Monthly Archives: January 2009

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Failure 101

This week, Editor, John Frenaye takes a decidedly tongue in cheek look at success–from a slightly different point of view. Success is not only associated with your travel business, but runs the entire spectrum of your life. If you are looking for a figurative,  rhetoric slap in the face to keep you on track, read on and comment. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Oh the sites you will see

As a corporate agent, I am constantly surfing the net for new tools to help me service my clients more efficiently and effectively.  I’ve come across a few favorites along the way, and without some, I probably would be making a lot more phone calls then necessary throughout the day.  Corporate travel can be time consuming enough, and when you’re taking call after call you have to move quickly onto the next.  Here are my favorites: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

FIT To Go

Putting together an FIT program for a client can be a daunting task.  Sara Stanton, the Director of Sales for E.E.I. Travel has a solution. She and her associaties at E.E.I. have assembled the travel industry’s best reservations staff to assist travel agents with customizing packages for their clients.  Each member of E.E.I. Travel’s staff has extensive travel expertise and trains continually to keep current with the new and changing array of products and services. To better advise agents, reservation personnel make annual trips to visit first-hand the hotels, coaches, and guides for all of E.E. I. Travel’s international destinations. “Anyone who has ever spoken with our reservations staff knows the high level of service they deliver“, says Sara.  “They know the destinations, they know the hotels and they provide the agent with an insight that the agent can count on and take back to the client.” Read the rest of this entry »

TRO is going to follow the progress of a few travel agents and their business over the course of 2009 to allow our readers the opportunity of comparing notes and experiences with other agents.  These brave souls have promised to write about both their successes and failures this year.  Be sure to leave them some comments if you would like to share some of your own experiences.

My name is Mary Stephan and I am President of Allons Travel. Allons is French for “Let’s Go” and is pronounced like “uh lons”. I struggled with a name for my business and someone emailed me something that said “allons-let’s go”, and I thought it was perfect. I am always saying let’s go to my daughter, my dogs and the 5th grade volleyball team. Plus, it is unique like me. If I were to describe myself I would say I am unique, sassy and classy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Freestyle on a Budget in St Lucia

St Lucia is one of the most beautiful islands of the Caribbean basin with its breathtaking natural resources such as the emerald green covered Piton Mountains, dense bird- filled rainforests and mind blowing waterfalls. Most tourists end up in the northern area of the island near the capital city, Castries. Rodney Bay, Cap Estate and Gros Islet are home to some of the most sought after luxury resorts in the world, where celebrities are frequently spotted winding to some good reggae, Soca or calypso music. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Costa Rica

The fastest growing travel destination in Central America is also a paradise for nature lovers and adventure travelers. Highly accessible, English speaking and the greenest of green destinations, Costa Rica has something for everyone. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Competition is a good thing – it typically protects the consumer by keeping prices in line with value.  Competition makes business people trend ever sharper in their development of services and practices.  However, there is a place for “coopetition” as well. Coopetition occurs when competitors legally cooperate in very specific instances.  Some of the best examples come in the form of attempts to educate the public on the nature of a particular industry’s services.  As this column has argued in the past, the public is in real need of an education on the value of a travel agent. 

Many travel consultants spend a great deal of time thinking about their competition, developing aggressive, competitive strategies. They view the agent down the street, the giant online web site or even the other agents in the office as their competitors. 

The actual fact of the matter is, however, that the greatest competition most travel agents face Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Paging Doctor Smith

In my ongoing opposition to the Card Mill/MLM companies, I am often asked, “Why can’t the Card Mill/MLM travel agencies and the traditional agencies co-exist?” Just last week, someone contacted me for an opinion. They were investigating all methods of entering the travel industry—independent, host affiliated, franchise, consortia, and yes even MLM. Of course, that all too familiar question came up. While I have almost 600 reasons detailed in a personal blog, I decided to put one of the main problems in a light that hopefully anyone could understand. Let me tell you a story…

You are out for a Friday night with your family and on your way home, your luck takes a turn for the worse and you are involved in a car accident. Everyone is injured and you are transported to the nearest hospital for treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Got niche?

We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t be all things to all people.”  This is true for virtually every industry.  Think about it.  Dentists specialize (orthodontics, pediatrics, oral surgery, etc.).  Doctors specialize (podiatrists, pediatricians, ER, neurology, obstetrics, etc.).  Lawyers specialize (contract law, criminal law, probate lawyers, Class Action, etc.).  And travel professionals should specialize too.

WHAT IS NICHE MARKETING?
Niche marketing is when you’ve targeted your specialty and honed your marketing to focus tightly on a specific market.  It’s precision shooting, not a shotgun approach. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Focus: Decisions and Relationships

There are decisions to be made. The going has gotten a bit tough and smart travel consultants and suppliers are spending a lot of time pouring over their game plan for the upcoming year. While there are no certainties and no easy answers, there are definitively some important steps everyone can take to shore up their position over the coming months. Marketing during a down economy is something of an act of faith. The return on investment is harder to calculate and far from immediate. So the question becomes, very simply, “What Works?” Read the rest of this entry »

Saizan’s Travel, LLC. – Orlando FL

TRO is going to follow the progress of a few travel agents and their business over the course of 2009 to allow our readers the opportunity of comparing notes and experiences with other agents.  These brave souls have promised to write about both their successes and failures this year.  Be sure to leave them some comments if you would like to share some of your own experiences.

How many people can actually say they feel fulfilled with their “work?”  So many in life go through the motions and never enjoy what they do for a living.  I am so fortunate to say that I love my work and find what I do fulfilling – from the joys to the frustrations.  My name is Patricia Saizan and I am the owner of Saizan’s Travel, LLC, a home based travel agency located just outside of Orlando, Florida. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Not every business is capable of boasting a 70 year history.  But Image Tours can and does.  The company was founded in 1939 in Amsterdam  and moved to Grand Rapids Michigan in 1960. Image Tours began offering its famous HEART OF EUROPE® tour to schools, fraternal organizations, employee associations, churches, choirs, orchestras, and marching bands. In 1986, the company made a decision to offer escorted tours through travel agencies and became firmly established throughout the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Forecasting the fate of the airline industry is chancy in the best of times, and these certainly aren’t the best of times.  The entire economy is obviously mired in uncertainty, which never bodes well for our airlines—or for travel agents.  The “aughts” have already been such a tough decade, but many are calling our current industry situation worse than the aftermath of 9/11.  We are in the midst of what experts are calling the worst recession in the last 50 to 75 years, and getting a loan at any interest rate is almost impossible right now.   This worldwide recession is causing cutbacks in business-travel spending, declining leisure travel, bankruptcies and layoffs, and the list goes on. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

The Mayan Riviera

This week’s 60-Second Geography takes a look at the amazing Yucatán Caribbean.  If you think you know Cancun, but it’s been years since you were there, now’s the time to explore what’s happening just south along the area known as the Mayan Riviera.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

ASTA some time ago developed the terrific grassroots campaign “Without a travel agent you are on your own.” But what is the sound of one travel agent clapping? More and more travel agents find themselves in positions where they are being asked to do more with less. Offices are being trimmed down in terms of staffing, or agents are moving home, losing the support and companionship of co-workers and the everyday interaction with other agents. Many agents have a sense of being on their own. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

The little battles matter

It’s the little things that matter. Slow and steady wins the race. Pick your favorite fable and you likely will find some truth in the matter. Just look at the Card Mill/MLM issue. While not completely resolved, there have been countless small victories for the traditional travel agent. No one ever said it was going to be a swift victory. But, the fruits of the efforts of many are now beginning to show. But as I have said before, this industry has several battles and another one has just been won against the cruise lines.

Yes, I know the cruise lines are the secret to the success for many agencies, but we all have witnessed the deterioration of our bottom line as a result of their “funny math”. Cruise rates decline and non-commissionable fares increase. Net result? A financial loss. But one very influential group of people are fighting this war and seeing success. Travel Acquisitions Group (and their associated brands), led ably by Mike Batt and Roger Block have scored one for the agents. Regent Seven Seas has agreed to pay travel professionals a commission on the cost of the cruise including the formerly non-commissionable fares! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

A newbie success story

Some say I have the easiest job in the world. Many wish they had my job. Many think I sit around all day eating bon-bons and watch Oprah. Well first off, I have no idea what a bon-bon is and have no idea when Oprah airs in my market. For the past five years, I have been a stay-at-home-dad to my beautiful daughter.

Unfortunately, she started to grow up and it was time for her to enter kindergarten. I faced the possibility that my days would be filled with outright boredom instead of the life of play dates, outings, chores and eating those elusive bon-bons. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

For three days each year in August, more than 20,000 people converge on Killorglin in Kerry in Southwest Ireland for the coronation of a goat. But not just any goat. No sir. That is King Puck on the stage in the center of town overlooking the river Laune. It is best to be full of good spirit in the King’s presence, because everyone else is! A three-day event commences amidst traditional Irish music. Saturday is “Gathering Day” and the bars are filled with patrons all weekend. “Fair Day” follows and finally “Scattering Day”. But what is this about a goat and why is the Puck Fair Ireland’s oldest? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Greece and the Greek Islands!

This week’s 60-Second Geography takes a look at the birthplace of Western civilization. Come with us to the warm Mediterranean. Remember, travel agents can use this content on their own websites or in their company newsletters! Read the rest of this entry »

It seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago that I wrote my first agent diary article outlining my goals for 2009. While the calendar shows that nearly 12 months have passed, it hardly seems possible.

As you may recall, I had two major objectives this year-to gain 100 new clients in 100 days and to figure out what it would really take to complete all of my New Year’s resolutions. It became obvious by day 90 that my resolution was overly ambitious and I revised the goal to 100 new clients in the year! I am very excited to say that while I didn’t quite make it to 100 new clients, I did make it more than three quarters of the way there, exceeded my sales goals and surpassed last year’s sales. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

We have met the enemy and he is us!

Do you know what the most dangerous threat is to today’s travel professional? Don’t go looking at trade magazines or news reports for the answer because it is not there. Instead, head to the nearest bathroom and look immediately over the sink, and you will come face to face with the biggest threat the industry has ever faced! Read the rest of this entry »