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Alexandra Booze of East Coast Contessa: “Safety and cleanliness”

Travelers likely will continue to see a halt on in-flight food and beverage services, and no buffets or self-serve dining options at hotels and resorts. The good news, is that as more people begin to travel safely and more vaccines are distributed, hotels, airlines, and resorts very well could offer even better deals, discounts, and rewards […]

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Travelers likely will continue to see a halt on in-flight food and beverage services, and no buffets or self-serve dining options at hotels and resorts.

The good news, is that as more people begin to travel safely and more vaccines are distributed, hotels, airlines, and resorts very well could offer even better deals, discounts, and rewards programs to entice travelers to visit.

Some of this could all change or not occur at all, but based on conversations with global hotel brands and other travel industry insiders, these are all ideas that have been floated around or already implemented.


As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexandra Booze, the editor and founder of the travel and lifestyle blog, East Coast Contessa.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity! I was introduced to the blogging world in late 2015 when I worked in Washington, DC as a public relations executive. I started out solely in the food niche by sharing new restaurants, kitchen products, and recipes. Within that first year the blog already has amassed more than 10,000 followers. The following year, I began to notice the direct correlation between food and travel (you can’t have one without the other!), but I had very little travel experience under my belt and had never left the continental U.S.

In spite of this, I figured it is never too late to take on a new adventure, so I logged into Google flights and got booking! I started to travel more domestically at first, and then branched out to international travel in March of 2016. As my engagement grew, I began proactively reaching out to travel and hospitality brands for sponsored projects, and eventually made money from some of the collaborations. Since then, I have grown an audience of more than 64,000 followers, and have worked with more than 450 travel and lifestyle brands from across the globe!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The most interesting story that I have experienced since I started my blogging career is most certainly my time living overseas. At the beginning of 2017, I had lived in Washington, DC for nearly a decade working in non-profits and public relations. At this point I was burnt out and stressed on the daily from working long hours, and had experienced a string of verbally and emotionally abusive bosses. I decided that it was time for a change — a big change. I started saving up money from each pay check and continued to endure stressful work conditions knowing that the reward would be worth it in the end. Finally, in July of 2018, I quit my public relations job with no notice, packed up my house in Arlington, Virginia, and bought a one-way ticket to the Czech Republic in October. I lived there for a year as an English teacher and travel writer, and ultimately ended up in Spain where I taught English full time until the pandemic started in March. While I endured a lot of challenges and culture shock, it was the greatest story I’ve lived to date. I hope to return to Spain this fall and continue teaching.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have made quite a few mistakes since I started blogging (it’s almost impossible not to as there is a learning curve with any new endeavour!). When I first started working and collaborating with brands, it was at a time when the idea of an “influencer” was still relatively new to many of them. Since I was new to that space as well, I often found it difficult to explain exactly what it was that I did (i.e. social media exposure in exchange for free product or paid advertising, etc.) in a way for them to easily understand the value.

In one particular instance, I thought the terms of the collaboration were clear, as the business agreed to have me come in to try some of their menu items. However, it ended up being quite the misunderstanding (read: disaster), when the owner of the bakery accused me of trying to dine and dash as my friends and I finished our food (they paid for theirs), and then charged me 40 dollars for pastries and coffee. To make it even worse, the owner then went on to send me multiple emails and troll my social media pages for days, calling me a thief and a fraud. While it wasn’t a particularly “funny” situation for me, it showed me the importance of setting boundaries and guidelines with business partners prior to engaging in any projects.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

I would tell them to make sure they are setting boundaries with themselves and those they work with. Take time out of each week to step away from the work (whether that is Instagram, a website, clients, or just a phone or a computer) and detox. It is so important for mental health and for focusing on goals for the follow week. It’s very easy to get burnt out if someone is constantly online being bombarded with an array of different photos and videos and opinions. I have found that nightly meditation before bed also helps me relax and clear my mind of any stressors.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I will have to say my parents. I know it wasn’t easy for them when I moved abroad to another continent, but they supported my dreams and my visions the entire time, even when I wanted to give up on myself. My dad helps me with the business side and my mom is also my travel buddy and willingly goes with me on a lot of adventures. If it weren’t for her, my content creation process would be a lot more difficult and I wouldn’t be able to share so many of the beautiful travel memories I’ve made with her.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

I am currently working with another travel blogger friend of mine to develop innovation that would make it easier for travel writers and influencers to land collaborations with some of the larger global brands we have worked with. We are still in the very beginning stages, but we hope to have a big portion of the project done by the end of this year. I don’t want to give too much away just yet!

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

A lot of travel writers and bloggers don’t know where to start when they first begin pitching brands for sponsored stays or projects. It can be difficult to track down the contact information for a large hotel or a specific company that they want to work with. We want to streamline this process!

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

We hope to make it easier for influencers to connect to their favorite brands, and for brands to have an opportunity to review the influencers they want to work with to see if they are a good fit. It sounds easy, but figuring out the right way to do this takes a lot of trial and error, especially during a time when the travel industry is constantly changing due to the pandemic.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

It’s difficult to put my finger exactly on what travel and hospitality companies will do as the situation is constantly changing, but at this time I think they are trying to place the utmost importance on safety and cleanliness. To make travelers feel safe while en-route and upon arrival:

Hotels and airlines may enforce even greater requirements for testing pre-arrival (and may even refuse accommodations if documentation is not provided).

As more people get the vaccine, some airlines and travel partners may also require travelers to show valid proof of a vaccine prior to arriving at the property or boarding a flight.

Travelers likely will continue to see a halt on in-flight food and beverage services, and no buffets or self-serve dining options at hotels and resorts.

The good news, is that as more people begin to travel safely and more vaccines are distributed, hotels, airlines, and resorts very well could offer even better deals, discounts, and rewards programs to entice travelers to visit.

Some of this could all change or not occur at all, but based on conversations with global hotel brands and other travel industry insiders, these are all ideas that have been floated around or already implemented.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

These days, my perfect vacation experience would be a plane that had the middle seat empty, more options for testing (not just PCR nasal tests), and more testing centers to make meeting requirements more convenient. It would also include a clean hotel that practiced social distancing and safety first measures.

In non-Covid times, I’m not picky. I just prefer that my plane take off and arrive on time, that check-in at my accommodations is a breeze, and that I am somewhere close to a beach!

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

In a world where there is so much negativity and uncertainty, I like to think that travel (in whatever form it my be), brings people a sense of normalcy and inspires them to travel again when it’s safe and they feel comfortable to do so. It is so cliche to say, but travel in any form — a staycation in the next town over, a road trip across states, or a flight across the country — really is good for the soul. I can’t wait until we all have an opportunity to travel freely and safely again!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a fund for college students from low income communities to help give them money to study abroad and experience difference cultures. Oftentimes, a lot of college students have to take out loans if their families cannot afford travel as it is looked at as a luxury and not a necessity. I would love to provide an additional private resource outside of financial aid directly from universities to help them see the world!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can find me on Instagram at @eastcoastcontessa and on Pinterest at @eastcoastcontessa

My website is https://www.eccontessa.com. Thank you!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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