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How photogenic are you?  I am not.  It takes either the most amazingly lucky lighting or the most skilled of photographers to make me look good in a photograph.  I tell myself it has nothing to do with my personal appearance.  Instead, I am the victim of bad lighting. Worldwide.

At ASTA’s Global Conference in Reno last year, I participated in a panel titled “The Value of Using a Travel Agent.”  Driven by ASTA’s Research Department, the information provided was actually quite remarkable. Perhaps the most interesting and hopeful number in the report is the number of people currently using a travel agent which hovers around 25% in all age categories.  Wow. Read the rest of this entry »


Scenic is bringing Southeast Asia closer to a reality for US travelers. Booking any departure between August and December 2017 means free air from 25 US gateways or $2,000 savings per couple on its 13-day “Treasures of the Mekong” and 14-day “Mystical Irrawaddy”; and $1,000 per couple savings on the eight-day “Luxury Mekong” and 11-day “Luxury Irrawaddy.” These itineraries exploring the culturally-rich Mekong and Irrawaddy River destinations of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The deadline for the offer is based on availability and is for new bookings only. Read the rest of this entry »


Danielle van der Kwartel close upIf someone had asked me 25 years ago where I saw myself, I would have never imagined my current life. After graduating from school in the Netherlands, where I was born, I was accepted at a management-training program with Hyatt International in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. At the moment, I wasn’t even aware where Puerto Vallarta was and I had no plans to end up staying in Mexico. Little did I know!

When I arrived in Mexico, I did not speak the language and I learned it in three intense months. After four months in Puerto Vallarta, I had fallen deeply in love with Mexico, its people, and its culture, and knew I was never leaving. Read the rest of this entry »


Inspire Yourself

I’m about to give you permission to have more fun in your job. Creative thinking requires raw material. If you find yourself in need of fresh ideas or a new perspective in your digital marketing, one of the best ways to generate intuitive insight is to browse through magazines, the internet or even stock photography at random. As ideas, images and unrelated concepts enter your mind from these sources, you will be surprised at your capability to relate them to your own situation. It’s one of the reasons I find social media so engaging and not the time suck it might at first appear. Read the rest of this entry »


When you need help, ask for it…or find it

 

Recently I became overwhelmed. I was falling behind on returning telephone calls, emails, and a final payment for a group was barreling down on me. I also had a non-travel related pressing project that was looming. While I like to think of myself as super human (and I did for a brief moment), I realized that there was no way in the world I was going to get all of this done in time. Something was going to get left behind and ignored. I needed help. But I am not in a position with my agency to hire staff. I have looked into virtual assistants in the past and could not justify the move—I tend to be one of those guys who think that no one can do a task as well as I can. So what to do? I just needed to get over this hump. Read the rest of this entry »


Local Star Power

Last week, my in-laws decided we should all go to the casino for an afternoon of fun. I am not a big gambler, but for a few hours—I was game. One of the players at our poker table repeated these words with every hand: “Go big or go home.”

This reminded me of a big gamble I made with my travel agency. Outwardly, we were very successful, and from a sales perspective, we were. We did a fairly high volume of contemporary product. Because of this, we were often treated like VIPs—flown first class to inaugural events, served lavish dinners with industry executives, and so on. However, we were in real danger of going out of business due to low margins and high cost of sale, so we made the biggest gamble since starting the company. We turned our business model 180 degrees and began focusing on attracting affluent customers as a large part of the overall sales strategy. Go big or go home!

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This week saw the reveal of Celebrity’s newest ship, Celebrity Edge, which will begin sailing the Eastern and Western Caribbean starting in December 2018.

What’s new about the Celebrity Edge?  It’s hard to decide where to start with the new innovations that Celebrity is rolling out with this ship.

Accommodations

Celebrity has added two new suite categories to the Celebrity Edge; Edge Villas and Iconic Suites.  The Edge Villas are the first split level suites in the Celebrity fleet.  Their sister company Royal Caribbean International introduced split level suites with their Oasis Class ships, but Celebrity Edge takes it one step further.  There will be six of these two story suites on the ship, with a total of 950 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.  The villas consist of one bedroom and two bathrooms, personal butler service and accommodate up to four guests.  Unique to the Edge Villas are the three foot deep plunge pools.

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Travel Agency Industry Service Fee Practices

Part of the American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) wide-ranging benchmark reporting program, the Service Fee report, seeks to discover current service fee practices in the travel agency industry in addition to  travel agents’ other revenue sources such as consultation fees, travel insurance, mark-ups and others. It is truly a balancing act for travel agencies and agents to maximize revenues by obtaining commissions from industry supplier partners and charging clients various fees, without overly relying on commissions or alienating prospective customers. The industry as a whole continues the effort of introducing the concept of fee-based professional travel advice to the general public.

Charging Service Fees

Among ASTA agency members, three quarters (76%) indicated that they charged service fees in 2016. It appears that the downward trend continues after the peak in the mid-2000’s with more than 90% of ASTA agency members charging service fees. The possible reasons can be two-fold: some leisure agencies are shifting away from booking air directly while others are exploring additional revenue sources such as consultation fees. Read the rest of this entry »


Founded in 1950, Aerolineas Argentinas is currently a major airline company in South America, with 82 aircraft/average 8 years, providing service to 11.265.000 million passengers transported in 2016, with over 300 departures daily.

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Anita Pagliasso took a leap of faith in 1992. Following her passion for travel, she switched gears from owning a successful and thriving electronic manufacturing rep business in the heart of Silicon Valley, CA., to opening her home-based travel business, Ticket To Travel. In 1993, Anita accepted Gary Fee’s challenge to become the San Jose/Bay Area Chapter director, which during parts of her 20 plus year reign became the OSSN flagship chapter. 

Anita serves as the Conference Director for the Travel Agent Forums, where she is responsible for educational content, securing relevant authors, keynote speakers, travel industry top executives, and co-coordinating panels and panelists, all while working closely with the staff at Travel Show Marketing Group.  Read the rest of this entry »


Generating More Leads

Selling professional travel services is not a one-call business. You cannot sell travel services the way automobile mechanics or dry cleaners sell their services. Conventional advertising does not work well for us, probably because we are asking the prospect to risk a great deal more than a few dollars. We are asking them to trust us with their vacations, honeymoons, reunions and valued time off from work.

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With over 13 years of experience, Via Tours welcomed over one hundred thousand travelers and gained crucial destination knowledge to assure best local experience for people with desires to travel to Croatia and beyond including Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, and Albania. Read the rest of this entry »


Stunning China was founded by Peter Wen, who was born and raised in China. Peter received his Master’s degree in Economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology at Atlanta, Georgia. During his years in the travel industry, he has worked closely with U.S. travel agents, igniting his passion to introduce his native China to more agents and their clients. Stunning China specializes in land tours and all-inclusive packages in China. Besides tours to the major sights such as Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou, Stunning China also operates customized and private, off-the-beaten-path tours.

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For many travelers from the United States, the island of Fernando de Noronha off the Brazilian coast is an unknown travel destination. With Marnella Tours, travelers can discover the vegetation-rich landscape and unparalleled biodiversity that makes Fernando de Noronha not only a tropical beach destination, but an island full of adventure.

Thanks to Marnella Tours, the supplier sponsor of this column, you can use this 60-Second Geography article in your own travel agency’s newsletters and websites. You may want to pay attention to the many opportunities Marnella Tours provides your agency. Read the rest of this entry »


Athens is the city of classical wonders; a land of gods and temples, of sports and plays, where scholars and philosophers first dreamed up democracy; a must-see city for anyone visiting Europe. Step into antiquity. Step into Athens. Step into the past and discover breathtaking sites from one of the most important civilizations to ever flourish.

Athens is located in the southern side of Greece along the peninsula of Attica. Protected by mountains and nearly surrounded by water, Athens is a city with a bit of something for everyone. Adding appeal to the destination, the hot summers and mild winters encourage visitors year-round.

Tourist traffic has risen over the last few decades in reaction to the city’s rehabilitation of travel infrastructure. There is a state-of-the-art international airport, a new motorway and an expansion of the city’s metro system. Athens is an anachronism; an ideal destination for those who wish to look into the past while staying comfortably put in the present.
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The magical Solomon Islands are an archipelago of almost 1,000 islands in the South Pacific between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, a three-hour journey from Australia. This virtually untouched archipelago is a beautiful and exotic destination, rich in cultural heritage, biodiversity and spectacular landscapes. Relatively untouched, the Solomon Islands offer travelers a magical vacation that looks and feels out-of-this-world.

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