Monthly Archives: November 2016

“Suppliers are only as good as you are. Don’t hide behind your suppliers hoping that they will produce the magic. They won’t. You are the magic.”

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden, page 84

One thing I have learned with over 40 years of travel experience under my belt is that suppliers are people. And people, due to their human nature, exhibit various levels of proficiency. This is my way of implying that there are many smart, hard working, honest, caring suppliers to choose from. I am just as quick to remind you that there are also plenty of suppliers (made up of people) who don’t know “3rd base from the dugout.” You may be more familiar with the term “not knowing their ass from their elbow.” (In both cases, the inference is exactly the same.) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

For many, the Chelsea Flower Show is THE garden show to include in any springtime UK garden tour and I’m not going to disagree. However, there are some independent clients who just can’t get away in May because of commitments to their own garden club, and I’ve picked out several alternative events that may well catch their eye.

For those who can travel in May, look also at the garden festivals in France, Ireland, and Scotland and see how they can be combined to create something completely new. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Fresh Air and a Feast in Bangalore with Qatar Airways

Bangalore has recently emerged as an urban Indian powerhouse: an outdoorsman’s dream, a foodie paradise, and a center of technology and innovation, yet all contained within a city still holding true to its heritage. Thanks to Bangalore’s mild temperatures year-round, nature enthusiasts can pick their poison and race off into the sunset to get their adrenaline pumping. Those looking to take it easy will adore the city’s lush forests and breathtaking gardens, as well as the unique architecture on some of its most prominent buildings. Looking to fill your grumbling stomach? Bangalore has that covered as well. No matter what you’re looking to get away from (or to), Bangalore has you covered. Read the rest of this entry »

“Decide you are going to make the company great; at least decide that you are going to make a difference.”

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden, page 97

I immediately was drawn to this quote. Why work at anything for so many hours a week if you are not going to try to be the best at what you do? As my recently formed company suggests, it all starts with your head. You have to get yourself thinking straight and believing that what you are doing makes perfect sense to all concerned. Having achieved this mindset, trying to improve your skills becomes easier. It is kind of like “an object in motion tends to stay in motion” thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

The Bay of Fundy has one of the world’s most unique boasts: the world’s highest tide. But the rushing waters aren’t the only attraction bringing visitors to this southern region of New Brunswick year after year. From ancient fossils weaving a story into the cliffs to carving out a new identity as a top wine destination, the Bay of Fundy is a fun and eclectic area just waiting for you. Come and see why this humble Canadian heartland is making a big name for itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s that time. Time to review. Time to make my 2017 business plan. Time for me to say farewell to you as my year of Travel Agent Diaries has come to a close.

I was a bit nervous last year when TRO contacted me to write. I was in the midst of a divorce which ended up catapulting to a major move. I decided to write to have my own accountability of where the year would go. With monthly deadlines and happy reminders from John each month, I was ‘forced’ to review what had taken place in my business. The good, the bad, and the ugly. In the end, the one thing I mentioned in the beginning still holds true. Read the rest of this entry »

“Everybody wants to be good, but not many are prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to be great.”

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. by Paul Arden, page 14

I am not sure what is going on, but it seems to me that too many people have come to expect that the world owes them a living. They think that if they manage to do the minimum the fruits of their meager labors will pay huge dividends. Nothing, I say nothing, could be further from the truth.

What I am sure of is that the world is fast becoming more competitive by the minute. Starting a profitable business, no less maintaining one, has become an enormous endeavor… one that provides no guarantee from week to week. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Over the past several weeks, I have had the need to order from Amazon and Apple, and coming off of those experiences I realized that there is a good lesson we all can learn from the two giants. Typically I am not a fan of online purchasing, but in today’s environment, sometimes it is necessary. Often times it is a horrible experience, but this time—quite the contrary. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Pushing the Conversation with Clients

It sometimes seems difficult  to elicit good feedback, to get a conversation going with your clients. Too often we only hear from clients when things go wrong. Or worse, we don’t hear from them at all. The smart travel professional pushes the conversation and makes it happen. Without that initiative, the client is soon distracted elsewhere and the next booking can happen without our input. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Thanksgiving

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” -Dalai Lama

How amazingly special is it when a client takes the time and effort to say “Thanks”?  Being on the receiving end of gratitude is a pretty special thing. We all get too few “Thanks”, don’t we?

So how often do we say “Thank You” to our clients? If we recognize the significance of those words, shouldn’t we be a bit more liberal with their use ourselves? Clients are the very reason our profession exists. Travel consulting is an almost purely service business. Yet, we sometimes feel as though we have done a client a favor when we work on their behalf, rather than the other way around! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Did Video Kill the Blog Star?

“Video Killed the Radio Star…” Catchy song lyrics never die. Do you remember this 1979 tune by Buggles along with Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club?  I never knew who the artist was, but the tune still sticks in my head.  As we think about the impact of video on social marketing and blogging, there are some parallels.

In today’s world, would we need to change the lyrics to “Video killed the blog post”?

Or has video helped the world of blogs? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Luxury Travel Tips

Dynamic Prospecting

The following is an excerpt from The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Selling Travel  by Dan Chappelle, MCC to be published in January 2017:

Have you ever had a close friend or family member ask you to help plan a vacation for them? You help them find the perfect package for their needs—and then you never hear from them, only to find out they booked it with someone they hardly know (or direct). You spent a lot of time and effort with nothing to show for it. Did you wonder why they did this?

Stanford University sociologist Mark Granovetter conducted a groundbreaking study in the 1970s about how people get jobs. In his study, Granovetter found that people rarely found jobs in the newspaper or other resources available at the time—and it wasn’t because a close friend or relative helped them get a job, either. He found most people got jobs through acquaintances, or what he called “weak ties.” Read the rest of this entry »

“Young people begin their careers working for less than confident sales managers are likely to have records of low productivity.”

Harvard Business Review on Motivating People by Brook Manville and Steve Kerr, page 195

This is another one of those messages that might sting a little if you feel I am talking to you. Hey! If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Looking back 45 years or so, (Holy cow! 45 years ago I was 22), I think I might have made a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I am not lamenting my past for even an instant. My circuitous path got me to where I am today, and all things being equal, it is a pretty good place to be.

“But what, “ you might ask, “would you do differently, Mike, if you could turn back the clock?” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Travel To Balmy and Breezy Chios with CTS Fares

Chios is a Mediterranean hotspot just waiting to take off: beautiful turquoise waters, blazing sunsets, and fascinating history and culture. As the fifth-largest of the Greek islands, it often doesn’t get much love from visitors running to the bigger and shinier islands, but those looking for hidden getaways and the quieter oasis, know exactly where to go: Chios. Read the rest of this entry »

“Successful sales people discover and fulfill people’s needs rather than try to change them.”

Harvard Business Review on Motivating People by Brook Manville and Steve Kerr, page 42

Today’s quote raises two polar thoughts, and I think I will give some ink to both sides of the coin. A popular marketing message suggests that in order to “become successful, find out what people want and then give it to them.”

Brilliant! Why didn’t you think of that? Read the rest of this entry »

When first approached to write a monthly column in the Agent Diaries, I thought it would be a great opportunity to motivate and support my colleagues.  What I really underestimated was the amazing value it would add to my personal motivation and growing my travel business!  What started as an annual outline of business improvements to tackle each month such as marketing, obtaining referrals, working with suppliers, etc., has truly changed the way I now see the big picture, and that has trickled down to everyday positive changes.  My biggest take away is that having a year end review and creating a plan for month-by-month evaluation and focus is critical for business success and personal job satisfaction.  I will absolutely commit to an annual plan from now on! Read the rest of this entry »

“Individuals must motivate themselves.”

Harvard Business Review on Motivating People by Brook Manville and Steve Kerr, page 19

I have gone on record more than once and reminded audiences that, “I can’t motivate you. I can only stimulate your thinking so that you eventually motivate yourself.”

That may sound strange coming from a motivational speaker, but I stand by my words and am reminded of the time I asked my boss to buy me a spinnaker. At the time I owned a 27-foot sailboat and I spent all of my free time cruising the waters from New Jersey to Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Well, it is almost Thanksgiving, and this morning a child in my neighborhood asked me if I was thankful for anything. It caught me off guard and I was not quite sure how to respond in a quick, casual, “I’m walking the dog” kind of way. I looked at him and simply said, “Of course. While I don’t have much, I look at others who have less and realize how fortunate and thankful I am.” And then I added that I feel particularly thankful that I am able to do a small part in my community to help those less fortunate than me. As I walked away, it seemed like it was a standard answer that most people would give. And then I began to really think. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to Basic Selling: How Are You Doing?

“It is always good to be able to answer the question ‘how am I doing?’”

Back to Basic Selling by Robert F. Taylor, page 152

It was the New York City Mayor Ed Koch who regularly asked the question “How am I doing?” He made this a popular household phrase.

The reason why more people don’t ask this question is that they are afraid that they might get the wrong answer. This is not a good enough reason to remain in the dark since whether they hear it or not, the answer will be the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Harmony Has Arrived

Susan SchaeferRoyal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas has arrived in Florida.  After two 2-night pre-inaugural sailings, she is sailing out of Ft Lauderdale, alternating between western and eastern Caribbean itineraries.

If you are not familiar with pre-inaugural sailings, these are short outings typically put on for travel agents and the media.  This go ’round, Royal Caribbean also extended invitations to some of their Pinnacle status members of the Crown and Anchor Society.  The purpose of pre-inaugural sailings is to introduce new ships to those who will be selling it (travel agents) and hopefully promoting it (travel agents and the media).

In the past, pre-inaugural sailings were referred to as “a cruise to nowhere.”  But after recent changes, legally the cruise lines lost the ability to offer cruises to nowhere.  Fortunately, when you’re sailing out of Ft Lauderdale it’s easy enough to add in a short (six hour) port of call in Nassau to meet federal regulations.  I’m not sure how this will be worked around with pre-inaugurals out of the New York/New Jersey area; or if pre-inaugurals will even be offered out of those ports in the future. Read the rest of this entry »