Monthly Archives: December 2016

Posted In: cartoons

King Cartoons – December 29, 2016

Who Do You Trust?

A handful of seasoned agents will recognize these four words as the title of a TV show first introduced in the early fifties and hosted by Johnny Carson.

Fast-forward nearly 60 years and these four words still represent an interesting question.

Exactly who can we trust today? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Discover Paradise, Fly with Solomon Airlines

Solomon Airlines’ hub the Henderson International Airport in Honiara (HIR) and is the official international carrier of the Solomon Islands. A scattered archipelago of some 990-odd richly forested mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls, the Solomon Islands has been attracting international tourism since 1568 when Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana first sailed into this tucked away corner of the South Pacific. Mendana’s legacy can still be found in the Solomon Islands today with many of the islands still bearing the Spanish names he gave them – Santa Isabel, San Cristóbal and perhaps the most famous of all, Guadalcanal, the name synonymous with World War II which takes its name from a small township in Andalucia in southern Spain.

Things changed dramatically during World War II and the Solomon Islands became a household name when the forces of Imperial Japan invaded, the region becoming the scene for some of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific theatre and most famously the battle of Guadalcanal when thousands of Japanese and US servicemen lost their lives.

Little has changed in the Solomon Islands since then and it’s thanks to this that the Solomon Islands have become such a breathtakingly fresh destination for those international travellers hardy enough to get off the beaten track and look for a new and very different experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone says they are the best at this extraordinary business skill. This, sadly, is not the case. The good news is that the competitive window is “open” for you to become truly exceptional at what you do in the coming year. And it all starts with the way you commit to service your customers.

This article will simply remind you of the importance of “treating your customers like dogs.” I am sure you will agree that we treat our pets with love and respect, and if you stop to think about it, our customers deserve the same treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Portals

I love airports. I’m serious.  Even in these days of a less than optimal air travel experience, I still have a kid-like fascination with the very concept of an airport.  The moving walkways, the arrival and departure boards, airplanes taking off outside of the windows. You walk through a door in Seattle and you walk out a door in Bangkok.

And still there are people who don’t believe in magic.

Calendars are a lot like airports.  You walk through one portal at the end of the year into a new adventure in the next. So as you prepare to hop off of Flight 2016 and saunter over to Flight 2017, it may be a worthwhile exercise to think through a few tips to ensure a great trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

The state of Western Australia holds all the romance and mystique of the old frontier tales: wide open spaces, old colonial and mining towns, and hundreds of thousands of miles of pristine flora. With stunning beaches, deserts, salt lakes, rock formations, and vibrant forests, the state is any outdoorsman’s fantasy come to life. Those looking for a quieter and less strenuous holiday will be well taken care of here as well, from whale watching in Pilbara to wine tasting in Margaret River. Take a trip to Western Australia, and prepare to find enchantment around every tree and rock.

Read the rest of this entry »

The New Year is fast approaching and everything you have accomplished in 2016 will soon be a memory. I certainly hope it was a year to be proud of, but if not, it still will be categorized as yesterday’s news.

My concern (and it should be your concern) is what lies ahead of us in the form of challenges, opportunities, and new, exciting relationships. I am sitting here thinking that 2017 is going to be a super year filled with all shapes and sizes of good things. I know that it will be up to me to make this happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Uncategorized

A Christmas Tree Story

First you must know how much our family loves the holidays. When we were shopping for our home years ago, the first thing my wife looked for is where to put the Christmas tree. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is required viewing for some families, for us “Love Actually” is our favorite as our girls and their boyfriends gather in our home for this annual event. As is tradition, the day after Thanksgiving (USA), we all pile into the truck and head out to a local tree farm nestled in hills of the lower Cascades not far from our home. Over the years our entourage has grown from just the four of us to include boyfriends, in-laws, nieces, nephews, dogs, and grand-dogs. Quite a show. This year there were just six of us and four dogs. Read the rest of this entry »

It amazes me why straightforward, logical, and fundamental approaches to solving problems takes years to formulate in the adult brain. This question is only superceded by why it took man so long to put wheels on his luggage.

I recently stumbled upon a formula that not only makes sense, but I am betting will make the year 2017 your absolute best year to date when it comes to selling group travel space.

Regardless of your current practices or how successful these efforts have been to date, try to internalize the logic behind my recommendations. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing Magic: Customer Satisfaction Campaigns

“Finding customers is the single most difficult marketing activity for small to mid-size companies.”

Marketing Magic by Don Debelak, page 150

This may be true, but it doesn’t have to send you into a frenzy. Let’s back off and give this finding customers thing a fresh coat of paint.

Before making it your business to add to a number of profitable new accounts to your customer list, I want you to make sure that those important customers already on the list are singing your praise. This can only be achieved the current customer satisfaction campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Soak in the Sun in Hokkaido with Super Value Tours

Hokkaido is a far cry from the technicolor lights and glamour of Tokyo. This prefecture holds 20% of Japan’s land mass but only 5% of its population, leading to plenty of open spaces and untouched natural riches. Sports enthusiasts flock here no matter the season, whether it’s hiking and bicycling in the summer or snowboarding and skiing in the winter. Any visitor looking to take deep breath away from the crowds of the larger cities should look no further than the serene tranquility of rural Hokkaido.

Read the rest of this entry »

“In seven or eight words tell me what your business does.”

Marketing Magic by Don Debelak, page 156

As simple as this exercise sounds, I am betting it will give you a major pain in your neck. As a matter of fact, and please do not overreact when I say, the chances are better than good that you don’t know what you do. Don’t fret. You are in very good company.

This quote reminded me of the Elevator Speech that grew in popularity over the last twenty years. In fact, I wrote a Special Report of the same name some years ago and found that my information was very much in demand. It was written to steer entrepreneurs towards clarity in defining their company’s position in the big picture. Read the rest of this entry »

At first I was a little uneasy about writing monthly diaries. But as time went on, I enjoyed being able to share the ups and downs of my business, and the new things that I learned about different aspects of the travel industry and how I can incorporate them into my agency. I can see my growth just from the articles that I wrote; I was able to be transparent, and that enabled me to write about not only the great things about travel and how it affects my agency, but the mistakes as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Attitude

In a service industry like travel consulting, carrying a good attitude into the buying process is vitally important to success. Our outer world reflects our inner landscape. If we view clients as opponents, if we don’t feel good about our skill set, if we don’t fundamentally have a positive perspective on the travel profession, every aspect of your travel practice, including your revenue, will suffer. Clients intuitively detect, and respond to, attitude and mood.  Read the rest of this entry »

“I must admit I am not a big fan of advertising.”

Marketing Magic by Don Debelak, page 15

Let me say this at the outset that advertising does indeed work. The reason I am not overly supportive of this marketing gambit has everything to do with the nature of your company and the size of your marketing budget.

That being said, I may not be talking to you. If this is the case, have a nice day. For 98.4% of you, you might want to listen to my rationale. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Well, the title sounds a bit more melodramatic than reality; but hey, you’re reading. As is tradition at TRO, we are taking the last two weeks of the year to refresh, relax, and rejuvenate. New columns may be sparse as we revamp for 2017, which will be here sooner than we realize. And with every New Year comes fresh ideas; and sometimes, they replace older ones. And such is the case with the TRO Travel Agent Diary series. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Cuba Opportunities are Expanding

Susan SchaeferAlthough Fathom Cruises is being disbanded, cruising to Cuba is not going away. With the announcement about Fathom Cruises, Carnival Corporation emphasized that their other brands (i.e. Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises, etc.) will be adding Cuba-focused itineraries in the near future. Additionally, other cruise lines have recently announced their own plans to include Cuba has a port of call in 2017.

With the limited information that has been released so far, Cuba itineraries will primarily include a port of call in Havana. At the present time itineraries do not look to be Cuba-exclusive with multiple Cuba ports of call (like the Fathom itineraries), but this can all change in the future.

Azamara Club Cruises has recently announced a 13-night itinerary departing Miami on March 21, 2017 which not only offers a stop in Havana, but an overnight stop in Havana. Billed as the Hemingway Hideaways itinerary, it also stops in Key West (a Hemingway requirement of course) and overnights in New Orleans for two nights. Read the rest of this entry »

“Closing With Confidence”

Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 55

I don’t want to sound hypocritical or appear guilty of playing games with word choices. I am extremely fond of the word “confidence” although often mystified by its “here today-gone tomorrow” nature. And as you know, the word “closing” is not my first choice.

Let’s address confidence first. How do you get it? How do you benefit from it? How do you lose it? How do you get it back? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Seabourn Encore will be christened in a gala naming ceremony in Singapore on January 7, 2017. I will be there for the event, so be sure to watch this space for coverage and live reports.

International recording artist and world’s best-selling Soprano Sarah Brightman will do honors as godmother of Seabourn’s newest vessel, the intimate, all-suite Seabourn Encore. Brightman will preside over a glittering evening ceremony and all-around festive occasion, attended by guests and crew departing on a 10-day maiden voyage bound for Indonesia.

Guests on that maiden voyage will begin a 10-day journey through Southeast Asia, with calls on Surabaya, Java; Celukan Bawang, Bali; and Slawi Bay, Komodo, Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »