Monthly Archives: April 2011

Posted In: TROTips

Use Protection

When you heard about the St Louis airport closure April 22 (due to a tornado-spawning severe storm) you likely reacted with a travel agent’s perspective – how to reroute clients or thanking the stars above you had no clients flying through St Louis this weekend.  I had the same reaction, until I heard about a travel agent in the area whose modem was fried in the same storm.  Then I switched gears and went into geek-mode.

Fortunately for him it was just his modem (and he had a spare one on hand) and not his laptop (no spare on hand).  But he was flummoxed all the same.  The modem, along with several other items, was plugged into a power strip but only the modem Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Beautiful, Bountiful Bordeaux

Believe it or not, Bordeaux is about much more than wine. Yes, the capital of southwest France is renown for chateaux that produce award-winning vintages, but Bordeaux offers much more than finely fermented grapes, particularly for those arriving by cruise ships.

Bordeaux is situated 60 miles from the sea, and the transit into the city, at the head of the Gironde Estuary, is worthwhile to watch if you’re an early riser. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Step aboard Variety Cruises and enter the world of small-ship cruising. From the moment you embark, experience the distinctive atmosphere of a private yacht – an environment shared by only 40 or 50 fellow travelers. Savor Variety’s upscale 4-star amenities and personalized service typically found at only the finest boutique hotels.

Each day you will discover a new port of call, a hidden cove with crystal blue waters to cool, a glimpse of ancient history to amaze and rich cultural diversity to intrigue. Variety Cruises offers intimacy and personal service that larger vessels simply can’t provide – come discover the difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

I am typing this article on my shiny new iPad 2.  Against the wishes of my inner geek, I promised to wait for the second version of this amazing device and it was worth the wait.

I love my slim new companion and I’m not alone.  It might surprise you to learn that more than 50% of iPad owners are over the age of fifty – just like me.  Why should a travel agent care about such things:  because technology has gone mobile and travel is going along with it.  The question is, will it leave you behind? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

 

Akshay Shah is the Vice President of Marketing for Sky Bird Travel and Tours, a leading consolidator in the travel industry and recipient of numerous awards including: Prestigious Peacock Award from the Government of India-Tourism Office and the Peak of Excellence Award from the Sabre Travel Network.  Mr. Shah is an expert on airline consolidation and the travel industry.  He is also the President at United States Air Consolidation Association (USACA).


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Posted In: Outposts

As the spring season prepares to make its shift to summer, “beach” is a word that is on everyone’s mind.  Defrosting is what’s needed after a harsh winter, and what better way to do it than on the Best Beach in the World?  That’s right, you read that correctly – The Best Beach in the World. Many places can claim to have that title, but only the Turks and Caicos can fully back up such a bold statement.

The wonderful people of the Turks and Caicos don’t understand the idea of sub-par; they have an all-or-nothing mentality.  And whether that refers to their world-class hotels and spas, famous diving and snorkeling, or just the most comfortable beach chair in existence, you will find top-notch everything on the islands.

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Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Peru by Solar Tours

Peru has an appeal to both the adventure and the luxury markets, a real opportunity for an excellent first experience to Latin America. Join Solar Tours on a voyage to the largest of the Andean Republics. Remember, you can use 60-Second Geography articles in your own newsletters and on your web sites. Read the rest of this entry »

My agency is running away with me! But I am pretty sure it is a good thing. When I came into this industry, I didn’t plan on specializing in group cruises; but it seems to be where my business is leading me.    The more groups I book, the more groups I get, with larger numbers. All in all, this is not a bad problem to have. I’ve had lots of families traveling together, at first booking 2-3 cabins, then 4 or 5 cabins for family reunion groups, holiday cruises or girlfriend getaways. My largest group yet is an AARP group with 28 cabins, which I know is small potatoes to many, but when my only experience has been 3 or 4 cabins, it’s large! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Go on…be a twit

This week, it seemed wherever I went; Twitter was a topic of discussion.  Everywhere I turned, the topic came up– at a City Council meeting, at a business conference, on my facebook page, on the news, and of course in the travel community at TRO (we are big on discussing social media there). Everyone had an opinion as to whether it was a good “thing” or a bad “thing.”  Rather than get into that, let me use my soapbox for a few moments and then open it to you in the comments! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Making Money with Group Cruises

Group cruises can be a great revenue source for home based agents.  One of my articles last year touched upon how to find group prospects as well as how to organize yourself to approach the top priority groups and begin the process of selling group cruises.  The next step is one that often flummoxes agents: pricing the group to ensure you make a profit.

Too many agents I know are content to get a group quote from the cruise line, and pass that information on to the group leader, book into the group, and call it a day.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, one has to ask: what value are you, the travel professional, bringing to the table?  Especially with the rise of more strict pricing policies, it is harder to differentiate yourself from another agency with access to the same rates and amenity points. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – April 22, 2011

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Deck Plans

Porto, Portugal

Nestled along Portugal’s famous Douro River Valley, Porto was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Porto is perhaps most famous for the fortified wine named after it. Port was the first wine region to become officially delimited, meaning that it had a specific region that it was allowed to source its grapes from.

Although Porto is the center of the port trade, the majority of the cellars, if not all, are actually across the river in Vila Nova da Gaia. The shipping of Port does go through Porto though, as it is the easiest to access. While 80 varietals are permitted in port, only 29 are recommended and only about five are used in any significant quantity. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Vacation Express, which bills itself as a “Boutique Tour Operator”, offers some of the most lucrative travel agent bonuses in the business. Due to the clear popularity of the program in 2010, Vacation Express has made the decision to offer the Commission Stimulus Program again for summer 2011.

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Posted In: Point-to-Point

There’s a mad dash on social media today to get to the most fans, followers or readers. It’s not limited to the travel industry, but I do see many travel professionals falling in the trap and putting a great deal of importance on their fan base. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t always matter.

That’s right, the number of people “liking” you on Facebook or following you on Twitter is not really the magic potion that will make your online activity successful. What you need to look at instead is the QUALITY of people who are forming your audience. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

France by Avanti Destinations

France is a country with something to offer at every corner.  In the north is Calais, with its beautiful beaches on the English Channel and, on a clear day, a perfect view of the white cliffs of Dover.  To the west lies the expansive Atlantic, with such wondrous cities as Bordeaux, one of the world’s most major wine industry capitals; to the east is Switzerland, the Alps providing a natural border, and finally, to the south lie the Pyrenees Mountains, one of the most critical pieces of land in European history.

With so much to explore, it is no surprise that visitors find themselves overwhelmed and wanting to stay a lot longer than planned in the country of romance.  History, culture, cuisine, art – you name it, France has it.  Spring is in the air, and with that said, the French are welcoming those who seek relaxation, luxury, and an overall appreciation of life and everything it has to offer.

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Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Alaska by Celebrity Cruises

The Last Frontier. Also known as the 49th State and home to some of the most ecologically diverse and remarkable ecosystems in the world, Alaska is in its prime. Making the transition between the cold winter months and the warming, albeit still cool summer months, this very moment is the ideal time to explore our most northern state.

The fusion of nature and mankind presents visitors with a delicate blend, offering the best both can offer in picturesque settings – old towns from the gold rush days standing in the shadows of snow-covered mountains, their reflection bouncing off the lake in front of them. What could possibly be better than that?

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Much has happened since my last post–some of it good, some of it bad; but all of it’s been anything but boring!

First off, the bad. We just lost a beloved employee to retirement.  While we are all “stars” in our own right, she was invaluable, and her expertise and vast first-hand experience of various destinations around the globe was without peer.  Let it be known she could never be replaced; however, a “replacement” was necessary. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


BarryJulieBarry and Julie Karp founded ShoreTrips over ten years ago. They found a niche that had been ignored: an independent company that could provide tours and excursions in ports and major cities. This created increased revenue for agents who now have many activity options in addition to what cruises lines or suppliers offer.  Barry and Julie have grown during the past decade to offer excursions from Alaska and Hawaii to the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.

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Posted In: Editorial Musings

To FAM or not to FAM

For years we have been told that it is our expertise that will differentiate a professional agent from a faceless database portraying itself as an agent on the Internet. I wholeheartedly agree. We need to make sure that our expertise is one step ahead of the game. This weekend, Peter Greenberg was stuck in Dallas and his automated “travel agent” kept telling him there was a 45 minute delay. However the real people in the terminal told him that the plane had not even taken off from its previous destination—Houston, a 55 minute flight. Real people will get you the real information. And travelers know that! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Understanding Your Clients and Competition

This week we have been reviewing key elements of your business to ensure that we are tuned up for the rest of the year. Now, let’s make sure that we are aware of two key market concerns: competition and customer satisfaction. These two areas will influence the direction your strategies take as you design and later implement your objectives. Your goals may be influenced by each. Understanding each of these market factors will help you to better prepare for the upcoming year. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Baby steps

I wrote an article for Travel Agent Perspective a while back about developing a support system and getting to know agents in your community. This article struck a chord with an agent in my hometown. He emailed me and thought it was a wonderful idea.  As a result, we decided to try and form a travel agent association comprised of full time travel agents in our community.   Our goals for the association is to promote our value using the local media to the public and to overcome the perception that travel agents are not needed any longer.

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