By Kelly Monaghan
Have clients heading for New York? If so, a visit to the Ground Zero memorial in lower Manhattan will no doubt be high on their list. Unfortunately, they are likely to be disappointed.
You see, while there is no admission fee and the memorial is open to all, access is being limited for security reasons and timed tickets are required. The demand has been so great that tickets need to be booked months in advance. So if your hapless clients show up, they will be turned away. Fortunately, you can help them. You might even be able to make some money while you’re at it.
There is a little known “trick” to getting tickets to the National September 11 Memorial, as Ground Zero is more formally known. Approximately ten percent of the tickets available each day are reserved for local tour companies, which can offer them to people who purchase one of their tours.
So the savvy travel agent’s best tactic is to sell the benefits of a hop-on-hop-off tour available from one of these companies. You still have to do some advanced planning — the demand for these tickets is such that tours offering them sell out weeks in advance. You must also be aware that tickets to the memorial are specific to a date and time, so you and your client must commit to an exact time schedule for their visit.
The best option seems to be New York Water Taxi, which offers a hop-on hop-off tour via New York’s waterways for $25. Travel agents can purchase tickets at a net rate of $20 and resell them to their clients. New York Water Taxi recommends making bookings at least two or three weeks in advance. Contact Diego Camacho at (646) 380-4247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gray Line of New York also offers a hop-on hop-off tour, this one via bus, that includes tickets to the Memorial. However they only offer them to groups of 25 or more. They pay a 10% commission and all groups must be booked and fully paid for at least two weeks before the desired date of the visit. The group department can be reached at (212) 812-2709.
Of course, with enough lead time you can get free tickets for your clients through the Memorial’s online reservation system. When I checked, there was a single date available a month out and then nothing else for another month or so. No commission, obviously, but a nice gesture that your clients will truly appreciate. Keep this in mind the next time you are sending someone on a cruise departing from New York or Bayonne. This sort of thing is booked well in advance, so you should have no trouble fitting in a Ground Zero visit into your clients’ pre-cruise plans.