Posted In: Agent Perspectives
In all the talk we hear about specializing and finding a niche, we shouldn’t forget that our clients come to us, first, for the knowledge and advice we give. Secondly, they come to us for the experience we provide them, and that’s what we’re discussing today. What do YOU provide your clients that another travel agent doesn’t? What are you doing for them that the online sites aren’t? If you think of life as a bowl of Cheerios, you want to be the Fruit Loop in that bowl that is remembered, anticipated with happiness, and enjoyed thoroughly. So, how do you enhance the client experience like a Fruit Loop enhances a bowl of Cheerios? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Deck Plans
We begin this week’s Viking River cruise reviews with a tour of Veranda Suite 308 on the Viking Aegir, one of the Viking Longships that made its debut in August 2012.
I’m on board in Amsterdam and firmly embedded for the christening of Viking Aegir and nine of its sisters, an event that will make the Guinness Book of World Records (see ‘That’s A Lot Of Bottles’ & Other Tales Of 12 Ship Christenings This Week). 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
What new things are you going to learn today?
Knowledge is vital in today’s business world. If I walked up to you and asked you that question what would your answer be? Do you even have an answer? Many times that is the challenge. We want to learn, but are not sure what it is we want to learn. Now is a good time to make that list.
Your list can include business, physical, economic, personal, spiritual, and many other segments of your life. I just watched the movie “The Bucket List” again, and was reminded of how people wait until time seems limited to make a list of things to do, learn,and experience.
Don’t wait. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: 60-Second Geography
Once home to Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, and Michelangelo, the breathtaking region of Tuscany extends from the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea to the snow-capped Apennine Mountains. This valley cradles some of the most enlightening sensual experiences Italy and Europe have to offer–whether your passion is good food, breathtaking views, or fine art, you’ll find something to inspire you under the Tuscan sun.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Travel Agent Diaries
We all know entrepreneurship is a huge roller coaster, as the newbie of the group I’ve learned that in order to refine my niche, mission statement and marketing mix I have to go with the flow. The first couple of years have been all about watching and listening to prospects and the reaction they have to my business.
I specialize in romance travel, I do many bridal shows to attract new customers and most of them are millennials. Due to their age, millennials are not familiar with the services a travel consultant can provide for them. During last year’s bridal show season it became obvious to me that I needed to change something in my business plan. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: 1:1
Brian John is founder, president, CEO of Intrepid Vacations where he is responsible for executing the vision of this leisure travel corporation and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company. A veteran of the travel industry, Mr. John brings decades of experience to Intrepid Vacations as well as management expertise gained throughout his career in virtually every aspect of the tour operation business including: Product Development, Operations, Sales & Marketing and Training & Development. His diverse background includes key management roles at such well-known travel firms as STI Travel, Central Holidays, and BJ Travel Services.
Mr. John is currently working on his MBA from City University in New York, Baruch College. His company’s headquarters is location in Marlton, New Jersey. He and his wife reside in Riverton, New Jersey.
Travel Research Online: What was your first experience in travel? What is your most memorable experience in travel?
Brian John: As far back as I can remember as a child we traveled often from the Virgin Islands (where I was born) to Boston (where I grew up) – it was a time when air travel was a luxurious event. Everyone would dress up and savor every minute of the air travel experience as part of a whole vacation. I remember the excitement of taking off and the roar of the engines…of the clouds outside that made way for adventuring in new cities. Those memories made me simply love travel. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
Along the many roles you take on as a travel professional comes your part in a larger community of other travel planners, suppliers and service providers. Playing an active role in your professional community affords the possibility for new growth. Unfortunately, many travel planners seldom attend a trade show or travel conference. No doubt, the time and expense involved in travel and accommodations are often considerable. Yet, trade shows provide travel agents with an excellent opportunity to meet suppliers, learn about new product and to hear first-hand industry thinkers and peers. When I attend a trade show or conference I inevitably return revitalized and filled with new ideas and insights.
It’s not hard to understand the value of mixing with others in your profession. Too often, we think only competitively about our peers. But some of the most rewarding experiences result from sharing ideas with others whose knowledge and experience may be no greater but merely different from your own. Our particular industry provides some excellent opportunities to congregate. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
I was looking at my Facebook feed the other day and I noticed a friend had updated her job status. Like many of us, she is an entrepreneur, and is always thinking of was to make business hum. What stuck me is that in the brief time I have known her, she has owned 5 businesses, none of which are still around. I will never fault anyone for taking a shot—we all have. But I wonder if she really gave each of those businesses her “all?” Can you really get the pulse of five businesses and five markets all within a three-year period? As I pondered that, I saw many similarities to the travel industry. While I am 100% sold on the travel agency community and the vibrancy of it, I am also convinced that many of our so-called colleagues are not as serious. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Agent Perspectives
As the owner of a specialized travel company servicing India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, I often reach out to other agents who can assist with trips for my clients outside of my umbrella. For many years, this arrangement has worked beautifully. The clients were appreciative of my ability to connect them with a specialist, and the receiving agent was the beneficiary of a sale and subsequent referrals. However, recently I have been disappointed and discouraged with several agents when mutually planning proposals or even campaigns. There is a very clear tone of, “How does this benefit me and only me?” Read the rest of this entry »
Not all client encounters are face-to-face. Many potential clients will come to your office not in person, but by telephone. Perhaps they are responding to an advertisement in the local newspaper or calling in after visiting your web site. Maybe they are a referral from an existing client. Regardless of the origin of the call, however, you have a scant few seconds to make a good first impression and to channel the client into the buying process. If any portion of your travel consultation occurs via the telephone, it is important to give due consideration to the skills necessary to successfully establish a long-distance relationship. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Support@
Vicky Puig is an integral part of the Member Services team, a group of six employees that acts as first level support for the general Nexion Membership. The department’s primary function is to handle incoming phone calls from the members and provide support on Nexion products and service inquiries. They also coach agents to help them grow their home-based businesses.
I joined Nexion in 2011 after our company had moved to our new offices. Though new to Nexion, I’ve been in the travel industry since 2007, working for Sabre as a trainer and customer service business analyst. It was this experience that made me the first new Montevideo employee to become part of Nexion’s six-person Member Services team.
Less known than Nexion’s Dallas office, but absolutely crucial, our office in Montevideo, Uruguay is where a group of dedicated in-house employees – including me – strive to provide the extra edge to over three thousand North American travel agents. Read the rest of this entry »
If you discover in your analysis of your travel agency’s sales process that many clients are not proceeding beyond the first meeting, study each instance and try to pin-point where things might have gone wrong. Above all, resist the temptation to “blame” the client. As a professional, it is your responsibility to take charge and guide the course of the relationship. If you are consistently losing clients at this crucial point of the sales funnel, it is time for some brutal honesty and self-evaluation. Here are a few reminders of some skills and the mind set that will assist you in better understanding the dynamics of working with clients in first meetings. Read the rest of this entry »
Analyzing and correcting problems in the sales process can increase the number of consumers who move all the way through the sales funnel to become repeat clients. By attempting to hone in on very specific areas where problems exist, the travel agent can make small adjustments to practices. Such fine-tuning is typically much more easily accomplished once the travel agent pin-points a problem. Consider a travel agent with 75 leads in her hands but only 40 of those leads agree to further discussion. Thus, in the first step of the actual sales cycle, 35 leads, almost one-half, fell out of the sales funnel at this crucial point. Improving the first contact with clients, then, might dramatically improve the number of clients moving further into the sales process. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
If you profits are below the break-even mark, your business may not be failing. You may be failing at doing business.
You may not be giving your business a chance to fail. Business involves a number of activities that need to be implemented on a regular basis. Are you being faithful to these activities?
If you aren’t doing them, you can’t be failing at them. You’re simply failing to do them. In other words, you are not giving your business the chance it deserves to succeed. Read the rest of this entry »
As a nation, we are a jaded lot. From Willy Loman to the used-auto hucksters in countless movies, the public in general holds sales people rather low on the scale of esteem. Indeed, most of the people you encounter are so afraid of being “sold” something that they refuse to speak with sales people when they enter a store or walk onto a car lot. “I’m just looking” is used as the warding spell against the sales person, and woe to the one who persists beyond that point.
Most travel consultants share this cultural bias against “sales.” Ironic, isn’t it?
Posted In: Travel Agent Diaries
The temptation when you agree to do a column such as this, is to choose topics that place you and your agency in a good light. However, I know that over the years I have personally learned much more when people have had the courage to share their challenges. It allowed me to relate and to brainstorm ways to overcome their obstacles for myself.
So in th spirit of service to others I will look straight into my imaginary reality TV camera – fall on my sword and proclaim…”Hi – my name is Barbara Oliver and I suck at time management!” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: 1:1
Since 1998, Joel Cohen has been Vice President of New York City Vacation Packages, a company devoted to promoting “the Greatest City in the World.”
He graduated from Temple University’s School of Business Administration and attended its Law School, has spoken at many travel industry events including the ASTA World Congress, and has been named to Who’s Who of American Business Leaders.
His life’s goal was to visit every major country in the world. His goal now is to eat in every one of New York City’s 17,000 restaurants.
He doesn’t plan on accomplishing either goal but is having fun trying.
Travel Research Online: What was your first experience in travel? What is your most memorable experience traveling?
Joel Cohen: I was a counselor for a teen travel camp in the late ‘60s. We toured New England, and the first time I saw the White Mountains in New Hampshire I was hooked on the beauty and sheer magnitude of nature. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
Words matter. The decision to style an occupation one way or another can make a tremendous difference in the public’s perception of a profession. “Flight attendants” used to be “stewards” and that “waitress” at dinner last night was a “server.” However, the person who opened your wine was a sommelier. Had a professional massage lately? If so, in 38 states you had a licensed practitioner known as a “massage therapist”, not a “masseuse.” In the other twelve states…well, you tell us. Read the rest of this entry »