The voice of the travel agency community

There are many good reasons not to make price the centerpiece of your presentations, but here’s the best one.  Your client only thinks price is important.  The reality, of course, is that every day the client chooses considerations of value over price, even when they begin the conversation by telling you they want to travel “as cheaply as possible.”

What the client says and what the client actually means can be two different things entirely.  The client doesn’t really mean they want to walk to their destination and sleep under the stars.  The client is expressing their concern about paying too much, about not achieving a good value. Read the rest of this entry »

I believe in full transparency, and I have to tell you that putting together my first hosted trip has not been easy. Especially given the fact that I’m adding special experiences before and after the barge cruise — and dealing with French hotels and operators. They’ve been kind, patient and professional, but sometimes things get lost in translation. They actually wanted us to fax in credit card numbers to reserve our hotel rooms. Do fax machines still exist? Apparently they do in France. Read the rest of this entry »

med-1For me travel has been an all-consuming passion,  both personally and in my profession. Aside of course from the obvious, travel is the one thing I love.

I was born in Marcona, Peru, in a mining camp where my dad, a Wyoming native and ex-Navy warrior, met my mother, a mild mannered, flower loving, ex-middle school teacher (talk about opposites attract,!). As a family of three we moved to Venezuela when I was 6 and set roots there for 20 years. My dad traveled the world as a Mining Consultant and my mom was a Travel Agent, and together we had our share of amazing adventures. No surprise I chose travel and tourism as my career! My professional career started right after high school working for American Airlines, going to college and getting my Travel and Tourism Management degree. I bring about 20 years of experience to Europe Express, combing the back-end knowledge of a world class GDS, Amadeus and the front-end experience in Sales from Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line. Read the rest of this entry »

The consumers of this decade are smarter and better informed than the consumers of the past. Their computer screens are portals into an unbelievably deep and rich world of information. Beyond that, however, today’s consumers have grown up on television, radio and newspapers. They have seen and heard almost every permutation of marketing and sales, both the good and the bad. As a result, today’s consumer can see an inauthentic sales pitch coming from a long distance away, and they want none of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Give them something for nothing

After my column last week lamenting the lack of results I have seen from what would be called “traditional” marketing, I heard an ad on a local radio station about a local retail agency that caught my attention. I reasoned that if it caught my attention, it may have caught others as well. Without the benefit of a script, the gist of the 60-second commercial was “we’re great, the world is great, we need to travel responsibly and call us for our free responsible travel booklet.” I was intrigued. Read the rest of this entry »

A few weeks ago, a potential new client emailed me letting me know he was in the market for a new luxury travel advisor. He spelled out in this initial email what his frustrations were with his current situation, most notably that he was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in travel yet not quite feeling like he was receiving the level of service he had been promised.

Reading through his initial email, I knew that we were definitely going to be a great match. I didn’t know this simply because I specialize in luxury travel or because I am accustomed to dealing with discerning and demanding clients. Rather, it was just crystal clear to me exactly what this type of client is looking for and I know that I have the product knowledge coupled with the high level of contacts worldwide to ensure he and his family are extremely well looked after wherever we book them. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan SchafferWe’re coming up on that time of year – when we dig out from under wave season, venture out into the sunlight, and find ourselves facing another daunting list of upcoming trade shows. They include cruise3sixty, the HBTA Forums (this year in Las Vegas and Tampa Bay), the Romance Travel Forum, Cruise World, the Global Travel Marketplace (this year in Tucson and Ft Lauderdale), Travel Industry Exchange, The Luxury Travel Expo, and the list goes on. We simply cannot attend them all, assuming we want time left to actually fulfill our clients’ travel dreams. So how do you choose? Read the rest of this entry »

Niche Idea: A Cornucopia of English gardens

With hints of the long awaited Spring in the air and with the Chelsea Flower Show just around the corner across the pond, here’s an update on some new ideas for UK garden tours. Some of them like the Capability Brown 300th anniversary in 2016 will be of great interest to your gardening contacts while others will appeal to customers cruising or flying in/out of Southampton, Dover or Harwich this year.

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Mira Borukhin had just finished her BA in Advertising at a New York City college and started working for an airline where soon, she became the top salesperson. Then, her urge for entrepreneurship took over and she opened a small travel agency in the shadows of the World Trade Center. Downtown Travel was born in the mid 80’s based on the principles of tough work ethics and great customer service. Read the rest of this entry »

So you lost a client–man up!

We have all felt the sting when we learned that a client we have worked hard to close a sale with ends up not booking with us. It is frustrating, disheartening and frankly, it hurts. Recently one of my IC’s called and asked “What am I doing wrong?” She had lost a few sales over the course of a few months. This most recent sale would have been a decent sized wedding group and she was devastated. The thing is, she’s a GREAT agent! She has excellent customer service skills, is knowledgeable, and has a very admirable desire to please and take care of her clients. But, I could hear the defeat in her voice as we spoke. She was so upset! Read the rest of this entry »

I decided to write today’s message on the “caring” moments after I received an email from one of my friends last week.

This advice often is construed as “sour grapes,” but never a truer message has been delivered. It is not all about fame, and money and notoriety. Far from it.

Not because I say so, but because you are about to say so. Read the rest of this entry »

The largest city in Peru unreachable by road, Iquitos is only accessible by boat or plane. In the past, the rubber and oil trades dominated and brought wealth to the region, the prosperity of the time still visible in some of the older homes. Today, it flourishes in the Amazonian jungle with it’s friendly people juxtaposed with its vibrant nightlife. Whether you come to visit the famous Amazon river or to stroll through the market of Belén, there is something new for you to discover in Iquitos. Read the rest of this entry »

YvetteYvette De Vries grew up and studied in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She spent the first 10 years of her career in public relations in the local wine industry before moving to the United States and settling in Connecticut.  As the senior consultant at African Portfolio since 2001, Yvette’s extensive travels throughout the continent and years of first-hand experience has been of great value to hundreds of travelers for whom she has tailor-made unique and memorable adventures in East- and Southern Africa, Morocco, Egypt, the Seychelles and Mauritius. She is President of the Association for Promotion of Tourism to Africa, or APTA. Read the rest of this entry »

So, how is your month going? This column is supposed to be about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Travel Agent’ing. And I’ll get to that. I promise.

Who was it that said “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans?” If I find out, I am going to find him or her and tell them truer words were never spoken. Read the rest of this entry »

With exclusive wines, fresh and succulent seafood, and amazing museums and palaces to explore, Spain is more than just Barcelona and Madrid. Let Back-Roads Touring guide you to these buried treasures that have so much to offer!

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Welcome to the best in travel with Central Holidays, a leading tour operator specializing in group travel to enchanting destinations across the globe. Founded in 1972, Central Holidays is known for offering superior travel programs throughout Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and Croatia.  The company also offers dozens of Mediterranean and European river cruise itineraries, worldwide ski programs, and religious pilgrimage travel, as well as people-to-people educational exchange travel to Cuba! The company’s sister brand, STI by Central Holidays, presents novel travel opportunities throughout Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Central Holidays and its family of travel companies remains at the forefront of the global tourism and travel industry, offering the most diverse range of travel programs that support the brand promises of reliability, expertise, and flexibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Filled with hundreds of species of beautiful wildlife, Kenya is what most people think of when they think of Africa. With its multitude of national parks and conservation areas in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya takes to heart the care and keeping of these amazing creatures. Whether you’re looking to explore the diverse landscapes, from the plains to the mountains, or take in the local wildlife on safari such as elephants, lions, and cheetahs, Kenya is full of opportunities to please all nature lovers. Read the rest of this entry »