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“Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them.” – Joseph Heller

Rising above the crowd in any profession requires enormous energy and perseverance. It takes courage to put yourself on the front lines. What is commonly referred to as the Pareto Principle is just math. Average out the numbers and there will be a vast wasteland of, well, “average.” But just above that group, in a category so separate it is a difference in kind rather than quality, is the top 10%, the top 5%, and the top 1% of people in any endeavor. Read the rest of this entry »


In progress: Two Live Voyage Reports, one from Ralph Grizzle traveling from Prague to Vienna, with seven days on Tauck’s ms Savor and the other from Aaron Saunders on a 15-day journey from Amsterdam to Budapest on Viking’s Vidar (with interruptions and changes along the way). 

Some news today. We would not be going to Regensburg as planned. Following our morning tour of Prague and lunch, we were supposed to board motorcoaches at 1:30 p.m. for our transfer to Regensburg, a little less than four hours away. Read the rest of this entry »


KateI can’t believe it was 26 years ago that I got my first job in the travel industry. My parents had just returned from a big trip overseas booked through Austravel and noticed they were advertising for an administrative assistant in their Bristol, UK office. We always traveled a lot as a family and it seemed like a good fit for a young 18 year old just starting out in her career. I applied, got the job, and never looked back! I quickly moved into their ticketing department and spent a year there, but always yearned to be more involved with the customers and the process of planning their holidays. I moved into sales and was hooked. I enjoyed sharing my experiences with potential travelers and also loved the travel that we got to experience. Read the rest of this entry »


What Travel Agencies Can Learn From Starbucks

No doubt, you have a local coffee shop that you absolutely love and that serves better coffee than Starbucks; and I know, friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks. I get it. Starbucks is a mega-chain, an 800-pound gorilla masquerading as a quaint neighborhood establishment. There is a lot of truth in that, except for one thing: Starbucks manages to be both a national chain and yet, at the same time, very local. Read the rest of this entry »


Keeping an eye on your competitors

Very few businesses do it all right, all the time. I know I don’t. I am pretty sure you don’t. And it is exactly those times when your business (and worse, your clients) are prime targets for your competition. Remember, your competition might be down the road, in the next town over, or across the country. We live in a globally connected world now. But the converse is also true: when you spot a competitor dropping the ball, you have an opportunity to shine. I do not advocate stealing clients; but if you can define your value properly, clients will make the decision on their own. That is why it is critical to periodically do a competitive analysis on “the enemy.” Read the rest of this entry »


A few weeks ago, I was up on stage in Las Vegas, having been invited by Travel Research Online to give the opening presentation to a robust crowd of independent travel advisors at the Home-Based Agent Forum. While much of what I told them is second-nature to me by now (after 10 years as a luxury travel specialist), preparing for my speech was a terrific way to remind myself of key and basic tenets to success in this business. Read the rest of this entry »


Susan SchafferEven though Celebrity Cruises is one of my preferred cruise-line suppliers, I’m a bit miffed with them this week. Not too long ago the three cruise lines owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD (Azamara, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity) launched their new booking engine Espresso. During the training for Espresso (online as well as in-person training) we were told that new bookings were going to now require that we enter client email addresses and cell phone numbers. Of course, many travel professionals were leery about this new requirement. Several cruise lines are more than aggressive in marketing directly to our clients, trying to lure them into booking direct and bypassing their travel agents. Read the rest of this entry »


Give your gift, and find quality clients

When I first got into travel, I did it for me. You could say it was a selfish move. I always had a passion for travel and I felt that building a business around my passion would allow me to travel more often. I also wanted to share what I knew with others, but that motive took a back seat to the number one motive of wanting to travel more often.

I dove into entrepreneurship with a naïve sense that if I followed my passion, the business would follow. It didn’t. I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult to get enough good clients so I could make decent money to afford to travel as often as possible. I think I have it figured out. Read the rest of this entry »


Downtown Travel, one of the largest air consolidators serving the U.S. travel market, announced today the launch of its new leisure travel brand: “Holidays With Downtown.” The brand is backed by the strength, time-honored success, and industry expertise of Downtown Travel, a leader in travel for nearly three decades and the first major air consolidation company to launch a comprehensive leisure travel arm. The aim of Holidays With Downtown is to present the highest quality and value for travelers via a complete range of experiential escorted touring programs, locally hosted itineraries, and flexible city stay packages throughout Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »


We all know what a professional looks like; but what about an unprofessional? You know, someone who arrives late, dresses inappropriately, talks more than they listen, snaps their gum and are basically disagreeable.

Is there more? Read the rest of this entry »


I know exactly what I am talking about in today’s message as I recently dodged a bullet. Let me share my good fortune with you.

Months ago I was contacted and requested to send a proposal regarding an upcoming assignment. By my calculations, I categorized this as a “significant” project as measured by net profit. Read the rest of this entry »


Peter Wen has worked at Chinatour.com for just over 3 years and is currently the Sales Director at the company. Born and raised in China, Peter came to the United States to peter wen headshotpursue a graduate degree and eventually graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a Master’s degree in Economics in 2012. Although working in the travel industry wasn’t his first choice, he found himself highly passionate about helping travel agents know more about the ancient country of China. His ultimate goal is make China a more popular destination in the industry and help travel agents realize how easy and profitable it is to sell China packages.   Read the rest of this entry »


Perry Portrait 1 BWLiterally growing up in the travel business through his family’s agency, Perry Lungmus found an early passion to explore the world. He gained hands-on travel sales and marketing experience while sharing that passion, which eventually led him to a 25-year career of leadership roles with several of the world’s top luxury tour companies and travel agency groups. Today, based in Seattle, Lungmus leads the development of a multi-faceted luxury and experiential travel program for brands within Travel Leaders Group, North America’s largest travel agency network, offering specialized sales, marketing and training support for thousands of Travel Leaders agents. Read the rest of this entry »


Just last week I had a great reminder about the importance of patience and how limits can be tested.  To set up the story, it’s best if I share that my travel agency isn’t my full-time job so I generally work evenings and Saturdays on client proposals, bookings, education, etc.  I received a call on a Tuesday evening and was unable to answer so I sent it to voicemail.  Then, I received another call.  Then one more.  I stopped what I was doing and listened to the voicemail aware that none of my clients were traveling at that time so it shouldn’t be a last minute emergency, but was curious as to what the urgency was for three calls in a row.  It was a new client and her first voicemail was over 4 minutes long.  I knew from the start this wasn’t going to be easy. Read the rest of this entry »



New Zealand: home of the kiwi (bird), lush and unspoiled nature, and the setting for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies. New Zealand has slowly been stepping into the media limelight for its natural beauty, and that beauty shines brightest in Queenstown. If you love the outdoors and soaking in the tranquil majesty of turquoise lakes and soaring mountain peaks, then Queenstown is your next stop on your itinerary!

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Las Vegas needs no introduction: “Sin City”, “The Entertainment Capital Of The World”, and “The City Of Lights”, all spot-on descriptions of this dusty desert city. While most think they know the real Las Vegas, all glitz and glamor with sequins falling from the sky, there is so much more beyond the Strip and all its casinos. You can scale rust-colored sandstone canyons, enchanted by dazzling acrobatics, and visit some of the best entertainment of the past and present.

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Turkey is truly a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures. Positioned between the Middle East and Southeastern Europe and bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the region was conquered down through the years by  various empires  including the Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans. Modern-day Turkey was established in 1923 from the wreckage of the fallen Ottoman Empire, and joined the United Nations at its founding in 1945. Today Turkey’s warm and inviting people welcome visitors to its beaches, mountains, historical sites, and all of the other attractions the country has to offer.
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