A new place
“These allow members to select from a number of featured accommodations, as well as
transportation, sightseeing tours and length
of stay, to create their own unique experience,” says Shannon.
site puts the world
at your fingertips
By T. Foster Jones
AS A TRAVELER, I can always find good excuses to revisit places I’ve enjoyed before. In
addition to repeating some of the pleasant
experiences of previous visits, I invariably discover some new and exciting aspect of the
area that I previously overlooked or that has
since been created.
I recently had the opportunity to do something similar, in a virtual travel sense, when
I logged on to costco.com and clicked on
Costco Travel. The online presence of the site
has changed dramatically, becoming a much
more informative and interactive experience.
Click on any of the home-page menu
selections and you will find there is now a
wealth of destination and travel information,
including maps, more detailed hotel descriptions and photos, navigation tools, additional cruise-line and cruise-ship
information, and improved cruise-planning content.
“Selling a limited selection of
hotels and destinations allowed us
to create rich content for the hotels we
do offer,” says Matt Browning, information technology director at Costco Travel.
“We coupled this with interactive maps
that pinpoint the location of each hotel,
which you can then click on for even more
information. This is a personal touch that
you won’t find on most travel sites.”
On the cruise menu, you can now make
plans by destination—Alaska, Asia, Caribbean,
Europe, Mexico, Panama Canal, South America and South Pacific—or by cruise line,
including Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity,
Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Princess,
Regent, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea,
Uniworld and Windstar.
The menu bar at the bottom of the page
provides additional information about Costco
Travel, including frequently asked questions
for single and group travelers as well as other
helpful tips. “The buyers at Costco Travel have
also created a ‘Hotel Ratings’ menu offering
their own honest assessments of properties,
which can occasionally differ from a hotel’s
self-assessment,” says Shannon.
Home sweet home
As soon as you open Costco Travel’s home
page, the launching pad for your virtual (and
literal) travel plans, you’ll see several dramatic
revisions. The page has been restructured, with
a grid of bold, exciting photographs and plain,
easy-to-navigate menu options designed to
make information about all of Costco Travel’s
services—cruises, destinations, rental cars
and specialty vacations—simple to find.
“Choosing your vacation should be fun
and hassle-free, so, to make your decision
quicker and easier, we’ve added new information and vacation-planning tools,” says
Shannon Parker of Costco Travel.
Of particular interest in the center of the
page is a selection of vacation packages and
destinations listed under the headings of
Buyer’s Choice or Your Way.
“The Buyer’s Choice packages include
accommodations, transportation and sightseeing tours at particular destinations that are
recommended by Costco Travel buyers as
particularly good values,” says Shannon. With
these packages, the hotels have been selected
for you, although the length of your stay can
be extended to suit your needs.
For Costco members who want more
flexibility in their travel arrangements, Costco
Travel has created the Your Way packages.
For complete vacation information, visit
costco.com and click on “Travel” or call
Costco Travel toll free at 1-877-849-2730.
Let the experts be your guide
Much of the additional content comes
courtesy of Fodor’s, one of the most established destination travel specialists in the
world. Shannon says that Fodor’s worked
with Costco Travel to provide the most relevant information specific to the destinations
being offered to Costco members.
“The intent behind all of this was to allow
our members to create a fully realized travel
plan, with enough information to allow them
to visualize every detail on their itinerary.”
Best of all, whatever your vacation plans
are, it will soon be possible to book Costco
Travel trips online from the convenience of
your own computer.
That will definitely be worth a return