Monthly Archives: January 2013

Posted In: Deck Plans

A friend of mine recently referred to Berlin as Europe’s most eclectic city. Certainly, it is hard to think of another European city that was as divided as Berlin — and with the United States, Great Britain, France and Russia controlling the various sectors. All have left their influences as have the great tragedies that this great city endured. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This article is Part 4 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for earlier articles in the series.

In Blue Ocean Strategy, authors Kim and Mauborgne identify the elements of a strong blue ocean program as focus, divergence and, interestingly, a strong tag line.  Without these characteristics a company’s strategy will be unclear and hard to communicate.  Let’s look at each in turn as we attempt to determine how a travel agency might incorporate blue ocean thinking as the core philosophy of their practice.

Focus indicates that the strategy hones in on key elements. Divergence indicates those key elements differ from the elements on which other similar players in the market focus.  The strong tag line indicates the clarity of vision and the ease with which the company’s mission can be articulated and communicated. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This article is Part 3 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for Parts 1 and 2.

In yesterday’s example, we created a biking event that evidenced blue ocean strategy.  As a result, our travel package could operate without competition.  Our biking program offered the participants the opportunity to pursue their biking passion in a series of exotic countries over a period of days, something many of the participants would not have ever thought about or even thought possible. We accomplished this neat trick by transporting our bikers from country to country aboard a cruise ship sailing the Caribbean.

However, I ask you, is it enough?  Is a single instance of a biking event, or any similar blue ocean event, where you want your practice to be?  Perhaps.  Some good entrepreneur could build an entire business around such a program.  Many of us, however, would want more.  We want a varied travel practice not confined to a single destination or activity but to a relationship with clients. Is it possible to build an entire travel practice Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

I have to get something off my chest or I think I’ll explode.  The travel trade press has been overflowing lately with everyone talking about the “distribution network” and the “travel agent distribution channel.”

To be fair, I know what they mean.  I am filled with gratitude for the efforts of suppliers to keep agents in the mix.  But, travel consultants are not “distribution channels!”  Grocery stores that sell different brands of cereal, or hardware stores selling hammers are distribution channels.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This article is Part 2 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for Part 1.

The authors of Blue Ocean Strategy point out participants in red ocean markets all follow a conventional approach.  Everyone more or less does things the same way.  As the markets become more crowded, competition increases, prices are cut and margins fall. Costs go up.  Soon, the only differentiator is price.  Well educated consumers no longer need the expertise that distinguished the early markets.
Sound familiar?

Authors Kim and Mauborgne place the concept of “Value Innovation” as the cornerstone of Blue Ocean Strategy. Instead of an attempt to “beat” the competition at the game, a Blue Ocean Strategist will make the competition irrelevant by creating a value for the market that is a leap out of the red oceans.  There will simply be no competition. Read the rest of this entry »

Global Travel – Going home

I recently had the opportunity to return home to my native country ‘Scotland’ to spend my first Christmas in 15 years with my family, and I took my American boyfriend who had never been to Europe. On this journey I was able to stop off at one of my favorite cities, and a place I used to call home as well–Amsterdam. It was an honor to get to stay at one of the Virtuoso Properties ‘The Grand Amsterdam’ for 3 nights and it did not disappoint… far from it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Travel Agents and Blue Ocean Strategy

This week, the 365 Guide is going to re-visit our series on Blue Ocean Strategies.  Next week, we are going to use what we have learned to develop five marketing campaigns that beat the competition by eliminating all competition.

The competition is everywhere: other travel agents, the big online agencies, suppliers selling direct. All about you, sharks swim and the water is red with blood.  Everyone is after the same clients, and you want your share.  So you circle with the pack, waiting for another traveler to drop into the water. You hone your competitive advantages, distinguish yourself from the competition and wait.

But just over the horizon is a vast blue ocean. Not but a few miles off-shore, hard as it may be to believe, there is no competition. There is an entire blue ocean of uncontested market space.  Is that even possible? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Our economy, despite what the government will lead you to believe, is still on shaky ground. Don’t get me wrong, it is a whole hell of a lot better than it was two years ago, but there is still some work to be done. And a shaky economy can have a huge impact on home-based travel professionals and their businesses. When you depend on your income to put food on the table, there is little room for error.

The problem is that clients and prospects are doing exactly what we are doing—trying to save dollars; and if they are spending, they are trying to get the most bang for their buck. Maintaining a cash flow for a small to medium sized home-based business can be difficult—I know, I am living it.  So, here are five strategies that have helped me over the years and continue to help me to this day! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – January 25, 2013

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: TROTips

Not long ago, I shared with you how email autoresponders are used improperly and can be a nuisance or even present you negatively to those you wish to do business with. The sad truth is, email autoresponders are the tip of the iceberg. Which of the following Bad Email Habits are you guilty of? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Digging in the Data Mine for Fun and Profit

Today even small home based agencies have a web presence and send out emailed newsletters. This means every agency – regardless of size – probably has access to one humongous mountain of data just begging to be mined…for fun and profit.

Recent efforts to make sense of the data associated with our website and email campaigns have left me in a state of wonder, salivating over the possibilities.

There are several online services – most free or very inexpensive – to assist in gathering and evaluating visitor data associated with websites. The most popular is Google Analytics (free). Another is Hubspot (fees). For purposes of this article, we’ll focus on Google’s service. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Do You Practice it…them?

How badly do you want it… them?  How hard are you willing to work for it… for them?  Are you prepared to put in the extra time (hours, days, and weekends), and sacrifice for it… for them?  What about your family… do they want it/them as well… as badly as you do?  What is it…them, you ask?  I am referring to your dreams, goals, and aspirations!

I live my life and drive my business on the premise that we can all achieve what we believe with practice and setting meaningful goals.  The short-term goals that you set on a daily basis are just as important as the big hairy audacious dreams and goals, but it always starts with your own personal intention to value yourself enough to make a difference in your life and business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Trafalgar is passionate about travel and, with over 65 years of experience in guided vacations, your clients’ journey with them will be full of unforgettable moments that give them a unique insider’s view of each destination. Imagine dining at a family home or local venue like a traditional farmhouse in Ireland or a family-owned olive grove estate in Tuscany. With Trafalgar’s exclusive Be My Guest dining experiences, your clients will enjoy a true taste of local food and culture. Read the rest of this entry »

I believe that travelers should experience their destinations as opposed to merely seeing them, and that is why I became a travel agent. Hello everyone! I am Pam Hallberg, travel consultant, entrepreneur, CEO and jack of all trades for my business, Hallberg Travel & Tours. It’s incredibly humbling to be able to share my professional experiences throughout the year as one of the five writers for the Travel Agent Diaries column. If all goes according to plan, I might be able to share some 2013 travel experiences with you as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Are travel suppliers reducing the friction?

Over the past month or so, there have been a few threads over on the TRO Community concerning supplier promotions that are making their way to consumers, but not to agents. What’s going on? And how can agents make sure that they have all of the information needed for their clients?

Before we can address the issue, we need to understand that suppliers will take business (as we all do) from the path of least resistance. Think about it, who would you rather deal with…the woman that calls you up saying she wants to go to the Caribbean, Europe, an Alaskan cruise or maybe a safari in Africa? Or the woman that calls up and says, “I want to do a week at Sandals in an oceanfront suite”?  Suppliers are no different and to a degree, dealing with agents can cause some friction. Now friction can be defined any number of ways; but in general, they need to support us and pay us.  Take away one or both of those, and the transaction becomes almost frictionless. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – January 18, 2013

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I am my own second-worst client, with my husband taking first place.  As a professional travel consultant I have tried many times to qualify my husband as a client, and failed miserably every single time.  “What do you want at a resort?”  “I don’t know.”  Hmmm.  “Where do you want to go?”  “Somewhere warm” or “I don’t know, you decide.”  Really?  Yes, really, that’s all I get.  Sometimes I am tempted to ship him off to Death Valley mid-August and ask him if that was warm enough for him.  And this is also the man that swore he’d hate all-inclusive beach resorts, until he fell in love with Sandals’ Grande St Lucian during a site inspection.  Unfortunately this widened his palette, so now it’s not just a matter of picking a cruise ship for him.  Now it’s a matter of deciding cruise or land, then which ship or resort, and then which room category, and what activities/excursions.  So let’s face it, he’s a lost cause as far as clients go.  But then, I’m not really much better. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

The Grand Canyon of Verdon is the second largest canyon in the world, after North America’s Grand Canyon. It’s only about an hour’s drive from the French Riviera. Because it’s so close to the French Riviera, the canyon is popular with tourists who come here to drive around the canyon rim, go kayaking or hiking. We came to experience a truly epic drive, on a challenging windy road alongside sheer rock walls and imposing cliffs, through tunnels and with lots of scenic overlooks. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Tailor-made Group Travel Made Easy with Europe Express

At Europe Express we are dedicated to amazing group travel experiences. From bringing families closer together to educating students about art, history or architecture, it is easy to see out why Europe Express has been a leader in arranging group travel since 1990. The amazing experience starts well before your clients even think of packing a suitcase.

We work with you to create a tailor-made trip to fit the interests of your group, booking whatever combination of travel services fit your plans and budget, including airfare, hotels, rail, transfers, sightseeing and more. We provide expert guides and high quality travel products and specialize in multi-city and multi-country itineraries. In addition to helping you organize signup deadlines, travel documents and payments. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Remember the golden age of cruising?

Your concept of cruise ship dining room “dress codes” probably is based on how long you have been in the travel industry. If you are fairly new to the travel industry, you are probably asking yourself, “What dining room dress code policies?” If you have been on many cruises in the last few years, it certainly appears there are none, as it seems that folks stroll into the dining room in whatever strikes their fancy. 

On the other hand if you are like me, and are one of the old timers, you probably remember back when there were some pretty strict dress codes. As time has gone forward, it seems that many of them have changed. I fear that the days of enjoying a few “Formal Nights” will just become memories of, what I like to call, the golden age of cruising. Read the rest of this entry »

Encore Romance Travel – The newbie

Hey everybody! I’m Brenda Llamas Young of Encore Romance Travel (we just updated the name, more on that later). I’m honored to be sharing my story with you as part of the Travel Agent Diaries. I believe I’m the “newbie” of the group; I’ve been on this crazy journey for the last two years. Besides a travel entrepreneur, I moonlight as a soldier in the US Army where I have been serving for the last 18 years. I have done various jobs in the military, including executive assistant, human resources, training and operations. I also arranged the travel and all of the protocol intricacies that come with having a General on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »