February 2017 - Starr Tours & Charters
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Hotel-Friendly Meals

Hotel-Friendly Meals

Traveling is always fun and exciting, but dining out can take a large bite out of your wallet (pun intended!). Trying new restaurants is always a great way to experience new places and cuisines, but when you want to save money (or not spend it!), what do you do? On most of your multi-day trips with Starr, you will have either a microwave and a small fridge in your room or even a small kitchenette. While microwaveable meals can be quick and convenient, they aren’t always the healthiest options. Here are some meal ideas for when you’re in your room and the hunger-bug strikes!

If you have a small kitchenette in your room, it will most likely come equipped with standard pots and pans. In this case, you can make:

Honey Sriracha Chicken
  1. One-pan pasta! We all know that we can use pasta from a jar, but this delicious recipe from Martha Stewart is fresh, healthy, and ready in under 30 minutes!
  2. Sweet and spicy baked honey sriracha chicken. This recipe is better than take-out and is still ready in less than 30 minutes! Boil some rice to go with it and you just made one incredible meal in your hotel room.
  3. Classic grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. You can spice up your grilled cheese by using pepperjack cheese. To give it a little more flavor, slice a tomato and throw some spinach on it. Yum!

If you only have a microwave and small fridge to work with, that’s okay too! You can still have some scrumptious meals without the mess of pots and pans.

  1. Cold-cut sandwiches with a side of fresh veggies and fruit.
  2. A cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store can go a long way!
    Chicken wraps! These are a go-to for me at home or when traveling. I take a wheat wrap, spread some hummus on it and add rotisserie chicken, grape tomatoes, and spinach. It’s so good!
    Chicken salad: mix with enough mayo to coat and add in your favorite ingredients like celery, chopped nuts, and quartered grapes. Or try these recipes for Italian Chicken Salad, or Vietnamese Chicken Salad. Chicken tacos: mix with enough salsa to coat, microwave for one minute and add your favorite taco toppings
  3. Garden salad and baked potatoes. If you poke holes in the potato and toss it in the microwave for about 7-8 minutes, you’ll have a baked potato in less time than it would take to cook in the oven! You can do the same thing with sweet potatoes too. (Did you know that peanut butter adds a great flavor to sweet potatoes?)

Remember, you can easily bring these ingredients from home. They don’t take up a lot of space and you can keep them cool in an insulated container.

Meal time should never be a stressor, especially when traveling! Whether you resort to a simple peanut butter sandwich or try something new like the sriracha chicken, do what appeals most to you. If all else fails, there’s always take-out!

Motorcoach Safety Update

Motorcoach Safety Update

70th anniversary seal2017 marks Starr’s 70th year in business. As a second generation owner of Starr Bus Charter & Tours as well as the Strategic Safety Chairman for the American Bus Association (ABA), it is with great interest that I look ahead to the new motorcoach safety regulations which are put into place every year by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). I am always interested in how new regulations will move our industry forward and how, we at ABA, influence these regulations.

Throughout my 46 years in the motorcoach industry, I have been witness to the implementation of many new regulations by the various leaders of the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve motorcoach safety. Traditionally, as presidential administrations change, new department heads are appointed. Elaine Chao has been selected by the new administration to lead the U.S. DOT as Secretary of Transportation. Ms. Chao served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush, and I expect Secretary Chao will take a hard look at existing motorcoach safety regulations in addition to new proposals put forth. I anticipate her approach and determination will be effective and practical to ensure riding on a motorcoach will be as safe as possible, and even safer than in the past.

Starr will continue to be a leader in safety and regulatory compliance as we manage our own fleet of coaches and highly trained Drivers. Starr will continue its philosophy of providing the highest level of safety, not only by its lawful operations, but resulting from the many proprietary safety programs we have put in place to help ensure our riders a safe and comfortable travel experience. The safety awards earned by Starr are evidence of our safe driving commitment in addition to our commitment to you, and our quest for new and improved operational policies and practices.

Safety Rating SealOur entire team at Starr is dedicated to continuously advance and look for new ways to increase the level of safety in our industry. Starr is proud to introduce on its two newest coaches additional L.E.D. turning signal lights. The additional lights will serve to increase the visibility of our coach to other motorists and pedestrians when it is making turns or changing lanes. The additional coach lighting is a safety idea that we at Starr suggested to our motorcoach manufacturer, Prevost. An idea we envisioned, will be adopted not just by Prevost, but by the other motorcoach manufacturers to create safer vehicles for their motorcoach customers.

Alan Glickman
Alan Glickman, CEO

We thank you for your loyalty and for the faith and trust you have placed in us.

Warmest regards,
Alan Glickman, CEO Starr Transit

Conquering The Arch

Conquering The Arch

As the Tour Director for the 26-day Cross Country By Bus tour, I have had the opportunity to experience the wonders of our great country along with our Starr guests and my partner, our Starr Driver.  At times, it was simply looking out the window of the coach and relishing in the sights of the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming, visiting the grandeur of the Hearst Castle in California, or standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. However, none of these wonders, gave me the immeasurable thrill and anxiety like facing my fear of traveling 630 feet in a tiny tram car inside of a steel leg of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri!  

Arch-CDurling
I had planned to never go up there!

Construction on the Arch began on February 12, 1963 and it was dedicated in 1968 to “The pioneer spirit of the men and women who won the West and those of a latter day to strive on the frontier.” It is the tallest stainless steel monument in the Western Hemisphere and, at 630 feet, is taller than the Seattle Space needle (605′), the Washington Monument (555′), and the Great Pyramid of Giza (455′).  Visitors to the Arch can conquer that dizzying height by traveling up one steel leg and down the other in a tiny (5 feet in diameter) tram car or “pod” that is specially designed to rotate 155 degrees as it travels along the curve of the Arch.

So, here I was, the leader of our group, encouraging and coaxing our wonderful passengers to see the 30-mile views across the Mississippi River, the state of Illinois, and the city of St. Louis.  Yet, after showing them the History Channel’s video, “St. Louis Arch,” which documents the design and construction of the Arch by Finnish architect, Eero Saarinen, I was no closer to joining my group in their journey up to the observation area at the top, which is just 65 feet long and 7 feet wide at the apex.

My plan was simple – escort the group across the park, distribute the tickets, bid them bon voyage and wait for them in the gift shop, an area located safely on the ground beneath the arch.

My anxiety stayed in check until a National Park Service Ranger told me that one of our passengers couldn’t make the long walk to the Arch and decided to sit on a bench outside.  With the help of a guard who brought along a wheelchair, we located the passenger and started to wheel her back to the bus when she announced, “Hey, you are going the wrong way, I want to go up the Arch!”  So, off we went to Tram Car #1 where we waited for the door to open. The fiesty passenger stepped in to the empty, egg-shaped, capsule and just as I started to wish her well she said, “Well, aren’t you coming?”  Yikes, here I was facing the exact dilemma I was trying to avoid!  Sympathy for her riding the 4 minutes to the top by herself took a grip on me and tossed me into the car.  The door was shut and off we went swinging in the car with the “click click click” just like a ferris wheel, as described in the movie.  The view from inside the car was not a view at all but the inside of the stainless steel leg which we could see from window cutouts in the door, exposing brick and stairs.  Our small talk helped speed us to the top where the door automatically opened and we were instructed to walk up a few steps to the observation deck.

Arch-view-CDurling
The incredible view!

Then, there was the view—16 tiny windows worth! – for as far as we could see, just like the movie and brochures explained. I was grateful to not feel the allowance for the 18” sway in case of winds up to 150 mph! What I did feel was the embrace of my capsule seat mate who gave me a hug and thanked me for bringing her back to the Arch and riding to the top with her.  I returned the gesture and the gratitude. 

On the 3 minute ride down, I couldn’t help but think we were both pioneers— maybe not like the Westward Expansion pioneers, but pioneers just the same who conquered their fears and were rewarded with an experience of a lifetime.

Arch-inside-CDurling

 

Christine Durling, Starr Tour Director

 

 

 

 

 

Main Photo Credit Josh Hallett

Top 5 Reasons to Attend an Industry Convention

ABA Marketplace Business Floor
This is the entrance to the business floor where literally millions of dollars of travel business is booked through 1 on 1 meetings with travel buyers and sellers

I just returned from the American Bus Association Annual Marketplace #ABACleveland and although it started on a Saturday morning and lasted 4 full days, it was worth it and here’s why:

 

  1. It’s all about networking.
    Meeting people in your industry is very valuable. Sharing “war” stories and successes is a wonderful thing because you may adopt an idea to your business that works! Or, you might have been thinking of an idea that didn’t work for someone else – this is a way to avoid making mistakes! Building a network also helps increase your business. Industry friends are more likely to refer your company. Worse case scenario: you build friendships to last a lifetime. Case in point I sat next to someone on a FAM tour many years ago and not only do we both use the other’s company (his a tour planning company and mine a charter bus tour company), now we call ourselves friends and will always have a special connection.
  2. Get away from your office and think big.
    Being stuck at our desk day after day sending and responding to emails and managing the day-to-day grind often doesn’t allow us to “step outside” and generate business building ideas. Being away from your desk on a business trip allows you to be creative and brainstorm (with yourself or others) ways to improve your business. On this last trip, I developed two new bus tours that I am very excited about sharing with my customers.
  3. Visit a destination you may not have otherwise visited.
    Who knew I would love Cleveland as much as I did! The people were friendly, the city was clean, and the food was phenomenal. My hotel and the Convention Center were brand new, built for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Some surprise destinations I have visited and enjoyed were Branson, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Colorado Springs and so many more. After visiting new destinations, I use the information I learned to help me plan future bus trips.
  4. Learn the newest developments in your industry.
    Here I am attending a "Women In Buses" seminar. Another great avenue to network and learn at the same time.
    Here I am attending a “Women In Buses” seminar. Another great avenue to network and learn at the same time.

    Even though I get emails (and snail mail) from lots of organizations and Travel Partners, I am not always “in the know” about the latest innovations and trends. Attending an industry convention allows me to learn the latest and greatest things I need to know to improve my business and make it run efficiently. I can’t always assume that I know what’s going on in and around the charter bus and tour industry but attending conventions and industry events keeps me abreast and “in the know.”

  5. Take the opportunity to thank your Travel Partners.
    We do lots for our Travel Partners but there are so many out there that are doing wonderful things for our company and our guests. Thanking someone over email is one thing but thanking them in person brings it to a completely different level. I like the personal interaction and being able to put a smile on someone’s face.

 

So next time a convention alert pops up and you are thinking you’re too busy or don’t have the budget to attend, think about those benefits and maybe, just maybe, you’ll change your mind.

Sandy2013-768x514-cropped

 

Sandy Borowsky, VP Marketing