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Associated Press Newspaper Article
Associated Press did an interview and picture of me that was on CNN TV News and then printed in newspapers across the United States on the front page of the Travel Section of Sunday newspapers.
Travel Agents Get Creative in Tough Times
Travel Agent Connie Ebright books packages to Africa out of her home to keep expenses down.
(AP) -- Many travel agents have left the industry since airlines cut their commissions early this year – after already being hit hard by the September 11 terrorist attacks that seriously crippled the travel business.
But others are finding ways to be more creative in the face of increased competition from Internet travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia.
Connie Ebright, (Ebrighttravel.com), an expert on African travel who claims firsthand knowledge of crocodiles and hippos, runs her business from home in Glendale, California, now. She closed another office to reduce expenses. Ebright, an independent agent, has been booking travel packages to "the continent I love" for about eight years following a career as a fashion representative for designers.
"Things were very tough after September 11," she says. The cutback in airline commissions also hurt.
Now she makes commissions from the tour operators she represents in Africa. She recalls putting together a special package for two couples for $35,000 per couple.
"They were pampered in luxury from start to finish." The trip included stops in London and Cape Town, South Africa, before a short flight to Botswana for the photo safari of a lifetime.
"Botswana is the heart and soul of Africa," says Ebright, whose clients stayed "in luxury tents" at safari camps owned by Orient Express hotels. "Botswana is the only place you can do a safari in a mokoro, a small dugout canoe for two propelled by a native with a pole. You are inches above water shared by hippos, elephants, and crocodiles."
The couples went on to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, then back to South Africa's Kruger National Park, "the premium game reserve in South Africa," wrapping up the trip at the lavish Sun City resort for a round of golf.
Reprinted with permission of Associated Press