Monthly Archives: August 2011

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Have you heard about CLIA?

CLIA is one of those acronyms that the industry likes to toss around. CLIA is said to be one of the “must join” organizations for travel professionals. It is also an affordable alternative for industry recognition if you do not want to be beholden to the airlines with ARC or IATAN (more acronyms). But beyond the big box full of certificates, stickers, bonus commission coupons and other goodies, CLIA offers so much more. Have you taken a look lately?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Hurricane Insurance 101

Editor’s Note: As travel agents, we are all currently dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. As we enter into the most active period of the 2011 season, we asked our friends at Travel Insured to review the points surrounding insurance coverage. These policies apply only to Travel Insured.

As Hurricane Irene churned through the Caribbean region as a category three hurricane with sustained winds exceeding 110 miles per hour, the U.S. National Weather Service Hurricane Center projected that the storm would make landfall this week along the U.S. eastern seaboard. Irene could potentially touch several states as a major category three or stronger storm. Travelers and travel agents planning trips during hurricane season frequently ask questions about what coverage is included in insurance plans from Travel Insured International® to protect trips when a hurricane disrupts their travel plans. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Johannesburg by Hariworld

Still riding the high from the World Cup, Johannesburg is thriving more than ever.  The city is the heart of South Africa, with everything that happens within the country both beginning and ending in the capital.  While it has had its fair share of ups and downs politically, economically and emotionally, the country has rallied this decade to become one of the hottest destinations in Africa.  Representing a multitude of people, Joburg proudly boasts itself as the second largest city on the continent, and with that comes a great deal of activities for visitors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Central America by Solar Tours

How many travelers visit Cancun or Cozumel each year? Millions! Now, how many have gone a little further south to explore the nations in Central America?

While Cancun, Cozumel and the Yucatan are wonderful destinations, it is quite likely that you have a client who may be looking for something different. Maybe something more cultural. Perhaps something more natural and less man-made? Perhaps something more historic? Perhaps something still undiscovered by the masses for bragging rights? Just maybe, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, or Guatemala might fit the bill.

Read the rest of this entry »

While the summer seems to go by too quickly, the past month has been rather enjoyable. I’ve had time to rest, relax and rejuvenate.  As a bonus, work has picked up, and it is steady work. I’ve spent quality time with my children and family, and have given myself time off without feeling guilty.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Never underestimate the power of the unexpected

While the TRO 365 columns address a lot of the day to day items of running your travel business, this past week I got a lesson in humility and preparedness. Sure last weekend we had some horrendous thunderstorms (normal for the area); but I never expected to be in a McDonald’s writing a column using their WIFI, on a cell phone after experiencing an earthquake on Tuesday and a hurricane on Saturday. To make matters worse, last night, a power surge took out my computer. Thank heavens for backups, but it will take a few days (not weeks) to get back to normal. The delay will be in power and hardware, but I can thank the cloud for the rest. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Who Operates The World’s Best Luxury Cruise Line?

My colleague at USA Today’s Cruise Log posed an interesting question in July of this year: Are Crystal and Seabourn the world’s best cruise lines?

His post, inspired by the results of a Travel & Leisure reader survey, received lots of comments and varying opinions. My opinion? Well, thanks for asking.

Are Crystal and Seabourn the world’s best? Not for everyone. And just because a cruise line scores higher by a marginal differential doesn’t make it the best for you. Crystal ranked number one among large-ship lines with a score of 92.45; Regent Seven Seas Cruises scored 90.14 in that category. Seabourn topped small-ship cruise lines with a score of 93.3; Silversea Cruises, 90.03; and SeaDream Yacht Club, 88.33.

Will you have a better experience on Crystal with its 2.31 higher score than on Regent? That depends. If you enjoy imbibing without signing a check, you’ll be happier on Regent. If you need Nobu nightly, you’ll discover your bliss on Crystal. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Talking to travelers in uncertain times

With the US credit rating downgraded, and the stock market dropping with uncertainty, and European governments fighting to control their debt, citizens in the US have a lot to ponder. The least of which is “Where will I take my next vacation”

For decades the American travel marketplace was a huge, growing and somewhat predictable market. New destinations were discovered; new experiences were created (cruising), and new generations happily traveled the world in search of the wonders of travel. Has that all changed now? Will the current economic malaise seriously suppress the demand for travel in the US?

I’m afraid that, for some, the answer is yes. But it is not a universal or unqualified yes. First, let’s look at what has changed. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Tampa/St. Petersburg by VacationRentals4Agents

Very few places are better than Florida for a relaxing, activity-filled vacation and Tampa/St. Petersburg can be found high among the list of destinations in the Sunshine State. Don’t be fooled by the name, either, for Tampa has a lot more going for it than just the white beaches and plentiful bay – there is an enormous art following, professional sports are a plenty and, of course, top-notch dining ass seafood and diving are embraced deeply in the area.

If exploring one of the most culturally diverse states in America are your plans for the early summer months, then continue on and check out some of the specials below brought to you by VacationRentals4Agents.

Read the rest of this entry »

As you may recall, I’m what one would call, in maritime terms, an “old salt:”  I’ve been a career Travel Consultant for 32 years, now – working for “brick and mortar” agencies the entire time – and happy to report, still going strong!

Imagine my surprise when I heard President Obama’s bleak outlook during his speech last week – implying travel agents are obsolete, likening us to bank tellers being eliminated in favor of ATM’s. At the risk of ruffling any political feathers, I beg to differ! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Invisible Industry

One of the challenges in terms of rebuilding our economy is businesses have gotten so efficient that—when was the last time somebody went to a bank teller instead of using the ATM, or used a travel agent instead of just going online? A lot of jobs that used to be out there requiring people now have become automated.President Barack Obama

President Obama’s statement of last week gave plenty of opportunity for travel agents on every side of the political spectrum to have something to say about his, or his speech writer’s, lack of knowledge of the travel industry. However, what the President’s statement actually revealed was the abysmally poor public relations job travel professionals have accomplished as an industry.  We have failed to properly brand ourselves, failed to stake our claim to the economic importance of what travel agents do.

The President was only saying what each of us have heard a dozen times in the past: “Do travel agents still exist?”  The answer may be yes, but you would never know it from our public footprint. We are the invisible industry.

Any outrage over the Presidential incident should be directed internally. The blame falls on each of us as individuals, because we keep acting like individuals instead of organizing a cooperative effort to educate the public. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

 

City Escape Holidays was founded in 1991 by Bo Adams and his wife Claudia.  He has since created and marketed City Packages to 24 cities throughout the United States and Canada and 22 Special Event Packages to major cities and events throughout North America.  Bo has worked in the travel industry since 1969 and has been the Vice President of Supercities along with many other high profile positions.

TRO: Please give some background on City Escape Holidays.

BA: I got my start in the travel business at Carlson and was there for 23 years running their tour division.  After they moved the tour division from California to the Midwest, I left the company after all those years and my wife and I started City Escape Holidays. We just had City Escapes’ 20th anniversary.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last weekend I was a cocktail party in town and of course the conversation came up about travel. Initially I retreated into my corner because I am a firm believer that friends and family need to remain with cell phone plans and have no part of my business plan in travel. But I was outted by another so-called friend as a “travel guy” who would love to talk about someone’s upcoming cruise. Ugh!

Well, thankfully they did not need any of my opinions or expertise as this woman explained how she was an avid cruiser and knew all about the best cruises. Of course she had only sailed with one brand. And had never flown to a port to embark; but I let her continue on. Here are her four tips for cruisers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 19, 2011

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: TROTips

Welcome to number three in our series of articles discussing Information Security.  If you’re just joining, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the first two in the series: Information Security: An Introduction and Information Security: Malware Protection.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve certainly seen (or been affected by) some recent breaches.  Whether it was the TJ MAXX breach a couple years ago or the very recent Epsilon incident (which affected Hilton Honors as well as several credit card companies), breaches are becoming front page news.  What actions need to be taken will depend on the type of information that was breached, or what was done to protect it.

Why do I need to be concerned?
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Santorini, Greece

One of the most touristy, visited and crowded islands in Greece, Santorini still has a lot to offer if you ditch the crowd and find a place that you can claim for your own.

Part of the Cyclades, Santorini forms a “ring shape” that offers visitors fantastic views of the typical villages with white houses perched on the edge of the cliffs that ring the island’s rim.

The center of the ring is called Caldera, Santorini’s main natural attraction. Many visitors make their way to Nea Cameni Island, located in the Caldera a few minutes away by boat. Once there, you can climb to the top of the island or swim in a hot spring. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Take me out to the ballgame

One  Sunday not long ago, Barbara and I picked up our son, Brian and headed for the stadium. Baseball was the game and the Marlins were hosting the Mets.

Watching a baseball game brings back so many memories for me. It is true that “the older I get, the better I was,” but I dare say that in my day I knew more than a little about the game.

But enough baseball, you came here to learn about how to improve your travel business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Punta Cana by Vacation Express

One island, two countries. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean. Unlike it’s sister nation, however, the Dominican Republic has in recent years become one of the Caribbean’s most sought after playgrounds. With hundreds of miles of beaches and reefs, there is no shortage of sand and sun for visitors to the Dominican Republic. Travelers there inevitably compare the sand texture to sugar, but the crystal blue waters are an equally attractive asset. The Dominican Republic’s pristine beaches are slowly becoming the destination of choice for leisure travelers from the United States and Canada looking for real value and extraordinary all-inclusive vacations.

Read the rest of this entry »

In our industry it is imperative to stay fresh and new. With that being said, I read a lot, and I study a lot of information about sales, marketing, branding and specialization. There are many travel professionals who have a generalist business model, and it works for them; however, in my business, we have determined what areas we want to specialize in, and have now truly started the process of directing all of our efforts towards obtaining that specialized business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

The other day, I was catching up on a few past issues of Travel Weekly and was looking at the 2011 Consumer Trends Survey and darned near fell out of my seat at one of the graphics by PhoCusWright about where Online Travel Agency (OTA) shoppers actually book. For this report, they estimate that “about half of US travelers in 2010 were OTA shoppers.” Keep that number in mind for the next 353 words. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

This fall is shaping up to be an exciting time for AmaWaterways. Recognizing the growing demand for river cruising, the line is launching a series of hosted wine theme voyages along some of the most spectacular waterways in Europe.

Dubbed “In Celebration of Wine”, these cruises offered in October and November boast some amazing opportunities to immerse yourself in the rich cultural winemaking history of Europe while at the same time revel in exploring some of Europe’s most fascinating cities and towns during the comfort of the off-season. Read the rest of this entry »