Are you the sort who talks back to the TV news? Or comments loudly to no one in particular as you take issue with something in the newspaper? Me too.
This sort of thing accomplishes nothing, beside annoying my wife, but I took things a step further when I read a review by Barbara Ehrenreich of “Rise of the Robots” and “Shadow Work” in the New York Times Book Review. I was brought up short by this sentence: “Booking travel reservations is now a D.I.Y. task; the travel agents have disappeared.” Read the rest of this entry »
Help, I’ve been newsjacked! The term may not be a household one, nor even a familiar one to you; but, you certainly should know about it…and more importantly consider using it when the timing is right because it is a very effective means to get your message out in a controlled manner.
“Newsjacking,” is a term popularized by marketing guru David Meerman Scott, and it’s a technique any travel agent can use. Here’s how it works: Read the rest of this entry »
I have a friend who once joked, “I’ve decided to stop chasing those get-rich-quick schemes to concentrate on the get-rich-instantaneously schemes.” I think of him from time to time when I happen to come across yet another pitch from a host agency.
Now mind you, I have nothing against host agencies. They fill a valuable role in the travel distribution system and they can be invaluable to home-based travel agents just starting out in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »
“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
— Mark Twain
As a travel agent and writer I have a special interest in the many attractions of central Florida, where I recently spent almost a month familiarizing myself with the latest developments.
New Fantasyland, now complete, is packing them in at Magic Kingdom and Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is better than ever. I can also confidently report that the new Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando Resort is an unqualified success. The same can be said of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s first moderately priced resort hotel. The place looks spectacular and the food, while fast, is just fine. Based on my own observations and the feedback I received from others, they have beaten Disney at the “value” game. With a fifth hotel, the Sapphire Falls Resort, coming online in 2016, the outlook for Universal Orlando vacation packages looks rosy. Read the rest of this entry »
What should we be telling our clients about their upcoming hotel stay? In this litigious age, it is perhaps wise to have a boilerplate brochure or perhaps just a one-page PDF, a sort of subtle disclosure statement, that covers basic safety tips while traveling – always double lock your hotel room door, never open it without confirming the identity of the person on the other side, and so forth.
And, of course, there should be some sort of “paper trail,” even if it is electronic, to document the fact that the client has received it.
But is that enough? Read the rest of this entry »
Two recent additions to Carnival’s marketing arsenal, “My Awesome Bar Program” and “Faster To The Fun,” have some industry observers wondering if the cruise lines are learning all the wrong lessons from the airline industry. The former, now being tested, charges passengers $49 a day (with tip) to drink themselves silly on anything (soft or hard) that costs less than $10; the latter, also in beta, offers passengers perks such as priority boarding, faster luggage delivery, priority dining seating, and a choice of debarkation time for $49 per cabin. Read the rest of this entry »
There was a time when beleaguered travel agents could escape the slings and arrows flung their way by journalists by turning to the entertainment section. Not any more.
The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger has brought the war on travel agents to his review of “Craving For Travel,” a play by Greg Edwards and Andy Sandberg, now playing at the Jay Sharp Theater in New York.
The headline says it all: “It’s Not Just a Job, It’s an Adventure. In a Dying Industry, Sure. But Still.” Read the rest of this entry »
Google has made some significant changes in the past year that affect how websites are rated and ranked. If you’ve noticed a sharp drop in traffic to your site, Google’s new algorithm is probably the culprit.
One area that Google took a second look at was images, both photos and graphics. There was once a time when, if you had a photo of a cruise ship on your site and called it “cruise-ship.jpg” and put it on a page that was about cruising, the search engines loved you. No more.
Google’s bots still look to see if your images are relevant, but now they also check to see where else on the wide world web that image appears. And these bots are incredibly good at spotting duplicates. Even if you use only a small portion of an image that appears on another site, Google can identify them as being the same image. Read the rest of this entry »
In earlier articles on the subject I mentioned that you are on a fact-finding mission when you are on a FAM. I also noted that any and all service glitches should be documented and noted. Was your room overlooking that all-inclusive resort’s garbage dump? Well, at least you now know not to book that room!
But to go back to the metaphor of agent-as-employee while on a FAM, if there are problems with a supplier’s product, don’t you have a professional obligation to share that information with the appropriate person? It’s another tricky question. I’d like to say, “Well, of course you do!” And yet, discretion is often times the better part of valor, as the old saying has it. Maybe the best thing is to just let it slide. Read the rest of this entry »
Two recent additions to Carnival’s marketing arsenal, “My Awesome Bar Program” and “Faster To The Fun,” have some industry observers wondering if the cruise lines are learning all the wrong lessons from the airline industry. The former, now being tested, charges passengers $49 a day (with tip) to drink themselves silly on anything (soft or hard) that costs less than $10; the latter, also in beta, offers passengers perks such as priority boarding, faster luggage delivery, priority dining seating, and a choice of debarkation time for $49 per cabin.
I couldn’t help thinking of Meshulam Zonis, one of the more colorful figures from Carnival’s early days, who was quoted by Kristoffer Garin in his vastly entertaining book Devils on the Deep Blue Sea. “A cruise passenger is like a wet towel,” he’d say with a smile, making a back-and-forth wringing motion with his hands. “First you squeeze him this way, and then you squeeze him this way.” Read the rest of this entry »
John Frenaye’s recent column, “Aunt Barbara’s Travel,” made me chuckle, but it also made me wince. It betrayed an attitude that was all too common in the dawn of what I like to call the home-based travel revolution and which I thought had pretty much faded away.
I would like to come to the defense of Aunt Barbara. But before I do let me alert you to an obvious bias on my part. I publish a course for people who want to become home-based travel agents. Many of them enter the business with a resume very similar to that John imagines for his (I hope) fictional Aunt Barbara: “She has gone on some great trips. She has always loved traveling. She knows her way around Google and TripAdvisor like no one’s business. She always finds a deal.”
Clearly I am on Aunt Barbara’s side. Read the rest of this entry »
In a previous article, I talked about the idea that FAMS are work, that the ship or resort you are enjoying on that FAM is a workplace, and that your supplier host is, for the duration of that FAM and in a very limited sense, your employer. I further floated the idea that in our Internet-fueled age it seems nothing we say or do, especially if we “share” it with “friends,” is truly private and that it makes sense for travel agents to adopt very stringent codes of professional conduct when it comes to FAMS – not just what you do on the FAM, but what you do and say after the FAM.
Now most of the time you don’t really have to worry too much about this whole issue. After all, what are the odds that anything bad could come out of a FAM trip, which is almost by definition a highly positive experience hosted by a supplier doing its utmost to showcase its products and services at their very best? Read the rest of this entry »
FAMS are sometimes thought of as one of the great perks of being a travel agent, and no doubt about it, FAMS can be fun; especially when you have a chance to meet and compare notes with other agents. But make no mistake about it, FAMS are also work.
I suppose there are some circumstances – a trip offered by a supplier as a reward for outstanding production, for example – when you can afford to just relax, go with the flow, and just enjoy yourself. But even in that kind of setting there is still work to be done.
Here are just a few of the things an agent should be attempting to accomplish on a FAM. Read the rest of this entry »