Monthly Archives: January 2017

Always Give More Than the Value Received

The word “lagniappe” comes to mind, which I believe to be a Cajun French term that means more than expected. You personally may recognize this practice as “putting the cherry on top.”

Regardless of what you call it, it has become important to exceed the value your customer has come to expect. This has much to do with the competitive nature of the travel business and every other business.

The sad news is that in many instances, today’s customers do not expect much. That is because over the months and years they have become accustomed to lousy service. They are growing tired of complaining and beginning to accept it as the way things are. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Are You Working For?

In your presentations, insure your clients that you are working for them.”

One of the reasons why sales has earned such a poor reputation over the years is because the salesperson themselves speak and respond in a self-serving fashion.

One glaring example of this less-than-attractive reputation is the failure to listen to the prospect’s specific needs, wants, and desires. If one had to identify a single missing link in the success chain, it would have to be the skill, or lack, of listening. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Usually I have a pretty decent insight into the industry and the world around me. I can usually pick out a signal when a big change is afoot with a supplier. I can look at reports and figure out what will be a “hot” destination for my agency. I can usually predict what impact on travel a poor (or rebounding) economy may have. SARS… Avian Flu… Mad Cow Disease… war… political unrest across the globe… I have been pretty good about managing the expectations for both my agency and my clients. Right now, I just don’t know. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

What’s Your USP?

A company’s USP is its Unique Selling Point – something that makes it different from all other companies of its type. Is there something about your business that is so unique that customers would do business with you based on that one quality alone? If so, you have located your USP and are on the way to better understanding how to build a smart marketing campaign based on that uniqueness. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Carnival Cruise Line will reposition three of its newest and largest ships to new homeports in 2018, expanding upon the exciting variety of cruise options available from Galveston, Texas, Port Canaveral, Fla.,  and Miami. In September 2018 Carnival Vista will move to Galveston; Carnival Breeze will reposition to Port Canaveral; and Carnival Magic will shift to Miami.

Carnival Vista to Offer Two Week-Long Caribbean Itineraries from Galveston

Beginning Sept. 23, 2018, the newest ship in Carnival’s fleet, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista, will begin sailing from Galveston and offer two different seven-day western Caribbean itineraries departing every Sunday and visiting the region’s most popular destinations. The first itinerary includes calls at Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, while the other features visits to Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize, and Cozumel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Foodies and Cruises

Selling cruises based on food quality can be dicey.  If you make the wrong recommendation to a client that’s a true “foodie”, you may lose their future business.  So how do you counsel a client that is laser-focused on food?  Besides carefully qualifying your client, you also need to set their expectations.

Food quality is not consistent, either on cruise ships or on land.  They can receive a bad shipment that can affect the quality of the food served for the week.  A chef can have a bad night.  In other words, stuff can go wrong which affects food quality.  I’ve had clients get off a cruise raving about the food on the cruise.  However, other clients getting off the same exact cruise have complained that the food was sub-par.  They were on the same ship at the same exact time, and their food experiences were diametrically opposed.  Without grilling the clients, it’s hard to ascertain what happened.  Did they order the same things?  Did they eat in any of the specialty restaurants?  But most importantly, what were their expectations before they boarded the ship? Read the rest of this entry »

In yesterday’s column, I inferred that most people are lazy. I didn’t just infer it, I said it loud and clear. I have been thinking about that, wondering if I should rescind my comment. After all, I would hate to think that you would stop reading my column based on an opinion of mine. I asked myself, “Should I apologize?”

My answer? No way.

So as not to upset the majority of my readers, I will try to remain somewhat politically correct today while delivering yet another “mind-blowing” reminder.

I looked up the word “lazy” in the dictionary and found it to mean “indolent.” That didn’t help me much so I decided to turn to the “synonym approach.” Lethargic, idle, and sluggish popped into frame. Those are words I can get my arms around. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Luxury Travel Tips

Over the years, the travel industry has conditioned the buying public to shop for price. These days, it is far easier to feed the beast than to change decades of conditioned behavior. As a distribution channel, we too deserve a good chunk of the credit for perpetuating the discount-driven vacation market. Research shows it’s not just contemporary and premium customers who expect a discount – its affluent buyers as well!

One of the services I provide my corporate clients is to “mystery shop” their businesses. Recent experiences confirmed what I often observed as a supplier sales executive. Many travel professionals do not adequately qualify their prospects and will often do the prospect an injustice by “underselling” the experience.

What do I mean by this? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Give Them The Fish

I am about to burst a number of bubbles out there in travel land, and I fear that many of those reading this article are about to have a mild cardiac arrest. The following reminder and accompanied advice is going to sound 180-degrees juxtapose to what you have been taught to believe for the last quarter of your life.

The familiar quote says that if you “give a man a fish, he eats for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” This may be true at face value, but I am afraid that most people have little interest in learning how to fish. They want the fish.

You may find the following message easier to swallow by way of an example that you can identify with: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Stunning China is a tour operator based in Rowland Heights, California. The company was founded by Peter Wen, who was born and raised in China. Peter received his Master’s degree in Economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology at Atlanta, Georgia. During his years in the travel industry, he has worked closely with U.S. travel agents, igniting his passion to introduce his native China to more agents and their clients. Stunning China specializes in land tours and all-inclusive packages in China. Besides tours to the major sights such at Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou, Stunning China also operates customized and private, off-the-beaten-path tours. Read the rest of this entry »

In my live seminars, I often share a recorded interview with Howard Cosell and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. Howard Cosell was an ex-lawyer turned broadcaster whose claim to fame hinged on his relationship with Mohammed Ali. The “Greek” was a odds maker turned football analyst until his on-air faux pas. Ended his career.

I love this interview and use it often to deliver an important message.

Howard: Jimmy, what do you like best in life?

Jimmy: That’s easy Howard. I like to win.

Howard: Then, what do you like second best Jimmy?

Jimmy: That’s easy. I like to lose. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Part of the American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) wide-ranging benchmark reporting program, the annual Labor and Compensation report seeks to discover current employment trends and compensation models in the travel agency industry. Insights into compensation packages and classifications, recruitment of travel agents as well as agencies’ plans to handle the new Department of Labor (DOL) overtime regulations can be beneficial to various industry segments related to travel agencies.

Travel Agency Business Models and Location Types

Among ASTA members, the most common models are agencies with one location outside the home with employees or ICs (46%) accounting for the largest share, followed by home-based agencies with no employees or ICs (20%), home-based agencies with employees or ICs (19%) and agencies with multiple locations (12%) in 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Attitude Adjustment

It is essential to get your thinking straight. I have always been fascinated by the “placebo effect”: This is where 100 patients are given a white pill to cure a medical problem. Fifty of those patients get the real medication, while the other fifty get nothing more than a white powder (the placebo). Yet, some significant percentage of the placebo group (sometimes more than half) will show symptom relief or even be cured.

This proves beyond any doubt the staggering importance of the mind and a person’s attitude. If a positive attitude can cure a medical problem without any medicine, what can it do for a “sales” problem?

So, let’s tackle one of the more common problems relating to attitudes found among most salespeople today… attitudes which can have unintended, destructive consequences on your sales effort and client relationships. I do not like to dwell on negatives, and sometimes it may seem like I am; unfortunately, that comes with the territory when pointing out problems. Remember, we are trying to deal constructively with mental processes, which may need some adjustment and realignment for the sake of a sales career. We are not judging people. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

The icy glaciers and natural parks of Tierra del Fuego are almost unmatched in the world for their beauty, collection of unspoiled and free wilderness, and abundant opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Since its European discovery by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520, Tierra del Fuego has captivated the world with its frigid wilderness. Tierra del Fuego is a favorite among visitors for its wildlife, including elephant seals, King cormorants, and Magellan penguins. While in the past the area was feared by sailors for its treacherous channels and rough waters, today the archipelago is more accessible than ever to the outside world.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Deadliest Sales Mistake

How to stop making the most glaring error in salesmanship

I know what you’re thinking! How can I isolate hands-down the single most glaring error a professional can make in the field of salesmanship? You are probably wondering right now about the myriad possibilities to choose from, including lack of follow-up, talking too much, inconsistency, failure to listen, and a hundred more sales-related glitches, as well as more obvious business-killing turn-offs.

But there is one mistake that stands head and shoulders above the rest. In my 30-plus years of “carrying the bag,” I have yet to uncover a sales mistake that even comes close to the “deadliest mistake.” The irony is that this mistake, along with most of the others, does not have to be made. In fact, they all can be prevented with just a little understanding coupled with some emotional intelligence.

Are you ready for this career-changing, life-altering, blinding flash of the obvious? Then here it is: Stop being boring! Decide once and for all to never again be misconstrued as a bore. Yes, it is time to pump a little positive personality into your game. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

We are all entrepreneurs. In that role, the critical trait we all must have, and execute well, is self-discipline. No matter if it is in our personal life or trying to make sure your travel business stays on the right track, self-discipline is critical.

It is the key to leading a healthier, happier, and more successful life. But, often times, it is elusive. I know it is for me; and I am reminded of that every time I stare blankly at a computer screen for what seems like hours with nothing to show.

I asked some colleagues what keeps them focused. Here are their thoughts. Do you agree? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Sales and Confident Enthusiasm

“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

First, a bit of good news: Everything I’m about to say applies to introverts as well as extroverts. I myself am a high-functioning introvert and find the old-school approach to sales and “closing” painful beyond belief. So don’t be concerned that I’m about to recommend you enroll in a course on winning friends and influencing people. In fact, I’m going to recommend instead you begin by doing what you do best, what only you can do: be yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

King Cartoons – January 20, 2017

Posted In: Deck Plans

On February 25, 2017, I’m cruising with Windstar’s President John Delaney. We’ll cruise aboard the Star Pride through the Panama Canal and along the star-studded coast of Costa Rica. This weeklong cruise will give me a chance to catch up with John, who I worked with on projects during his tenure at Seabourn. What I hope to discover is how he and his team will transform Windstar. Coming from Seabourn, John — and those he brought with him from Seabourn — brings a lot to the table. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Too Many Promotions to Track

Wave season is in full swing, and we’re getting buried under supplier emails with wave season offers.  The cruise lines seemingly have moved away from sending out ONE wave season promotion (usually emailed to travel partners before the onslaught of booking requests started).  It feels like multiple wave season offers are coming out weekly, with some new incentive; either incentivizing travel agents (book more, enter to win an iPad Air 2) or incentivizing clients ($25 deposits or 50% off deposits, discounts off cruise fares, onboard amenity offers, etc.).  How do you keep up? Read the rest of this entry »