“A human life is a story told by God and in the best of stories told by humans, we come closer to God.” – Hans Christian Anderson

What is your reaction when someone says, “Let me tell you a story?” Most likely you listen attentively. The human mind loves a good story. Some portion of our psyche seeks a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every story has characters, a setting, and a series of incidents resulting in something memorable. Sound familiar?

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Cinque Terre is comprised of five charming villages set along a rugged stretch of the Italian Riviera. Collectively, the villages and the coastline make up Cinque Terre National Park, a place so unique that it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The first of the villages that we’ll visit is Manarola. In the past, the primary industries in Manarola were fishing and wine production, but today it’s the tourist trade that makes tiny Manarola a bustling attraction.

The locals speak a dialect known as Manarolese, but you’ll still be understood when you greet the friendly folks of this town with a hearty Italian bonjourno. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_6167It was a busy afternoon at the Career Fair which I, at the last minute, decided to attend. As I was walking around and glanced over the different booths, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was hoping to find. I wanted to stay in the hospitality industry, but try something new. I suddenly spotted the Image Tours, Inc. logo printed on a large banner and headed for the table, instantly intrigued to know more. I remember thinking how interesting it was to find such a unique company that was very relatable to my personal interests, yet still very different than any other job I’d had in the past. That’s where I met and spoke with Mike, the company’s president. From there I was contacted for an interview, and started working within a month! Read the rest of this entry »

5 Tips for Facebook Ads that Get Real Results!

Are you using Facebook Ads in your business? Most travel professionals I speak with WANT to use Facebook Ads, but they aren’t always sure they are getting a good return on investment from them.

Today I’ve got 5 tips for you to create Facebook Ads that get noticed… and get results. Read the rest of this entry »

Never abandon your clients when things go wrong

I like to think of myself as relatively technical. I am an early adopter of new technologies and can usually find a way to cut through the fluff and determine if it is a good fit for me, and how to most effectively use it. WordPress? Got it down and it powers all my sites. Solostream for themes? I can see which theme will best reflect the content. Dropbox. Facebook. Twitter. Office. Feedly. Evernote. I have them all and use the heck out of them. Where I fall short in my knowledge is what lies on the back end. And that, was the root of one of the worst weeks of my life last week. Read the rest of this entry »

Advice from Gary Brown

The best piece of advice I got in this business was also one of the first, and I have lived by it my entire career.  I got into the travel business after recognizing an opportunity.  I came to realize most of the problems we dealt with, as a purser onboard cruise ships at the time, tended to be travel-agent related.  It was then I decided to start a cruise-only travel agency.  Back in those days, there were probably fewer than 500 cruise specialists in the US and far fewer dedicated cruise agencies.  From the ship, I sent letters to 5 or 6 cruise-focused and franchise companies for information on starting the business.  Not a single one responded, with the exception of Gary Brown, owner of Metairie, Louisiana-based Cruise Shoppes America.  Gary explained, they were no longer in the franchise business, but if I was interested we could join his new consortia and he would help us get up and running. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Schaefer

What is your definition of a world cruise?  When you research world cruise options, you’ll typically find something ranging between 106 and 180 days in length.  The longest world cruise on record to date is Oceania’s 180 day world cruise departing in January 2017.  My definition of a world cruise is one continuous itinerary, all onboard one ship, with an itinerary that circumvents the globe.  Note that I don’t include how many ports, countries, or continents that they have to include in the itinerary in order to qualify.

Now Mundy Cruising is launching a 357 day adventure that they are touting as the world’s longest cruise. I’m calling it a cheat. Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Zim - Head ShotPeople who love to travel as much as they love their pets face a dilemma whenever they travel by air. They can either board their pets for the duration of their sojourn or they can bring their pet with them. Owners of non-travelling pets have no shortage of local boarding options (there are even Airbnb substitutes like But the focus of this column will be on the travelling canine and the type of information that travel agents should provide to clients when such inquiries are made.

Cargo or Carry-on

Checking a pet as cargo can be quite expensive. Depending on the size and breed, prices for shipping a dog as checked luggage can exceed the cost of transporting a human on a domestic ticket by as much as five-fold. Aside from the expense, many passengers are uncomfortable with the idea of keeping man’s best friend in dark, unfamiliar surroundings next to piles of luggage. Additionally, airlines do not offer encouraging words to make pet owners want to check their pet on the baggage conveyer belt. Airline policies typically decline all liability, expressly disclaiming any guarantee that your pet will arrive at its destination safely. And the media strikes fear in the heart of dog owners whenever reports surface of pet DOAs. Read the rest of this entry »

The need to be visible

Last fall when I reached out to a savvy cruise line executive for some input and help, he said, “Cindy, you need to be more visible to be found, and not be a hidden gem.”  It was a great tip, and I’ve reworked my own strategy, along with implementing new tactics to hit my key target and goal. 

As the landscape of travel industry continues to change and evolve, the growth of the home-based travel professional has become a viable one. Storefront retail travel agencies still exist, and with that can bring more immediate visibility. In the case of home-based professionals, ways to be visible in order to build ongoing clients and get referrals requires more tactics, but ones that can be implemented using diverse strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

For 47 years, Cloud Tours has offered high quality independent tours at competitive and affordable prices. Cloud Tours specializes in Independent Tours & Groups to their European destinations creating unique travel experiences. They recognize the fact that you can select from many tour companies to handle your clients’ travel plans and respect that you have contacted them. Your clients work hard and deserve to have an unforgettable and incredible vacation. Cloud Tours will customize their itinerary to meet your clients’ travel dates, budget, interests and desires – all at affordable rates.  After all, their vacation is for them and about them! Read the rest of this entry »

What does your website say about you?

Do you ever just want to just bang your head? Like how do you get your ideal client (not the looker, but the booker) to hire you to design that trip? Sure, you get all kinds of inquiries but they are shoppers – they don’t want to pay a deposit, let alone a fee.

Then your email is flooded with hundreds of people telling you how to make more money, how to amplify your message, and you’re like “I just want to design travel”… you’re a travel expert, not a marketer, a Social Media guru, (fill in the blank here with other titles.), etc. Read the rest of this entry »

“Learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present. In other words: Live your vision now.”

Full Steam Ahead! by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner, page 101

Let’s break this quote down into separate parts. I would like to start with the concept of having a “vision.” In order to live your vision, you must first have a vision. To simplify this message, let’s think of a “vision” as nothing more than a dream.

I think many of us don’t take the time to define our dreams. We get caught up in the daily rush of putting out fires or feeling sorry for our current lot in life. Read the rest of this entry »

Planning a family vacation can be difficult. Parents want to have a relaxing time and share wonderful experiences with their kids, but finding a destination that appeals to kids and adults alike is harder than it seems… especially if you don’t want to drive all the way to the coast and spend hours in line at a theme park once you get there.

The best solution might be one you hadn’t considered yet: a Colorado adventure vacation at a dude and guest ranch!

Bringing your kids on a family trip to Colorado for a week – or even longer – can be just what you need to get a bit of relaxation, change your perspective, and pull everyone closer. To understand why, here are five things you’ll never hear your kids say while visiting one of Colorado’s dude ranches: Read the rest of this entry »

KF - Cape Chignecto (1)Born and raised on a dairy farm in Virginia, Katie Fravel always had a sense of adventure, with a love for nature and travel. She began in the travel industry in 2008 working for a ticketing company, followed by a job with a supplier that specialized in the British Isles. At the end of 2013, she embarked on her biggest adventure to date, with the launch of Fravel Travel.

Beginning with just Ireland, Katie would later add Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to her specialties.  These places are known for their gorgeous, natural beauty. They remind her of where she grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, a place where stunning scenery and friendly people are abundant. With Fravel Travel she is able to connect with clients, sharing the places she loves and helping them to plan a memorable getaway. Read the rest of this entry »

Since fall is a bit slower, I’ve been taking the extra time to enhance my knowledge on agent incentive programs and destination knowledge.  It’s really amazing how much there is to learn and what a challenge it is to stay updated with relevant information! Many hotels and resorts offer agent rewards that I was not even aware of, but have now registered.   Read the rest of this entry »

Anyone who loves the feel of fresh powder under their skis, the bite of frigid air on their cheeks, and the smell of pine in the air will adore St Moritz. This Alpine resort town is the perfect winter getaway to stretch your legs and pump up your adrenaline, all while enjoying some of the most enchanting snow-frosted scenery in Europe. If you’re not looking to burn calories in the snow, then make sure to check out the delicious local gourmet food scene and the intriguing museums and galleries.

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Before its formation into a town in the 18th century, Reykjavik had been inhabited for almost a millennium already. Legend has it that the first inhabitant was a sailor who threw his pillars into the sea and vowed to settle wherever they washed up, which happened to be in Iceland. In 1801 Reykjavik became the capital of Iceland, and in the mid-20th century saw a boon from the second World War that most countries did not, thanks to occupation of the countries by the Allied Nations. The city differs from many other Nordic metropolises, with is cozier spread of smaller buildings reminiscent of the coast of Canada rather than the heavy opulence of many European countries.

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Fraser Island received its name from Captain James Fraser and his wife Eliza, who were shipwrecked off the western coast of the island in 1836. Shortly after their arrival, James died and Eliza was left to live with the native Butchella people until she was rescued by a convict, John Graham.

The island was previously named K’gari by the Butchella people, which translates to “paradise”, due to the sparkling, deep blue freshwater lakes, creeks and sandy white beaches. Fraser Island is a marvel, as it is one of the only places where a rainforest can grow in the sand.

Created by sand drifting from the coast of Australia over thousands of years, Fraser Island is heritage-listed and is considered to be the largest sand island in the world.

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