In this “go, go, go” world we live in, it is important to take some time for yourself. Forever (it seems) teachers and professors have been able to take sabbaticals to refresh and renew. They take their time off and relax, and re-educate themselves to be the best they can be for their students when they return. Unfortunately, in our industry few of us have back up agents to carry us for many months; and those that do likely don’t have the cash flow to support that time off. So here’s what we do.
Once upon a time, people were loyal to brands! They identified a brand that provided quality and was built to last. Once found, they were loyal for life.
Then things changed. After WWII, quality seemed to improve across the board as technology began to take hold. In order to secure brand loyalty, we began to see jingles, contests, and product placements. Brands did what they needed to do secure their position in the market.
Then things changed again. Quality was irrelevant—it was all similar and people began to ignore the brand because the same product with the same quality was available at (quite literally) their fingertips. Yes, today, it is true—you can buy anything you want online at the lowest price and have it delivered to you in some places in a matter of minutes.
That sucks for us doesn’t it? Maybe not! Read the rest of this entry »
Every year, I look forward to Travel Weekly’s Travel Industry Survey. It is a great snapshot into the industry, our competitors, and best practices to help me figure out how to best navigate this changing industry. Recently they released the report of 2017 and I was surprised. Approaching 20 years in the industry, I run the risk of sounding like one of those old and crusty travel agents of yore; but I’ll bite the bullet and let you in on the five trends that surprised me. Read the rest of this entry »
The day in and day out of work can take a toll on us all. And when that happens, we check out. A Dale Carnegie study found that as many as 45 percent of the workforce is not engaged and another quarter are actively disengaged. Yikes!
Whether you have a team of employees running your agency, or a team of one, keeping engaged and appreciated is key to your success. Failure to keep engaged and appreciated can result in your employees looking for greener pastures—or even yourself looking to bail on the industry. As Jack Torrance said in he Shining—all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Be sure to reward those who work for you…even if it is only you. And remember, it does not need to be extravagant. The results will pay dividends.
Here are seven simple, inexpensive ways to keep motivated and engaged. Read the rest of this entry »
If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Branson.
The man, not Missouri! Without a doubt, Sir Richard Branson is a disruptor. From record stores, to hotels. From wines to banks. From airlines to cruise lines. What? Yes it’s true, Fincantieri is in the process of building the first ship for Virgin Voyages! Of course “cruises” was too boring for Branson. Read the rest of this entry »
The other day I was going down the road and passed a car for a cleaning service. It was all wrapped and colorful with the domain on the back window that ended in “.cleaning”. I thought nothing of it and continued my drive. Then I realized something—have the vanity extensions (for lack of a better word) become commonplace as the Internet has grown? Read the rest of this entry »
Are you still struggling with your email newsletter? Are you (gasp) not sending one out? As anyone who knows me knows, I am a strong believer in the power of email. Next to face-to-face it is the most powerful tool you have–even more-so than the telephone! Your website is like any store in your local mall. People can stop by, take a look, maybe buy, maybe not. You have very little control. With email, you are more like the trusted UPS driver that has the code to the front door so they can leave packages inside. Think about it. With an opt-in email newsletter, your customers and prospects have given you explicit permission (and never add names because you can) to come into their email inbox. But there are some tricks to making sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Read the rest of this entry »
While catastrophic weather impacts each of our businesses routinely, it is still very easy to sit back and wait for the re-build. Hotels are insured we always say. And they are. We see cherry-picked scenes from the news—sometimes horribly inaccurate (I recall a major network filling a pothole with water after Katrina to make it look like the city was still flooded); yet many times they go for the easy shot. Or maybe it is the only shot available. That begs the question, what lies beyond the lens of the news.
Every now and then you come across and idea and say, “why didn’t I think of that?” With me it is far more frequent than most. Band-Aids that are clear to match the color of an individual’s skin—my idea! Well, not really, but well before they came to market, I did think about why there weren’t different shades of band aids to match different skin tones—so I am going to own it. This past week, a new product scrolled across my Facebook timeline that I think has some incredible potential for the travel industry and frequent international clients. And like the Band-Aids, I did not think of this one either!
If you are looking to get into the travel industry…or if you are already in the travel industry and woke up with a burning desire to read an outstanding article, this is the one for you! Mary Stein and Stephanie Lee from Host Agency Reviews pulled back the curtain on the cockroach of the travel industry—the MLM or network marketing agency.
With my own personal distaste for the MLM crowd, these two women are my travel heroes for 2017. In a very in-depth article, they peeled back the layers of the onion to really give readers a solid insight into the scam, and actionable tips on how to avoid being scammed. In fact, TRO also has a great resource for you!
Today’s technologies have empowered customers in ways we never would have imagined ten years ago. With the touch of a few buttons, customers can have all the information they want at their fingertips.
Also, they also have the ability to decimate a business with a few taps on their phone with a negative review, or worse. This is particularly true for smaller agencies that tend to have fewer reviews—they will stand out! Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, I was reminiscing about my younger days bartending in Philadelphia, and I could not help but smile about the antics of an old friend whose energy and verve (some might say nerve) literally knew no bounds. The guy was the life of the party. He was never down. He never took no for an answer And everyone always wanted to be with or near him. As a result, he is an incredibly successful businessman, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. Pat Croce started his career as a physical therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers and eventually ended up owning the Philadelphia 76ers and taking them to the NBA finals in 2001. Since then, he has moved on from one success to the next and is now happily retired. Read the rest of this entry »
This one is a tough one to write. It is Sunday afternoon and Hurricane Irma is starting her slam into the Gulf Coast of Florida after wreaking havoc as she tore across the Caribbean. Destinations all too familiar to us have sustained damage ranging from devastating to severe.
I am not sure about you, but I am having a hard time fathoming the scope of the damage from Harvey to the greater Houston area. Texans will be recovering from this once-in-a-lifetime storm for years, if not decades. We have all seen the horrible news footage of the damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. We see the suffering of people and animals alike and are compelled to do something. I know I was—and I donated $200, which seemed very insignificant to me. But a Georgia travel agent was thinking out of the box a little bit (as we are prone to do) and offered to help. Read the rest of this entry »
Mexico can’t catch a break! Mexico is still reeling from the bad press surrounding a recent death of a young adult in one of their resorts and it just got a little bit worse–if that is possible. The State Department last week issued a travel warning for Mexico. However, a critical part of that warning has been overlooked by most media. Read the rest of this entry »
I love the travel industry. I got into it back in 1997 (you do the math, big numbers scare me) and never looked back. I have said it before; but this is generally a happy business. People do not come to us with problems. While we do solve some problems, our primary task is to facilitate travel dreams. As a whole, I love my colleagues in the industry. There are very few industries in existence where competitors are so willing to freely share their successes. My colleagues are honest, trustworthy and nice. Well, except for this one.
PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column on “fake news” in the travel industry. The media had resurrected a story about a tragic death in Mexico of a young woman who was found dead in a resort swimming pool. The story came to light for a second time because a lawsuit was filed. There was rampant speculation about the cause and one of the causative actions was leaning towards the resort utilizing tainted liquor. Not so fast! Read the rest of this entry »
I am not sure about all of you, but my career in the travel industry started with an office job. I was doing the 9-5 thing. And then I sold my retail locations in 2005 and shifted. I worked from home with several independent contractors across the country doing the same thing. Technology, at that time, enabled us to work anywhere there was an Internet connection and a place to plop down your laptop. Today, we don’t even need that with the smart phones. Starbucks (and any other local coffee shop) became the de-facto “office” for many. And for me, today, Starbucks is just not cutting it any longer. Read the rest of this entry »
When the Internet first became a powerhouse in the travel industry, many said it was the death knell for us. We persevered. Through fees and specialties, we shrunk in numbers, but grow in profitability. Whether it was incredible prescience or dumb luck I will never know, but today’s travel agent is a far cry from the one of yester-year. Those of us still in the business can attest that our office today is nothing like the old ones. Many agents have no idea what the ARC is. Many are not familiar with a GDS. That is why, when I was catching up on my reading that I was thrilled to see Vogue magazine understand what we’ve known for a long time. We are here and we are strong. Vogue magazine gets us. They really get us! Read the rest of this entry »
I am sure you all have seen the headlines this week. “Family Searching For Answers After Daughter Dies at Resort During Vacation in Mexico.” It dominated my timeline and feed on social media. Ugh, here we go again. And, not unlike our current President, the media is proving to not be our friend. When I read the first article, I wanted to shout “fake news, fake news” but couldn’t. It is not fake at all. Tragically a woman died as a result of an incident at a resort in Mexico. The issue is that only part of the story is being told. Read the rest of this entry »