Monthly Archives: December 2014

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – December 19, 2014

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Soundings

Here Comes Wave Season

headshot2The holidays are in full swing as we wind down 2014, but there is no rest for travel professionals. As we see clients off for their holiday travels, we are simultaneously preparing for the booking onslaught we affectionately call “wave season.” Many cruise lines have already come out with pre-wave season offers, trying to persuade passengers to book a bit earlier than usual. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

There is serenity in this world — and I am sure that we could all use a small dose of it. I found mine, as did others, at Neko Harbor.

On a bright Thursday morning, under a blue sky streaked with wispy clouds, Seabourn Quest held her position in ice-strewn Andvord Bay. The sea was as smooth as glass, and with such good conditions, the ship’s expedition leaders launched both a landing and a Zodiac cruise, with activities continuing for the better part of the day. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Every travel consultant is very much aware of the seasonality of the travel business. In the winter people head south and in the summer they head to Europe and in the fall they seek out New England, except for the real bargain hunters who decide to cruise during hurricane season. A time and a season for everything, right?

Actually, that is exactly right. We can improve on our marketing by being a bit more scientific in our examination of the calendar. Smart travel consultants who pro-actively market know they have to stay ahead of the calendar. They are constantly looking “down the road” to see what holidays and destinations are around the corner. Typically, you will be promoting months in advance to give clients time to consider, plan and budget for their travels. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Supplier relationships were topics addressed at two different recent conferences–Cruise World 2014 and the HBTA Forum in Chicago. At Cruise World the panel consisted of three travel agents sharing their best practices about building relationships with suppliers. In Chicago, it was a panel of supplier representatives moderated by our own Richard Earls, sharing their insight on the subject. What struck me was that many travel agents do not know how to develop and nurture a relationship with their supplier representatives.

So here are some tips I picked up at the two sessions, peppered with a few of my own ideas thrown in along the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Departures

Discover Your Next Destination with Goway Travel

Operating since 1970, Goway Travel has been providing unforgettable travel experiences for travelers from all walks of life. As North America’s leading travel provider to Australia & the South Pacific, Asia, Africa & the Middle East, Latin America & Antarctica and the world’s most Idyllic Islands, Goway offers a wide variety of travel ideas ranging from fully independent travelling, to escorted tours and adventure touring for the more adventurous trekker. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Do you have a written marketing plan? Do you have a written marketing budget? If not, you don’t have both oars in the water. Many travel professionals “wing it” and begin marketing at the first sign of business slowing down.  The problem with doing things that way, of course, is timing.  The business you have today likely resulted from your marketing efforts months ago. Likewise, your marketing efforts today may not pay off for some time.

Budgeting enforces the discipline necessary to actually calendar your marketing efforts. When spending real dollars, travel agents become very cognizant of the return on investment. In addition, the marketing budget can and should include such essentials as marketing collateral(business cards, flyers, capabilities brochures), websites, advertising, dues to local organizations and promotional items, all professionally produced. Having a marketing budget, and then wisely spending it, ensures that the travel agency is doing everything necessary to keep its profile high enough to gain mindshare in the community. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Loosely defined, our points of contact are those points at which a client can form an impression of our travel practice. Points of contact range from our logo and business cards, to our presentation formats, our manner of dress and even the places where we meet with clients. The sum total of our points of contact add up to form our image. The more professional our image, the more confidence clients have when it comes time to turn thousands of hard earned dollars over to us for their vacation. Needless to say, therefore, our points of contact must be kept in top condition. The reality, however, is we often create our points of contact independently of our mission statement and any guiding touch point and each becomes a separate marketing tool unrelated to the others or neglected after months of use.

Evaluation of your points of contact  forces us to take a hard, honest look at ourselves. To project a professional image, you must use professional tools. Too many agents use logos that look like clip art and free consumer email addresses. No doubt it is cheaper to do it yourself than to hire a professional, but a “do-it-yourself” message is not one that agents want to impart Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Holiday frustrations

“While we can all become frustrated and discouraged, we must remain in the end a people prodigiously resourceful – resilient – and creative.”

Don’t ask me where I saw this quote but it caught my attention when I saw it.

I think it is safe to say that at times, many of us allow ourselves to be —- frustrated. Confused. Doubtful. Queasy. Anxious. Scared. Hesitant. Sad. Resentful. Soured.

I’m betting you can come up with a dozen or two more terms that might fit your negative mood now and then. And sometimes the holidays prove to be fertile ground for frustration. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Explore Italy with Back-Roads Touring

Back-Roads Touring’s small group tours take you into the heart of regional Italy, allowing you to explore areas beyond the well-worn tourist trail. Imagine learning how to cook the perfect pasta with a chef deep in the heart of Tuscany, relaxing in the tranquillity and serenity of Lake Orta, the Italian Lakes’ hidden gem, exploring Pompeii and Paestum with local guides who bring these incredible archaeological sites to life, learning about the origins and transformations of the Mafia in Sicily and dining in traditional restaurants from the Osterie d’Italia Slow Food Guide in lesser known Puglia.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Between the surprising history and architecture, world-class beaches, top-rated diving and snorkeling, and unexpected culture and cuisine, the island of Curaçao is thriving with adventure immersed in ambience. Surrounded by the pristine waters of the Caribbean and lush coastal landscape, Curaçao is more than what meets the eye. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Your company needs to do a SWOT analysis.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The traditional SWOT looks at Strengths and Weaknesses of a business (internal factors) and tries to thereby ascertain the relationship with Opportunities and Threats (factors external to the agency). Doing a periodic SWOT analysis is a good exercise as your develop your business strategies and tactics and assists with developing the appropriate goals for your travel practice.

Generally speaking, your travel practice has certain strengths that justify its existence. These strengths give rise to the ability to take on opportunities.On the other hand, your agency probably has weaknesses that provide an opening to your competition where they are better capable than you of taking advantage of the market. A SWOT Analysis makes each of these factors clear and provides a guideline for approaching each in your planning. Our SWOT Analysis Worksheet will assist you in performing your own analysis. Read the rest of this entry »

Where did the time go? It seems I just started writing my diaries yesterday and now it is over!  I have to say that it’s been a great experience writing the diaries this past year. I have learned a lot about the industry, my own business, your business and a lot about myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Spotlight

Explore the World with Viking River Cruises

Accredited as the most award-winning river cruise line in the industry, Viking River Cruises provides remarkable value while placing high on competitive rankings, like Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List, Reader’s Choice, and Best Small Ships awards and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

If you have been reading The 365 Guide for any length of time, you know that I feel the concept of a Mission Statement is important for a travel agent to understand and employ. A mission statement is a clear and succinct statement of the aspirations of a travel agent as those aspirations relate to clients. Underneath the mission statement is a set of core values that are important to the agent. The moral and ethical underpinnings of the agent, their way of relating to clients, their expectations of performance are all encapsulated in a single statement. It’s a statement to the world of the principles for which the travel agent stands.   Below, you will find tools to help you build your own. Bonus -it will be the foundation for your 2014 marketing plan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Planning a 2015 Perspective

To change ourselves effectively, we first must change our perceptions.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

The end of a year inherently is a time of transition, a good time to assay our perspective.  Each of us has spent another year in our business and personal lives moving forward, back, laterally and standing still in turn. Hopefully we have progressed a bit on whatever journey  we earlier set ourselves and feel as though our time has been well invested. Inevitably, however, we have our regrets, things we would now do differently, take more chances or perhaps fewer depending on circumstance.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

I am lucky. I live in Annapolis, home of the United States Naval Academy and have been fortunate enough to attend many Army-Navy football games. Saturday was the 115th game and Navy won the battle again for the 13th consecutive year. But while these kids (I can call them that now that I am old) battle it out on the gridiron, there is one underlying message that is always palpable.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – December 12, 2014

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

To ensure that your clients come to you each and every time they want to travel, for you to develop the kind of customer loyalty that ensures repeat business, you have to WOW them. Surprise your clients. The WOW factor is often best generated by something unanticipated. WOW happens when the client does not expect the special favor. Think beyond the standard fare.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Oh the holidays and the deals out there. Even the travel vendors got into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy. We just got done with Thanksgiving and I easily had 200 emails from travel vendors sending me their specials. In fact, I was receiving Black Friday and Cyber Monday email specials from vendors, well before Thanksgiving; and like most of the traditional retailers, they are trying to get a head start. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

FullSizeRenderSince 1995, Paul F. Kok has been working at the Avila Hotel, a resort that stands out as a hotel with a special Caribbean flavor and intimacy, with beautiful landscaping and lush gardens, private beaches, and the personal touch of management and staff for which Paul is highly responsible. The main promotion of the hotel over the years has been by word of mouth via enthusiastic guests, which has resulted in a high number of repeat guests, including high ranking officials from the Dutch Government and CEO’s of companies from the Netherlands.

Read the rest of this entry »