We interrupt your regularly scheduled diary to bring you this important update.
Last year, we launched the TRO Travel Agent Diary series which was an extremely popular column for TRO. If you recall, we followed the paths of Laura Frazier (Bliss Honeymoons), Nia Frieson (LK Cruises & Tours), Chuck Flagg (Cruise Holidays), Pat Saizan (Saizan’s Travel), and Mary Stephan (Allons Travel) as they tried to survive the horrors of 2009. Knowing that the travel industry is a fickle creature, we decided to check in and see how they are doing now that we already have a full quarter of 2010 in the books. And I have good news to report!
Laura was the first to respond and said I literally caught her between breaths. While she has not yet hit the lottery (or found a sugar daddy—her words not mine), she is having her busiest year yet. It seems the purse strings for weddings and honeymoons are beginning to loosen up a bit.
Pat chimed in next and, strangely enough, she too has been playing the lotto unsuccessfully. Pat is not looking for a sugar daddy, but business has been up that she has brought on two more “employees”—her husband and son who are now helping her manage her business. Pat is a great cheerleader for this industry and always has been. She says that even if she did hit the lotto, she’d still be selling travel because she loves it “that much.” For me, hey if I hit it for $250 million—no offense people, but I am outta here and traveling—and buying it all through a travel professional!
Chuck is a busy man. While Chuck did not respond to my inquiry, I have been following his business and his growth on the TRO Community. Chuck is really focusing on ways to make social networking—Facebook, Twitter, and blogging work for him. And it appears to be paying off. In addition, Chuck has been busy making contacts in the cruise industry and writing several columns for TRO.
We just heard from Mary and she has had a few personal setbacks with an ill relative and had to reassign some of her priorities and is now getting back into the swing of things. When we last left Mary, she was making great headway in a challenging year. She was smart and rather than jump in the niche market head first, she kept selling more generic travel while establishing her agency, Allons Travel, as the “go to” agency in her market.
Nia was MIA. But now she’s not! Granted, I did not give these guys that much notice, but she has not been active on the TRO Community or any of the other travel professional haunts. If you recall, Nia was a reformed YTB Referring Travel Agent and was developing a respectable Caribbean cruise business—individual and group bookings. Last year was really her first year in business (you really can’t count YTB as being in the industry) and she may have picked the wrong year—it was tough for veterans. Nia was discouraged at one point and had a miscommunication which ended up being an expensive lesson learned. Nia now reports that business is a struggle. The economy in her area is still not improving and several of her groups have canceled due to loss of a job or a foreclosure on a home. Of all the diarists, Nia is in the best position to push forward—she is not restricted by old school thinking, she understands the failures of a bad host, and seemed to be making some decent headway with her business. Nia, hang in there!
All in all, our crew of diarists and most of our TRO readers in general, seem to be doing better this year. Are we out of the woods yet? I am not so sure I am ready to say that, but clearly we are on the way. Now all we need to do is steer clear of the lions and tigers and bears!
We now return to your regularly scheduled diary!