The Perks of Modern Day Travel Agencies

In a 21st Century world of apps and automation, planning a trip seems to be easier than ever before. However with the time-consuming task of fielding through unlimited choices of hotels, flights, and activities, the process can become overwhelming to handle alongside a busy work and home schedule. For many, the solution is to simply go back to basics and hire a travel agency. Taking a more traditional approach in allowing an expert to tackle the task of planning your business trip or vacation may just be the answer to all your travel troubles.

Photo: Zocha Group – Travel Agencies


Why Travel Agencies?

Travel agencies began to pop up around the US following the commercial aviation boom of the 1920s. As the years progressed, suddenly travel agencies became a necessity, as the average person didn’t have the access or know-how to arrange for their own accommodations. Almost one-hundred years later, consumers have gotten used to the idea of booking their own accommodations by way of websites or apps that suggest handling the arrangements yourself is the easiest way to go. While being a viable solution for some, the travel agent alternative still proves to be an option worth exploring. There is still a growing market for travel agencies, despite the competition from self-booking technology. MMGY Global conducted research in 2015 showing that 34% of Millennial travelers used an offline travel agency, and 39% said they would do so again in the near future. So what could be continuing this demand for a travel representative in the face of supposedly easier technology solutions?


Photo: Zocha Group – Travel Agencies


The answer involves many reasons, most revolving around convenience. Since travel agents need to stay competitive in the industry, the cost of hiring their services has dropped tremendously. Technological aspects of booking have not only impacted consumers, but also agents. They too have acquired better resources which help reduce the cost of running their businesses. Travel agency fees are much more reasonable in recent years, making the decision to hire a middle-man all the more feasible. In addition to affordability, another reason the industry is thriving ironically stems from the same element trying to overtake it. The information age has ushered in an endless amount of reviews, testimonials, and ratings for each and every type of accommodation one can imagine. Attempting to sift through this flurry of information for relevance can be an inundating task. Travel agents are certified to be knowledgeable about the locations they work with, and only profit from their clients enjoying their trips. Their first-hand recommendations can be a great way to enjoy your destination without having to do dozens of hours of research. This is especially helpful for complicated trips with multiple destinations, where structuring departures, arrivals, and check-ins can involve a great deal of time and energy.


Photo: Zocha Group – Travel Agencies


The travel agent industry also has a symbiotic relationship with the locations they work with, where deals and VIP perks are available to pass along to their clients. Agents are able to send business to these destinations in exchange for their guests getting exclusive treatment. This has also shown to be especially valuable for destinations affected by a natural disaster. While many guests are quick to reconsider travel to these regions, thinking the area won’t be conducive to travelling, agents are able to provide realistic details like recent photos or live webcam links to their resort, helping re-build clients’ confidence in their trip. Travel agents working with Caribbean destinations are credited with helping tourism return after Hurricanes Maria and Irma, drawing well-needed business to the area.


Photo: Zocha Group – Travel Agencies

Human Connections

The human connection between client and agent seems to be the main reason travel agency businesses continue to flourish. The convenience of being able to speak with an expert face-to-face seems to outweigh that of being able to book through technological means. Whether it’s a quick business trip or an extended family vacation, the industry savvy of a travel agent may just be the perfect way to ensure a flawless travel experience.


Photo: Zocha Group – Travel Agencies

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The 20 Best Kept Secrets in LA’s Restaurant and Bar Scene

When planning a trip to Los Angeles, there are a number of must-see places you’ll have to visit. The most popular tourist destinations are usually the first recommendations you hear. However, many travelers appreciate diving in to get a more authentic taste–Where do the locals hang out? What do they order when they get there? Whether it’s unique libations, one-of-a-kind dishes, or Instagram-worthy experiences, many of the hot spots to wine and dine in Los Angeles have hidden gems within their walls.

Photo: Zocha Group


Good Times at Davey Waynes

Angelenos flock nightly to this staple just off Hollywood Blvd. Try their alcoholic Snow Cones to cool off during a heatwave or their melt-in-your-mouth Shrimp Grilled Cheese to top off a night of boozy fun.


Photo: Boozy Snow Cone, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s (Time Out)

The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel

Drop by the Bazaar’s Bar Centro lounge to enjoy the delightful cotton candy Magic Mojito. Prepare your phone’s camera beforehand to catch the fluffy dessert disappear right before your eyes.


Photo: Magic Mojitos, The Bazaar at The SLS Beverly Hills (sbe)

Seven Grand

Downtown’s prized whiskey bar is the perfect place to do a whiskey tasting with a group of spirit-loving friends. With premium selections from around the world, you can’t miss the chance to tickle your tastebuds with the expansive variety of options.


Photo: Seven Grand Los Angeles – 213 Hospitality

Button Mash

Tap into your inner child at this modern arcade that offers craft beers alongside dozens of vintage games. Vegetarian or not, their famous Crispy Tofu Balls are sure to hit the spot during a night of game play.


Photo: Button Mash Crispy Tofu Balls (KCRW)

The Living Room at The W Hotel

LA locals know that Sunday nights are reserved for hanging out at The W Hotel in Hollywood. Their weekly Jazz Night, held in the Living Room lobby bar, features talented live musicians and the occasional celebrity guest performance.


Photo: Living Room at The W Hotel


After a night out on the town, West Hollywood flocks to Berri’s late night eatery to indulge in their one and only Lobster Pizza. Bring your appetite along and let the upbeat vibe keep you partying far past last call.


Photo: Berri’s

The Nice Guy

Spend date night at The Nice Guy to soak in the romantic, dim lighting and intimate ambiance. For dessert, their Cookies & Spiked Milk will let you finish off your dining experience feeling warm and cozy.


Photo: The Nice Guy

The Bungalow Santa Monica

Taking in a view of the ocean is always a nice touch at The Bungalow’s renowned Santa Monica location. Order their housemade Sangria and let the fruity refresher take your beachside stay to the next level.


Photo: The Bungalow


Visit this Downtown saloon that originated the French Dip for an authentic taste of Los Angeles history. Polish off your sandwich with a little Varnish, which can be found behind an unmarked door at the back of the space…


Photo: Cole’s French Dip


Stop by this Hollywood establishment for a quick bite before a night out. Their signature Brussel Sprouts will have you questioning how such an unpopular vegetable can possibly taste so good.


Photo: Cleo Brussel Sprouts (sbe)

Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar

This breakfast-themed spot keeps Venice locals feeling good from morning ‘til night. Order their Vietnamese Iced Coffee cold brew cocktail and never look at your daily pick me up the same way again.


Photo: LA Times

Break Room 86

For aspiring entertainers, this 80s-themed bar is the place to go when you’re in need of an audience. Their live band karaoke night on Tuesdays will make you feel like a rockstar, or you can jam out privately by booking a room to serenade friends.


Photo: Break Room 86

Toca Madera

Locals know to drop in for a bite on the way to the club at this West Hollywood hot spot. Their Guacamole is made fresh tableside, and accompanied by crispy plantain chips for an added dash of flavor.


Photo: Toca Madera


This Downtown monolith has enough room for its very own speakeasy Tiki bar Pacific Seas. If you’re able to find the unassuming secret entrance on the second floor, order the Chi Chi for a coconut and vodka dream-drink.


Photo: Pacific Seas

El Carmen

You could easily walk past this charming West Hollywood lounge without knowing about the delicious drinks and Mexican fare served inside. If you’re on the hunt for your new favorite drink, the Blood Orange Margarita will not disappoint.


Photo: El Carmen

La Descarga

Spend a night in Havana without even hitting the 101 at this East Hollywood speakeasy. Stop by on a weekend to witness their hourly Burlesque shows that will have you dancing along to the live band’s naughty notes.


Photo: La Descarga

Mama Shelter

For those that enjoy a little competition, Mama Shelter’s lobby bar offers an array of board games, foosball, and built in chess and checker tables. Bring in a first date for a game night to break the ice over a few beers.


Photo: Mama Shelter Los Angeles


Take the elevator up to the LP rooftop bar for a glamorous view of the Hollywood Hills. Order one of their Boba Cocktails for a unique twist that will keep your night buzzing right along.


Photo: Eater LA

Gracias Madre

You’ll be feeling light as a feather after stopping by this all-vegan WeHo spot for one of their CBD oil cocktails. The Sour T-iesel, Stoney Negroni, or Rolled Fashioned each include a dose of green medicine to end on a high note.


Photo: Sour T-iesel cocktail at Gracias Madre. (LA Times)

The Rooftop Bar at The Standard DTLA

German beer lovers will rejoice in knowing The Standard’s rooftop bar also has an attached Biergarten. Stop by in the early evening Wednesday through Saturday for German snacks and say cheers over a tall glass of brew.


Photo: Biergarten Standard DTLA. (New York Post)

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Innovation and Growth at Techweek Los Angeles

This past November, Los Angeles was visited by Techweek—an innovation-focused media company with a goal to unite businesses, talent and entrepreneurs at their annual week-long conference. Traveling across the country to tech hubs like Chicago, Miami, and New York, the Techweek conference champions the growth of sustainable companies that are able to generate wealth alongside making a positive impact on the ecosystem of the industry. Speakers from burgeoning companies from around the world shared their expertise in what it takes to build a business in the modern tech landscape.

Photo: Santa Monica


Hero Companies

A common phrase heard throughout the week was talk of “Hero Companies,” which are the focus of Techweek’s guidance. These are companies which put sustainability and impact at the head of their brand’s mission. A Hero Company will foster creativity and innovation while simultaneously achieving efficiency in growth and profit. Speakers from Hero Companies were present throughout the week to offer advice to attendees in areas such as start-ups, artificial intelligence, fundraising, and more. 


Photo: Techweek Los Angeles

The Panel

A panel on Customer Acquisition included Grant Langston, CEO of eHarmony, in a discussion on how to acquire customers in consumer-facing businesses. Another dialogue on Startup Growth was presented by Oracle. Speakers touched on a variety of topics such as producing a customer acquisition strategy and maintaining brand credibility. A fireside chat hosted by Verisign included Brand Name Expert Alexandra Watkins, who educated attendees about brainstorming creative ideas for company names. During the Algorithm for Success panel, experts from immigrant communities discussed how to provide exposure to tech programs amongst immigrant youth, along with how immigrant accessibility to information via tech has become of increasing importance in recent years.

The Growth Financing panel was especially relevant for Hero Companies, as both of the companies that were represented are working towards making strides in the health and medical industry. Greg Drobnick, the Co-Founder of Heal, a website and app for patients to book house calls with doctors, was joined by Belinda Tan, Co-Founder of Science 37—a company that makes clinical trials more available to participants and pushes to accelerate medical discovery.  Both provided insight in how they gathered funding in the initial stages of their companies, along with how and where to properly spend investment money after funds are raised.


Photo: Techweek – Grant Langston, eHarmony

Founders and Funding

Another standout was the Founder and Funding dialogue, which consisted of an all-female panel of entrepreneurs from SheWorx, Stop, Breathe & Think, FitFabFun, and The Flex Company. Each at different stages of growth in their businesses, they touched on subjects of selling your vision, pre-seed funding, and venture capital.

Aside from panels, the conference also included a Startup Showcase, Women in Tech Breakfast, Hiring Fest, and a Leadership Development Bootcamp. Techweek’s Founder’s House was also a draw for attendees. The invitation-only cocktail event featured Augmented and Virtual Reality gadgets, complimentary massages, and personal chefs that enhanced the networking experience. Techweek’s many activities and speakers helped contribute invaluable information from Hero Companies all around the world to further educate members of Los Angeles’ tech industry, and proves to be an event worth attending in years to come.


Photo: Techweek Los Angeles Virtual Reality

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Photo: Techweek Los Angeles

Photo: Techweek Los Angeles

Photo: Techweek Los Angeles; Jason Brooks, Grant Langston, John Tabis, Khudor Annous, Steve Weiss

Photo: Techweek Los Angeles

Photo: Techweek Los Angeles; Chang Xu, David Oh, Erik Huberman, Cristina Escoda, Spencer Stephens