Guido Adelfio on his passion for travel –
“It’s hard work. It’s a lot of energy to fly to Europe for three days, do stuff the whole time, and fly home and head right back to the office, but I love it. The beneficiaries of that are our clients.”
A Ockershausen: We have a special guest here today for Our Town. A man who knows Our Town and probably knows your town and their town and every town. It’s Guido Adelfio from Bethesda Travel, a very, very dear friend of WMAL for so many years. Guido, where did Bethesda Travel start?
Guido Adelfio: Good morning, Andy!
A Ockershausen: We did that already.
Guido Adelfio: We did that?
A Ockershausen: It’s not morning, it’s night.
La Familigia, Antonio and Margaret Adelfio, and Bethesda Travel
Guido Adelfio: Thanks for having me. Bethesda Travel started in a dream of my parents. In 1961, my father was working for Air France.
A Ockershausen: He had been in the Italian Air Force.
Guido Adelfio: He had been in the Italian Air Force. He was trained as a lawyer. They met in Capri, believe it or not. Got married here in the States. Went back to Italy. I was born. Back to Canada.
A Ockershausen: I’ve been to your place where you were born, if you remember that.
Guido Adelfio: That’s right. That’s true.
A Ockershausen: I loved it.
Guido Adelfio: Then, we stayed a few years in Canada. He got his law degree. Came to the States, practiced as a lawyer then started working for Air France. He was doing very well. The way I heard it, I was a child at the time, there was a promotion. Well, the French guy got the promotion and the Italian guy was left sitting at the desk. He said, “The heck with this. I’m going to start my own business.” That was in December of 1961.
A Ockershausen: Oh my god . . .that’s 70-some years ago.
Guido Adelfio: Well, not quite, but …
A Ockershausen: Feels like 70 years.
Guido Adelfio: Almost 60.
A Ockershausen: Guido, but did he start in Bethesda?
Guido Adelfio: In Bethesda, right on Waverly Street. If you’re familiar with the Vamoose Bus?
A Ockershausen: Yes.
Guido Adelfio: Where it stops on that same block, we had a rented office. In the day, it was the Suburban Trust Bank Building. Nearby, you had the Hot Shops. No metro yet. Bethesda’s really changed.
A Ockershausen: You mentioned two businesses that don’t exist anymore.
Guido Adelfio: Correct.
A Ockershausen: Suburban Trust and Hot Shop.
Guido Adelfio: There was also a Dart Drug.
A Ockershausen: That’s what happens.
Guido Adelfio: There was a Dart Drug and a Grand Union. There was a Grand Union. A lot of stuff.
A Ockershausen: Guido, when he started in the business, it was a different world, of course. He was on the ground floor of what was going to be the future, is travel.
Guido Adelfio: Correct.
A Ockershausen: I mean, people who help other people travel.
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: He was really on the ground floor.
What Stamps Had to Do With It
Guido Adelfio: When he was in University, he had two experiences, actually, three. One as a child. His uncles had a shipping agency. They used to bring home, this was a kid in the ’30s in Italy, Mussolini was in charge. They used to bring home stamps from all over the world, decorated stamps. Sri Lanka, Brazil, Finland. As a child, that wakened him up that there was a world outside of Palermo, Sicily.
A Ockershausen: Amazing.
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely. That woke up his imagination. Then, after the war, he went in the Air Force. Then, he was in University. At that time, he had two jobs. One was, I think he thought he would meet more girls, but he got a job at the fledging Club Med that started right after the war as a tour guide.
A Ockershausen: A Club Med!
Guido Adelfio: Taking people, French visitors, it was called “Club Maaseik,” at the time. This was ’48, ’49. Then, he morphed that into a job at the train station in Palermo assisting travelers who had come in with hotel bookings, tour guides, transportation, etc. I basically learned at his knee how to do those things that he learned as a child in Sicily in the ’40s.
A Ockershausen: Which gave him a leg up when he got in business, he knew what he was doing.
Guido Adelfio: Positively. He knew Europe well.
A Ockershausen: Oh, yeah.
Guido Adelfio: Had the people skills.
A Ockershausen: A fountain of information.
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely. He understood the airline business, which at the time, was very important since he worked for Air France. He was trained as a lawyer so he understood the legalities of business.
Antonio “Tony” and Margaret “Maggie” – Team Adelfio
A Ockershausen: Between your mother and father, Maggie your mom, they gave you the smarts to get in the business. You worked with him for a long time before …
Guido Adelfio: 22 years. They were a great team because my father was the outgoing, the front man, always had a joke. My mother was a little more retiring.
A Ockershausen: She ran the business.
Guido Adelfio: She kept the books. She kept everything straight, kept track of everything.
A Ockershausen: What a great team.
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: Wonderful, wonderful. Tell us about your involvement, not yours, but your father’s involvement with WMAL to me. I was there when we started Bethesda Travel on the air. God, I don’t know, that must have been in the ’50s.
Guido Adelfio: Mid-60s.
A Ockershausen: Had to be after Harden and Weaver started.
WMAL and Bethesda Travel – Travel the World
Guido Adelfio: The way I heard this story was that they were on a plane together to Paris. My father met Harden and Weaver. He was an outgoing guy, introduced himself. They got to Paris. He introduced them to dinner. I’m sorry, he invited them to dinner, in Paris. They made friends. They’re passing the wine. A lot of jokes. Then, they came home and six weeks later, they walked into his office and said, “We’d like to do a listener trip.” That was the beginning of honestly, I’m so appreciative to you, Andy, for setting the tone and to WMAL for putting our business on their map in Washington.
A Ockershausen: It was such a pleasure to work with Tony on all the trips that the guys wanted to make. I was startled by the fact that after a day or two on the air, talking about a trip to wherever …
Guido Adelfio: Would sell out.
A Ockershausen: Tony would say, “We’re sold out.”
Guido Adelfio: 85 people.
A Ockershausen: “We can’t take anybody else.”
Guido Adelfio: It was great. They’d buy two ads and sell 85 tickets.
A Ockershausen: It was great, but your dad went on most of the trips.
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: In later years …
Guido Adelfio: Then, when I came along, I started.
A Ockershausen: He started sending you because it was too much for him.
Guido Adelfio: I went with Harden and Weaver multiple times to Barrett. Elsie, I went with Bill and Shirley Mayhugh, Felix and June Grant, Bill and Chris, Trumbull and Core. We had a lot of fabulous trips.
A Ockershausen: A litany of names.
Guido Adelfio: Tom Gauger.
A Ockershausen: Everybody here was involved in travel for whatever reason and they all used Bethesda Travel, plus all our relatives did and our friends did. It was like … Being a family business, you guys provided such good care of all of our people, so it was a great relationship.
Guido Adelfio: Thank you.
A Ockershausen: Your father used to ask me to go on the trips. The fact is, I never, ever accepted a free trip. Then, Guido took over and I started paying. I said, “Your father asked me free. Why am I paying you?” He said, “My father’s not here. You’ll pay.” All these trips added to the lure of WMAL …
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: … and the market.
Guido Adelfio: Beyond that …
A Ockershausen: People would come back and talk about it.
Guido Adelfio: For sure. When they had a gap in their programming, because it was all live radio at the time.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Guido Adelfio: It wasn’t canned. They were spontaneous, very exuberant. When they had nothing to talk about, which was very often, what would they talk about? The trip.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. Where they’ve been and what they did. Where they want to go? We did the Oktoberfest one year with Bill and Chris.
Guido Adelfio: St. Patrick’s Day.
A Ockershausen: We did St. Patrick’s Day.
Guido Adelfio: Remember that?
A Ockershausen: I’ll never forget, being [in Ireland on] St. Patrick’s Day with Harden and Weaver and Trumbull and Core, and this big parade is starting. The first group comes through in the parade, they’re from Fairfax, Virginia.
Guido Adelfio: Perfect.
A Ockershausen: It was a marching band from the Fairfax, Virginia high school, in Ireland, in Dublin, right downtown.
Guido Adelfio: Perfect.
A Ockershausen: It was a great, great memory. I’m going to be right back. I’m going to ask you some questions and give you some names, but right now, we’re going to take a break, Guido.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town, with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
The Travel Industry Has Changed – Computers, Deregulation, Commissions, etc.
A Ockershausen: We’re back here with Guido Adelfio and Bethesda Travel. The thing that Guido has pointed out and is talking about the few minor things. The businesses are gone, but how the travel industry has changed dramatically in your career.
Guido Adelfio: Huge changes. Remember, I started, I learned from someone. I was basically an apprentice to someone who learned this stuff when Truman was President.
A Ockershausen: On the ground floor.
Guido Adelfio: On the ground floor. Think about the communication. The letter. If you had any money, you could send a Telex. Telex. It was paid by the word, so you learned a very cryptic way of speaking. You’d type a few words.
A Ockershausen: To save money.
Guido Adelfio: Say, “Stop.” You’d put words together because you paid by the word. You had to learn to communicate in a cryptic way that was accurate. Over time, we started using the telephone more. When I was a kid, to call Europe, you had to make an appointment.
A Ockershausen: To get on the line.
Guido Adelfio: You’d wait around all day and the phone would come on. Then, the operator would be there. You’d talk with your watch in your hand in 2 minutes and 59 seconds, you’d hang up. That call might cost $20, $30, which was like $200 today. Now, we think nothing of it. We talk all the time. We send texts. We send emails. We used to use the mail for vouchers for checks, international banking. You had all the currencies in Europe. It was a very complex world.
Now, there’s just the Euro, the pound, the Swiss Franc, a few Norwegian, and Danish, Swedish, a few odd currencies, but primarily, it’s the Euro. Change everything.
A Ockershausen: Also, the industry that you serve has changed dramatically, whether it be steamships or airplanes or trains or automobiles, they’ve also changed in addition to your business changed, their business has changed.
Guido Adelfio: Totally. Not only that, the public taste for travel, we’ll get to in a moment, but in the day, they didn’t have an outlet for information. It was a commission-based business. The added value was that we would purvey at the time of steamship, believe it or not, steamship schedule, airline schedule, the airfares, it was all mandated by the government. They would send out a packet once a month. You’d put in the new tariff, put in the new pages. You’d have to leaf through and look it up. There was no computer.
A Ockershausen: The government set the prices, correct?
Guido Adelfio: Positively, before deregulation. Then, in the late ’70s, you started having a little more computer activity. Airline ticketing by computer. Up to then, they were written by hand.
A Ockershausen: Saber. American Airlines, right? The first one I remember.
Guido Adelfio: Apollo. They all came in. That was a C-change to the industry. Well, at the time, they called it a “mainframe.” You’d have a dummy terminal on your desk with this screen about this deep. Just blue, no color. You’d type away. There was MS-DOS. There was no Windows at the time. Then, Windows came. That changed everything. Then, the technology of Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, that was the next C-change. The other C-change was Google and Ask Jeeves. All those access to information. It made a huge difference in the distribution of the product.
A Ockershausen: Did they also change the commission for agents, because you used to get commission?
Guido Adelfio: That’s what happened. There used to be added value in us providing information.
A Ockershausen: You were like an employee of the company.
Guido Adelfio: Basically, we were underpaid clerks …
A Ockershausen: You represented them.
Guido Adelfio: … to the airlines and the steamship. If you did enough volume, you could make a living. That changed about 20, 25 years ago. I was very lucky because I didn’t love that part of the business. It was very clerical. You were feeding into people’s indecision. To do something that should take four minutes, was taking 45 minutes. I’m always on a time schedule, so I didn’t love that part of the business.
Now, that’s all been automated, so now as we shifted the business and I was very lucky. I guessed right when a great demographic, Washington, Our Town, fabulous area, fabulous people, that respect you as a professional for the work you do. Then, I was able to create a new paradigm of added value, which is the customized vacation, customized guides, drivers, rental cars, trains, selecting the right hotels for people. We do a lot of trips for family groups. Could be five, or eight, up to 18, 20 people, doing a huge family vacation.
A Ockershausen: That’s the backbone of the business now. The group travel.
A Niche – Customized Travel
Guido Adelfio: It’s one of many. Our bread-and-butter is a couple. 35th wedding anniversary, 60th birthday, family with two or three kids. Another change I’ve seen in the last few years, a lot of families travel with kids in their 20s. When I first started, the 20-year-olds stayed home and the parents went to Europe. Well, now they bring the 20-year-olds with them.
A Ockershausen: Everybody goes.
Guido Adelfio: Everybody goes. I don’t blame them. I wish my parents took me when I was in my 20s, but I was still raising kids.
A Ockershausen: You were a lucky man, to have Tony as your dad. Guido, what about the trip you’ve arranged for the church. I know you’ve done some great trips to Rome for the Catholic Church. I’ve heard about them anyway, for Father Enzler, and groups. When the Pope was here, you were very prominent with the Pope, right? He went by and waved at you?
Guido Adelfio: He did. I’m involved with the John Carroll Society, which is run by Monsignor Vaghi. We’ve do pilgrimages for them. My sub-specialty is religious, especially Catholic, pilgrimage trips.
A Ockershausen: To Italy. You’re an expert on Italy.
Guido Adelfio: Italy. The three I’s. Ireland, Italy, Israel. Those are the three I’s.
A Ockershausen: I’ve been to all three of them, two of them with you.
Guido Adelfio: That’s good. France, Spain, different … We do pilgrimages for parishes as well as we’ve done a lot of work for the Archdiocese, including Cardinal Wuerl, numerous times when he went to Rome with delegations.
A Ockershausen: He goes a lot.
Guido Adelfio: Monsignor Enzler, Father John, who married you?
A Ockershausen: Father John. Yeah. Wait a minute. He married me once. Other people did the other. Guido, what about … You triggered my thought there about the groups that you take. Do you have any outstanding trips? We’ve been talking about Cuba. You and I have been talking about it, but I think the whole country’s been talking about Cuba. It is going to happen, but the timetable, nobody knows, but they’re going to open Cuba.
Guido Adelfio: They’ve pushed the door open a little bit. I think a lot’s going to depend on whatever the new administration does going forward. They just opened up direct air flights.
A Ockershausen: Non-stops.
Guido Adelfio: Non-stops from, I think, ten cities.
A Ockershausen: Not from Washington.
Guido Adelfio: Not from Washington.
A Ockershausen: That doesn’t make sense. The capital of the United States doesn’t have a non-stop.
Guido Adelfio: Don’t know what to tell you.
A Ockershausen: You can do a non-stop to Shanghai.
Guido Adelfio: The other thing about Cuba is, I mean, that’s not our main specialty. I’ve been there. I went there just for curiosity last November. I loved it.
A Ockershausen: Had to see it.
Guido Adelfio: Currently, you still need the OFAC license. It’s a Treasury Department authorization based on a people-to-people exchange, trying to get more common purpose between Americans and the Cuban people. They really loosened up those requirements in the last two or three months.
A Ockershausen: We’re going to get back to talk some more about Our Town and where we’re going to travel. We’ll be right back with Guido Adelfio.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Space Travel – Richard Branson and Elon Musk
A Ockershausen: I’m back again with Guido Adelfio. We’re talking about travel. The question that I just wanted to ask and tried to ask Guido during the break is, “Has he heard from Richard Branson? Has anybody booked a flight ‘Fly me to the moon’ whatever? Have you heard from Elon Musk?” He’s going to run his own ship. The government didn’t cooperate with him, so he built his own spacecraft …
Guido Adelfio: I understand. The future’s coming.
A Ockershausen: … and just shot one up there.
Guido Adelfio: It’s something you told me once, Andy. One thing is for certain. Everything always changes and it does.
A Ockershausen: It’s amazing.
Guido Adelfio: It does.
A Ockershausen: Now, we’re talking about space travel. Like you say, people are buying.
Guido Adelfio: For tourists.
A Ockershausen: What are they paying?
Guido Adelfio: I have no idea. I heard that the down payment is around $200K …
A Ockershausen: To get on the list.
Guido Adelfio: To get on the list. You don’t even know when the flight’s going to be, but Elon Musk is good at that. He sold 200,000 cars that hadn’t been even built yet.
A Ockershausen: They still haven’t been and then haven’t returned the money.
Guido Adelfio: He’s good at that.
A Ockershausen: With people, he’s out there somewhere. I read with SpaceX, they just shot another rocket off with a group on board. I don’t know how many people it was to the Space Station. He pays for that, but he’s a genius. Guido, what else do you see in the travel business as lucrative for the future, because you can’t give it away.
Guido Adelfio: One thing, again …
Changes in the Airline Industry
A Ockershausen: Airlines.
Guido Adelfio: … Everything always changes. Airlines. They’ve been huge changes in the airline business. Apart from the product distribution, the aircraft itself. You’ve got the 380, 550 passengers. You’ve got …
A Ockershausen: They’ve cut back production, did you know that?
Guido Adelfio: Yeah, they’ve cut back, but they’re getting competition from the Dreamliner. The 787, which is the Boeing jet, which is not quite as big, but it’s very large. It has an incredible fuel economy. What they’re starting to do is they have low costs. Remember, in the day, it was People’s Express. In Europe, they have Easy Jet, Ryanair.
A Ockershausen: Ryanair, big carrier.
Guido Adelfio: Those are starting to infiltrate the international markets. You have Norwegian or Air Norway.
A Ockershausen: I never heard of Air Norway.
Guido Adelfio: You have WOW, that goes through Iceland, for, I don’t know, $250 to Europe. It’s unbelievable.
A Ockershausen: Iceland was always a stop going to Europe.
Guido Adelfio: Correct.
A Ockershausen: You had to stop there. That got you there.
Guido Adelfio: In the day, you flew to Luxenbourg in the day, on Iceland Air. Now, there’s a new airline called “WOW.” W-O-W.
A Ockershausen: I love it.
Guido Adelfio: It’s a competitor to Iceland Air. Incredibly …
A Ockershausen: Where are they based? They’re not based in Iceland, though?
Guido Adelfio: Yeah, they’re in Keflavík.
A Ockershausen: Oh my God! Wow! I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland. Maybe we’ll get into that later. Guido, what about travel in the US? What is your most popular … Do you book many local travels or most of it out of the country?
Specialized International Travel
Guido Adelfio: We do almost all international. We have a little bit of, every now and then, for California, which again, we don’t specialize in it, but for our known clients, we help them out. Hawaii, western Canada, the Rockies.
A Ockershausen: Grand Canyon?
Guido Adelfio: Occasionally, occasional Caribbean trip, but again, our main focus, we’re Euro-centric.
A Ockershausen: You’re competing with the big travel companies? You’re so much like a boutique company, correct?
Guido Adelfio: I’ve been very lucky to be able to create a boutique niche of my own knowledge, my own experience, client base, hotels. I go to Europe eight or ten times a year to see hotels, try them out, make sure we like them, meet the guides. Make sure I’ve got the right drivers in place, etc. That’s a huge advantage.
A Ockershausen: It’s hard work what you’re doing.
Guido Adelfio: It’s hard work. It’s a lot of energy to fly to Europe for three days, do stuff the whole time, and fly home and head right back to the office, but I love it. The beneficiaries of that are …
A Ockershausen: World traveler.
Guido Adelfio: Our clients.
A Ockershausen: Did you fly on Turkish airlines recently?
Guido Adelfio: I did, in February.
A Ockershausen: Was that their inaugural flight?
Guido Adelfio: No, we went to Istanbul. They’ve been running that flight for a couple years. I think it’s off now after what happened, but we were there in February.
A Ockershausen: What happened to your French travels? Is it still active?
Guido Adelfio: People are looking at alternatives. Some are still going, a number are still going, but a few are either booking away. We had one client last week cancel France. They’re going to Spain just because they had anxiety. Again, our main clientele goes to Europe. Our main country in Europe is Italy, but beyond that, we’ve had …
A Ockershausen: Why did you send me to France this Spring? To stay on the Promenade that the guide said, “Do you there’s going to be a truck coming down here?”
Guido Adelfio: You were right there. Your hotel was right there then.
A Ockershausen: Right in front of it. I know that.
Guido Adelfio: We have seen a little bit of a shift of people’s patterns. I can’t really quantify it, but this year, we’ve sold a lot of trips to Switzerland. A lot of trips to Ireland. Iceland. Scandinavia. These are countries perceived to be safer than, after what happened in France. There was a lot of worry about France. Turkey, unfortunately, is a fabulous country, beautiful, wonderful people. I don’t imagine that’s going to resurface as a destination for us just because …
A Ockershausen: It’s going to be a long time before it comes back.
Guido Adelfio: Our clients aren’t looking for instability. They want a stable, easy place, i.e., Switzerland.
A Ockershausen: All these millions of listeners we have, if they want to make a trip somewhere, how do they reach Bethesda Travel?
Guido Adelfio: Very easy.
A Ockershausen: They used to be calling, but no more. Now, you’ve got machine does it, right?
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: You never see anybody.
Guido Adelfio: You can go on our website, which is very easy.
A Ockershausen: What’s the website? I beg your pardon.
Guido Adelfio: bethesdatravel.com. You can email us. It’s Ciao. C-I-A-O, like Ciao babies.
A Ockershausen: Ciao.
Guido Adelfio: email@example.com. We also have a telephone, if you can believe that, 301-656-1670.
A Ockershausen: I love it.
Guido Adelfio: I’m a throwback. You talk about the town. I believe in the live answer.
A Ockershausen: I do. I love to talk to people. Our Town . . .trying to do business with the airlines is impossible to get them on the phone. They plan not to have anybody to answer the phone.
Guido Adelfio: I know. Half the time, after 45 minutes, once you get through, you wish you hadn’t gotten through.
A Ockershausen: That’s true. We can’t help you.
Guido Adelfio: I used to love Gershwin until United put it on hold. Oh my golly!
A Ockershausen: Now, they’ve got the bit, if you leave your name and number, we’ll call you back.
Guido Adelfio: Then, they never call you.
A Ockershausen: Then, they never call.
Guido Adelfio: We give a live answer. We’re old-fashioned.
A Ockershausen: It’s the airlines, not Guido. Guid, it’s been great having you. You’re the best.
Guido Adelfio: Thank you, Andy.
A Ockershausen: Is there anything else you want to plug, Guid?
Guido Adelfio: I’d like to return to the idea of how the world has changed.
A Ockershausen: I’d like to hear that.
RoundUp – How World Travel Has Changed
Guido Adelfio: In terms of the distribution and what’s coming. First of all, I have no crystal ball. I can only say that 25 years ago, when I sensed that the airline distribution system had reached its limit and I was part of that, I went into a new way of running my business. I guessed right, which I’m happy about. What’s coming? I don’t know.
Some things that surprised everybody were, one was, Airbnb. Airbnb, in about the past three or four years, has had a huge effect on the entire hotel industry. Huge.
A Ockershausen: What is Airbnb?
Guido Adelfio: Airbnb is like the Uber of hotels. You have people that own an apartment or a small boarding, like what we used to call …
A Ockershausen: A rooming house?
Guido Adelfio: … , or rooming house. They let out rooms. People can book online. It costs a fraction of what a hotel room costs. A lot of times, they’re doing what Uber is doing. It might be a condominium that doesn’t permit short-term rentals, so they give you a short term rental in the condominium. They’re playing catch-me-if-you-can. That’s the downside of that business.
The upside is, that people that like to travel that way, a little more boutiquey, bohemian-style travelers, get to live in a city and feel more like a resident than as a visitor. The new generation likes that. A. they don’t want to spend a lot of money and B. they love to be …
A Ockershausen: That is amazing. I hadn’t heard of that.
Guido Adelfio: … in a place for a longer time, five, seven, ten days.
A Ockershausen: The millennials are going to jump on that.
Guido Adelfio: They love it. They love it.
A Ockershausen: Got to love it.
Guido Adelfio: It’s not only the millennials. I was in Barcelona recently and there was a convention of tele-communications. It’s a Europe-wide convention. They have, I don’t know, 80,000 delegates. These are business people. Technicians, business people, and engineers for tele-communication. More than half of the delegates to this convention stayed in Airbnb apartments.
A Ockershausen: That’s an amazing stat.
Guido Adelfio: Just in four or five years. Previously, they would have all 100%, well probably 90% …
A Ockershausen: Hotel.
Guido Adelfio: … stayed in hotels and 10% stayed with relatives.
A Ockershausen: Relatives, right.
Guido Adelfio: That’s a C-change in the industry. Nobody saw it coming. It just caught on like wildfire.
A Ockershausen: I’ll bet so. Uber did the same.
Guido Adelfio: It’s the same with Uber. Identical.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Guido Adelfio: What’s coming next for affluent people? You have fractional jet ownership. There’s going to be, I believe, and there’s a new Honda Jet that’s not very expensive. I think it’s $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 for the jet. I’m sure they’re going to be entrepreneurs putting that into an Uber-style private jet transportation.
A Ockershausen: Who would have thought what’s happened that you can buy space on an airplane that may or may not be available to you?
Guido Adelfio: You share with others. It’s like a ride-and-share.
A Ockershausen: Ride share ride for an airplane.
Guido Adelfio: For jets. There are people that experiment with it, but somebody’s going to figure out the app and the way to do that and to make it affordable and give enough flexibility so that you’re not going to be left stranded and enough security in the transaction that you feel it’s reliable and also cost-effective. Very important, that it’s cost-effective.
Throwback – Days of Eastern Airline Shuttles
A Ockershausen: I recall vividly, Guido, because we were part of the Eastern Airlines operation at the time, when it went to the air shuttle from Washington to New York to Boston.
Guido Adelfio: No reservation, you just showed up.
A Ockershausen: No reservation, you just show up.
Guido Adelfio: They came down the aisle and took your credit card.
A Ockershausen: Paid on the plane. What it did, was saved the businessman the trouble of getting a reservation, worrying about getting there early, because it didn’t make any difference, even if you were late, you got a seat.
Guido Adelfio: Correct. If you’re in business, if your meeting ran late, or if you got out early or whatever. Gave you flexibility.
A Ockershausen: I don’t know. Do they still do that on the shuttle? You know, honestly, I don’t know.
Guido Adelfio: I don’t either.
A Ockershausen: I used to ride the shuttle. Guido, we had a flight on Eastern Airlines, the day time shuttle. WMAL broadcast every hour, on the hour, 24 hours a day, the story of Eastern Airlines. What they were flying? What were they not on the flights? The 1:00, and 2:00, and 3:00 flights were $12.00.
Guido Adelfio: Yeah, I remember that.
A Ockershausen: It’s incredible.
Guido Adelfio: I’m telling you.
A Ockershausen: It’s $250 now.
Guido Adelfio: They would go down the aisle with the credit card, no swipe machine. They would run your card, fill it in, you’d sign it. They would have a whole stack of slips at the end of the flight.
A Ockershausen: No booze. You got off the plane and you were there.
Guido Adelfio: Yep.
A Ockershausen: This is something now, almost like it was a change, but then it changed back. They’re not doing that anymore. That’ll come back in a different form, I predict, with the automatic way, the new way.
There’s an App for That
Guido Adelfio: With the apps. The apps have also changed everything because on the way to the airport, you can look at your flight, change a flight, pay the fee, select your seat, get your boarding pass right on the app. Walk up to the gate, hopefully, you have TSA pre-check or global entry.
A Ockershausen: Walk on.
Guido Adelfio: Easy entry through TSA. Walk on the plane and get to your destination.
Back to Eastern Airlines Shuttle
A Ockershausen: Eastern used to hold one side … They were flying Constellations. They would hold one side.
Guido Adelfio: That was a long time ago.
A Ockershausen: You could get on the airplane. The other side was warming up.
Guido Adelfio: The propellers.
A Ockershausen: You could get on because they were trying to save putting another plane on.
Guido Adelfio: Of course.
A Ockershausen: No matter if you missed the plane by one minute, they had to fly you.
Guido Adelfio: You’re into the next … Is that how it worked?
A Ockershausen: That was great publicity. When one guy that would fly to New York got $1,000,000 worth of publicity, but that’s how the world has changed, Guido.
Guido Adelfio: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: I don’t know what’s happening. How about steamship? The same way?
Guido Adelfio: Steamship. Now, they don’t use the word anymore, but it’s cruise lines. Cruise lines have hugely increased the size of the ships.
A Ockershausen: I know that.
Guido Adelfio: The number of the ships, the volume, enormous increase. They’re also very luxurious. Even like Region, RSSC just put out a new ship called “The Explorer.” Supposedly, the most luxurious ship anywhere. It was just inaugurated earlier this month. You also have the boutique cruises. They’re small.
A Ockershausen: I like the small cruises.
Guido Adelfio: They’re fun. Sea Cloud. Then, you have . . . You have a lot of selection, but what’s very interesting in the cruise lines, and I’m not a cruise expert, I just know it by osmosis.
A Ockershausen: You have to know it.
Guido Adelfio: NCL, this is the luxury market. NCL, which is a mid-to-low brow cruise line, has a brand on this ship. They have specific decks, like a concierge level on a hotel that is super-luxury. You have, like in the old days, if you saw Titanic, you had First Class, then you had Steerage.
A Ockershausen: All the way down at the bottom.
Guido Adelfio: Yeah. You have something beyond First Class on NCL, which is really ironic that that level of cruise line would put something super-luxurious on their ships.
A Ockershausen: That’s incredible. Guido, you’re a fountain of information. Now, you’ve not leaving town anytime soon, are you?
Guido Adelfio: Yeah, I go to …
A Ockershausen: Except you’re being run out?
Guido Adelfio: No, I go to Italy on the 7th.
A Ockershausen: You always are going somewhere.
Guido Adelfio: Then, to Croatia. We’re going to a cruise in Dubrovnik, up on the coast. Hvar, Via Brač, all the islands, Montenegro, I try to collect new countries.
A Ockershausen: He’s a world traveler, have you noticed that, Ken? Guido, you have been great. Thank you, thank you so much. We don’t know when we’ll have you back, but we will. I hope you got all the plugs in and the phone number and everything because we’ve got to. This has been Our Town and a special man, Guido Adelfio, and his lovely niece, who’s here from Georgetown University.
Guido Adelfio: Nora, thanks for coming.
Guido Adelfio: Thank you, Andy. It is a privilege seeing you again and being on.
A Ockershausen: Guido, remember this with my next voucher.
Guido Adelfio: I will.
A Ockershausen: Money.
Guido Adelfio: I certainly will.
A Ockershausen: We’ll be back.
Guido Adelfio: We’ll get rid of the vouchers. We have apps now.
A Ockershausen: Thank you. This has been Our Town with Andy Ockershausen and Our World with Guido Adelfio.
Guido Adelfio: Thank you, Andy.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, Season One, with your host, Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town podcasts episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. We welcome your comments and suggestions on how you liked this show or who you’d like to hear from next. Catch us on Facebook, at Our Town DC or visit our website at ourtowndc.com.
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