Why doesn’t anyone ever try softer?” ~ Lily Tomlin

Last week I received a call from a business associate who was expecting a spreadsheet from me.  With the best of intentions I had promised to have it to him mid-week.  Then suddenly it was Friday and the half-finished project was still, well, half-finished.

If I had to tally the partially complete projects on my desk, I’m afraid the number would point to a revealing fact – I’m easily distracted and try to do too much. It is always tempting to over-commit to any number of personal and professional activities with the result that none of them are done as well as I originally intended. I sometimes manage to convince myself working harder is the best way to achieve my goals.

I hear there is a road somewhere paved with nothing but good intentions. Read the rest of this entry »

In Manfredi’s, one of four restaurants open for dinner on the new Viking Sea, I take a bite of the Bistecca Fiorentina. I’ve had the steak before, on Viking Star last year, and my reaction tonight is the same as it was back then. Pure bliss. The tender beef melts in my mouth. Unequivocally, the Florentine Steak is the best I have had on land or at sea, and that includes at a particularly good restaurant in Florence.

Viking’s new ocean ship does things right, from the delicious steak in Manfredi’s to the thoughtfully designed pull-out mini-bars in staterooms, “so that you don’t have to bend over to look in the refrigerator,” says Erling Frydenberg, whose business card reads “Owner’s Representative, Cruise Operations Development.” Read the rest of this entry »

Michael-headshotMust love travel agents
Unlike the John Cusack movie with a similar title, you must really love travel agents to work at Sky Bird Travel & Tours. I don’t necessarily have a specific love for travel – preferring to spend my vacation reading on my deck – but I’m passionate about helping agents grow their business.

When I started working for United Airlines in 1986, airlines and agents were truly partners. The airlines owned the CRS systems, and you learned a lot about an agency’s business plans when you were negotiating contracts. Talking with agents was the best part of the job, and relationships developed beyond our vendor/seller roles. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing has two goals: the retention of existing clients and the acquisition of new clients. From existing clients you achieve stability, and it is from new clients you achieve growth. When you design your marketing properly, both your new clients and existing clients first notice or are reminded of your presence, investigate your offerings, and finally enter into conversation with you about the services or products you offer.  At this stage you have an actionable lead and enter into the sales cycle. The process of drawing the potential client closer and closer to you, finally resulting in an actionable lead, is sometimes referred to as the “Marketing Funnel.”

Meet the Marketing Funnel

Indeed, all good marketing strategies are funnel-like in their conception, design and implementation: Read the rest of this entry »

A bison? Really people??

We need to do a better job of educating our clients.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Always. But every now and then, I get a stark reminder that many people (some may argue “most people”) can be clueless or helpless or a combination of both. In either case, when it comes to travel, I think we need to do a better job of educating them; or, at least making sure that our assumptions are somewhat correct. Read the rest of this entry »

Take a Walk!

Most of us in this business tend behind a desk – all day, every day. Our ears become permanently glued to our headsets. It doesn’t matter if we work from home or an office. The only difference is the commute; our habits are the same. Once we get to our desks, we allow our work to totally consume us. While we may wander into the kitchen or breakroom for a snack or take a couple of bio breaks throughout the day, we go right back to our desks and pick up where we left off.   I am as guilty as the next person: I will go into my home office around 7am and look at the clock – wow, it’s after 6pm!

The fact is we really are not as creative and productive as we think. In reality, the way we have been working is just bad for us mentally and physically. As the day goes on, our ability to focus erodes, our bodies become stiff, our lower extremities swell – this is not good! According to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiatives: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” Read the rest of this entry »

Susan SchaeferLeave it to the media to cause panic among travelers. The most recent “scare” is the TSA delays being reported at airports throughout the US. We are hearing horror stories of passengers missing their flights because of the long lines at the TSA check points. And it’s not just one or two passengers missing flights, but up to hundreds a day that are affected by these delays.

The potential impact on cruise clients can be enormous. We all have those clients that insist on flying in the day the cruise departs. If they miss their flight, they can miss their cruise, even if the airlines can reasonably accommodate them on a flight later in the day. If they bought travel insurance before this problem became a “known issue”, then travel insurance might bail them out, covering the costs to catch up with the ship. But now that this is a known problem, going out and buying travel insurance for an upcoming cruise may or may not save the day if your clients miss their cruise due to TSA delays. Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Zim - Head ShotTRO is proud to introduce a new column this week: “Ex Bona Fida”. This monthly column will feature lawyers and accounting professionals providing valuable insight into the legal and tax world of the travel industry. Our first column is by Daniel Zim, an attorney specializing in travel law who has worked with such agencies as American Society of Travel Agents, Inc. (ASTA), Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), the U.S. Department of Transportation and state seller of travel programs.

Most law-abiding travel agencies do their best to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Some do not, risking prosecution and hefty fines. Still, others find the right buttons to push and the right people to speak with. One very familiar company with a unique business model may have done just that, receiving what appears to be a waiver of literal compliance with two DOT rules – the code-share and baggage fee disclosure rules.

For years, Priceline has dominated the opaque online travel space, selling airline tickets while withholding from the consumer the name of the carrier, including the schedule and applicable baggage fees until after the consumer makes a nonrefundable purchase. Yet, it is confounding that Priceline is even able to offer these services legally and intuition tells me that Priceline must have obtained informal permission from DOT for its opaque booking practices. Read the rest of this entry »

How many times have you been asked what was your favorite cruise line or favorite cruise ship? Having hosted the 2-hour weekly “Vacation and Cruise Club” call-in radio show in Miami from 1995 to 2003, I was probably asked that question at least 400 times. My honest answer was always the same, “Every one I have been on!”

While I was certainly trying to stay neutral to the many cruise executives that were my guests over those 8 years, I was still telling the truth, as I really had enjoyed all 250+ cruises that I had experienced.

In reflecting back to all the “new ships” I have had the pleasure of sailing on, I would have to say that each year the newer ships did impress me and many of them found a place in my “Top Five Favorite Ships.” However, having just come off my 265th cruise, (okay, retirement has slowed me down), I am pleased to inform you I do have a new favorite ship: Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to AccessFares and HUB!

Land A Better Class Of Service with AccessFares!

AccessFares is North America’s market leader for authentically discounted first, business, and premium economy airfares. Named by USA Today and Travel + Leisure as a trusted resource for significant premium air discounts, AccessFares was not born yesterday.

For the last twenty-five years, AccessFares has provided travel industry professionals with a better class service with steep discounts and a wide range of revenue opportunities. There has never been greater opportunity for agencies to generate increased profits with AccessFares than now. Read the rest of this entry »

Sell yourself first–always!

As the career profile and job description of the travel “agent” has evolved into being a travel “advisor”, travel professionals have evolved into much more than order takers.  In other words, we’re not just here to process payments and book travel, we are here to guide and educate our clients.  Therefore, the heart of our book of business is undeniably built on the trust, respect, and the rapport we develop with our clients.  How this relationship is established is critical to maintaining longevity as your clients return to you—their travel guru.

According to Harry Beckwith, author of You, Inc., the FIRST thing to sell is yourself!  This is extremely critical and lays the foundation for all aspects of your business.  Perhaps this sounds easier said than done, especially when you receive a call and the prospect dives right into the specifics of their wants, needs, and ideas for their upcoming vacation. Read the rest of this entry »

Spin Selling: Learn To Open In Order To Close

“Sales training over the years has clearly put much too great emphasis on closing.”

Spin Selling — Neil Rackham, page 39

The Big Three of sales training over the last hundred years has included: Closing, up-selling, and overcoming objections. At the risk of upsetting a thousand sales gurus, authors, and high-priced corporate speakers, I am fast to say that this has become “yesterday’s news.” People are too smart today to fall prey to a salesperson’s gift of gab. This is not a shell game. This is an honest attempt at helping people make good decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

Although David Holman is a professional travel consultant, he is currently working on a mobile app that all travel professionals can share with their clients and incorporate into their own business models. We recently sat down with David to learn more about Travel with Purpose.

Travel Research Online: Let’s start with a quick description of Travel with Purpose.

David Holman: It is a mobile app and website that will match travelers seeking volunteer opportunities with nonprofits looking for help on projects or for ongoing needs. There is a growing trend towards people desiring to make a positive, meaningful impact on the people and places they visit. Currently, it requires a lot of footwork prior to travel to accomplish that goal. By making it easier to connect with nonprofits, even last minute, we hope to grow that legion of travelers who desire to “Leave It Better.” Read the rest of this entry »

AkshayAs VP of Marketing at Sky Bird Travel & Tours, Akshay Shah sees firsthand how airfare consolidators can benefit travel agents. With decades of experience, Akshay has helped Sky Bird evolve and remain competitive in an ever-changing and technologically-advancing environment. He is always conjuring up ways to help the travel agent grow their business. While his goal as a consolidator is to negotiate fares that give agents an edge, his goal as a leader is to help educate agents on current events and trends in the travel industry that will help them become a better resource, and therefore more valuable, to their clients. Akshay was president of the United States Air Consolidation Association and is an Honorary Associate Director for the Jaya Rehabilitation Institute and Research Center. He lives in Michigan with his very patient wife and three daughters, who want nothing more than to give him a hard time. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m happy to say that the last few weeks, I have been getting more and more leads. Despite what I stated last month, about my fear of losing consumers to the internet, there are still clients out there that really do want that personal touch that travel agents can provide.

I’m finding that the reason that most people book vacations on their own is because of the trust factor. Most often, we are doing business with people we don’t know. USA Today once published warning signs for consumers to be aware of less-than-reputable travel agents. Two of the suggestions resonated with me and re-affirmed the way I do business. Read the rest of this entry »

The captivating city of Cape Town is an ideal place to set your bags down for a few days to experience the very best that South Africa has to offer. Indulge in delectable locally grown wines, enjoy close-up encounters with native wildlife, explore historical sites and endless beaches, or wander through local markets or High Street stores. If you are seeking a change in pace from everyday life, then look no further than Cape Town.

Throughout the years, there have been many changes that have shaped Cape Town to what it is today; from the early Portuguese explorers to the merchants of the Asia and Britain, and from the dark days of apartheid to the democratic freedoms enjoyed today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Homeric Tours is a family-owned business that specializes in a wide range of affordably priced semi-escorted, escorted and independent packages, FITs and customized group tours to over 25 countries on three continents. We invite you to learn more about us and the many benefits we offer you and your clients.

Since our founding in 1969, Homeric Tours has been providing travelers with memorable travel experiences to Mediterranean destinations. What started as a provider of packaged tours to Greece has expanded over time to offer fixed and flexible travel arrangements to a variety of locales. The travel industry has gone through many dramatic changes over the years, and as a result Homeric has changed with the times. However, we remain true to our founding principles of providing value and service unmatched elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Xiàmén City is one of China’s best kept secrets: less crowded than Hong Kong or Beijing, but still oozing with charisma and sophistication. Xiàmén is an intriguing blend of traditional Chinese culture with the remnants of European colonialism mingling within to create a one-of-a-kind Southeast Asian escape. Whether you’re looking for a taste of the ancient ways or a breath of the contemporary, Xiàmén has everything you’re looking for, and so much more. Read the rest of this entry »

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