Author Archives: Les-Lee Roland

There are 28 articles by Les-Lee Roland published on this site.


It’s Thumbs Up for Princess!

Les is in a mood – a good one! Thumbs up for a couple of cruise lines for their considerate treatment of clients in distress and for offering great ship inspections. Other agents saying “Thumbs Down”, though, for offering client discounts pulled from agent commissions! If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.

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Les says it’s a mess! Thumbs up, Thumbs down, waving all around. Discounts offered to booked passengers! Fee Free baggage and clients smuggled onboard ship inspections. Les is wagging her mighty thumb at a few select travel agents this time!  If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net. Read the rest of this entry »

Thumbs Up for Shoretrips!

Les-Lee is finally back with some of her hits and misses from around the country. It’s Thumbs Down for cruise line boarding passes and Thumbs Up for Shoretrips! If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.

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Thumbs Down to Resort Fees!

If you send a client to a hotel property, should the supplier charge a non-commissionable “resort fee” to the client? Where have we heard that tactic before? NCF’s anyone? And she’s a little cranked out by BDMs who don’t return calls for weeks! Hey, let’s take care of business! If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.

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Les-Lee’s got one thing on her mind this week, and she’s warning you about the vacation certificates that might soon start showing up in your clients’ mailboxes. If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.

I’m devoting an entire column to this peeve.

I just received a mailer addressed to me and where the return address is, is printed:

Carnival Ticket vouchers enclosed.” On the opposite side of the mailer, is a picture of the Carnival  Conquest, and line, “Important Information Enclosed.”

I open it and read-“Congratulations, Pack your bags,  In celebration of our 28th Anniversary you have been personally chosen Read the rest of this entry »

 

When agents think of CLIA, they identify Terry Dale, Bob Sharak, and the very popular Bernie and Tom.  But there is another face associated with CLIA, Jim Smith, the Director of Marketing.  And he certainly has been busy with the new enhancements to help travel agents, and the consumer.

TRO: You are certainly a veteran in this business

JS: I’ve been in the industry 39 yrs- Starting in my teens.  From a retail end, I ran over 120 ski trips before I was 21 years old.  Later on I headed the largest consortium, GEM, 

TRO: You’re coming off a “high” with the very successful CLIA Cruise 3Sixty conference in Vancouver.

JS: We had a great group of agents, many new ones attending,  46% of the delegates were Canadian.  We sold out  8 weeks prior to the show.  But it’s on to our next one in Ft. Lauderdale, Apr 14-17th.

TRO: The conference is only one facet of what CLIA is doing.  You’ve been hard at work working on aids to help travel agents.

JS:  We have begun three new initiatives.  The first is the “Industry Events Calendar.”  Events for up to two years in advance, tradeshows, vendor shows, Read the rest of this entry »

Thumbs Up for Viking and Gate 1!

Les-Lee is headed out for a tour of the new NCL Epic, so she’s likely to be in a good mood for a while! In the meantime, however, she wants to point out that a few suppliers are offering some great referral programs and agent benefits while a few others, well, not so much. If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Anita E. Berry, who started The Jazz Cruise, LLC, many years ago is a travel agent who is an inspiration to all who meet her. She truly created the concept of full ship charters.

TRO: Anita, you’re known as the Godmother of All Theme Cruises. You have booked 25 full ship charters with Holland America.

AB: Yes, no one was doing them when I started booking cabins, quite a few years ago using NCL’s NORWAY.  We built it up growing to 300 cabins.

TRO:  You then made a life changing decision.

AB:  Yes,  at the age of 70, I told my sons that I wanted to charter ships for our Jazz Cruises.  We joke that my sons were worried about their inheritance, so they joined with me and we signed the contract for Holland America full ship charters. We are now celebrating our 10th year of full ship charters! A record! 

TRO:  Now your son, Michael Lazaroff, is in charge.

AB:  He does a wonderful job, but I am there as well.

TRO:  Being a travel agent, you understand our needs and demands. Read the rest of this entry »

4 out of 5 Thumbs Down!

Only one Thumbs Up out of five this week. Looks like some travel agents are finding plenty to grumble about mid-year. If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.
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No, he’s not a twin, but Lee Robinson does hold twin responsibilities, being the Vice President of Field Sales at both Princess and Cunard Cruise Lines.  His business card is double sided as well.  Wonder how he has time for his hobbies of golf and gardening?

TRO:  How did you get started in the industry?

LR:    Many years ago, I worked for Holland America, managing hotels in Alaska, and working with the tour buses.

TRO:  Princess has come a long way since the Love Boat days.That show was certainly the impetus for getting people interested in cruising.

LR:     Yes, it was.  And Princess was also the first cruise line to offer a teaching Academy.  When we started our four levels, we never thought we would have this many agents reach the status of Commodores.  It shows the dedication of agents to complete the program and take additional courses annually.

TRO:  Now fess up, Lee, how did you do on the courses?

LR:     I admit, I didn’t pass Tahiti and South Pacific on the first try. Read the rest of this entry »

Thumbs Up for No Life Vests!

Les works over some cruise lines this week for customer service that sounds like a good example of a bad example. Where’s a bridge group to play cards if not in a card room and what does “Closed to Agency Calls” mean anyway? If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.

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It’s called “Spirit Air”. Of course, they don’t tell you it’s the Spirit of Thumbs Down! It’s a cautionary tale for agents who may want to consider triple checking every detail because if the airline makes a mistake, it’s your problem, not theirs. If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net. Read the rest of this entry »

Michelle Fee – President and CEO of Cruise Planners

 

Michelle Fee, the  President and CEO  of Cruise Planners, claims to have the the best job in the world. That’s the way Michelle Fee feels about Cruise Planners, a turnkey franchise operation for aspiring travel agents.  For $9995, committed people receive training, get leads, and maybe embark upon the best job they ever had. Michelle and her organization have won numerous awards and accolades, from Travel Agent of the Year to seven years being selected number one in the cruise/travel/franchise category by Entrepreneur Magazine.

TRO: So how did this all begin?

MF: I started in 1981 as a full service agent in a Mom and Pop store. So I can definitely identify with agents. In 1985, I brainstormed with two agents who had their own operations, and we came up with a plan to educate agents and start a franchise – Cruise Planners. They now number 700 home based agents in 45 states, and growing. Read the rest of this entry »

ShoreTrips – An interview with Barry and Julie Karp

 

Ten years ago, Barry and Julie Karp started SHORETRIPS. They found a niche that had been ignored, an independent company that could provide tours and excursions in ports and major cities. This created increased revenue for agents who now have options to what the cruise line or supplier offers. They are so enthusiastic about what they are able to do, and great motivators for agents.

TRO: How do you select the local tour guides?

Barry and Julie: In some areas, we act as a consumer. We also work with Tourist Boards, mediators, and lots of networking. We consider ourselves, travelers- not just cruisers. We check everything out from a consumer’s view as well. We spend a lot of time in an area, finding the right people and the tours. Number one priority- we only use professionals. We don’t use just taxi drivers. Read the rest of this entry »

Hey, don’t mess with the Les! Thumbs up, Thumbs down, wax on, wax off. We have tour companies folding and tour companies going the extra mile. Even one travel agent earns a Thumbs down this week! And Les-Lee just can’t seem to get over the fine print in travel insurance contracts. If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at  packagedeals@comcast.net. Read the rest of this entry »

GOGO Worldwide Vacations – President Michele Kish

 

For many years, GOGO has been a tour operator that was at the top of the list for travel agents. When, Australia based, Flight Centre, known for its retail division, took over GOGO not too long ago, the name was changed to GOGO Worldwide Vacations. Agents have expressed their concern about possible changes using GOGO, so we took those concerns to the President of GOGO, Michele Kish.

TRO: Michele, what is your background?

MK: I started as a travel agent. For 25 years, being on the retail side, moving up to sales manager and branch manager and now for the past 3 years, President of GOGO.

TRO: Agents have expressed their concerns about offices closing and the long hold times on the phone.

MK: Actually we have only closed one office, and consolidated some other offices. With some, sales teams of two offices are together in one. Yes, we’ve had some longer hold times, but that has been corrected. We just completed our new web site and computer platform. We listened to the concerns Read the rest of this entry »

 

Bob Sharak, Executive VP of Marketing and Distribution for CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) is the guy with all the numbers. He and his team set the education goals for travel sellers that are unique in the industry. He directs consumer and trade marketing efforts, including the annual cruise3sixty travel agent conference and trade show, Web site development, collateral production, CLIA’s annual National Cruise Vacation Month and World’s Largest Cruise Night campaigns.

TRO: When one thinks of education in the travel industry- you have to think of CLIA.

Bob: CLIA is the cruise industry test book. There are not many travel schools and colleges left to teach the agents.Over 15,000 agents have earned certification as a cruise counselor, with 11,500 actively enrolled and pursuing their education. Read the rest of this entry »

Holland America’s Own Renaissance Man – Paul Allen

 

Paul Allen, Vice President of Sales for Holland America has been part of that family since 1981 and he’s known as the guy with all the numbers. I recently saw him, as a passenger on a full ship charter for the Smooth Jazz Cruise. He was loving the music, enjoying himself, even was seen waiting in line for autographs. Just talking to him, he is a prime example of a Renaissance man!

TRO: Since this is one of many full ship charters with Jazz Cruises, LLC. what are you learning from seeing it first hand.

PA: It’s fantastic, certainly, if you provide this caliber of entertainment, the people will come. They’re doing a great job.

TRO: With a lot of attention lately, on the bigger mega ships, HAL remains the mainstream niche with smaller vessels with less than 2000 passenger count. What’s new for HAL?

PA: By next July, we’ll have 15 ships going to over 300 ports on seven continents. We do try to add 3 new ports or shore excursions each year.

TRO: What about onboard the ships?

PA:  We believe in evolution instead of revolution. We’ve started our Lanai accommodations – taking about 40 cabins that were outside cabins and created French doors so the passengers can walk out of their cabin directly onto the promenade. Also we’ve added onboard Cabanas. We’ve had great success with them on Half Moon Cay. Some alternative dining at no charge. And Maribella, our higher end jewelry store. Read the rest of this entry »

Freshly back from a cruise, Les-Lee has alot of things to get off her mind this week. Smart marketing and education efforts by cruise line partners and cooperation from competitors all earn a big Thumbs Up from Les-Lee. Cougar Cruises? Not so much. Hotels that don’t pay travel agents commissions as promised? That would be a No Thumbs Up for you! If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.

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Les-Lee isn’t finished working over the travel insurance companies. The tirade continues. If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in TRO’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at packagedeals@comcast.net.


Based on the large response I personally received about previous Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down comments about Travel Insurance, I think the dialogue must continue. First of all, to all the agents who e-mailed me about which company they should or should not use, I cannot make that decision for you. I cannot endorse one over the other, but only advise what all agents should be aware of when offering insurance to their clients.

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An Interview with Vicki Freed

 

Vicki Freed for years paid her dues in the industry with Carnival, rising to Senior VP of Marketing and Sales before she jumped ship to Royal Caribbean as Senior Vice President of Sales. While many predicted a short reign in her new position, that appears to be far from the truth. She fits in just great and her connection to travel agents has grown stronger in the last year and a half.

 

LL-Happy New Year
VF– 2009 was a good year to say goodbye to.

LL– How did you spend the Christmas holidays?
VF– I took 35 people- an extended family, on the OASIS. Read the rest of this entry »