Monthly Archives: January 2014

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – January 31, 2014

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

When designing your marketing efforts, remember the principle of frequency: a client typically needs to hear your message several times before responding. The rule applies to your existing clients as well as to potential clients – if too much time passes between encounters, clients are easily distracted to other opportunities. Marketing efforts often look like bursts of activity rather than well-designed campaigns. In order to gain mindshare, your marketing and advertising efforts need to have a consistent look and feel and be repeated often on a regular, continuing, and ongoing basis. Marketing must be a continual, ongoing series of effort to keep clients engaged with your brand, to keep you top-of-mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Often through travel agent forums I find myself answering questions from travel agents trying to get started in the business and I am amazed at the lack of knowledge with regard to becoming a travel agent.  

The most important tool for becoming a successful agent is your business organization. Beginning a new business, any business, without knowledge of the trade is not only dangerous for you, the agent, but the clients as well. Poor advice can be very costly. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Sadly, I’m back to where I started last week aboard Cuba Cruise’s Louis Cristal, which means two things: I’m back in Montego Bay, Jamaica; and my circumnavigation of Cuba has come to a close.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

An inevitable consequence of being in business is handling customer complaints. As a travel consultant, the problem is exacerbated since many of the sources of complaints are not within your control. Having an accessible and easy to navigate complaint process is an important part of good customer service. Handling complaints is an art, and the most accomplished can turn a customer’s gripe into a client retention exercise.

First and foremost, listen to the customer. Give the client your full attention and demonstrate your concern by turning off your cell phone or closing the door to your office and facing the client directly. It is seldom that a good client complains for no reason. No matter how poorly a customer may present a complaint, it will almost always have some basis. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Trusted and Reliable Service by Homeric Tours

Homeric Tours has been serving the discerning needs of travelers for 45 years. Since the founding in 1969, Homeric Tours has been providing travelers with memorable travel experiences to Mediterranean destinations. What started as a provider of packaged tours to Greece has over time expanded to offer fixed and flexible travel arrangements to a variety of locales. The travel industry has gone through many dramatic changes over the years, and Homeric has resultantly changed with the times. However, Homeric has remained true to the founding principles of providing value and service unmatched elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Is there ever a time we like to wait for a service? We don’t like waiting in line, in the doctor’s office or on hold. We don’t like waiting for our food when we dine and the server takes too long to visit our table. Each of these consumer experiences should remind us of  the need to be highly responsive in our dealings with travel clients.

Being quickly responsive to the needs of clients is the very indicator of a high quality of service. When a service provider is quick to appear and address our needs, we take notice. However, too many modern attempts at responsiveness have substituted a weak technological solution for a human touch. The phone tree is maybe the best of the worst examples of an attempt at being efficient that puts the burden on the client rather than on the business to respond. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

There was a time when beleaguered travel agents could escape the slings and arrows flung their way by journalists by turning to the entertainment section. Not any more.

The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger has brought the war on travel agents to his review of “Craving For Travel,” a play by Greg Edwards and Andy Sandberg, now playing at the Jay Sharp Theater in New York.

The headline says it all: “It’s Not Just a Job, It’s an Adventure. In a Dying Industry, Sure. But Still.Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

The Beautiful St. Barts by Rental Escapes

If you’re looking for a mix between elegant luxury and beautiful scenery, look no further than St. Barts. This oasis is consistently ranked one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The turquoise waters and the white sands, accompanied by a green mountainous backdrop make this island one of the most unique in the Caribbean. An eclectic mix of people and charm, St. Barts (St. Barths) should be on the top of your destination list in 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Your clients have your office number, your email address and your cell phone number. They know your office hours and how to get in touch with you after the doors have closed. But how accessible are you? Is there any possibility your clients feel they are actually bothering you when they want to research a bit of travel? Web site designers go to great lengths to make travel web sites “accessible”: easy to understand, use and navigate. But what about your own interface with clients?

Is your entire  travel practice easy to understand, use and navigate? Are you emotionally and psychologically available to existing and potential clients? Read the rest of this entry »

Destinations — Howdy TRO

Today is my first “diary” for TRO, and I am thrilled to have been asked to share my innermost secret travel agent thoughts with you!  So ready or not, here we go…. I’ve been a travel agent (a term which I don’t really like), since 1982 when I attended travel school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I started back in the olden days, when an actual travel school credential was required to work in our industry.  When we hand wrote tickets out of a OAG flight schedule, called hotels directly to book after choosing from a giant Hotel and Travel Index book, and GDS systems where just starting to become a staple in most agencies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

Cally Papas, President and Owner of Cloud Tours


Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 2.21.44 PMCally Papas began her career in the travel industry working for Olympic Airways as a receptionist. She moved up quickly through the ranks passing through the major departments of the airline and ended her career there as the Head of the Commercial Policy and Group / Incentive  USA.

Cally left Olympic Air to become a partner at Cloud Tours and eventually bought the entire company.  In its early beginnings, Cloud Tours built its excellent reputation on the agency’s expertise in Greece and Turkey.  Over the years, they have expanded to Italy, Croatia, Spain, Portugal, Israel, and Jordan specializing in customized F.I.Ts and group travel as well as romantic honeymoon packages.

TRO: What is your most fond travel memory you can recall?

Cally: Santorini, Greece. It is a unique destination and has a powerful effect on me. I go every year but it never gets old. Sitting on the balcony and watching the stunning sun set melts away all the stresses of the outside world. It always feels fresh and new. Santorini is a paradox. It looks like a small traditional Greek village and yet, is one of the most sophisticated destinations of the world. It has remained true to itself and its traditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

What do your clients think you do?  Do they think they buy cruises from you? Do they come to you to buy an airline ticket for a trip to London?  If so, your travel practice may be in deep trouble.  The problem with this understanding of your business is your clients don’t need you to buy travel.  They can buy travel anywhere.  They can buy travel from another agency, from a supplier direct, on the internet. In fact, most of the components of travel are viewed by consumers as commodities.  In the mind of most civilians, an airline ticket is an airline ticket and the only point of differentiation is price.  The October 13th sailing of the Oasis of the Seas is a commodity as far as most consumers are concerned and, thus, price is the only way you, as a travel retailer, can be “better” than your competition.  Life as a travel retailer is a pretty miserable way to understand your company’s mission for either you or or clients.

Image a travel practice that doesn’t sell travel.  Imagine the mission of your company, in fact, is not to sell anything.  Instead, your mission is to help consumers make intelligent buying decisions.  Your mission would be to assist the client in choosing the cruise that is right for them:  the right sailing on the right date, the right stateroom, the right shore excursions, the right activities in ports of call, with time so efficiently organized the client would feel as though they had a guardian angel looking out for their travels. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Long gone are the days when we printed up a flyer, ran an ad in the local paper or hung a sign in the window and waited for the business to roll in the door and to get the phones ringing. Now we have those options plus Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more to consider.  Personally, I am a huge fan of social media and thrive on the additional reach it provides. I am not so much a huge fan of the constant changes the platforms make, because…well, let’s face it, I am trying to sell travel.  But there is one somewhat recent enhancement to Facebook and Twitter that very few agents are using. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Clients have short memories.  That includes the client who has just returned home from the trip you arranged on their behalf. Unless you find a way to stay “top of mind”,  clients can easily be distracted by the next pretty travel opportunity that walks their way.  With every newspaper travel section, television commercials and consumer magazines filled with travel advertising, your clients will see lots of different avenues to fulfill their travel desires. You want them to think of you when they think of travel, but until you have them properly trained, it is easy for them to be distracted elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Almost everyone hates sales calls – right? I don’t. I used to make them myself. Yes, I used to be one of those people selling timeshares to Granny over the phone, and I was so successful at it, the company asked me to help write their sales scripts and train their call staff. That experience not only taught me how to make a sale under the worst possible conditions, but also taught me this very important fact: Telemarketers are people too. And I never throw a person away. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Crystal Cruises joins Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises in offering free Wi-Fi (as well as wired internet) to guests. Like Regent’s program, Crystal’s has caveats. Only Crystal Society guests, the line’s repeat cruisers, will receive the perk. The offering is relatively generous, however, 60 minutes per day, per person. That means a couple doing a 10-day cruise will receive 1,200 free minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

On occasion, problems arise mid-trip. Perhaps the room is not as anticipated, the day-trips too energetic or the passport is lost. While the situation may be easily corrected in most instances, a bit of pre-emptive planning can work miracles for saving both a vacation and a client relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Create Dream Vacations with Cloud Tours, Inc.

Cloud Tours has been an independent wholesale tour operator for over 44 years. Our success is attributed to our philosophy – your clients’ vacation should be enjoyed on their time table, not ours!

In its early beginnings, Cloud Tours built its excellent reputation on our expertise in Greece and Turkey. Over the years, we have expanded to Italy, Croatia, Spain, Portugal, Israel, and Jordan specializing in customized F.I.Ts and group travel as well as romantic honeymoon packages. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

After the Sale: Logistics

As a travel professional, the logistics involved in travel can seem so apparent as to merit little consideration. Get on a plane, fly to Paris, check into a hotel and begin to sightsee. Right? To the first time traveler to a destination, however, the process of travel can seem confusing and intimidating. A big part of the after the sale service a smart travel consultant can offer is to explain to the client the travel logistics they are about to experience. Read the rest of this entry »