Monthly Archives: September 2013

Posted In: The 365 Guide

5 keys to marketing on any platform: #1 Relationships

The marketing world pays a great deal of attention to social media. Go to any trade show, and the social media programs are always packed.  Write an article on social media and your readership will give it far more attention than an article on “Networking.”  Even TRO has a separate site devoted strictly to social media over on www.TROSMITH.com.

Way back when, insightful observers like our good friend Nolan Burris was telling everyone the secret of social media was identical to a good Tupperware party.  We may have missed just how keen Nolan’s early observation was. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Are travel agents still relevant?  Really? Truly?

Over the years I have had the chance to talk to hundreds of Business Development Managers, District Sales Managers, Executives, Owners, Partners, Founders, Directors and every other title you might come up with for a supplier representative. One constant among 90% of them is that they truly believe in the agency distribution system–as do I. But, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – September 27, 2013

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Inadvertently we published the last article in this series yesterday! So here is the Thursday installment on Friday.  Sorry for the confusion! ~ rbe

Many of you will no doubt have an opportunity to give a presentation to a group on travel. Preparation for your presentation will involve not just the basic content, but also the visual aids that accompany most presentations. Contrary to what you might believe, nowhere is it written that you have to use PowerPoint when giving a presentation. The default audio visual aid of choice, PowerPoint is one of the most abused software programs ever to have escaped the halls of Microsoft. Some organizations, having been at the mercy of one too many PowerPoint presentations, have actually banned its use. There are, therefore, many good reasons not to use PowerPoint for your next presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

My Best Cruises & Favorite Cruise Destinations

Need a little inspiration for planning your next trip? I’ve compiled a broad list of some of my favorite cruise experiences in the hopes of helping you make decisions about your next cruise.

A couple of my very best trips were with my kids: With my son, ‘Awesome’ Alaska: The Great Land Through The Eyes Of A Kid (on Holland America Line) & with my daughter, a Mekong River Cruise (on AmaWaterways). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This week we have been covering how to give a top-notch presentation on your travel planning practice. Today, we want to conclude the series by discussing the preparation and follow up to your event. A bit of time put into the prologue and postlogue will help to ensure the success of your presentation.

Firstly, and we have covered this in our earlier articles, know your audience as you craft your presentation. Speak to the organizer of the event and to any members of your group you may know in advance. Try to determine how many will attend and something about their general demographics. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Giving Presentations – Shaping Your Content

Our first few articles on giving presentations have focused on finding opportunities, delivery of your presentation and using visual aids. Now, let’s explore how to best craft your message for the particular group you will be addressing. Today’s consumers tend to be savvy. They have access to the internet travel agencies, to top notch publications like Budget Travel and Conde Nast as well as television programming devoted to travel. You will want your own unique message to be especially relevant. Your audience will expect valuable information that offers solutions or insight into their own travel ambitions. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The $10 ashtray

My mother loves garage sales.  When she is out and about, any car she is in gets magically pulled toward the nearest driveway of bargains.  While her 80 year-old vision is failing, she can still spot a garage sale sign from distances well beyond ordinary human visual range. 

As a result, from my toddler to teenage years most of my clothes, shoes, games and toys came from fifty-cent piles and dusty boxes.

Along with countless puzzles missing just one piece, I acquired many lessons for business and some tips for succeeding with professional fees:  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Belize by Solar Tours

Belize is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to its north, Guatemala to its south and west, and by the Caribbean Sea to the east. The nation has a very diverse society with many cultures and languages. Although Belizean Creole and Spanish are widely spoken, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language.

Belize is still a relatively untapped tourist mecca. Replete with many natural attractions such as the climate, the Belizean Barrier Reef, over 1,000 offshore Cayes (islands), world class fishing, calm boating waters (many boats will head for the safety of Belize in a hurricane), scuba and snorkeling, river rafting,  jungle and wildlife reserves…the list never ends. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

There is a reason Costa Rica has become one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Central America. Aside from it’s close proximity to Miami on a plane, Costa Rica appeals to all ages with the country’s natural attractions, wildlife, and reputation for enlightened conservation. The country’s bio-diversity attracts nature lovers from all over the world. Add to this the incredible warmth and sincere hospitality of the local people and the exceptional variety of hotels along Guanacaste’s Pacific coast and you have a recipe for a unique and memorable destination for couples, singles, and families. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Two great fears: Being bored and being boring. Which is worse? By far we fear being boring the most. The fear that people will not be interested in what we have to say is enough to stop many from considering public speaking and seeking out opportunities to make presentations about their travel planning practice. As deeply felt as that concern may be, however, I assure you that it is highly likely you have what it takes to engage your audience. A few key principles, properly applied, will assist you in pulling your listeners into your presentation and involving them in the passion and emotion you generate. Read the rest of this entry »

In my last column, I wrote about using story-telling as a marketing technique.  I surmised that the story you might tell about your business or to promote a trip or destination, is uniquely effective primarily because:  #1 – it will be memorable and, #2 – It answers the ‘Why’ question.  That is, “Why should you hire me as your travel professional?” Or “Why should you go on this trip or to this place?”  Now, after a three-week trip in Central Europe, I’m even more convinced, and am anxious to try telling more stories. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

We all need some help sometimes

Babies cry. They cry at the drop of a hat–a lot. But as they grow they realize they are becoming self sufficient and no longer need to cry out for for an adult to meet their needs.  I am not so sure that is an entirely good thing. While crying and whining can be irritating to an adult, to a child it is reassuring as they continue their lifelong journey of learning. In fact, I believe crying is a good thing–at some point (maybe at most points) we all need some help and crying for it (OK, well asking for it) is a great way to get it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Giving Presentations – The Basics

If you are lucky, you will have the opportunity to give a presentation on your travel planning practice this year. Actually, scratch that.  It’s possible to make your own luck and seek out opportunities to give a presentation on your travel planning practice this year. This week we are going to discuss the art of giving presentations. We have all sat through a boring presentation and we have all been witness to really good presentations. We want to distill the qualities shared by all good business communicators and discover how to share our passion Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – September 20, 2013

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Agencies that separate themselves from the crowd have an attitude about their mode of operation. You can spot their advertisements, their marketing efforts and their agents from a distance. These special agents and agencies take professionalism to a new level by asserting ownership over their domain. Great agencies take ownership of their clients, their work product and their specialties. “Ownership” in this context means control – these agents and agencies are in control of the relationships that surround their business endeavors.

Far too often, travel agent conversations sound victim-like. A client walked away with research. (Hurricanes, Mexican violence, the State Department….) is causing cancelations. The economy has dampened sales and prospects. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Dream…imagine…create

My phone rings.  A new client is calling to discuss the details of an adventurous vacation he‘s considering.  I’ve jotted down some preliminary information and the caller is still speaking when my mind begins to wander.  Many would think of this as a problem. I see it differently. It’s an asset to me!  Asset? What asset?–An active imagination.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

The Challenges of Being a ‘Vegabond’

A big health and weight challenge for me is that I’ve always used travel as an excuse to abandon the diet-du-jour and eat anything and everything, even from the inflight beverage cart. I’ve since developed healthier habits and strategies to overcome these tendencies. A survey of the agent community has also generated some useful advice.

The wake-up call came two years and twenty five pounds ago when I awoke from a dream…actually a nightmare… trying to shake off feelings of shame and self-loathing. In my dream, a smirking flight attendant was asking me if I needed a seatbelt extender. All passengers within earshot were laughing at my embarrassment and, of course, they all looked like triathletes with body fat percentages of negative twelve. I decided that very morning to get serious about losing weight and eating healthy, especially when traveling. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Most travel agents view “follow-up” as the activities that take place once a client returns home. Certainly following up with a client to assure that everything went well on a trip is an important client and marketing service. But follow-up is a continual activity that begins the moment the travel agent meets a prospective client and ends, well, never! Frankly, follow-up is where many business people will fall short. So much energy is expended in the production of an event, or the generation of a client or the planning of a trip that we tend to go belly-up and float downstream instead of closely tracking the results of our efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

I have a few heroes. In an earlier editorial column, I spoke of two of them. Steve Jobs of Apple Computers is another. He once used the phrase “insanely great” as a way of describing his products and it became an anthem for his vision of Apple’s brand. Go to any Apple store and look at the people crowding around, staring at the products, touching them, playing with computers, phones and iPods. You won’t find that kind of zealous activity in the computer section at Best Buy…unless they are looking at the Apple computers.

For small services businesses like travel consulting, word-of-mouth marketing is a very important component of your marketing plan. At the core of every effective word-of-mouth marketing program is not just good, but truly great service. Not the service that your clients expect Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

When I first got into travel, I did it for me. You could say it was a selfish move. I always had a passion for travel and I felt that building a business around my passion would allow me to travel more often. I also wanted to share what I knew with others, but that motive took a back seat to the number one motive of wanting to travel more often.

I dove into entrepreneurship with a naive sense that if I followed my passion, the business would follow. It didn’t. I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult to get enough good clients so I could make decent money to afford to travel as often as possible.

It’s not that having a passion isn’t important. In fact, having a passion for your business is critical. But it took a long time to realize the missing link, or as I now refer to it, the secret to success. Read the rest of this entry »