Eric Sternberg, the founder of Sapphire Journeys, has many years of travel experience, organizing consumer and group travel, major events for businesses including HP and Cisco and traveling for pleasure.
He has logged millions of travel miles, has lived in Europe and worked globally.
“I was confident I could lend some great advice to people, so I made the leap from high-tech marketing to travel,” Sternberg said.
1. What’s a common question or misconception you get about your business or work?
The biggest misconception is that there is some sort of service fee (for his help). They think they are going to pay extra. That’s really more the exception than the rule. There are agencies that charge service fees, but in my case I seldom charge a service fee. In most cases, the airlines, hotels (or) tour companies pay me a commission.
2. If you could change one thing about the travel industry, what would it be?
Travel providers (airlines, hotels, cruises, tours, etc.) have great room for improvement with technology.
3. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Building consumer awareness of our business and how the process works (that there is generally no service fee involved).
4. What’s a favorite day trip destination outside of Napa County?
I think coastal Sonoma County is interesting. It’s scenic; has great cheese (and) wineries. It’s a place that a lot of people even in our area haven’t been.
5. What’s your favorite destination outside the U.S.?
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Italy. It’s also the number one requested destination of my clients. Californians really seem to love Italy in general. My favorite place is Venice.
6. A place you really want to go but haven’t yet?
I haven’t been to Russia. I want to go to St. Petersburg. That’s on my list.
7. Are there places that you would recommend people avoid at this point?
It wouldn’t be my first recommendation to send someone where there is existing conflict (for example) Libya wouldn’t be really high on the list.
8. What’s one of your best travel tips?
Get a Trusted Traveler number — it gives you expedited reentry in the U.S. You breeze through customs. It’s only $100 for five years. It also gives you TSA PreCheck within the U.S. I definitely recommend it.
9. Is there anything you recommend to leave at home?
Don’t carry a lot of cash around. Bring some, but don’t go overboard. Just use your credit card.
10. Where’s your next trip?
I’m going to Portugal and Sicily in October and then Spain in November. And then maybe in Australia in December.