Saturday, September 1, 2012

1 YEAR TODAY!

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of our family's ownership of VisitingBaby, Inc., and boy what a year it has been!  To date, we've fulfilled 545 orders, and have driven over 30,000 miles delivering those orders.  We were able to make some exceptions to our delivery area along the way, and have traveled as far north as Crystal River, as far east as Zephyrhills, and as far south as Tierra Verde.  Going above and beyond for our customers is what we strive to do each and every day!

Moving forward, we are ready for another fun and exciting year.  In the last few weeks, we've updated our website complete with family pictures and lots of great new inventory.  We now carry toddler beds and travel cots, life jackets, boppy pillows, foam floor mats and much more!  And what if you don't see something you need?  Just ask!  We always do our best to make special accommodations.  Why would we do that?  Because that's what we're here for; to make your vacation a little less stressful and a lot more fun!

Finally, we really just want to say THANK YOU, to all of our loyal return customers, and all of our new customers!  This has been an amazing year, and it has truly been an honor to get to work with each and every one of your families.  We sincerely love what we do, and look forward to many more years to come!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tips for finding the lowest fare...

I saw this article in the Tampa Bay Times last weekend and thought it had some simple advice for finding the lowest airfare when traveling.  I hope some of it is helpful to you!

1) Sign up for email feeds and frequent flier programs with all of your favorite airlines: Although third-party sites such as Orbitz and Hotwire offers great discounts, the airlines are aware of this and are now competing for your direct business.  You can receive special deals such as 50% off promo codes or two-fers if you sign up.  Twitter has also become a popular venue for airlines to promote exclusive deals.

2) Sign up for third-party fare alerts:  If you search for "airfare alerts", you'll find that most of those sites offer them.  Airfarewatchdog.com will send you a list of the cheapest fares from your nearest airports.

3) Search airline sites individually, but not exclusively:  Many airlines have "private" sales, which reserves the best fares for their own sites.

4) Buy hotel plus air packages:  It can sometimes be significantly cheaper to buy an air-plus-hotel package, as opposed to just airfare alone.  This is especially true with last minute travel.  Lastminute.com is a great source for finding last-minute package deals.

5) Use Priceline for last-minute trips:  When planning trips with 21 or less days advance purchase, the best option is the "name your own price" feature of Priceline.com.  You can potentially save 50% or more, however the downside is that you won't know the exact flight times or airline you're flying until you pay for your trip.  Hotwire.com is another good resource for last-minute trips.

6) Use a flexible date search:  Although most people are not flexible in their travel dates, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars if you are.

7) Consider the extra fees before you buy:  Be sure to consider extra fees such as those for additional baggage.  Even though the fare may be lower, the extra fees may actually make the lower fare higher in the long run.

8) Combine two separate fares rather than buying one fare:  This means that it may actually be cheaper to purchase a one-way fare to your destination, and then an additional one-way fare for the return trip home.  This can hold especially true for a destination in Europe or Asia, and smaller Caribbean destinations via San Juan or the Bahamas.  Even domestically, two fares can end up being less than one.

9) Buy tickets on an airline that will refund the difference if a fare goes down:  Wouldn't it figure that after you purchase your nonrefundable fare that it goes down the next day?  If you ask for it, you can sometimes get a refund for the difference.  However some airlines will charge you a hefty "administrative" fee of $150 or more, which can defeat any additional savings at all.  The best airlines for honoring these refunds are currently JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska.

10) Check fares several times a day, and don't listen to airfare pundits who predict airfares:  Because airlines are unpredictable, any airfare expert that claims to have the ability to predict when airfares are cheapest isn't being entirely honest.  No one can accurately predict when airfares are cheapest.  The most tried and true method is simply checking for yourself several times each day.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Has it really been almost 7 months?!?!

Wow, I can't believe how fast the time has gone!

Back in January when I set out to start this blog, I had no idea what our "season" was really going to be like. We were slammed with orders!  Yes, it's awesome, but it didn't leave much time for anything else.  However now that we've slowed down a bit, I've got some catching up to do!

First, I'd like to tell you about some changes we've made to our website.  Finally, we've added pictures of our family!  Yipee!  Although the former owners, the Ryan's, have 3 precious good looking boys, it feels great to finally have our kiddos on the site.  We've also added "Our Story", and several new and exciting products to our inventory.  When you get a chance, make sure you check it out at visitingbaby.com.

Second, my husband has joined me in the business FULL TIME!  Oh yes, that deserves all those capital letters and then some!  After almost 20 years of managing restaurants, we decided to take the plunge and put  all of our focus on VisitingBaby.  So far, it has been amazing, and I am so thankful to be working side by side with not only my wonderful hubby and doting daddy, but my best friend too.

Lastly, as we are rounding the corner to our 1 year anniversary of owning VisitingBaby, Inc., I just want to say thank you. Thank you to all of the wonderful moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. that we have worked with these past 12 months.  Owning this business has been a real dream come true for us.  But it wouldn't be possible without your steadfast loyalty and confidence in what we do.

We are so looking forward to continuing this journey, and providing your precious babies and toddlers with clean, safe, quality, fun and comfortable equipment.

Thanks!  And be sure to check back often to help keep me on my toes with updates!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's a New Year!

Welcome to our new blog!

You'll be seeing sort of a mishmash of different things posted here.  We'll have some personal posts about our family, including some of our adventures (or misadventures!), as well as some helpful information for traveling with babies and toddlers, product safety recalls, local event info, new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and more.  We'll also highlight some of our local gems, such as restaurants, favorite places to stay, and attractions.

Let me start off by telling you a little about our family, and how we became the owners of VisitingBaby, Inc.  My husband and I got married on the island of St. Lucia in 2004.  We have 2 children, Kaleb (5) and Kelby (3 yrs 11 mos).  While my husband grew up in Arkansas, I grew up right here in the Sunshine State, with Clearwater Beach practically in my back yard.  I spent my entire childhood on the same stomping grounds that most of you are visiting when you come to Florida.

Since our first child was just 5 months old, we have done a fair amount of travelling with our children.  Every vacation seemed to start out with a 2 page checklist, with the first page being devoted entirely to packing baby and toddler gear.  Needless to say, it was exhausting just getting ready for the vacation!

And then about 4 years ago I met Terri through my mom's club.  She and her husband were the owners of a baby equipment rental service.  Although it wasn't my own light bulb moment, it hit me that this was a brilliant concept (and then later of course, "why didn't we think of that???").  After spending several years as a stay at home mom, I was really chomping at the bit to get back into the workforce.  But I just couldn't figure out how I was going to balance work and my children's schedule.

Then came my light bulb moment.  Terri and her husband were selling their business.  Once I talked it over with my husband, we contacted them.  Approximately 2 months from that first meeting, we were the proud new owners of VisitingBaby, Inc.  It could not have been more perfect, or more just, right.  We had everything we could have ever wanted.  Not just a business of our own, but a concept we could relate to, and felt deeply passionate about.

So that's our story, how it all began.  I hope you'll go with us on this new journey, for many more years to come!