“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 »

Travel Less, See and Discover More

Many years ago, I formed my love affair with North America by taking advantage of Greyhound’s amazing offer of 99 days of travel for $99. I spent nearly 5 months touring your fine country and still have the Rand McNally map to prove it.

While you and your customers may not have spent as long falling in love with the UK, many will thank you for suggesting a London and York holiday. Here are some reasons why they’d willingly let the train take the strain out of the fast 2-hour journey between the two locations. Read the rest of this entry »

In 1986, Glen Moroney began hosting packaged holidays for Melbourne-based seniors’ clubs along Australia’s famous Great Ocean Road, all the way to the small coastal town of Warrnambool. Warrnambool Scenic Coach Tours quickly became successful in a relatively short amount of time, and gave Glen the opportunity to expand, offering more variety in his tour itineraries. By the late 1980’s, Warrnambool Scenic Coach Tours was expanding rapidly and offered tours to destination events such as the World Exposition of 1988 in Brisbane and Australian premier of The Phantom of the Opera, creating the recognition of Warrnambool Scenic Coach Tours as Australia’s largest coach operator bringing guests to the musical phenomenon, which played in all of Australia’s major capital cities. The high quality of the tours and their ever-increasing popularity became the catalyst for the company’s name change to Australian Scenic Tours, and led to the purchase of their first coach 1989. The steady growth of the company ensured the commission of a custom-built fleet of 5-star Mercedes Benz coaches. 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 »

You guessed it! This is the title of my latest read: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin.

This kid won his first National Chess Championship at the age of nine and went on to win a Martial Arts National Title before he was old enough to drink. This kid ought to get together with Jordan Sparks to teach people how to touch all the bases before puberty sets in. Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Wen has worked at 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 »

The French Riviera has always been the quintessential idea of a relaxing European vacation: beaches, crumbling castles, and exquisite culture and art. That legacy continues on today in villages like Antibes, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Éze, and Monte Carlo. Let ShoreTrips guide you to the most breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, perfume-laden rose gardens, and to artistic inspiration itself.

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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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Guilin is widely known by locals and tourists alike as one of the most stunning and picturesque regions in all of China. Children’s books call it “the best under heaven” and politicians introduced foreign dignitaries to China as their pride and joy. The city is surrounded by two rivers, four lakes, and large Karst mountains, and is favored for its fresh, clean air compared to larger Chinese cities. Guilin has kept up with the more contemporary cities like Beijing and Xi’an with a vibrant array of nightlife. Read the rest of this entry »