Richard Turen
Richard Turen

I have this feeling that our reading of media might be more accurate and more easily digested if columnists were allowed to simply state some opinions or biases up front, without long explanations. The following is a collection of some of the things I've put in print to clients and industry friends, in books and to live audiences. This is not an essay; these are just some quick shots across the bow:

Travel planning overseas is easy. Skip the Michelin-starred and decide you are going to find the world's best sandwiches. To begin with, head to Florence and All'Antico Vinaio. Then, spend a few weeks searching for "second best."

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For reasons I won't go into at this time, I once flew home from Paris in coach, where the movie shown was "Les Miserables." It was interesting to note that the food being served in the French penal system looked very similar to what was on my tray table.

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When guests arrive at your home, do you greet them and immediately ask to see a credit card? Why don't hotels understand just how rude that is? Get the financials a few days before the guest's arrival.

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In the hotel industry, the term "MD" has nothing to do with the medical field. It means "maid's discretion" when it comes to whether or not the sheets on your bed will be changed or reused. Most low- to medium-grade hotel chains let the housekeeper decide.

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If you run into a local Alaska taxi driver named "Fuzzy" or something similar, and only if he has a white beard and has lived "in-state" for at least 10 years, ask him to show you the Alaska tourists never see. You will have a wonderful tour or you will be kidnapped, but either way it will be an adventure.

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Most consumer travel magazine "Best" awards are designed so everyone wins something and each cruise line, tour operator, etc., that advertises in the magazine can claim "Best" status.

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Let's all drop what we are doing, hop in a bus and ride to the Mall of America. Let's stop the first thousand shoppers we see and ask them to name the world's top-rated cruise line. If two knew the correct answer, I would be shocked. It is all part of the travel marketer's efforts to keep the travel consumer ignorant of the qualitative differences between various travel products.

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Do one bit of creative writing well: Hand your travel consultant a bio that would make any five-star hotel manager beg to have you spend the night.

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When flying overseas, connect at Newark or JFK only if all other international airports in the U.S. are closed for the holidays.

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Belgium is one of those countries of little notice but where one can spend two weeks in a never-ending search for a bad meal.

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When planning to meet your private driver outside customs at Heathrow, choose an enticing name like "Buffet" for your signage.

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My favorite of all the places in the world that we've seen? That would have to be Rochester, Minn., where they have friendly people, good snowboarding and a more-than-decent hospital.

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Statistics show that the three most common uses of the internet are, in order, gambling, pornography and travel searches. That ought to tell you something. 

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