Monthly Archives: July 2012

Lately, we have been having a push back on Mexico. Part of me can understand it due to the seemingly incessant bad news being put forth by the media. But based on personal experience, I have a difficult time. So we decided to tackle the issue head on and see what was what south of the border. And I am thrilled to report that the water in Mexico is fine…come on in! My recent vacation in Puerto Vallarta reassured me that the city is very safe and friendly. The tourist activities are endless and varied! We stayed at two different hotels, and visited many others. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

The aftermath of the London Olympics

Did you miss out on sending thousands to London to experience the XXX Olympiad? Me too. But don’t get too down about it as there lays a fantastic opportunity for you in the coming years!  While the minority of people witness an event, the majority of people are very exciting about visiting after the event. In fact, business booms and you need to get a piece of it!  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Preparing a Trip Proposal That Wows Your Client

Your marketing message has paid off, and you’ve had your initial consultation with your client.  They’ve paid your fee, if you have one, and are now eagerly waiting your trip proposal that will prove to them that you know your stuff and they made the right decision to work with you.  This is often a choke point for many travel agents – preparing a trip proposal can seem like a daunting task, especially when you realize it can affect how your client perceives the work you’ve done for them.  How do you prepare a trip proposal that is clean, nicely organized, and provides all the relevant information so the client can make an intelligent buying decision? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – July 27, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Kudos & Karma

Welcome to Kudos & Karma

Welcome to the inauguration of Kudos & Karma. Our basic goal for this column is to recognize suppliers (kudos) for supporting their travel agent partners, and to gently admonish suppliers when they drop the ball (karma). Situations highlighted for either kudos or karma may be broadly generic, or a more detailed, specific situation.

This month we’re starting with kudos to several suppliers for recent progress towards combating rebating practices. I think it is safe to say that no one policy will ever be perfect, but we appreciate the efforts and tip our hat to those suppliers that are making a concerted effort to address the issue as best as they can. First up is Regent Seven Seas & Oceania Cruises. Their policy tries to stem the tide of price shopping, but creating a disincentive to transfer a booking 30+ days after it was initially created. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Experienced travel agents have long used consolidators for obtaining the best possible pricing on international airline fares for their clients. However, many travel planners have little experience with consolidators and don’t know where to begin to establish the proper supplier relationships. The United States Air Consolidator Association, better known as USACA, is making it easier for travel consultants to work with its membership. USACA is an association of twelve distinguished consolidators who have joined together to provide travel agents with a better understanding of the consolidator market and the advantages to working with consolidator fares. USACA serves as the national trade association for airline ticket consolidators committed to integrity, trust and reliability. A travel agent may freely and confidently look to USACA members for consolidated airline tickets. The end result? Better international fares for clients and more profit for the travel agent. Sound like a good deal? Read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Is your agency failing?

Are you profitable? If your bottom line is below the break-even mark; contrary to conventional wisdom,  your business may not be failing–you may be failing at doing business. You may not be giving your business a chance to fail. Running a business involves many activities that need to be done on a regular basis. Are you doing them? You feed your dog, right? You change the oil in your car, right?

If you are not doing them, you can’t be failing at them. You simply are failing to do them. You are not giving your business the chance it deserves.

Here are some failures I have seen in many agencies. Are you failing at some of them? All of them? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

New England and the Canadian Atlantic by Shoretrips

New England and the Canadian Atlantic offer travelers rich geographical beauty along the Atlantic seaboard. Get a quick lesson in the iconic small towns, draped in Old World charm, and the larger cities and entertainment possibilites. This 60-second Geography article can be used by agents in newsletters and on websites for free, courtesy of Shoretrips.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

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 »

Let’s talk backup.  Since the early days of the word processor and computer, backing up our work has been necessary.  We’ve been trained by our own bad experiences, or the experiences of other unfortunate users, that without backing up, a lot of our hard work can go down the drain in just a split second. Anyone who is old enough to know what a word processor is, knows the pain of which I speak. Term papers, reports and spreadsheets gone in the blink of an eye!  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Over the past week, two clients have thanked me for simply doing what I said I’d do. Initially I was flummoxed. After all, who doesn’t follow through with a client?  Certainly not anyone that is hoping to be successful in the über competitive travel business. And then it dawned on me.

In a perfect world, we’d take it for granted that people would actually come through on their promises and commitments. But in the real world, it seems that people don’t always put their words into action. If I look for it, I see it all the time, from the teacher who missed an appointment to discuss my daughter’s progress to waiter who promised that my iced tea was unsweetened. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Integrity & Professionalism Count, A Lot

Periodically articles and form discussions pop up about the lack of professional conduct of travel agents on FAMs, at trade shows, in online forums, etc. and how the lack of professionalism reflects poorly on all of us in the eyes of suppliers.

But how a travel agent conducts him/herself at a trade show or on a FAM pales in comparison to when a lack of professionalism and integrity are displayed to consumers – threatening the reputation of all professional travel agents.  I’m not talking about how we dress in public, but rather about deceptive, unethical, misleading or fraudulent advertising and marketing practices. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – July 20, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Zen Sales

In its simplest form, marketing consists of generating new business and keeping old. Any new customer may spend money with you once, but a loyal customer provides a lifetime of business! Many travel professionals confuse the concepts of marketing on the one hand and sales on the other. Marketing refers to the techniques used to gathering customers to a product or concept, of grabbing their attention. Marketing is a packaging of an image around a product or a service. Sales is bringing the customer to an actual purchasing decision. The two elements work hand-in-hand and the accomplished travel professional will be adept at both. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Avid Cruiser Voyages: Small-ship Caribbean

Since the dawn of the industry, the Caribbean has remained one of cruising’s most quintessential destinations. Popular with travellers in both winter and summer, there’s no shortage of ships – or itineraries – in this relatively small geographic area.

While cruise lines around the world frequently send their biggest, newest and best ships for a season of sailing to the Caribbean’s most popular ports, the experience aboard a smaller ship, presents a world of difference. For starters, many smaller vessels are ultra-luxury ships, expedition vessels, or yachts that recall the glory days of sail, but in a modern way. Not only do they ensure a top-notch onboard experience, but their relatively small size also allows them to call on ports that are simply unavailable to the big megaships. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

When was the last time a Tour Operator handed you an extra commission check – and from passengers you didn’t even have to book yourself? Sound a bit fantastic? That’s the “Sceptre Rewards Book 3 Get 1 Free” program by Sceptre Tours, and it’s only one of the many reasons that every travel agent should have a close working knowledge of this tour operator. If you have clients going to Ireland, Britain, or Italy, the first tour operator to think of is Sceptre Tours. Not only do they provide your clients with the product they want and the service you hope for, their commitment to travel agents is without match in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

160 days till Christmas

Here is one for you .. a bit out of season.

There are 160 days left until Christmas. I be most of you didn’t have a clue; or if you did it was only after pulling out the calendar and counting on your fingers.

But I know that there are 160 days left. How do I know? Because Christmas is a very special and important time for my wife. She has a countdown calendar on our kitchen wall right next to the breakfast table. Every morning, religiously, Barbara subtracts a single day and …. “VOILA” – we once again know the time remaining until Christmas. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

South America by Solar Tours

South America is a continent of vast expanse, resources and natural beauty. This wild continent, positioned between the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and the South Atlantic Oceans, remains unknown to many travelers, yet holds real treasure for both the intrepid explorer of nature and the lover of great cities.

The continent plays home to a vast range of cultures, identities, geographies, styles, luxuries, languages and cities – it can be beautiful in how it overwhelms. Take a minute to garner some great general info on South America. Thanks to Solar Tours, this week’s 60-second Geography is completely available to be used for your agency’s newsletters or websites.

Read the rest of this entry »

Since coming back to work for a full service agency I’ve realized something I nearly forgot–there are thousands of hotels and resorts out there to choose from. Selling cruises was different in that there are only so many ships—maybe a hundred? And they are all pretty similar except for the luxury lines; of which there are only a few making it easy to become familiar with their services, inclusions, and standard business practices. And new ships only come out every couple years giving agents time to learn about them before they even hit the water. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

3 indispensable tools for a successful agency

A long, long time ago; in a land far, far away; travel agencies were the hobby of the rich and famous. Pre-Internet, if you walked into most travel agencies, they were owned by the wives (yes, sexist) of bankers, lawyers, and doctors.  For the most part, the allure was the coveted IATAN card and all the discounts and perks that came with it. For lack of a better term, these businesses were hobbies for the owner. I bought my first agency from the wife of a wealthy land developer—complete with an IATAN list 40 names long. Of course, the perks are all but gone and travel businesses now need to be run like, well businesses to be successful.  But I question why so many continue to run them as hobbies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – July 13, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain