It’s that time of year again. For the past seven years, we have published the Travel Agent Diary series here on Travel Research Online. The concept was simple—we are all in this together, so why not help each other out? And the concept works.
Back in 2007, Richard Earls and I were discussing how guarded agents were with how they succeeded and failed. Sure they were friendly enough with one another, but when push came to shove… they were competitors. We knew that by sharing our experiences, we all could benefit. But, we wondered if anyone might be willing to share. They were. And they have for the past 9 years.
Each year we look to have a mix of agents. Home based, store based, leisure, corporate, online, specialists, hosted, independent, etc. Surely there is an agent that you can associate with and perhaps latch onto a good idea… or avoid a bad one!
This year we have five new agents who will begin their diaries next Tuesday.
Vincent Soriano is with Art of Travel, a Prague-based agency. They are a service-focused, full-service agency with an eye out for technology and a mission to improve the travel life of each client. Vincent’s entries will be good to watch as things are done a little differently in Europe, but I suspect there will be much to learn.
Lisa Rossmeissl from Boomerang Escapes is, as expected, an agent specializing in Australia. Lisa thrives on change, and fell in love with her passion to the point where she opened her Memphis area agency in 2013 and now has 6 planners on staff, offering a full range of leisure products.
Marti Litwin from En Route Travel may be a familiar name. She has written several Agent Perspective columns for TRO. Marti is an independent agent with a Virtuoso agency in southern California. She has been in the industry for 5 years and focuses on the experiential aspect of travel and how it brings families and friends together!
Melanie Hersom from Tier One Travel has been in the industry since the early 80s when she was doing a little bit of everything, and it was enough to get her hooked. She took some time off to raise a family and has returned to the industry with fervor. The agency which employed her (storefront) closed in 2014. She now works with Tier One Travel as an independent contractor in Calgary.
Finally, Monique Gramby of White Sand Travel rounds out our stable of diarists for 2016. Monique works with Judith White who wrote for this series last year. I thought it might be interesting to have someone take a look at the same business with a different set of eyes. Monique is a 9-year veteran romance travel and cruise expert in the Atlanta area. Coming from the event planning and hospitality industry, she brings experience in wedding planning and destination weddings, as well as honeymoons. She is certified as a specialist with several resorts. She is married with a teenaged daughter who keeps her busy when she’s not booking travel. In her spare time loves to read.
I invite you to check back every Tuesday through December 20th and follow along. You will witness agencies growing and changing. You will discover new ideas to help you grow (maybe with some slight modifications), and you will see some pitfalls to avoid. The agents are taking a risk and letting it all hang out (no confidential information) so please, when you have a question or want to offer some praise… please take a moment to leave a comment. With that said, I welcome you to the 2016 Travel Agent Diary series on TRO. We get underway next Tuesday! Enjoy!