The Story Behind Jo Ann’s Alaska Picks

About 20 years ago, I began promoting travel to Alaska. Each year I would select a specific date and itinerary that I thought was the best; block group space with the cruise line and offer it to travelers inquiring about Alaska. By doing this, I knew I could provide discounted pricing. In the past I have traveled with the group as well. While this worked for several years, it became apparent that when offering only one date, it may not work for everyone due to their own calendars. In addition, it became difficult for me to travel with the group with the amount of business I have developed over the years.

When shopping for and trying to choose a trip to Alaska, I equate it to going to the grocery store. You’re standing in the salad dressing aisle and trying to find a bottle of plain French dressing. There are just too many choices. When I ask my clients questions about what they want to see and do in Alaska, I can help them “find the French!” About six years ago, I decided to block space on SEVERAL dates and itineraries; thus Jo Ann’s Picks was born.

I can now offer several excellent dates and itineraries from which to choose for travel to Alaska, all with discounted pricing. I guide my clients to an itinerary that fits with what they want to see and do. I meet with them about one month prior to departure to go over their documents and prepare them for their trip. This process prepares my travelers so I am comfortable sending them off without hosting the trip. Since I have traveled to Alaska 14 times, my knowledge of Alaska helps me to better prepare my clients for their trip.

Prior to when the group space becomes open to book, I study itineraries, the various ships being used (their age and refurbishments) and new pricing. When the ‘new year’ is open to book, I am already working with the cruise line to secure the best space and pricing possible. How far in advance? In November, I was already blocking my space for two year later in the summer/early fall season! I’m always very pleased with the departures, tours and pricing I am able able to offer, and there are changes each year that I get excited about. In addition, due to the amount of Alaska that I sell my sales representative from the cruise line has been very helpful securing even more inventory for my groups so that I can offer the excellent dates, itineraries and pricing to even more travelers.

There is a special place in my heart for Alaska, it’s my passion! I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience Alaska at least once and if you can, maybe two or three times as it’s a huge state and difficult to see in just one trip! The Alaska space can fill up quickly, click here for a copy of Jo Ann’s Alaska Picks for 2025!

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Jo Ann Buening

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