honeymooners
Michelle Weller, vice president, Travel Leaders, Houston, recently returned from a Viking “Portraits of Southern France” cruise on the Rhone River. “I was surprised at how romantic and relaxing it was,” says Weller. “I know most people consider river cruising for older clientele, but I think this would be great for honeymooners.”

In 2015 and 2016, Viking offers that week-long southern France itinerary to Burgundy and Provence on many vessels including Viking Heimdal and Viking Buri. To paint the picture for clients, Weller talks about wine tastings, biking through Lyon’s old town, chocolate tastings in Les Hermitage, small Avignon cafés with excellent French pastries and the smell of lavender.

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February 5, 2015 | Travel Pulse

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Agents Say Strong U.S. Dollar Is Further Boosting Already Robust Europe Bookings
Michelle Weller of Travel Leaders in Houston told a similar story. “My phone is ringing off the hook with people wanting to go to Europe and wanting to go by April,” she said…

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Dec 14, 2014 | Houston Chronicle

houston havana gateway

Houston ready to be a gateway to Havana
“There’s a lot of fascination with Cuba,” said Michelle Weller, a travel agent with Travel Leaders in Houston. “It’s human nature to want to explore that final frontier. … If Cuba opens for American tourism, it’s going to be great for Houston.”…

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October 19, 2014 | Fox Morning Show

FOX travel deals

Holiday Travel Deals Still up for grabs

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September 16, 2014| WRNW1 Women's Radio

MW Cruise
Travel Leaders / Future Travel “When you use these online booking tools, they are just after your money. That is why it is so expensive. However, we are your advocates. We work for you. When you call up United, they are not going to know who you are. But when I call them, they know who I am and are more willing to work with me on a better price for you.”
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July 1, 2014 | Fox Morning Show

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Relaxing travel options to escape the stress of long Houston-area work weeks
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June 19, 2014 | Fox Houston Morning Show

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Interview on Traveling with children with Melissa Wilson

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June 19, 2014 | Fox Morning Show

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First Time Cruisers Tips
How to plan before you cruise…

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June 10, 2014 | Fox Evening News

Hit Movie Frozen Inspires Family To Tour Norway

The Disney hit movie, Frozen, is driving up tourism in Norway! Believe it or not, hotel bookings are up 37%…
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May 25, 2014 | Travel Weekly Magazine

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All-inclusives a big enticement for visitors, agents say
In Houston, Michelle Weller, director of operations for Travel Leaders there, described Punta Cana as “hot.” …

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May 19, 2014 | Fox Houston Morning Show

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Interview on Affordable Vacations with Jose Grinan

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May 19, 2014 | Fox Morning Show

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Summer Road Trips
Ideas for Summer Family Roadtrips

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April 7, 2014 | Travel Agent Central

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Summer Travel Tips
“Michelle Weller, franchise owner, Travel Leaders of Houston, TX, starts out by using exclusive franchise offers to try and entice her family clients to upgrade to a balcony cabin. In the process, the clients typically receive onboard credits or other perks.

But what if that doesn’t work? ‘If the Travel Leaders exclusives are not available on a particular sailing we usually walk people into our office supplies’ closet and show them how claustrophobic an inside cabin would be,’ Weller says, noting their closet is approximately the same size as an inside cabin. ‘We say, ‘For $300 more per person, wouldn’t you rather have a balcony?’ That usually does the trick”…

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April 7, 2014 | Travel Agent Magazine

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Globus People to People Exchange Cuba
“Michelle Weller (Houston, TX) with a driver of the cab from the 50’s just outside El Floridita, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite Havana Bar”…
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March 26, 2014 | Travel Agent West Magazine

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Travel Leaders Host Globus Cuba Experience
“Bonnie Lee (Travel Leaders, Albertville, MN), Michelle Weller (Travel Leaders, Houston, TX) and Sondra Wilson (Travel Leaders, Richland, WA) celebrate after the Travel Leaders banquet dinner at Villa du Pont”…

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March 14, 2014 | Fox Business News

United Airlines

United to Debut Personal In-Flight Entertainment for iOS Users
“Michelle Weller from Houston’s Travel Leaders location at 1085 Hercules was among a highly select group of only 50 Travel Leaders nationally who have just returned from an exclusive Globus Cuba Experience to Havana and beyond”…

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March 9, 2014 | Houston Style Magazine

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Houston’s Travel Leaders Agent among those Invited to Join Exclusive Group Traveling to Cuba as Part of “People to People Educational Exchange”
“Michelle Weller, owner of Travel Leaders in Houston, says the agency added the ability for its clients to pre-pay for WiFi a year ago and found it was a big hit, so she expects many travelers will likely enjoy United’s added option”…

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January 21, 2014 | Channel 2 CBS Houston

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New terror video doesn’t detour Houstonians’ Olympic plans
“Weller said bookings are down compared with the Summer Olympics in London, but traveling to Russia is more difficult. Her clients who did book the trip aren’t average travelers”…

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January 13, 2014 | Travel Weekly

Carriers, agents scramble as winter storm cripples air travel
“Michelle Weller, Travel Leaders, Houston, had multiple storm stories. One agent logged in to Worldspan on her iPad to get a stranded client on the next flight home. Weller said she used SafetoGo software, which alerts agents to canceled flights affecting clients trying to make connections. The alerts often enabled agents to book clients on an alternate flight before they had even landed.”…

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January 11, 2014 | Houston Chronicle

Cuba emerges as tourism’s ‘next big thing’
“As legal travel to Cuba begins to gain traction, travel agencies are poised to benefit. Several major vendors already have created packages for Cuba in anticipation of piquing interest this year and next, said Michelle Weller, a Travel Leaders spokeswoman in Houston”…

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January 3, 2014 | USA Today

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Where to find the best cruise deals for 2014
“Michelle Weller, vice president of sales and customer support for Travel Leaders in Houston, said that the best deals are available during the first two months of the year”…

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January 2, 2014 | USA Today

CRYSTAL CRUISES cy-intro_cy_venice

Peak-season European river cruises mostly sold out
“Michelle Weller, vice president of sales and customer support for Travel Leaders in Houston, agreed.
European River cruises are by far the most popular (cruises),” she said. “Most are sold out for 2014, but there are a few good itineraries left. If a river cruise is something [travelers] are interested in, they should book now”…

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December 28, 2013 | Houston Chronicle

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Forecast says Houstonians have yen to travel in 2014
“People are spending money on vacations right now,” said Michelle Weller, a Travel Leaders spokeswoman in Houston. “They are tired of staying home and are now saying, ‘Let’s go on a trip.’…

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December 26, 2013 | Houston Biz Journal

Luxury Tour Italy

Flocking to Florida and Italy: Houstonians’ top travel choices for 2014
“Local bookings for Disney World were aided by special discounts offered by the resort in the first quarter, Michelle Weller, vice president of sales for Travel Leaders Houston, said in a statement…

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December 9, 2013 | Recommend Magazine

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Mexico 2013
“Our biggest destinations in Mexico this past year have been Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, but we also saw good numbers to Cozumel and Ixtapa,” says director of operations, Michelle Weller, a Travel Leaders franchise in Houston, TX…

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November 26, 2013 | Bay Area Citizen

Area travel agent recognized at national convention
The Clear Lake business community has added another national citation to its list. Last month, the Travel Leaders National Meeting in Atlanta recognized its Houston location in Clear Lake…

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October 23, 2013 | ABC TV Houston News

Holiday travelers will pay more for flights
Michelle Weller with Travel Leaders said, “We have really noticed a big increase in air fares this year. They went up all across the board”…

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September 11, 2013 | Wall Street Journal Market Watch

Room service in 2013: a bag of groceries

Will grocery delivery replace room service anytime soon? Probably not, says Michelle Weller, the vice president of sales and customer support for one oftravel agency Travel Leaders Houston franchises — especially in high-end hotels where guests expect that kind of service…

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September 1, 2013 | Wall Street Journal Market Watch

Airlines offer no-crying sections

Many travel experts and consumers say there is demand for “child-free” zones. “Most Americans are used to being able to buy certain kinds of seats,” says Michelle Weller, the vice president of sales and customer support for travel agency Travel Leaders in Houston. “Some would pay extra for child-free areas…

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August 21, 2013 | Our Houston News

Travel Leaders Agent Diego Quintanilla Honored Nationally as One of “Travel Agent” Magazine’s ’30 Under 30′

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May 28, 2013 | Travel Weekly

Amazon River Cruise

All signs point to near-record summer for travel

He added that demand for river cruising is “exceeding expectations,” an observation echoed by Michelle Weller, vice president of sales and customer service for Travel Leaders in Houston. “Europe became the hot spot in the past month, especially Viking river cruises, which now are sold out,” Weller said. “We have people begging for river cruises in Europe. I’ve got tons of bookings for Europe packages, too, with Paris, London, Italy and the Mediterranean topping the list…”

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November 15, 2012 | KHOU ABC News

Super Bowl travel packages already selling fast.

After every team win, Texans start calling travel agencies. Michelle Weller with Travel Leaders said, “They are calling about, ‘What are the Super bowl packages?  Can we get anything now?’  And everything is practically sold out.”  Weller says even now, getting a room in New Orleans during the Super Bowl weekend will not be cheap, no matter who your favorite team is…

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October 12, 2012 | KHOU ABC News

Holiday travelers will pay more for flights.

Michelle Weller with Travel Leaders said, “We have really noticed a big increase in air fares this year. They went up all across the board.” Weller says the increase in airfare does not include any fees airlines have…

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September 18, 2012 | KHOU ABC News

Spirit Airlines giving away free miles…

That’s why travel agent Michelle Weller says before you buy a ticket on Spirit know what you are getting beforehand.  “If you get a $69 round trip ticket you can’t really expect the world,” she said.  “They charge you for carry-ons.  That’s not uncommon to start charging for bags and all kinds of upgrades…”

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