Monthly Archives: September 2009

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Voyages of Discovery Launches 2010 Summer Itineraries

Niche cruise line Voyages of Discovery has launched its Summer 2010 season with a 20% Early Booking Savings and low-cost air add-ons from 25 North American gateway cities.  The Summer 2010 season offers a unique roster of voyages to the Arctic, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Red Sea and North Africa. This program allows guests who book by Feb. 1, 2010, to  take advantage of an additional 10% Launch Offer Savings. Travel agents take note – this is an opportunity you will want to put in front of your clients.

Summer 2010 on mv Discovery will feature a wide range of interesting and eclectic destinations,“ said Mark Flager, vice president, sales, marketing and passenger services.  “We’ll begin in Safaga, Egypt, on April 16, and sail the Mediterranean and Black Sea to Syria, Turkey, Spain and Italy before beginning our summer season round-trip from London to Scandinavia, the Baltic, Iceland and the Arctic.Read the rest of this entry »

Allons Travel — Back to school

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a local college campus for a meeting. Walking through the beautiful trees on campus and seeing the students scurrying to class made me nostalgic for my college days. I longed to return to campus life and learning. But I remembered how luck I was to be in the travel industry. You don’t need to go to college to continue your knowledge especially in the travel industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Penny Wise

John Chow is something of an internet celebrity. He makes money on the internet telling people how to make money on the internet. His latest video  is making the viral rounds and I watched it a few days ago. I was struck by something he said about blogging.  One of his comments lamented how the low cost of entry for blogging was one of the reasons so few people succeed. Because people can start a blog with no expertise, passion or investment, their heart  often is not really in the endeavor. Unwilling to invest funds into the enterprise, most bloggers soon fade away, or never grow their business.

Something sounded familiar.  I think there is a pretty good analogy in our own industry. How many people get into travel because “it’s easy?”  There are no barriers to entry, no tests to take, no certifications. You can create business cards with your printer and you are off to the races.  No doubt this accounts for many of the “drive by” agents we see – here today, gone tomorrow. Having decided that no investment is necessary to enter the travel industry, these agents deceive themselves into thinking no investment is needed ever.

Getting into the travel business is easy.  It’s staying in business that’s tough. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Hey, I need to make a living too

Last week, Les-Lee Roland’s column sparked a lot of comments. Usually, Les-Lee has a well formed opinion but this time she wasn’t so sure. The issue surrounded the lowering of an agency commission when a cruise line re-prices a cruise. Certainly it is to the consumer’s benefit; but the agent has already done the work to earn the commission and now the cruise line is adding more work and taking more money away. Les-Lee wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

The ins and outs of client gifts

Let’s face it: we like giving gifts.  Aside from being an exceptional marketing tool, client gifts are a great way to bolster the working relationship between professional and client, and help provide value in the client’s eyes.

Not all of my clients are “gift-worthy” – so who makes the cut?  Everything is subjective based on the client, meaning that the list below isn’t iron-clad.  But, here are my basic guidelines: Read the rest of this entry »

Thumbs up for Carnival!

A mixed bag this time folks…A few Thumbs Up and a few Thumbs Down as Les-Lee Roland makes her rounds of the travel industry. If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The Edge Of Excellence: Time is money well spent

In my last article I mentioned a curious phenomenon I see over and over again–people who succeed in travel because they “don’t know better.”  I was referring to those who enter the travel industry with little or no experience who do things a little differently than the rest.  I talked about those that seem to easily charge rather high professional fees.  (Note that I did not call them “booking” or “transaction” fees!)

Besides not “knowing better” why do you think these entrepreneurs are able to so easily charge their fees?  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Points of Contact: Business Letters for Travel Agents

Yesterday, we opened a discussion about points of contact – places where clients encounter your branding. One of the most neglected points of contact is the business letter. So many travel agents now use email that the art of writing a business letter is nearly forgotten. Yet, there are times when a business letter is a far better communication alternative. Poorly written, however, the business letter can give your clients or potential clients the wrong impression of your agency. Here are a few tips for getting it right and conveying the brand image you hope to inject into every one of your brand points of contact. Read the rest of this entry »

August was one slow month!  Only a small handful of sales.  I had to check my phone hourly to see if it was working.  As we all know, the “back to school” month is slow; but this was downright sluggish.  September is here, “they say” the economy is “picking up” so I look forward to more sales.

With so much free time on my hands I completed the Magic of Mexico online course (www.magicofmexico.com) and updated my websites.  I also discovered Joomla Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Good news on the horizon

This week seemed to be full of good news for the travel industry. ASTA held another very successful trade show. One of our TRO Community members, Bob Malmberg was named as a top African specialist by Travel + Leisure magazine. And to top it off Ben Bernanke said the recession was “likely” over!

Ben’s impressions were also echoed by several leaders in the travel industry who claimed they are seeing upticks in activity.  All this bodes very well for the industry as a whole as I am not sure how much longer many could stand a falling economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Do the right thing

Of course, with almost 15 years in the industry, I have heard my share of client complaints and issues—thankfully not too many. However, I pride myself on the way we have been able to handle all of the complaints to the satisfaction of the client, the supplier and the agency. I try to set realistic expectations for the clients when things go wrong—and they will at some point. For the client who complains that it was too hot in Mexico in August and none of the people spoke English—they know exactly what they will get. Over the years, I have been able to pretty much know what the supplier can and cannot do in terms of remuneration and in turn the suppliers know that when I send a complaint to them, it is a legitimate one. I have never been stumped as to handle a client complaint until last month. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Beautiful Barbados

Barbados has a rhythm and beat all its own. The 166-square-mile island in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean lies west of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and north of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. The island is primarily flat, with its highest peak only 1,100 miles above sea level, Mount Hillaby.

Barbados became famous as the “sanatorium of the West Indies” in the 19th century. Wealthy British found the island perfect for overcoming “the vapors” in the relaxed, unhurried culture and perfect pink sand beaches. Today, it is a lively, much more active island but it has retained its staunchly British demeanor. Barbadians still love cricket, high tea and drive on the left side of the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

When your company is the largest airline ticketing consolidator in the United States, you have to be good at what you do.  GTT Global holds the honor of being the largest  airline consolidator both in terms of sales and number of locations.  With over $500 million in sales, 40 offices nationwide, and nearly 600 employees, GTT has established itself as the consolidator of choice for many travel agencies.  GTT Global was established in 1984 as a retail travel agency and has since grown into one of the powerhouses in the travel industry.

Agents often have problems finding a consolidator for a particular airline.  Look no farther. With such buying power, agencies are not restricted to certain carriers. GTT Global has consolidator fares for all U.S. carriers and every major International carrier. They are a one stop shop for your international clients. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

 It’s rough out there. I know.  I also know you have a lot on your mind and that 2010 seems too far off to even think about right now.   However, it really is just around the corner. Suppliers are scrambling as well. Every consumer is being bombarded with travel specials that seem too good to be true and every travel agent is fed up with people looking for “cheap”. On top of all that, there are some agents still trying to figure out how to charge service fees.

I’m not sure, but I have a feeling this is the way it’s going to be for a while.  What else will the future bring? No one knows.  However, one thing I’m certain of is the future normally shows up before you are ready for it. So, why not take this opportunity to get ready.  So, I thought I would share my thoughts on what I think you need to do to make more in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Bliss Honeymoons, LLC–A technology bump

The past few months have been intense. I think I have worked harder this past year than I have ever worked in my life, and I’m no slacker! But battling the economy, working with my slave driver of a marketing coach, and making over my marketing materials has been an exhausting experience.

I’ve learned some interesting things over the last nine months. I think the most interesting thing of all though, is that despite the economy, we did not change our business model. We have always required a deposit for our services before we start putting together prices and itineraries. That didn’t change.  Sales are up, and 78% of the people we’ve met with, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Survivors

So I am a little late filing this column. I admit it; yesterday and last night I was a bit wrapped up in all the various tributes and remembrances of September 11, 2001.  As I was watching them, I could not help but notice how this nation is truly built on surviving adversity; as is the travel industry. And certainly, September 11, 2001 was a catalyzing moment for the industry, and set the stage for many challenges to come. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Psst, your site stinks!

It’s a common issue in the travel industry – weak, ineffective websites that do more to turn people away from you than attract them to you.  So, how do you know you’ve got a good website?  What elements make people visit, and stay a bit?

First, the most important thing you can have on your website is original content.  Way back when you created the website, you had in mind the ideal visitor.  You built the site to market to a specific group of people (and if you didn’t, it might be wise to go back to square one and consider that in the design).  Consider what sort of information would appeal to your visitors, and create original content that appeals to them. Your site needs to appeal to that market. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Editor’s Note: Today, seasoned travel industry trainer and marketing humorist, Mike Marchev launches his down-to-earth thoughts on building a travel business in a new column.

For nearly 25 years Mike has been sharing his thought-provoking ideas and strategies with travel professionals in a way that both entertains and educates.

His column will be called “Big Ideas.” Which, incidentally, will be purposely written in a larger typeface to make it easy to read, and easy to see for you old timers.

You are sure to benefit from Mike’s experience, and you will certainly enjoy the read.

Stay tuned.

As sales and marketing advice goes, this may very well be up there with the best of it. I was reminded of this natural phenomenon this week, and I could not find my way to my computer keyboard fast enough to share it with whoever is out there listening. This is a BIGGIE. Tune in. Read the rest of this entry »

LK Cruises & Tours, LLC — Thowing in the towel?

Have you ever have one of those days when you feel like giving up? Well I’ve been having one of those weeks. It’s just been one thing after another. So many things in fact that I have been unable to find a silver lining in this cloud at all. What had me so discouraged was that I believed everything was way beyond my control. Trip cancellations and postponements are at the root of all my woes since we last talked. I was so discouraged at one point I asked my dad/partner if he thought we should throw in the towel. The silence was deafening. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Cruise lines and grocery stores

I just went grocery shopping yesterday and being the trained dog that I am, I dutifully swiped my bonus card, got my discount, and sent a wealth of information to the grocery store headquarters. They now know they need to have The Enquirer and The Star in their checkout aisles just for me! Actually, the bonus card has been good for me. I have benefited with a few gallons of free gas, some free milk, and several coupons worth 10% off my entire purchase. I am sure they have also benefited in terms of knowing what their customers want and need. I am sure most of you have similar programs. But what happens when you receive a letter that says Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

The trichotomy of travel

When a travel professional meets a potential client or is out marketing, you will always hear two buzzwords–service and value. When you take this same travel professional and put them with a supplier, the buzzword changes–sell. Is it any wonder we have an identity crisis? Are we sellers of travel or are we a service? Many of us do not like to be called travel “agents” any longer, as it stirs up the argument that we work for the supplier. We prefer the terms travel professional, travel counselor or travel consultant; as we tend to see ourselves as professionals helping arrange the perfect vacation for our client, utilizing our exemplary service and knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »