PODCAST EPISODE 56

The travel opportunities in 2023 with Edward Leos from The Hotel Guide

One of the best ways to spend your money is to travel.

Sure, its benefits are not as tangible as buying a house or a car, and it lasts only for a limited time.

But priceless experiences which then become dear memories are the reward.

Of course, there is a risk the travel you look forward to can turn out to be a disappointment, but there are some key aspects to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Today, Edward Leos from The Hotel Guide shares how to reverse the risk of making travel choices you regret and the many opportunities to have lasting travel experiences that await you in 2023.

Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • Why cruises are getting a worthy travel opportunity for you to make lasting memories again ([6:33])
  • How to keep an overview of the abundant travel options (without worrying about making the wrong decision) ([8:03])
  • The many opportunities of wellness travel (and how it helps you to restore your mind and body) ([9:10])
  • A travel expert’s advice on traveling on a budget (without the burden of constant flight delays) ([11:54])
  • The “Playlist” method to creating vivid travel experiences you remember even after decades ([14:49])

 

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TRANSCRIPT: 

Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the State of Texas—and, now, here’s your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.

Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group, and you’re listening to Retire in Texas. Before we get started, I need to give you our legal disclosure. This information is intended to be general in nature only. It’s not intended to be specific investment, tax, or legal advice. Visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information.

If you need to speak to an advisor for 15 minutes, you just text the word “Texas” to the number 74868, and we’ll connect you with one of our advisors. They have hearts of a teacher and they can help guide you, and if you decide that it’s a good fit, then you may eventually be a part of our PAX ecosystem, which is a great community of people that talk about life, money and business, but we have about 1,400 households and we continue to grow, so thank you all for your trust at PAX. [01:19].5]

Today we’re going to talk travel. My friend Ed Leos, Edward Leos is here. I’m actually looking forward to this one because I have an interest in travel. We were just talking beforehand about how it is a good use of money and I was thinking about how stuff can burden you, like, okay, if you have multiple houses and cars, those things are fun, but sometimes it could actually be a burden. But when you spend money on memories, man, it just lasts forever, so we want to talk about travel today.

Before we get started, because you’re in the travel business, let’s take a step back. Are you originally from San Antonio?

Edward: Yeah, actually I’m born and raised here in San Antonio. The ironic thing is I’m actually what I would consider myself, a Fiesta baby. I was literally born downtown at the Nix Hospital right before the Battle of Flowers Parades. [02:10].1]

Darryl: Is that right?

Edward: Yeah. I like to say that during Fiesta week, it’s always a celebration for my birthday as well, which is kind of a cool thing.

Darryl: That is cool.

Edward: But, yeah, born and raised here, and, yeah, this is home for me.

Darryl: Where did you go to high school at?

Edward: I actually went to John Marshall High School.

Darryl: Now, you weren’t in San Antonio your whole life.

Edward: Yeah, I stepped away from San Antonio going back and forth. I was actually helping a friend of mine run a couple of companies in Southeast Missouri, so I did that actually during the Covid time.

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: I would go and work over there, and then come back to San Antonio, see my kiddos. But then I just made the change where I said I’ve got to get back to San Antonio. I’ve got a daughter at Texas A&M, she’s a freshman, Kendall, and then Lauren is a senior now at Ronald Reagan High School.

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: And then, I have my son Garrett who’s 25, and he’s in the Army National Guard Reserves. Literally just got back from Kuwait, a deployment there. [03:02].4]

Darryl: So cool.

Edward: Really.

Darryl: And y’all are about to go on a father-son weekend.

Edward: We actually are, which is kind of, I mean, we’re going to Vegas. He just turned 25. I told him, “Hey, when you get back from your deployment, let’s go to Las Vegas together,” and celebrate his birthday and then also just being back, and it all kind of lined up. We’ve got– It’s always good to have some sponsored travel.

Darryl: Yeah, I mean, you’re in the travel business, right? You can call up a few people. Now let’s get into that. How did you even get into this space? And I guess before I get into that, let’s define what you do now.

Edward: Yeah, definitely. Actually, I stayed here to go to college. I went to the– at the time it was Incarnate Word College.

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: And my background, I got a BA in Communication Arts, so I’m actually a journalist. My first job out of college was with The Hotel Guide. It was the Hotel Guide of San Antonio. It was the magazine had literally been out one edition and I literally took a chance to work with the former owner, Robert, who owned a graphic design studio. [04:01].3]

It’s ironic because I had another job offer to be an employment recruiter, which I did that a little bit in college for more money. But just something pulled me to The Hotel Guide and that was probably the greatest decision that I ever made. When I was 25, Robert sold me the magazine.

Darryl: Oh, wow.

Edward: So, I was a 25-year-old entrepreneur, publisher of a nationally-distributed travel magazine that had started back in 1993.

Darryl: That’s so cool.

Edward: And so, back in 1997, we actually got TheHotelGuide.com online, so we were online before the internet was cool.

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: Which is kind of a cool thing, because I’ve had a lot of people wanting to buy the name, wanting to buy, just because of what it is, but we’ve really come a long way with it. Nowadays, instead of direct mailing, I actually direct email the magazine to over 24 million subscribers yearly.

Darryl: Wow.

Edward: A total of. Then we also have our website. We have our social media channels. And then, just like this, I have a travel podcast. [05:06].2]

Darryl: What’s the name of that podcast?

Edward: Travel Talk. Travel Talk. Yeah, it’s just pretty basic right now. We’ll be very aggressive going into next year, which actually next month, it’ll actually be our 30th year in business, so we’re excited about that.

Darryl: The Hotel Travel Guide, the publication is your business.

Edward: The Hotel Guide.

Darryl: Did I say that wrong? The Hotel? I said the Hotel Travel Guide. Yeah, The Hotel Guide.

Edward: The Hotel Guide, and it’s basically a destination publication, and so we have anywhere from local getaways, and I call that anywhere inside the United States. Then we have a destination section, so that’s anywhere outside of the United States travel-wise. I have a wellness section because wellness travel is just off the charts.

Darryl: You’ve been talking a lot about that lately.

Edward: Big time. Prior to Covid, wellness travel was trending big time. Post-Covid, you’re seeing a lot of hotels almost making any kind of wellness opportunities mainstream, which is important. Our companies actually align. We’re an official media partner of the Wellness Tourism Association, which is an international wellness travel organization, if you will. [06:10].0]

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: And their whole premise and their whole mission is to promote wellness tourism and what it means.

Darryl: Okay.

Edward: And, again, it goes beyond the, hey, you’re just going to come and have hotel massages and stuff like that. I think we were talking about that a few days ago. It’s about the experiences of just resetting yourself at times. It could be with the family, it could be individually, and there’s just so many opportunities with that side of things.

Darryl: There’s so many different areas to get into, but when I think of hotel travel, it’s much more than that and you’ve already alluded to that. Let’s shift gears because it’s all things travel, and let’s shift gears and talk cruises. Is that okay?

Edward: Sure.

Darryl: And then we’ll come back to some of the other stuff because I don’t want to get into wellness, but I want to make sure we hit on cruises because I know a lot of people in our community that just love cruises. First, with Covid and everything, are cruises safe today? I mean, what have you seen? [07:01].4]

Edward: It’s ironic, because actually my sister-in-law is a cruise consultant, and so I was actually talking to her recently, but cruises are coming back with a vengeance. I think it’s affordable. It’s economical. You can go see many different places nowadays, whether it’s being here in Texas. Obviously, going out of Galveston is a possibility as well. I know that they’ve added some new lines. I forgot the cruise line themselves, but they’ve added some new ships out there in Galveston.

As far as the Covid restrictions, they’re pretty much gone. I mean, I think it’s like everything else with travel. You’re seeing if you want to wear a mask, go ahead and wear a mask, but there’s no requirements the way it used to be before, which is a great thing not only for cruises, but just travel, in general.

Darryl: Yeah. I didn’t really prep you for this and I know you’re not in the cruise consulting business, but is there a preferred line that you’ve seen over the years?

Edward: Oh gosh, there’s so many out there nowadays and I think it really just depends on what you and your family want. One of the things that I would highly recommend, I know that we’ve talked a little bit about, hey, travel consultants, travel agents – [08:09].3]

Darryl: Yeah, yeah.

Edward: – and the importance that they play. I actually think that’s hugely important, particularly when you’re spending that kind of money for a family or for a group, or even just you and your wife, it’s really good to talk to a consultant that’s been there and done that.

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: When I was talking to my sister-in-law about that, she has her agency and she’s been on so many different cruises in the last year, and one of the things she’s talking about is she’s going on a 30-day cruise with my niece, and so it’s really neat when you have the people who have experienced those things. So, while I haven’t had the experience of a cruise in a long time, a really long time, the cruising aspect is actually going to be included in my magazine starting in 2023.

We had a cruise section prior to Covid, and then, obviously when Covid hit well, there was nothing going on in travel, but there was nothing to really even talk about when it came to cruises because everything just shut down. But it’s nice to see that that side of the travel community has come back and is doing really, really well. [09:10].5]

Darryl: That’s encouraging then. We’re also seeing this trend now. I’m looping back around on the wellness thing. We’re seeing this trend in wellness. I don’t know why, but my mind has these– I don’t mind doing yoga, but I just have this picture of this weird yoga stuff and, I don’t know, cucumbers on the eyes. I don’t know. What does wellness mean?

Edward: It’s what it means to you.

Darryl: Okay.

Edward: I mean, it can be that.

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: Sure, it can be. I’ve been here in Texas and we were talking about this Lake Austin Spa Resort, one of my favorite places to visit. The experience that they had, having organically-derived food, almost farm-to-table, they grew that.

Darryl: That is good stuff, I’ve got to admit it, yeah.

Edward: That’s fantastic, and then you have the water there. It’s about the activities that they have. Mindfulness, if you will, they encourage you not to have your cell phone at the table, not to have it while you’re walking around the property, which I think that’s great. [10:01].7]

I have another client up in Canada I have not been to yet, but they’ve invited me to, it’s a former monastery and, literally, they have those things. They have the yoga. They have the “Hey, let’s try and be quiet and get re-centered.”

Darryl: Yeah.

Edward: Now, that’s probably maybe a little more of the extreme, but even prior to Covid, there were some Vegas properties that had wellness floors. You’re talking about orange-infused showers. You’re talking about mood music to help you go to sleep, the lighting and all that stuff, too. So, even prior to Covid, there was that happening already. Now you’re seeing more of that.

Darryl: Interesting. I did go to a resort not too long ago and I’ve started to enjoy some of the nicer things as I get older. I didn’t have this stuff growing up, but getting to go out there a little bit, and this resort had this nice shampoo that had mint and jasmine and all this chamomile stuff in it. I was like, Man, this is good. I’m going to have to go to– because I really felt relaxed, so, yeah, I can pick that up. It’s just that it takes a little while to learn to appreciate it and just rest. [11:04].6]

I was reading just the other day in a book and it was talking about how, in America, we’ve kind of misunderstood the difference between relief and restoration, and relief would be like, Okay, I’m going to go home and I’m going to eat some ice cream to relieve me of a busy day or drink a beer because I need to relax, or whatever that relief is.

But our bodies and our souls are asking for restoration. You need to get out, just breathe some air. A hunting blind can do that for me, right? I can be in a hunting blind for three or four or five hours. But, yeah, so some of that restoration is important. From what I’ve known from you, that idea of wellness is a key element of a lot of your content. Is that right?

Edward: It actually is. When you’re talking about restoration and wellness, they go hand in hand, post-Covid. You’re also seeing a lot of adventure travel. You’re seeing a lot of outdoor travel. You’re seeing a lot of “Hey, let’s get in a car and drive somewhere.” All of that’s increased ever since post-Covid, if you will. A lot of people are looking at airlines and you’re seeing a lot of flight delays. You’re seeing a lot of things like that. [12:12].6]

Darryl: Oh, it drives me nuts.

Edward: Yeah. In fact, I was just reading something earlier today that airlines are actually buffering and adding more minutes. Let’s just say it took 60 minutes to get to a destination. Now they’re adding on another 20 minutes, so there’s a buffer between being late and all of that stuff, too. Then, also, too, one of the things I was reading is they’re flying slower to save on gas and it’s actually rather interesting. I think it was JetBlue that saved two minutes off the time, and in a year, they saved over 13 million just from doing that.

Darryl: They added two minutes more on time?

Edward: Less, by going slower.

Darryl: Oh, I see, yeah, okay.

Edward: Yeah, so instead of burning the fuel, going faster to get somewhere, now they’re slowing things down, which, for us, we want to get there fast.

Darryl: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Edward: If you’re going to Las Vegas, you don’t want to waste time. You want to be there. [13:04].7]

Darryl: But, yeah, I mean, that makes sense, and I guess there’s just a risk/reward profile there you said, but, look, I think people can tolerate an extra two minutes if it’s going to save us this amount of money.

Edward: Oh, exactly. Yep, go ahead.

Darryl: For those that maybe have a budget, what do you say to those people? You’ve already alluded to all different adventure and wellness and cruises. Is there anything in particular that you can think of?

Edward: I think doing your research is important. There’s so much out there on the internet to be able to gravitate to. I think when you decide on a destination or a place to visit, there’s always tons of budget-friendly options. If you were coming to San Antonio and you went to the city’s website, VisitSanAntonio.com, you’re going to find all kinds of options and budget, and stuff like that. Obviously, hotels will probably be your most expense, your greatest expense, if you will. Where do you want to stay? Do you just want to have a place to sleep? Then there’s a budget-friendly.

Darryl: Right, yeah.

Edward: If you want to have the glitz and glamor, there’s those options as well. [14:00].0]

Darryl: Do you have deals on your website?

Edward: Not yet. Not yet, but we’ve got some things in the works with some partners, because I think one of the biggest things that I’m missing on my website is the ability for you to book your travel directly through my site.

Darryl: Right now, if I understand you correctly, your site is going to be predominantly ways that people can educate themselves.

Edward: Yeah.

Darryl: Okay, cool.

Edward: It is primarily educationally-driven with the content. We’re a hundred percent advertising-supported. That’s how I make my money, and I design the magazine from top to bottom and I have writers from all over the world who provide content. Some of my writers, I’ve never even met in person, so that’s the power of the internet.

Darryl: Yeah, no kidding.

Edward: And they’ve been doing that for years, and so it’s an exciting time—2023 is going to be a banner year for the company, and for traveling, I believe, in general.

Darryl: Yeah, I just love the idea of making memories I always tell my kids, because we do a lot of road trips since I have six kids. “Dad, why do you always create a playlist?” I’m like, Because it’s time travel. When you have a song, you play the same song 10 years from now, it’s going to take you back to this moment in time. 

So, making memories is important for our family. Traveling is important. With a family of six, we have to be reasonable, so there’s road trips, and every now and again, we’ll do flights and stuff, but it’s some effort. But there’s so many things to do with Texas, too. [15:17].8]

Edward: Hundred percent.

Darryl: Like you mentioned, Austin, the wellness, I still have to visit that place, but we went to Big Bend and that was amazing, and South Padre and even things to do out of Galveston.

Edward: Yeah.

Darryl: So, yeah, there’s plenty to do in Texas. I hope you cover some Texas in your magazine.

Edward: We have a huge Texas feel to it. I served on a state travel board here in Texas, so Texas has always been my home. It will always have a high priority. San Antonio is always predominantly in the magazine as well. But, yeah, Texas, literally, you could go somewhere every weekend.

Being where we are in San Antonio, I mean, we’re almost in the heart of the state, so you can kind of go south, east, west, or north, and find someplace. I mean, it’s nice, you can pick up the family and drive to Dallas on a Friday, come home on Sunday, and still have experiences that are pretty powerful. [16:05].4]

Darryl: Now, I would tell you one thing, if I were ever to run for governor, and I’m not going to—people have asked me that, if I’d run for governor. I’m not running for governor—but because I would actually work with the Mexican government or whatever cartel is responsible for the most beautiful parts of Mexico, and I would collaborate to bring travel to that. I mean, we’re in San Antonio. You could drive three and a half hours, four hours, and be in beautiful parts of the world in Mexico, and we can’t because it’s not safe.

Edward: Yeah.

Darryl: I think that’s a missed opportunity.

Edward: It’s actually closer, I believe, to drive to Monterrey than it is to Dallas from here.

Darryl: Right? And beautiful areas.

Edward: Yeah.

Darryl: Yeah, it’s just a disappointment, but maybe one day.

Edward: Hopefully, because, at one point, we used to distribute our magazine in Mexico.

Darryl: I used to go across the border all the time to get Chick-fil-A’s and my shoeshine. I need my shoeshine, right?

Edward: Sure.

Darryl: And eat at Garcia Gomez. But those days are not here now.

Edward: No.

Darryl: But maybe down the road. In the meantime, I hope you do a lot of coverage on Texas. And let’s give our listeners a one-more-time reminder of your website. [17:04].6]

Edward: Okay, so it’s www [dot] “the”, T-H-E, “hotel”, H-O-T-E-L, guide, G-U-I-D-E [dot] com. TheHotelGuide.com.

Darryl: Love it, and so as they’re continuing to look for resources and ideas, I’ll make sure and encourage them to go to that website to learn more about just brainstorming on how to make memories for their family. Then one more question before we go, the most important question, and that’s …

Edward: I know what this is.

Darryl: What’s your favorite salsa?

Edward: Dude, I mean, I’m Hispanic, so it’s got to be my mom’s.

Darryl: Wait, you’re Hispanic?

Edward: I’m a hundred percent Hispanic, yeah.

Darryl: Okay, thank you for telling me that. I had no idea.

Edward: Yeah, actually, my grandfather is from Mexico.

Darryl: We talked about that.

Edward: But, yeah, no, definitely my mom’s.

Darryl: Your mom’s?

Edward: A hundred percent.

Darryl: So, what is it? Is it hot or …?

Edward: She varies it. I’d say, it’s probably on the medium scale, but she can spice it up a little bit, but, yeah, it’s–

Darryl: Red? Green?

Edward: Red.

Darryl: Oh, man.

Edward: Yeah, red with the green peppers and tomatoes, and then, yeah, it’s– [18:00].6]

Darryl: Fresh?

Edward: It’s fresh, yeah.

Darryl: Yeah. Now, did you learn her recipe?

Edward: Not yet.

Darryl: Okay, you’ve got to get it.

Edward: But we were actually talking about that a couple of days ago. I’ve got to get the rice and the beans, and the salsa recipe down so I’ll be able to do that myself.

Darryl: Right? Yeah, I love it. Okay, and then I’ll have to try it.

Edward: Definitely. I’ll bring you some. It’s good stuff.

Darryl: Love it.

Edward: Yeah.

Darryl: Thank you so much, Edward. This has been fun, man. Like I said, I could go another half-hour, because I have a lot of different questions, but let’s just keep the dialogue going. Maybe we can have you back sometime.

Edward: I would love that.

Darryl: Because I think next year is going to be a really cool year, and if you’re doing some cool stuff, we’ve got to share it with the audience.

Edward: Yeah, definitely so. It would be fun.

Darryl: Thank you, and thanks for staying to the end. I appreciate it. It does go by fast, and I hope you learned a little something. At the very least, I hope it encourages you to go travel. There’s so many different ways to travel, make memories and see things and do things, and chase down some history and feel some different weather, and so I just hope it encourages you at the very least.

Again, for those that stay to the end, I thank you, and I want to remind you that you think different when you think long-term. Have a great day. [19:01].7]

 

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