Owning your own business is not for the meek and mild mannered. Business is tough—that’s all there is to it. If it were easy, everyone would do it. So how do you insure that you are ahead of the competitive pack? Well, that answer is constantly changing, but I have collected a few suggestions from my 21 years in the industry. (Note: I never wrote that out before…wow, 21 years. I’m old!) But I digress, here’s ten of my best suggestions to make sure you make it! Read the rest of this entry »
With 2.13 billion users, Facebook is the largest social media platform and is a place that cannot be ignored for business promotion and growth..despite what the kids say today.
Are you using all the tools available on Facebook to grow your travel agency? Video streaming…or Facebook Live anyone? Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday, the world’s largest cruise ship (well, the most current largest cruise ship in any event) se out on a maiden voyage from Barcelona. The Symphony of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s latest Oasis class ship which is 2,000 tons bigger than the former world’s largest cruise ship—the Harmony of the Seas. Is there an end in sight to this game of un-upmanship? Read the rest of this entry »
As any regular reader of this column knows, I am a huge proponent for email marketing. I believe that when it is properly used it comes in second to face to face. You might be able to convince me to cede to third place behind a phone conversation. Why? Read the rest of this entry »
Inspiration. Usually it hits me in the middle of the night when my glasses are nowhere to be found and my 2am “note to myself” look more like a chicken got into a bottle of ink than anything else. If not then, the shower is always a solid second. Both are rife for me forgetting about the latest great idea. But not this weekend. This weekend I was awake, dry, and armed with a pen and a place to use it. Read the rest of this entry »
Imagine for a minute if you will. You and your spouse/significant other/pet hamster decide to throw a dinner party. You plan the meal, you make a great Spotify playlist, maybe bought some new programmable lamps to finally use that whole “smart home” thing you bought a few years back. Your friends begin to RSVP. Everyone is stoked for the party and can’t wait. They ask what to bring and as a good host you tell them, “nothing, just yourselves.” The big night arrives and the first guest arrives and before you wave them in and take their coat, you tell them that there is a $20 cover charge. Who the hell does that? Read the rest of this entry »
Mexico can’t catch a break! It seems I have written that leading line many times. But it is true. Once again the US State Department has issued a travel warning that has people freaking out about traveling to Mexico. What’s a travel professional to do? And this time, the warning is a little more bizarre than those in the past.
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On February 26th, Jesse Upchurch the co-founder of Virtuoso passed away at 93.
As we look at the travel industry today, Upchurch’s fingerprints can be seen on nearly every aspect. He was a pioneer in luxury travel. He was the co-founder of USTOA. He was the chairman of the African Travel Association. Travel Weekly recognized him in 2008 with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the past few years, I have noticed a decided lack of commitment in the business community. No, this is not going to be a millennial rant—you can go to YouTube and find all you want; but recently I have noticed a solid lack of commitment on any number of fronts. And quite frankly, it is disturbing. Especially when there are some (certainly not all) online businesses that are doing it right! Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this week, a client came over to pick up his leather document holder with his cruise documents and asked me to print out his boarding pass for his upcoming flight! Wait…no that’s not right. That was back in 1998. Long gone are the paper boarding passes and heaven forbid that a cruise line supply a leather folio for printed documents. It’s all electronic baby in this hustle and bustle world. And if you are not on board…well you will miss the boat. I am still mystified at how many agents are still clinging onto yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »
Tomorrow I am going to a program in my hometown called Ignite! Actually, I attended my first one last year, and I am going again to maybe work up my courage for next year! Ignite is (my definition) a very short TED Talk with a twist. You come up with a topic. You provide 20 slides to go with your presentation and you have 5 minutes to finish it with each slide advancing every 15 seconds. No pressure there huh? So what does that have to do with travel?
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Earlier this week I received an email pitching a service to help agencies detect fraud. It piqued my interest initially and to be honest, it did not seem to have a whole lot of meat to it. So much of it was not applicable to agencies, but more to tour operators, OTAs, and airlines. And then there was this statement that make begin to think. Read the rest of this entry »
It was in 1995 when Delta sent out the notice. No longer would they be paying 10% commission on airline tickets; they were capping the commission at $50. Do the math. Whenever you issued a Delta ticket valued at more than $500, you were losing money. As predicted, the other airlines followed suit. And the caps were followed by cuts. And the cuts were followed by elimination. Remember that history as we navigate 2018 and the news that Marriott has decided to reduce commissions on group bookings. We can learn much from the past. Read the rest of this entry »
Disclaimer: This is a fluid situation and like anything in Washington, it can change in a heartbeat!
Well, the government is shut down. And while we bemoan any governmental intrusion into our lives, it is a necessary evil and often times we simply go about our lives oblivious to the government. Not so much with a shut down. A government shut down can have far reaching impacts on the travel industry.
Sometimes little things get under my skin. Often, I will just let them go—typically they aren’t a very big deal. But sometimes they fester. Try as I might, they keep coming back and bugging me. And right now, it is a popular commercial that has me fired up. It is kind of stupid to begin with; but it can also be seen as irresponsible. Have you seen it? Read the rest of this entry »
With my business, I rarely do individual trips. But for the occasional, preferred client I will. Recently, I was working on a European FIT for a client with a … how shall I say this delicately…rambunctious child. Now on our group trips we can usually keep the crowd under control when we escort them, and other parents are keeping a watchful eye. But solo travel is another beast and I felt it best to make a point of it to my client. Make sure you keep an eye on junior. First, losing him would be horrible; but secondly, you never want to be painted as “that” tourist. It gave me pause to think and share the stories I had heard over the years about tourists behaving badly—and I smiled. Here are some of my favorites! Read the rest of this entry »
Like the new car smell, I love the feel of a fresh new year. It is a chance to put your mistakes and missteps behind you. It is a chance to create new goals for yourself; and it is a chance to press that giant reset button and affect change in your personal and business life. Certainly 2018 will see some changes in the travel industry. What they will be is anyone’s guess—but if you asked me, here’s where I think we will see some change. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »