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getaway-potato
The voice of the travel agency community

Bootstrapping Your Marketing

Marketing is both a noun and a verb.  Much like the word “lightening,”  the one word denotes both the act and the action.  Recently an agent explained to me how difficult it was to fund her marketing efforts.  Without the funds to market, she could not bring in customers and without customers she would never have the funds.

Marketing is, however, not just something you buy.  It’s something you do.  Certainly you can spend vast amounts of money on marketing, but for most service businesses, you can also bootstrap your way into the minds of your local community. 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 »


ERICA_SCANNELLIIn my 6th grade yearbook, where other kids speculated on their futures as Olympic athletes, fire fighters, and millionaires, my career ambition was to be a Travel Agent. I didn’t re-discover this until recently and, looking back, it seems I was destined for this profession! I loved watching and reading about other people and cultures as a child; as a teen, I took my first international trip to Paris and I was hooked! Read the rest of this entry »


Social Media and campaign marketing

Why do consumers buy through one channel to the exclusion of others?  It is all about relationships, however built. Consumers are more likely to purchase through a company whose ethic and temperament most closely matches their own. This is another way of indicating that we do business with companies we like and with which we have a relationship. Therein is the role for social media – to condition the sales environment.  Note this is a step removed from “making sales.” Actually, however, as a commenter to a relatively recent Wired article points out, the premise social media marketing influences buying decisions is not really so anecdotal. Read the rest of this entry »


Is traditional marketing for travel dead?

There used to be a time in the travel industry where you put an ad in a newspaper and you got business. For years when I had a storefront agency, I had a weekly ad in a local paper—it was a black square with a destination written in white letters with our phone number. It was simple, consistent, and worked. When the Internet came about, it we changed it up and added our URL. And it worked. But today…not so much. 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 »


Perception is usually not reality this time

Perception is not reality; and it is our responsibility to make sure that clients understand that what may be happening in one part of the world, although serious, most likely will not have an impact on where the client is considering traveling.

I recently returned from Morocco and found it to be an amazing place–friendly, safe and not near the issues of the region. And yet, when I told people I was going there, some asked if I was concerned about Ebola and the issues of the Middle East and I said with certainty, no. Read the rest of this entry »


Under the pressure of day-to-day business, it will sometime sound like a good idea to “throw in the towel”… to quit. For some of you, this may very well be sage advice. For most of you, however, it will prove to be a huge mistake. 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 »


Lisa Norton headshot.jpgLisa Norton is Vice President of Brand Management for Emerald Waterways North America. Lisa joined Emerald Waterways in October of 2014. Prior to joining Emerald Waterways, Lisa was SVP of Marketing at Vantage Deluxe World Travel, and before that she was Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Grand Circle Travel. Lisa began her travel career as an administrative assistant at Boston based charter operator Trans National Travel. While there she expanded her responsibilities to include group sales and marketing. 

 Lisa left TNT in 1990 and joined Grand Circle Travel as a Product Administrator. During the course of her career at GCT she played various roles, from buyer to circulation, sales, and marketing. Lisa is very excited to help build Emerald Waterways into a key player in the river cruise market in North America. Read the rest of this entry »



I actually had a completely different entry written for this week but by virtue of recent of events, I decided this was more relevant to what is going on right now at my agency.

I remember when I was young, waking up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain in my legs night after night.  Growing pains.  They were crappy then, and although I’m thankful for my height after the fact, I don’t enjoy them much today either – but it’s no longer a pain in my legs, it’s now related to business growth.  I know, I know… I should be thankful for them because it means things are good and business is strong; but I’m not a full time travel agent and the balancing act of working a full-time job and owning a travel agency is getting trickier. Read the rest of this entry »


Whether it’s fine cuisine, world-class shopping, or exploring architectural wonders, the Iberian Peninsula has something for you. Let Avanti Destinations show you the best of this region and all it has 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 »


The Island of Kos
The third-largest island in the Dodecanese, after Rhodes, the green isle of Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. Inhabited since prehistory and called the “Island of Hippocrates,” Ios has been renowned for its rich soil since antiquity.  Its people are part of an agrarian culture that dates back to the 4th century B.C. Today much of the island’s population works in its burgeoning tourism industry, which is supported by an excellent infrastructure that features some of the Aegean’s most extensive hiking and bicycle paths. Read the rest of this entry »