Put on your consumer hat for a moment. If you are like me, you have a short list of customer service  complaints,  small irritant practices that really gripe you. For example, I don’t like phone trees when I call a company.  Inevitably my choice is the last in the long, long option list.  I don’t like it when a provider repeatedly misses deadlines and appointments.  One of my current vendors is chronically late, never hitting any promises on time.  If he says he will be at my office at 11:00 a.m., I schedule him for 1:00 p.m. In general, I let these small issues slide for those suppliers who otherwise do great work. I overlook the small things because they don’t  severely tarnish the otherwise solid business relationship. Also, these small customer service problems provide me with ample material for my columns.

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Last week, I watched a rehearsal of Viking Sea’s christening, minus the crowds and fanfare — and the city of London. On Wednesday, while we were cruising from Malaga, Spain, Erling Frydenberg invited me to a practice run of the breaking of the bottle against Viking Sea’s hull.

So along with Frydenberg, who heads up “Cruise Operations Development” for Viking Cruises, and Viking Sea General Manager Karl Eckl, I headed forward and out on deck to watch a bottle break. Interestingly, the bottle that will break against Viking Sea’s hull tomorrow will not be champagne. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael-headshotMust love travel agents
Unlike the John Cusack movie with a similar title, you must really love travel agents to work at Sky Bird Travel & Tours. I don’t necessarily have a specific love for travel – preferring to spend my vacation reading on my deck – but I’m passionate about helping agents grow their business.

When I started working for United Airlines in 1986, airlines and agents were truly partners. The airlines owned the CRS systems, and you learned a lot about an agency’s business plans when you were negotiating contracts. Talking with agents was the best part of the job, and relationships developed beyond our vendor/seller roles. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring has sprung! For many of us it means refreshing, renewing, and planting the seeds for success. Think about your closet, sock drawer, garage, and garden. Imagine the sense of re-energizing that comes after a deep spring clean.

In the world of social marketing for travel and tourism pros, let’s look at how we can let the sun shine in and market more clearly with small steps to refresh, repurpose, and revitalize.


I’ll bet you have a number of social media sites that you use regularly to market and mingle. When is the last time you took a hard look at what your clients really see when they find you socially? Here are a number of spring cleaning ideas to refresh your own presence. Read the rest of this entry »

Bear with me for a few paragraphs as we talk about social networking. But, I want you to erase the thoughts about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, all of it! Huh? Give me a few minutes to talk about human social networking—yes, good old-fashioned, face-to-face social networking. Read the rest of this entry »

The six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a special time in our home. Like most families, we have our “Griswold” like traditions. The biggest being the annual tree excursion. This always takes place the day after Thanksgiving – no exceptions. As our girls have gotten older, their boyfriends have thankfully helped out. They have been good sports as we (my wife) often spend hours searching for that “perfect” tree.

Once we get home, the annual ordeal of getting the tree just right in the stand, and then the decorating begins. This is one of our favorite traditions. When we travel, we always purchase a simple ornament from each country or city we visit to hang on the tree. As each ornament is strategically placed on a branch, we fondly recall each trip and what it meant to us. The wonderful family times we had including the teenage meltdowns (particularly the one in Budapest). Needless to say, this process goes on into the night. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan SchaeferWhile we are used to cruise clients cancelling their plans, it’s not as prevalent for suppliers to cancel. When a client cancels, it often has a financial impact on us due to loss of commission. In most cases where the cruise lines cancel a sailing they will protect our commissions. However, the future cruise credit they give to clients may lead to low or no commission on the future booking. Commission aside, what else are we faced with?

The question comes up in the light of several recent cancellations. Fathom Cruises had to cancel their inaugural cruise to the Dominican Republic due to issues with Coast Guard inspections. There were revenue passengers involved, but many of the affected passengers were actually travel professionals and members of the media and blogosphere. Only one sailing was cancelled, and with the low number of revenue passengers, travel professionals were not overwhelmingly impacted. Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Zim - Head ShotTRO is proud to introduce a new column this week: “Ex Bona Fida”. This monthly column will feature lawyers and accounting professionals providing valuable insight into the legal and tax world of the travel industry. Our first column is by Daniel Zim, an attorney specializing in travel law who has worked with such agencies as American Society of Travel Agents, Inc. (ASTA), Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), the U.S. Department of Transportation and state seller of travel programs.

Most law-abiding travel agencies do their best to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Some do not, risking prosecution and hefty fines. Still, others find the right buttons to push and the right people to speak with. One very familiar company with a unique business model may have done just that, receiving what appears to be a waiver of literal compliance with two DOT rules – the code-share and baggage fee disclosure rules.

For years, Priceline has dominated the opaque online travel space, selling airline tickets while withholding from the consumer the name of the carrier, including the schedule and applicable baggage fees until after the consumer makes a nonrefundable purchase. Yet, it is confounding that Priceline is even able to offer these services legally and intuition tells me that Priceline must have obtained informal permission from DOT for its opaque booking practices. Read the rest of this entry »

I love to watch professionals ply their trade.

A few years back, I hired a man to dig a hole in my backyard and he used a machine called a “Bobcat.”  A Bobcat is a hole digging machine on 4 wheels… a mini bulldozer. I was digging a hole for a swimming pool and this guy could make that machine “sing.” Can you sing? Read the rest of this entry »

All Leisure Holidays has launched a new site to help their travel agent partners learn more about their three cruise brands, are now offering you and a companion the chance to Win a FREE 14-Day Cruise aboard Voyages of Discovery’s Voyager! The lucky winner and guest will enjoy all the commodities of an outside stateroom on the October 9th, 2016 cruise TALES OF TURKEY & A GRECIAN ESCAPADE, visiting Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus.

All Leisure Holidays handles three globally-marketed cruise brands specializing in discovery cruising: Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic, and Hebridean Island Cruises. The three cruise brands are distinct with their own customer profiles and price points, but are combined in their focus on enrichment and discovery cruising. These three brands are about combining the chance to relax at sea on small ships featuring stylish on-board amenities and hospitality, along with the opportunity to discover the world’s greatest sights and cultures in the company of experts. All of our ships offer expert lecturers who provide educational background on the history, geography, and sociology of the global destinations that we visit.  We also have partnerships with three premier UK Organizations: the National Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society, and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).  Read the rest of this entry »


They see it on television and they read about it on the internet. It’s a topic of discussion during dinner. You know what I am talking about– The “T” word…Terrorism!

No doubt about it, we live in a world where recent and tragic violent events have changed us all for ever.

As a travel expert and industry veteran I have seen this type of client fear and concern before. Do you all remember Pan Am 101. Travel in general came to a screeching halt. Hijacking of airlines was all but of unheard of then.

Keep in mind that the American people are perhaps the most resilient people in the world and as history has proven…we see what happens…we get shaken up…but them we move on.

Fast forward to today… Read the rest of this entry »

“My business training told me I needed to open a direct channel to my customers and modify my product based on their feedback.”

How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big: Scott Adams, page 99

I think that I have alluded to this message before, but it is worth repeating. What you think means very little in the long run. What your clients and prospects want will determine your path to future success. Read the rest of this entry »

Whether it’s the budget-conscious traveler looking for a car to take the scenic route to their destination or the frenzied business traveler on his or her way to an important seminar, Enterprise Holdings has every vehicle for every need. With three car rental brands under its umbrella, Enterprise Holdings owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car. The brands, through their regional subsidiaries, operate fully staffed locations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. Founded in 1957 by Jack Taylor, Enterprise Holdings began with only a seven car fleet and one employee, and is still owned by the Taylor family today. Read the rest of this entry »

tomwanAs a Chinese American, Tom Wan has been in US travel business for years. Wan is the Senior Travel consultant and manager of the US region wholesale team for International Inc., a well-established tour supplier specializing in travel to China and Asia. Tom possesses enormous dedication and passion, both in the retail and wholesale sides of the travel business.

As a tour guide in his early career, Tom Wan had the luxury of leaving his footsteps in almost every corner of China, and gained first-hand travel experience and a deep understanding of the needs of a traveler. After few years living in the Los Angeles area, Tom attended the University of Florida to pursue his Master’s Degree in Tourism Management in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Travel Diary….

I feel I should be starting these monthly writings with that, (as I chuckle to myself). As I mentioned last month, I decided to invest in GIFTE’s Diamond Mastermind Program. I know it may seem odd with ink fresh on the divorce papers and a pending move across the country to spend this kind of money now. But that was exactly the point of why I chose to do it. What better time for me to invest in my business than when a major change is on the horizon? Therefore, investment made, April kicked off with our first Diamond Mastermind Meeting in Charlotte. Read the rest of this entry »

Italy has long been considered the birthplace of the arts, with the heart of the Renaissance period focused within its own borders after the lack of artistic and social progression during the Dark Ages. Today thousands of years of art, history, and performance can all be seen in one of the city’s most exquisite cities, the seaside mecca of Naples. This city, filled with palacial spaces, galleries, record-breaking opera houses, and fantastic museums, are only a small part of what makes this city a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Read the rest of this entry »

Homeric Tours is a family-owned business that specializes in a wide range of affordably priced semi-escorted, escorted and independent packages, FITs and customized group tours to over 25 countries on three continents. We invite you to learn more about us and the many benefits we offer you and your clients.

Since our founding in 1969, Homeric Tours has been providing travelers with memorable travel experiences to Mediterranean destinations. What started as a provider of packaged tours to Greece has expanded over time to offer fixed and flexible travel arrangements to a variety of locales. The travel industry has gone through many dramatic changes over the years, and as a result Homeric has changed with the times. However, we remain true to our founding principles of providing value and service unmatched elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Lalibela received its name from King Lalibela, said to have been destined for the monarchy by a vision from his mother of the baby swarming with bees. During his childhood and adolescence, Lalibela spent time in Jerusalem and Jordan and subsequently name several areas in the city after what he saw in these foreign lands. The construction of the city of Lalibela was the King’s response to Jerusalem’s conquest by the Muslims; the King’s attempt to build another Holy Land. The city is filled with churches carved from single stones, said to represent the Christian values of humility and spirituality. UNESCO has recognized many of these churches as World Heritage sites.

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