Categories
North America

Remember the Alamo but Forget Alamo Rental Car

May 1st, 2020

Today Alamo announced all employees are required to wear masks. I don’t know if our posts had anything to do with it, but I assume it didn’t hurt. Let’s hope other car rental companies follow suite. Here is the letter I sent their customer service.

To Whom it May Concern at Alamo Rental Cars / Enterprise Holdings

My name is Robert G. Rose. I’m the producer and host of Raw Travel TV and a recent Alamo customer. On April 1st, 2020 during the beginning of the peak of COVID 19 pandemic in New York City , I decided to travel and self-isolate on the farm where I grew up in Middle Tennessee. I booked a one-way flight to Nashville Tennessee.

After flying on a near-empty flight to Nashville International Airport (BNA), I proceeded to pick up my rental car from Alamo, which I had reserved for 14 days since I knew I would be self-quarantined at least 14 days. During the trip, I took every possible precaution, including wearing a mask and gloves the entire flight and drive home, as well as frequently sanitizing my hands.

When signing paperwork for the vehicle, I asked the gentleman at the counter if I could extend beyond 14 days if needed. He replied I just needed to call into the number on the receipt jacket to do so.

After my initial 14 days of isolation, it became clear that New York City was still not safe. I thought it safer for me and others to remain on my rural farm rather than a small apartment in a crowded city rife with the virus.

On or about April 13th, I called in to extend my rental. I spoke to Michelle, who said she would extend the rental for 14 more days until April 29th at the same weekly rate I’d previously booked. She specifically recommended April 29th as the return date because that date would lock me into a lower weekly rate rather than a more expensive monthly rate. I thanked her and agreed to her terms. She gave a reference #35133893.

I took the opportunity to report to her that the front passenger tire had a leak and was flat on day 2 of the rental, but that we had fixed the tire by plugging it ourselves to avoid any unnecessary contact with roadside assistance. Also, I told her about damage on the rear left fender, which I hadn’t noticed when I had picked up and she said she made a notation

On April 28th, when it became apparent I would not be returning to NYC anytime soon, I called customer service again to inquire about extending the rental for another two weeks. The lady I spoke with informed me that since I had already extended once on the phone, that I would need to go into a physical Alamo location to extend the rental again.

I’m taking safety precautions, why can’t Enterprise Holdings’ Employees?

I asked her if I needed to go to the Nashville Airport location specifically, or if there was a location closer to me where I could take care of it.

After giving her my current zip code, she suggested that I instead go to the Huntsville, Alabama airport (approximately 40 or so miles away from me as opposed to Nashville almost 90 miles away).

Since I had an issue with the tire and back rear damage, I inquired about the possibility of exchanging the vehicle.

She stated that if I wanted to exchange the vehicle, I’d have to do that in Nashville, but if I just wanted to extend the current reservation, I could do so in Huntsville. She stated she was sending a message for Nashville to ring or email me within 48 hours to be certain, but I never heard from them (and my frequent phone calls and emails went unanswered or flipped over to the national customer service).

To my initial confusion, she also insisted that the vehicle was not due back until 6 pm on April 30th, not April 29th as I had in my notes. After a little back and forth, I took her word for that. However, to be sure, I did call back a few hours later and spoke to Robert, who confirmed the information, and he also stressed that the vehicle was not due back until 6 pm on April 30th and he again confirmed that I could extend the rental at the Huntsville airport.

On April 30th, I ultimately chose to extend the car rental in Huntsville because it was 1) closer than Nashville and 2) I was short on time and 3) I could then be assured of keeping the same vehicle which had only had one occupant for the month, so I knew it was clean and safe from infection.

I arrived at Huntsville airport at approximately 5 pm, one hour before the car was supposedly due at 6 pm. I was surprised to see that receivers at the return area were not wearing masks, nor were they seemingly practicing social distancing, even though I had on a mask and gloves and was clearly trying to maintain distance.

When I walked into the airport to extend the rental, the clerk was behind a makeshift plexiglass window, and she did seem to be sanitizing her hands frequently. However, after a few minutes on the computer, she informed me that she was unable to extend the rental beyond one more day.  And when she tried to extend for one additional day the entire bill increased by over 50%.

She seemed incapable of grasping the billing discrepancy but made no attempt to call Customer Service Headquarters or to ask for help from an on-site supervisor who she said was busy with other customers.

So, I called Customer Service while standing there and after getting hung up on by someone initially, eventually spoke to Danilo. He said that because I returned vehicle April 30th instead of April 29th, the extra day had kicked in the monthly rate instead of the weekly rate I’d been quoted.  

Frustrated that was getting late and I was getting nowhere fast, I informed the lady at the counter that I was going to try to drive to Nashville and return it there before they closed. I asked her what time BNA closed. She again was unhelpful and was unable or unwilling to tell me and replied that every location has different hours.

Before heading back to the vehicle to drive to Nashville, now a 2-hour drive instead of a little over an hour drive, it would have been for me initially, I tried customer service once again. I spoke to a young lady whose English-language skills were challenging. However, she did connect me promptly to a supervisor, David.

Unfortunately, David only made this deteriorating situation worse. Instead of helping to resolve the problem, David droned on endlessly without pause how company policy was that rental extensions had to be taken at the physical location where the vehicle was picked up.

When I was finally able to edge a question in, I asked why both previous agents had told me otherwise. David deflected and again went on a long-winded explanation about company policy, without addressing the erroneous information I’d received or offering a hint of apology.  

He also all but accused me of being a liar, saying that he had no record of me extending the vehicle to April 14th. When I gave him the reference number provided, he said he could see in the notes that I’d called in and wanted to extend but saw no evidence of the contract being extended. He kept saying he understood that I thought I had extended but that since Michelle didn’t extend the contract in “the system,” I hadn’t actually extended the agreement. Thus, because I had returned the car a day later, I would be subject to the higher monthly fee. He then added that I was currently in breach of contract because it was past 6 pm on April 30th and would be subject to even more potentially higher penalties and fees.

I asked for David’s employee #, and he gave me #E772PF, but given how the conversation was going, I have doubts that is his real Employee #. If that is indeed David’s employee # and if his role is to de-escalate tension and retain customers, he did the exact opposite. Because of David’s rude tone and could-care-less, glib response to my inquiries, I then decided that I’d return the vehicle to Alamo and use any another car rental company my remaining time in Tennessee and, if I could help it, for any future travel.

When I finally arrived at Nashville Airport about 2 hours later nearing 8 pm (4 hours after I had set out) with a fully gassed up vehicle, the young attendant who received me was without mask and gloveless. He was climbing into the vehicle to check the mileage, etc.

He asked if everything was ok and I told him I was not happy. He then walked me over to the night manager and asked him if he could help me. The mask-less night manager and the other young man were standing right next to each other, about a foot apart. Despite me having a mask and gloves neither appeared to be practicing any social distancing.

When I mentioned there was a pandemic going on, they did apologize and separated a bit. But when I aired my grievances with the night manager, he mumbled something about the car was no longer accruing charges and that he’d take up with management in the morning about my billing and treatment.

I rented another vehicle with Budget Rental Car on the spot paying a premium for the last- minute rental. I sprayed and wiped down the new car from Budget as much as possible and drove home with my mask and gloves on, trying not to touch anything other than what was necessary to drive safely. I arrived back home at about 11 pm, roughly 7 hours from when I’d begun an errand that should have taken 2 hours to complete.

Despite the billing hassles, the repeated misinformation, and the glibly rude treatment by David the supervisor and the shrugging treatment by the Nashville night manager, by far, my biggest concern from this experience was Alamo’s attitude towards customers during this pandemic. Instead of making it easy to extend via telephone, I had to interact with up to 6 people in person yesterday, each seemingly taking safety precautions much less seriously than their customers, many of whom were wearing masks.

This morning, May 1st, Anthony, the Nashville Tri-Brand Manager for Alamo, Enterprise and National called to apologize and straighten out the billing. He informed me that as of today, May 1st, 2020, all Alamo employees are required to wear masks when interacting with customers. Anthony was going to send me an email with his contact info and billing summary, but as of the writing of this letter about 4 hours later, I have not yet received it.

I did, however, also receive a call from Mr. Shawn Hurley, VP of the Middle Tennessee area rental car locations, and he assured me that corporately, Alamo and Enterprise Holdings do take customer safety seriously.  Shawn expressed his frustration at my treatment and said he would do everything he could to improve his staff’s behavior when it comes to safety. I appreciated Shawn’s call and believe he will try his best to address this issue.

Based on my observations, neither Nashville or Huntsville Airport Alamo Rental Car employees are taking enough safety precautions to protect themselves or customers. It’s frustrating to see and hear companies pay lip-service only to something as crucial as customer safety.


I, like many, am extremely challenged during this time. I’m trying to continue to run my business, while working remotely. I am trying to ensure my employees, vendors, freelancers, and others who depend on this show for their livelihood are taken care of while keeping myself and my loved ones safe. I’ve had many friends and friends and relatives of friends who have had COVID 19 and recovered but it was tough. I’ve had others who have not been so fortunate and have succumbed. I take this dangerous disease and health recommendations seriously and if you want my business, I believe you should as well.

I specifically chose Alamo because I felt the service would be better than an off-brand, less expensive choice so I could focus on other, more pressing issues. Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred. As a result, I am behind on my sleep, my work, and my business.

Yet, I consider myself very fortunate compared to so many who have lost so much. I owe it to them to do what I can to communicate the urgency of this matter to others who may not understand or comprehend the potential of this situation. It is absolutely zero fun to watch a pandemic explode all around you, while you wonder if you will be next, or do you already have the virus and not know it or does your neighbor have it or who will die next from the disease or to wonder if you should shelter in place or escape while you can to a safer environment?

I could have easily dropped this matter when the billing discrepancy was adjusted. However, I feel a bigger responsibility to my friends, family, viewers and social media followers to be transparent so that they can potentially avoid any unnecessary safety risks or additional stress during this stressful time. I regret that I cannot recommend Alamo Rental Car to them.

I hope that by publicizing my experience, this may help in some small way bolster Alamo’s commitments to better customer treatment, more robust customer service training, and most importantly, during this unique time, a much more significant commitment to employee and customer safety and health.

Regards,

Robert G. Rose

Executive Producer & Host

Raw Travel TV

Categories
South America

Help Us Feed Those Affected by COVID 19

WATCH RAW TRAVEL SEASON-ONE ON-DEMAND & HELP FEED HUNGRY IN COLOMBIA & GUATEMALA

As tough as the economic toll of this pandemic has been on the USA, it’s been devastatingly worse in many developing countries where the poorest of the poor live day-to-day. These folks, who struggle mightily in the best of times, have been unable to work to garner their daily meals due to lockdown restrictions.

The governments of these countries do not have much if any, social net to speak of. Only private individuals, companies, or NGOs are able to help and they are now struggling as well. The United Nations has issued dire warnings of hunger of biblical proportions is something isn’t done. So what can we do?

We can each do something big or small (a little goes a long way in developing countries) to help trusted and vetted partners address their communities’ hunger.

If you remember my pal Andres Ocampo from Medellin Colombia (Los Suziox lead singer, Raw Travel theme song composer & El Sub music venue owner) from Raw Travel Episode 706 – “Going Solo: Medellin Rocks”? Andres has turned lemons into lemon aid (pun intended). His venue, El Sub is unable to host any events or concerts during the lockdown, so Andres has turned the space into a repository for donated food & toiletry items for the poorest of the poor in El Castilla and surrounding working-class and poor neighborhoods in Medellin, Colombia.

Hungry Homes put out red flags to alert charities that there is a hungry
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA Red flags indicate homes where there are locked in hungry people

People who are unable to feed themselves let their needs be known by placing a red flag outside of their home. As you can see by the photos and videos, there are lots of donated items, but there are lots of red flags outside of homes as well.

MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA: El Sub Video Tour

GUATEMALA: Our old friends at the orphanage of Casa Guatemala are doing something similar in rural Guatemala, collecting funds for their neighbors who are locked in and unable to work and thus feed themselves. Casa Guatemala is a much-respected resource in their rural area of Guatemala near Belize, and they understand that their neighbors are suffering.

We didn’t want to simply call attention, we wanted to come up with a way that our affiliates, vendors, advertisers, and viewers could help, either big or small.

Casa Guatemala is sharing food with their neighbors.

Between now and May 15th, 2020, donate $50 or more to either Casa Guatemala HERE:

or for El Sub’s Relief for Medellin, Colombia HERE: and we will donate the money directly to the organization.

Then simply send us an email of your donation receipt to RawTravel@aimtvgroup.com and we’ll forward you a pass for a free rental pass for Raw Travel – Season 1 good for all 19x episodes of Season One HERE

If $50 is too much to ask for this vulnerable time, we have smaller increments and rewards:

2) Between $6 and $49 donation will get you access to all three of Season One’s Colombia and Guatemala themed episodes:

Or if you prefer to rent any individual Colombia themed (#105 & #105) and/or Guatemala themed (#116) episodes between now and May 15th, the $1.99 entire rental will be donated and split between both organizations.

I know these are tough times, so we are trying to do our best to give you an avenue to help in a small or big way depending on your situation and hopefully at the same time help you remain entertained while at home.

But please if you are suffering economically yourself, do not donate. But if you are like me, feeling blessed at having a fairly secure job and outlook economically I thought this could be a good way to help.

As always, thank you all. God bless and stay safe… and sane. I know, I know… easier said than done.

* Please note this offer to view episodes is limited to viewers in the US only. Sorry Canada and others, it’s a territorial rights issue. But please do feel free to donate if you so desire and still send me an email and we’ll work out a way for you to be rewarded as well.

UPDATE MAY 17th, 2020 : Thanks to the following contributors who helped Casa Guatemala raise several thousand dollars and our pals at Justice for Andres in Colombia raise hundreds of dollars to help feed their neighbors in during the Covid 19 crisis. Special thanks to:

Stacey Pryor – Casa Guatemala

Laura-Lee Gosa.- Casa Guatemala

Rosalba Gordon – Colombia

Judy Smith – Colombia

Heather Pauli – Colombia

Brian Eubanks – Colombia

Lauren Wheat – Colombia

While our fundraiser is no longer active, if you do wish to donate, please feel free to do so at the links above and we will make sure the money gets to the right place as hunger, as you know, doesn’t take a holiday!

Categories
South America

Raw Travel Hits Record Growth 6th Straight Year

Raw Travel visits Omo River Valley in Ethiopia for Season 7

RAW TRAVEL TV HITS ALL-TIME HIGH AUDIENCE GROWTH, YET AGAIN 

– Series Proclaims Authentic Travel is Stronger Than Political, Paranormal or Gossip – 

NEW YORK, NY: December 18th, 2019 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that its internationally syndicated television series Raw Travel® recorded its most substantial audience full season figures to date for its just completed 6th season. With a still-growing affiliate list that includes 173 cities in 95% of U.S. TV households, the 2018-19 Season 6 of Raw Travel was the sixth straight year of both audience and distribution growth.

The producers further crowed that the soon to be completed calendar year of 2019 is on track to be Raw Travel’s best year ever with +4% year to year total audience growth over calendar year 2018. Raw Travel’s continued growth, as most shows face eroding audiences due to fragmentation, continues to surprise observers.

The recently launched Season 7 (2019-20) includes a roster of far-flung destinations including, China, Ethiopia, South Korea, Indonesia, Georgia (the country), Turkey, Ukraine, Lithuania, and more. Closer to home destinations in South America, the Caribbean, and the USA are also featured.

With outlets such as the former Travel Channel switching to “paranormal,” Raw Travel has diversified to showcase a more extensive array of travel, such as Recreational VehiclesRoad Trips, Sailing ExcursionsSolo Travel, Voluntourism, Ecotourism, and more. 

“There is such an obvious void on U.S. television of authentic travel content,” states Robert G. Rose, Executive Producer, and Host. “Cable seems to have lost its bearings, is floundering and frankly seems desperate. We believe this presents a great opportunity for Over the Air, Free Broadcast TV, assuming broadcasters answer the call,” said Rose. “As cable continues to zig, we’ll continue to zag, and as they continue to lose their audience, we’ll continue to grow ours. If they are going to leave the entire niche up to us, we’ll gladly serve it,” Rose Continued.

Also bucking current media trends, Raw Travel has continued to attract younger demographics to broadcast TV while growing traditional core demographics from lead-in programs all across the country. The fiercely independently produced show has ranked #1 or #2 in key demographics in time-slots in significant markets the past six seasons, even when up against network or large studio productions, showcasing viewers’ appetites for authentic shows with socially relevant messaging.

Besides pay-TV outlets in Europe, Asia, and Africa, several major commercial airlines and cruise ships have begun licensing the series, spreading the Raw Travel movement of socially conscious, authentic adventure travel to viewers in all corners of the globe.

A short trailer showcasing Raw Travel’s Six Season growth spurt seasons can be found at www.RawTravelTrailer.com while www.RawTravel.tv and www.RawTravel.tv/wheretowatch offers more info, listings of U.S. cities, affiliates, and time slots.

# # #

ABOUT RAW TRAVEL TV

Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism and voluntourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a unique way. Each weekend the show is seen in over 173 U.S. cities on major broadcast affiliates as well as in several international territories (Asia, Africa, Europe, etc.). It can also be found on several major airlines and soon in Over the Top (OTT Digital) platforms as well.  AIM Tell-A-Vision Group produces and distributes the show domestically. Visit www.RawTravel.tv for more information.

ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP

AIM Tell-A-Vision (AIM TV) Group is an independent content and distribution company founded by media veteran and entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. Since 2000, AIM TV has been producing and distributing positive, compelling content that reflects a mission of presenting “Media That Matters.” Visit www.AIMTVGroup.com for more information.

Categories
Public Relations

“Raw Travel” Season 5 “Firm Go” in Record Number of U.S. Cities

“RAW TRAVEL” IS A FIRM GO FOR SEASON 5 IN 160+ CITIES & 93% OF THE U.S.A.

– Nation’s Leading Travel Show Bucks TV Trend With 5 Years of Rapid Growth –

 NEW YORK, NY: JULY 18th, 2017 AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that their syndicated television series “Raw Travel®” is a firm go for its 5th season of production and syndication this fall. Season 5 will debut in late September and early October in a record number of U.S. cities representing over 165 DMAs in over 105 million and 93% of U.S. TV homes.

Once again, Raw Travel has added several new cities to its affiliate lineup as the syndicated travel show saw its 4th season achieve record audience growth with double digit audience increases.  In the most recent May ratings period, Raw Travel averaged over 850,000 weekly viewers, extending its lead as the “most watched authentic travel show on U.S. commercial television” for three seasons straight.

Continuing a trend begun in Season One, Raw Travel attracted younger viewers away from mobile and cable, over to broadcast TV, while maintaining or growing older demographics from lead-in programs in markets across the country. In numerous large markets, Raw Travel was ranked #1 or #2 in key young demos and time-slots and ranked as one of the top drawing weekend shows for several affiliates.

“Five years is a milestone most TV series never achieve. To still have so much momentum at this stage, is truly remarkable for an independently produced and distributed show” says Executive Producer and Host, Robert G. Rose. “I’m gratified and thankful for the support we’ve received from our affiliates and business associates, but especially from our growing legion of viewers, now from all corners of the globe. Episode number 100, here we come,” Rose continues.

In addition to its domestic growth, Raw Travel continues to expand its international footprint on major networks in territories in Asia (National Geographic People, Amazon, etc.), Europe (Fox, RTL, etc.) and Africa. Raw Travel was also added to several In Flight Entertainment (IFE) offerings on airlines such as Air Canada, Virgin America, Aer Lingus, Finnair and more.

For Season 5, the producers plan to celebrate their milestone season and 100th episode by offering viewers an opportunity to win free trips, clothing, travel gear and more.  In what is being dubbed as a “Season 5 Thank You Giveaway,” Raw Travel hopes to thank and reward their growing throng of loyal viewers.

Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing the wave of socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism, volun-tourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a way unique to television.

Visit http://www.RawTravel.tv and www.RawTravelTrailer.com  for more information.

# # #

ABOUT RAW TRAVEL TV

Raw Travel is the most watched authentic travel show on U.S. commercial television and is a soft adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing the wave of socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism, voluntourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a unique way. Each weekend the show is seen in over 160 U.S. cities, by over 850,000 viewers, and in several international territories (Asia, Africa, Europe, etc.). It can be found on several major airlines and soon in Over the Top (digital) platforms as well.

ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP

AIM Tell-A-Vision (AIM TV) is an independent content and distribution company founded by media entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. AIM TV aspires to produce and distribute positive, compelling content that reflects its mission of presenting Media That Matters. Visit www.AIMTVGroup.com for more information.

 

 

Categories
North America

Happy Independence Day USA

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY USA: – I’m thankful for the unfettered opportunity to present our truthful travel and world experiences directly to our audience, free of government (or corporate) censorship, interference or fear of reprisal.
 
This simple but powerful right is still not enjoyed by too many in the world. May we always remember it, and not take it for granted and/or abuse it by presenting exaggerated, inflated, misleading or manipulated information to support a pre-judged position for the sake of money, power or influence.
 
May we always recognize, that each of us, by our very nature of being human, see things through a prism of beliefs and attitudes already embedded by our unique education, experiences, upbringing and exposure to information.
 
May we always seek to continue to evolve and grow based on new information and knowledge that travel brings and understand that we are all “works in progress” and deserve each other’s honest but respectful dialogue, regardless of whether we agree with someone at any given moment in time.
 
May I judge less and love more and understand that life is a short but powerful gift that should not be squandered.
 
Travel safe (but not TOO safe) out there and Happy Independence Day everyone!
Rob
Categories
Public Relations

Boston Globe Travel Show – Travel With Heart

Thanks again to the fine folks at the Boston Globe Travel Show, J2L Events and all the friendly Bostonians for the amazing hospitality.
Those of you who saw the “How To Travel With Heart” presentation on Saturday didn’t get to see the accompanying videos, so I’m posting links here as well as a link to the PDF of the presentation and finally, my Suggested Reading List.
If you are a traveler AND a reader (ver compatible traits I might add), then check out these books.
I truly enjoyed them and I don’t say that about many books.
– “Humorless Ladies of Border Control” – Franz Nicolay
“How Much is Enough” – Robert & Edward Skidelsky
“Travesty in Haiti” – Timothy T. Schwartz PHD
“Everything That Remains” – The Minimalists
“Tribe” – Sebastian Junger
“Bradt Haiti Travel Guide” – Paul Clammer
VIDEOS:
1) VIDEO 1 – Raw Travel Trailer 
2) VIDEO 2 – Travel with Heart Opening 
3) VIDEO 3 – DIY Voluntourism 
4) VIDEO 4 – Travel With Heart Closing https://vimeo.com/203683821
Categories
North America

Houston – It’s a Wrap!

 

First time filming in Houston, Texas and what an AMAZING experience. Visiting Houston is like visiting several destinations in one swoop.

Like the state where it resides, Texas, Houston is BIG. Massive actually. It’s literally the size of a small state.

But what many may not know is that it’s also very diverse.

We ate a scrumptious Viet-Cajun feast, got outfitted in a custom cowboy hat & boots, participated in a ancient Chinese calligraphy and a tea ceremony in Chinatown and I learned to dance to Zydeco music with the “Queen of Zydeco” at a cajun honky tonk all while taking in some of the quirkiest art scenes I’ve ever experienced and eating some of the most amazing internationally influenced cuisine I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

It was unusually cold (my lips are still chapped), but the people were so warm and hospitable I didn’t feel the chill.

Thank you Houston, for your hospitality and for your kindness and yes for your diversity and quirkiness.

Be big…be Houston…but please don’t ever change, ’cause I love ya just the way you are!

Here is a clip from my appearance  on KPRC – NBC 2’s “Houston Life” . Enjoy!

 

Categories
Public Relations

Raw Travel Expands Global Footprint Into Asia With Nat Geo People

–  Nat Geo People Asia Picks up Hit Travel Series from the U.S.

New York, NY – October 13th, 2016 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that Nat Geo People recently acquired Asian territorial rights to certain episodes of their production, Raw Travel®, the U.S.A.’S #1 most watched syndicated adventure travel & lifestyle series. The series began broadcasting on Nat Geo People in a variety of Asian territories earlier last month.

The announcement is just the latest in a string of licensing deals from Raw Travel’s international distributor Off the Fence Distribution, who has also inked several other deals for the series in territories in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and on a variety of airlines the past several months.

Off the Fence is responsible for licensing Raw Travel (58 x 30’) to media outlets outside of the United States and represents the show at global television markets, including the upcoming market MIPCOM later this month.

Raw Travel is a 30 minute adventure travel & lifestyle series that incorporates two of the fastest growing segments of travel: eco-tourism & voluntourism. The fast paced show focuses on authentic experiences to often off-the-beaten-path destinations as well as other more mainstream destinations. The show recently debuted its 4th season in U.S. Syndication in the United States in 159 cities representing over 93% of U.S. television households.

“We are excited about working with Nat Geo People in Asia and in continuing to work with Off the Fence to expand our international audience even as our U.S. fan base continues to expand” stated Robert G. Rose, Executive Producer and Host. “Raw Travel’s unique perspective and positive message of socially consciousness living among an inclusive worldwide community resonates with global audiences. We are eager to welcome our new viewers and friends from across the globe and let them know we are proud to be citizens of the world with them.”

Visit www.RawTravel.tv  and www.RawTravelTrailer.com for more information.

Categories
Press Public Relations

Raw Travel Featured on Good Day St. Louis

My heart is always pounding hard in my chest when I make an appearance on live TV. I don’t know why it’s so different when I know the cameras are recording my images live as opposed to airing weeks or months later, as is the case on Raw Travel TV.

That said, the friendly folks at Good Day St. Louis on our affiliate KMOV CBS 4 put me at ease and despite my joking about the drivers in St. Louis (they are a little aggressive and I’ve driven in many parts of the world!), the people in St. Louis have always been super friendly, hospitable and polite when I’ve visited.

Thanks for a wonderful time guys.

Here is a video of the interview if you want to see it and while I hate to disappoint, no, I did not pass out from fright… this time. Click HERE to view.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-11-59-46-pm

 

 

 

Categories
Africa

Finally Africa – Joburg, South Africa

10310536_1066140620076138_8735265405113260083_nThis was my first trip to the fabled continent of Africa so I figured what better country to begin than the so called “Gateway” to the continent, South Africa.  Less official nicknames for South Africa include “Africa Light” or “The Livable Africa”. I get a chuckle out of those because after later visiting Ghana, I realized it’s kind of true.

Johannesburg, South Africa or Joburg as the locals refer to it, is the largest city in South Africa and it’s the commercial center but it’s definitely not why most tourists come to South Africa. That would be Cape Town, the safaris and wildlife at places like Kruger National Park or perhaps the beaches of Durban.

This is precisely why we wanted to dig deeper into Johannesburg.  I firmly believe that in every destination, there is a Raw Travel episode waiting to be teased out, probably several actually. This includes the well-traveled spots (i.e. New Orleans, Prague, Costa Rica, etc…. let’s show another side of it) and the more off-the-beaten-path destinations (i.e. Bratislava, Honduras, Laos, etc….let’s show why this place deserves to be visited).

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Madeba is Beloved

I wasn’t sure what to expect in Johannesburg but two words were on my mind… “gritty” and “dangerous”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As you are probably aware, media reports can be wildly subjective and I’ve found, inaccurate. Yet another reason to visit and see it for myself.

The definition of “dangerous” is so relative it’s nearly impossible to define anymore. There is “war zone” danger and there is “everyday” danger.

I believe NYC with its rash of random violence (stabbings on the subways are back) these days, could very well justly be perceived as dangerous, yet I’ve lived here going on 20 years and never had more than a handful of issues that could have easily been avoided and where I came to no harm.

Which is why, I do some research ahead of time and consult not the news media or U.S. government web sites but travel blogs, social media and other travelers before I go.

Turns out Johannesburg WAS dangerous…. 10 years ago.

 

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The Kids of Alexandra Township

Well, since I’m not traveling back in time, Johannesburg needed an update and I intended to do my best to see what was up in this city and this included hitting up the “dangerous” townships and neighborhoods where “poverty” exists.

Granted we were going with guides and granted, I probably would not have gone to these particular spots by myself at night with expensive camera equipment but that is just because I had no reason to, not because I perceived any danger whatsoever at any point. I’d like to think after 50 or so countries my “danger radar” is getting pretty fine-tuned and it ran silent the entire time. That doesn’t happen everywhere. 

The reality is, that in the 3 township tours that we took… Alexandra, Soweto and Hillbrow… I found absolutely zero reason to be concerned and I felt 100% welcomed and almost, I hesitate to say it, but beloved.

I don’t know how else to describe the warmth of feeling when total strangers stop you in the street to hug you.. when kids wave and jump as you pass by and others wildly jump in your arms to give you a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and clap and sing and basically are so full of goodness, and lack of cynicism that I am still emotional typing these words weeks after my visit.

Soweto Bicycle Tours
Rendani & I with Soweto Bicycle Tours

Perhaps I should not have been surprised in a land where the likes of Nelson Mandela and his legacy still loom so large. Madeba is beloved here and it’s infectious.   

But beloved is the word I feel and thus what I will use.

My annoyance quickly faded to true affection for the Joburg Tourism folks and their staffers after they left us hanging at the Joburg airport waiting for a ride for well over an hour (after a 19 hour flight from NYC and after confirming numerous times beforehand that a driver would be meeting us at the airport when we landed). Severely jet lagged, exhausted and facing 16 days of a brutal work and travel schedule with little sleep ahead normally puts me in a somewhat surly mood.

From our driver, now my pal, Mndeni at Zeigen Tours and Rendani at Joburg Tourism and the rest of the crew like our local cameraman Mike Bell (one of the most talented and professional I’ve ever worked with), to Jimmy, a local guide who tagged along… to the dozens of other folks we met on the ground at the different filming locations… their spirit of friendliness and lack of guile completely extracted any negative thoughts or anger issues from my mind. 

But how can they be so happy and joyful? 

Mndeni & I at Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Mndeni & I at Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

This was after all where Apartheid reigned up until just a few years ago. I mean in the U.S. we went through our Civil Rights period in the 1960s and today it seems, if you believe the media at least, race relations are as bad as ever.

Yet in South Africa where apartheid reigned until as recently as the mid-1990s, this was a place that, in my short time there I observed, was so lacking in bitterness and pessimistic thinking, even in the poorest of areas, that I couldn’t help but think “what are we in the U.S. doing wrong?”

Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison, but still… one has to be impressed with the way South Africa and Joburgers in particular have embraced their history. They are not ashamed of it. In fact they almost seem to celebrate it, proud that they found reconciliation or so it seemed to me. Now granted an outsider in town for a very limited amount of time but this is how I saw it.  

Yes, apartheid was a travesty of human relations and people died and were severely mistreated for many, many years but as Madeba instructed through his own extreme example of forgiveness, it appears to have been relegated to the past by most and almost everyone we met seemed focused on the present… a loving and more caring present and an hopeful, optimistic future. 

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Of course there are problems (we witnessed 3 car accidents in our short time there). Of course there is inequality (we stayed at some very nice hotels while the Townships we visited are super raw). Yes, there is a massive difference between the needs of the wealthy vs. the everyday folks but there is no way it could be described as a hotbed of danger, divisiveness and crime as I’d allowed myself to subconsciously believe.  

Johannesburg is by no measure ugly. It’s big, traffic is tough sometimes and it’s spread out, but it’s a place I’d gladly return. But even if it were a hellhole, I’d still go back to be with the people. Because I cannot emphasize this enough, it’s the PEOPLE who put the heart into a place and it’s the people of Johannesburg I will always remember.

With the Crew
With the Crew in Hillbrow

Thank you Joburg for not treating me like a walking ATM or as an outsider or interloper or exploiter, but instead as a fellow human being.

Raw Travel Episode #313 – “We Heart Johannesburg” will premiere in the U.S. April 30th and May 1st in the U.S. Click HERE for tune in info and see more photos from Johannesburg trip HERE. 

With the Rasta / Reggae Band "Tidal Waves"
With the Rasta / Reggae Band “Tidal Waves”