Monthly Archives: March 2014

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Business people negotiate daily. We bargain with our suppliers and we deal with our clients. We haggle with vendors and bid for business. One well known negotiation training organization you may have seen in airline magazines proclaims you “don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”  So this week, we are going to look at five principles of negotiation that will help you get closer to “Yes” than you may be currently trending.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

The recent ASTA report titled 2013 Technology & Website Usage contains some interesting perspectives on social media and website marketing by travel professionals. There is not a great deal of surprising information in the report but it largely confirms the anecdotal sense of the state of the industry.  According to ASTA’s technology report, more agencies have a social media presence but are uncertain about the efficacy of social media marketing. Website marketing seems to be underutilized and other technologies such as mobile applications are  little utilized or not well understood.

The gap that has always existed between consumer usage and understanding of technology and the industry as a whole remains dangerously large. Much of the disparity results from a lack of solid planning and fundamental understanding of the role of technology.  In the interest of stimulating some thinking around these issues, let’s take a look at some of those fundamentals. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

So, you are in the travel business. At first, you may have thought it was all fun and games—traveling the world on someone else’s nickel, happy people just flocking to your store/home/website or local coffee shop to give you their hard earned dollars. But eventually, the reality of running a business sinks in. Over the year, I have made my share of mistakes and learned my lessons—sometimes the hard way.

Last week I was speaking to some friends (fellow business owners from different industries) and we decided to write down a list of difficulties you face when it comes to running a successful business. We all agreed that it is not easy by any means and you do need to do hard things—but you can succeed with enough determination.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – March 28, 2014

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

As the expert in a professional relationship, you should set the tone for every meeting with a client. One of the best possible ways of communicating your professionalism and seriousness is by choosing well the location for your meeting. The set and setting of each client encounter is important for establishing the client’s confidence in your ability to properly handle their travel plans. Business meetings make up some of the most personal contact a travel agent might have with a client. Even in the most informal of settings, there are protocols and a standard etiquette to follow that can make the difference between the success and failure of the meeting and the relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

This is part 7 of a 7 part series by Terry Denton.

Part 1: Ask for a credit card on the first call

Part 2: Ask for referrals on every sale

Part 3: Master the art of upselling

Part 4: Always recommend insurance

Part 5: Substitute ‘best experience’ for ‘least expensive’

Part 6: Stand out with special touches

This step, like Tiger Woods and his now well-chronicled secret life, really needs no introduction.  One of the most important things we can do is to stay close to our customers.  What is the single greatest source of newbusiness?  Yep, old customers.

The simple rule of thumb is the more personal the form of communication, the more powerful.  Think of it as concentric circles surrounding your customer with the object being to get as close to their heart as possible.  The real object of customer contact is not so much to fill their heads with information as to tug a little on their heartstrings.    Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Lyon, March 26, 2014 — Earlier today, I boarded an Emirates 777 in Singapore bound for Lyon, France. The journey took nearly 18 hours, including the two-hour layover in Dubai. I am returning to Lyon for christening ceremonies celebrating the launch of the SS Catherine, operated by Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, certainly an aspirational name for a river cruise company. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

The shortest path to obtaining what you want out of life is to assist others in getting what they want first. That is exceptionally true in travel consulting. However, many clients don’t really know what they want. Clients often operate with vague notions about “relaxation”, “Ireland”, “travel” or “cruising”. Like a good psychologist, a travel consultant will assist the client in better clarifying what they most desire from each trip and then finding the best possible match for that particular experience. Being an expert travel consultant begins with knowing how to ask the right questions. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

In 1990, Bruce Poon Tip founded G Adventures with nothing more than two credit cards and a burning desire to create an authentic, sustainable travel experience like nothing the world had ever seen. By offering adventure-craving travelers an alternative to the resorts, cruises and motor coach tours they were accustomed to, he not only changed the way people looked at their vacation time, but changed the face of travel forever. Over twenty years later, the only thing that hasn’t changed is the company’s inherent belief in the core values that continue to inspire the business today. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Here’s what we know. Your clients have travel ambitions. Your professional expertise can help them to achieve their goals. What you are selling is your ability to assist the client in making a wise purchasing decision. But your expertise is only important to the client insofar as they benefit from the experience of working with you. Face it – nobody likes to be “sold” anything. People love to make smart buying decisions, however. To the extent that you can assist your clients to be smarter and better informed in their buying decisions, the stronger the relationship you will form over the long term. So let’s look at both the inner and the exterior environments that you want to establish in which to best effect the sales process. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

I’m sure most of you have been reading the many blog posts from agents who are concerned that the two mega cruise lines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are dictating the future of travel agents and more importantly, how much they make.

Travel agents have a right to question the viability of their careers in light of some of the recent year’s changes by the big two. One big question is, why are direct bookings continuing to increase?  Hopefully, someone will ask about this at the CLIA Cruise3sixty Conference.

If last year’s results are any indication, Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd have to be happy with the direction they are heading. Their income is going up, how about yours? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

There is no substitute for the passion you have and project for your profession. Well over three years ago, TRO authored the webinar entitled The 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents. The very first characteristic on the list was passion for travel. When an agent truly loves what he or she does, it shows and communicates to clients. But it’s not enough to be excited about travel – you have to be excited about your clients’ travels!

One of the great things about travel is the excitement our clients bring to the relationship. Everyone gets excited about the trip to the beach, the weekend getaway, the cruise or the first trip to a new destination. Leisure time is hard-earned and clients are excited. Clients bring their plans to you and naturally anticipate that you will share in their excitement. At the beginning of every meeting, Read the rest of this entry »

I recently attended a supplier workshop and during their presentation they touched on social media.  We watched a video on social media and then had a 15 minute break.  During the break the chatter amongst agents was about the video we just saw and how they don’t understand all the platforms out there, how most felt intimidated by using social media for their businesses.  I could not help but feel really disheartened by all those comments.

Being a millennial, social media is organic for me.  It is a part of my life professionally and personally.  It literally is my newspaper, social calendar, postcards, Rolodex, photo album, and the pulse of my daily life.  What I really like about social media is that for travel, I feel it’s such a great fit. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

 

willietroWillie began working in the travel industry as a sales agent for Cathay Pacific from 1984 to 1985. In 1986, he moved to the United States, where he worked at a small travel agency for two years. From 1988 to 1993, he left the travel industry to work in retail. In 1994, he began working at Trans Am Travel as a sales agent. He took initiative in learning and creating more effective systems for Trans Am Travel and was eventually promoted to the Vice President and head of marketing.

TRO: Tell us about your role at Trans Am Travel.

WG: As the Vice President and head of marketing, I find new agencies to work with and new venues for our products. I also communicate with the airlines in order to establish new contracts.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Let’s look at the requirement of engaging the client at an emotional level. It is at this point that many sales people, travel consultants included, become uneasy with the buying process. The idea of appealing to someone’s emotions to effect a financial transaction can go awry if the motivation for the transaction is not client-centric. The travel consultant’s goal must be to encourage the client to travel – if indeed that is what the client wants to do. In the face of all of the rational, intellectual reasons not to travel, the travel consultant is a coach, reminding the client of the value of travel to a lifetime of experiences and even to well-being.

Consider the roll of a sports coach. Certainly the intellectual, technical aspects of a sport have a place in the coaches’ sessions with the athlete. But the technical aspects are not enough. The coach believes in the value of excelling and will appeal to the emotional side of play – to competitive desires, to the need to compete and win. Without the emotional, aspirational side of the psyche, the player is merely technically proficient; good enough but unlikely to excel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Over the past few weeks there have been several articles about being a better travel professional.  Most recently, Terry Denton talked about going above and beyond. Nolan Burris talked about the differences between strugglers and superstars. And a few weeks back, I suggested, that to be successful, we just need to suck a little bit less than the competition. So why is it so elusive? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – March 21, 2014

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

This is part 6 of a 7 part series by Terry Denton.

Part 1: Ask for a credit card on the first call

Part 2: Ask for referrals on every sale

Part 3: Master the art of upselling

Part 4: Always recommend insurance

Part 5: Substitute ‘best experience’ for ‘least expensive’

If you want to build a loyal clientele, and this is a must for long-term success, it is not enough to woo your customers, you have to wow them!   How exactly do you do that?

When it comes to travel planning, we have a phenomenal tool that some of you are probably utilizing. Others of you…. brace yourself for a little straight talk here …should probably be charged with criminal negligence if you’re not! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Going With The Flow

 Mike Marchev’s wit and wisdom will be filling in for Richard’s 365 Column this week – enjoy!

The marketing practice I want to introduce to you today has many analogies or anecdotes to explain its logic. Going with the flow; swimming with the tide; sailing with the wind to your back; picking the low hanging fruit. I am sure you have a few analogies of your own to remind you that it doesn’t make sense to spit into the wind or pull on Superman’s Cape. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

I want to tell you about two weeks of the most demanding travel that I’ve ever anticipated. Altogether, the trip spans 17 days, sees me on five ships, in five hotels and on 15 flights from North America to Europe to Asia — and back. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Mike Marchev’s wit and wisdom will be filling in for Richard’s 365 Column this week – enjoy!

Sales today, regardless of your industry, is as competitive as ever. The old style of selling simply doesn’t work today. Buyers, customers and clients are too smart … too street savvy … too educated to fall for any text book trick from some fast-talking sales goon with the gift of gab.

On the other hand, people still have needs and will continue to buy goods and services at an unprecedented rate. So what is one to do if the future of their business relies on finding and serving new customers? Should we learn how to “sell up? Overcome objections? Close sales with a vengeance? No, to all three. The answer may be as simple as your first kindergarten lesson in getting along with others. Become more likeable. Read the rest of this entry »