The voice of the travel agency community

Taking it Personnel-ly

A travel professional I speak with frequently called me the other day to talk about an idea for an article. She wanted to write about the need for agents to continually update their skill set in destinations, technology and sales techniques. I told the agent that I was impressed that she was so deeply interested in continuing education, and I asked her if the other travel agents in her agency felt the same way. She indicated that some did, but in general most seemed content to do things the way they had always been done, to service the clients the agency ownership put in front of them and to clock out at 5:00. I asked the agent what motivated her, and I really liked her answer: “I want to be valuable to the agency’s owners. As long as I am bringing in new business and generating loyalty to the agency, I’m valuable. I take it personally.”

Wow. I could not have said it better myself. Read the rest of this entry »

For Torstein Hagen, returning to Bergen, Norway, was about much more than christening his new and much-lauded ocean-going vessel, the 930-passenger Viking Star. The event marked a “coming home” for Hagen as well as the crowning achievement of a Lazarus-like return from two potentially catastrophic events in his life. 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 »

What are you going to do about it?

There has of late been some good news for travel agents. The media has been consistently reporting on the resurgence of travel professionals in the estimation of consumers.  Many travelers who historically used the internet for their travel bookings were shifting back to a brick-and-mortar travel agent model. Tales of the perils of booking online are not new – in fact, there are sites devoted to the horror stories. What’s new is the tone of the recent articles that are not just indicating that self booking is both time consuming and dangerous, but also that using a traditional travel agent is a better alternative. Read the rest of this entry »

Why is it that we never expect the unexpected? Two weeks ago I was looking forward to a fun-filled summer, several group tours that I planned on escorting, and spending time with my family and friends. And now it looks like most of my summer will be spent in physical therapy after taking a fall at a graduation ceremony when a hand railing gave way. Quadriceps tendon rupture. Surgery. Three to six months for a total recovery. Feel free to leave your horror stories in the comments!

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Decisions, decisions, decisions. This is what I feel like my life as a luxury travel business owner has been all about lately and is probably something most of us in this industry can relate to. Every day, there is a series of decisions to be made ranging from which hotel should I book the client into for his last-minute business trip to who should I hire as additional support to is it time to fire a particular client to what time should I leave for the airport to catch my 6 a.m. flight? Small decisions, big decisions, it varies everyday, but what stays consistent is that I need to remember to stop and think each decision through (if only momentarily) before making the mistake of not following my gut. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan SchafferSo, when I fly I don the sound-cancelling headphones and crank the iPod as loud as possible without blowing out my ear drums. This is a sure-fire way to drown out the screaming babies and other sundry noises that can interfere with sleep. Typically this is good enough to have me sleeping before the plane leaves terra firma. Recently while I was flying it didn’t work, and I ended up paying attention to the songs pouring out of my iPod. And it struck me: Pink was singing about some travel agents with her song “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve heard it a ton of times: Travel agents are becoming obsolete with all the online travel planning platforms available. There’s no way to make money in the travel industry anymore. It’s a travel industry apocalypse for travel agents!

Well, guess what? Over the past several years, I’ve taken my boutique travel business and turned it into a million dollar company. Read the rest of this entry »

ShoreTrips offers more than 2,400 excursions and activities, all personally tested, in more than 420 cruise ship ports of call and cities throughout the world. Shoretrips are the experts – having researched every location thoroughly, choosing the best sites to visit, and the best things to do. They interview the guides and providers, and only when they meet their strict criteria do they offer their services to you. With 30 years of international travel experience, Barry and Julie have worked very hard to develop the way for travelers to have smaller, more personal tours and experiences. They have ensured that all the partners ShoreTrips represents have an excellent understanding of traveler expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

Lose the feeling; lose your customers

Where I am, if you’ve been to a big celebration recently you’ve probably heard the song “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. It really gets the party started! The lyrics, “I’ve got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night” really sets the tone for the evening and everyone is up on their feet dancing in no time flat. It may sound basic, but clients want to feel good about their travel advisor and have that preparatory excitement to get the planning started. It’s important to examine that aspect of your relationship with your clients, co-workers, and even suppliers.   Read the rest of this entry »

I love my books. I can remember not long ago when I hated to read books. (Thirty years ago.) Most people today, regardless of their age, still don’t like to read books. And if they do, they are works of fiction and read for entertainment.

I like to read business books. They make me think. They also take the time that I might otherwise squander on less productive activities. Read the rest of this entry »

For over 21 years, Buffalo Tours has been the leading tour operator in Southeast Asia, offering the best in customized and private guided tours to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Today, as Asia’s leading destination expert, we also provide remarkable cultural experiences and destination support for Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. With decades of award-winning experience, we are now serving the US market from the West and East coasts for your convenience. Read the rest of this entry »

Xavier MasuleXavier Masule is the Chief Commercial Officer for Air Namibia. He brings over 15 years of airline experience to the table, with previous roles in finance as the Senior Manager at Air Namibia. Xavier received his MBA from the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in Cape Town, South Africa.


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I recently returned from a FAM trip on the beautiful Oceania Regatta, a 10-day Alaska cruise from San Francisco to Vancouver.

This was not my first FAM trip and I will be on another one in August, which will be an Alaska cruisetour with Holland America – since I sell so many Alaska cruisetours, I feel it is important for me to have my own cruisetour experience. We are booked in the Lanai category – I want to know for myself what those cabins are really like.

Since this was my first time to sail on Oceania, quite honestly, I expected Read the rest of this entry »

France offers so much more than just Paris or Provence! There are hidden treasures all over the country, from stunning landmarks to exquisite wineries to breathtaking garden-cities. Let Avalon Waterways guide you to these amazing lesser-known landmarks!

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Jauntee Travel Group is the leading global travel provider for catered vacations to Croatia & the Adriatic coast. Offering 10 years of travel experience from native experts in the region, Jauntee features small-group tours and customized private tours to Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania and Italy, as well as many other prominent countries throughout Europe in both Eastern and Western Europe. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, with ground operations in Croatia, including English-speaking private drivers, Jauntee caters to discerning travelers who seek extraordinary experiences with impeccable service. Read the rest of this entry »

An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cartagena is a rarity in the impeccable preservation of its colonial buildings and heritage. The first Spanish colony on the American continent, Cartagena has always held historical significance, including as one of the first havens for freed slaves in the 19th century. Today Cartagena’s Old Town is frozen in time, with imposing churches, a labyrinth of cobblestone alleyways, and historic architecture around every corner. Outside of Old Town there are beaches, trendy restaurants and cafes, and coffee shops to relax in before you return to what feels like the distant past in the historical part of the city. Let Solar Tours take you on a tour of all of Cartagena’s Spanish Colonial charms. Read the rest of this entry »