Last year, I was the newbie. I came to the TRO shortly after making the decision to separate myself and my fledgling agency from YTB. When offered the opportunity to write a Diary segment, I felt it would be a great help in getting me on my feet. Looking back over my first year as a real agent I can see where I have made those newbie mistakes and where I have grown. Read the rest of this entry »
Last month told you about my difficulties with a new tour bus vendor. In my frantic juggling act I somehow forgot that terms of a contract can change at the drop of a hat. I let an unwritten deadline slip by and the vendor notified me that they had raised the rate for transporting my cruise group from Baltimore to Norfolk. This lapse on my part had the potential to cost my fledgling agency an additional $500 dollars and reduce my already meager margins. My group was scheduled to sail on October 26th and I had no time to make other arrangements to transfer my group. Needless to say I was stressed but I wasn’t prepared to give up. This was the inaugural trip for our Norfolk cruise program. We’ve done several cruises out of Baltimore but this was our opportunity to launch LK Cruises – Cruise Norfolk. Read the rest of this entry »
I started writing this diary entry three times and couldn’t finish. Nothing came to mind and I mean absolutely nothing. I could think of nothing positive or encouraging to say. I thought that if I slept on it something would occur to me. Still no inspiration came. Friday dawned and all hell broke loose. Voila—instant column. I have a group of 25 cabins departing in two weeks from Norfolk and had arranged a bus transfer from Washington, DC. On Friday, the bus operator called to let me know the price had increased by $500! Read the rest of this entry »
Have you ever have one of those days when you feel like giving up? Well I’ve been having one of those weeks. It’s just been one thing after another. So many things in fact that I have been unable to find a silver lining in this cloud at all. What had me so discouraged was that I believed everything was way beyond my control. Trip cancellations and postponements are at the root of all my woes since we last talked. I was so discouraged at one point I asked my dad/partner if he thought we should throw in the towel. The silence was deafening. Read the rest of this entry »
With the deadline to get this diary entry written looming, I sat down with my laptop. Staring at the blank screen and the blinking cursor, I realized I had no idea where to begin. The problem wasn’t that I had nothing to say–rather I had so much to say I couldn’t focus. That’s been happening a lot lately. There were just so many things on my plate that they had begun spilling out onto the table. After trying unsuccessfully to decide what to write, I came to the conclusion that the real problem was plate size. If I couldn’t get a bigger plate I would have to remove some of the things that are already on the plate and be more selective about any new things I add in the future. Read the rest of this entry »
I truly believe it is every travel consultant’s responsibility to have first hand knowledge of the products they sell. FAMS are one of the perks and they can be a lot of fun, but that really shouldn’t be the primary motivation for participating. Opportunities to experience what a destination, supplier or activity has to offer our clients is an invaluable tool for the travel professional; particularly if that professional has a niche. I focus on cruising and the Caribbean so naturally when those opportunities arise, I pack. And when I had the opportunity from Carnival, I jumped at the chance. Read the rest of this entry »
I just got back from Cruise3Sixty and I am more motivated than ever. I am convinced the travel profession is the only place I want to be. While I learned a tremendous amount, the biggest lesson I took away was that I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like to about the travel industry. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew I was a novice and I recognized my need for additional training, but this really is no industry for posers or pretenders. There really is a lot to keep up with in order to succeed; both as a business person and as a service provider. That is assuming a person has a genuine desire for true success. Read the rest of this entry »
When I did my first Travel Agent Diary, I told you a lot about myself. What I neglected to mention is that I am also a juggler. Not in a literal sense but in a figurative one. Among all the other things in my life. I also juggle two sources of income—my travel business and my “other” job as a Human Resources Specialist for an insurance company. Both are very important to my financial security and I don’t work either one with any less fortitude. They most certainly are not hobbies.
I work nearly 40 hours as required by my employer each week and I devote countless hours to my travel practice —something I require. This wasn’t always the plan though. In fact, the business plan my partner and I drew up in 2007 called for me to “retire” from the corporate world by the end of 2008; but that’s not quite practical with today’s economy.
Beginning in the fall of 2008, some of my clients began to feel the effects of the real estate collapse and the stock market decline. They began to think seriously about their discretionary income; and travel most definitely falls into the category of discretionary. I saw many clients scale back their trips and a few canceled outright. Read the rest of this entry »
Like most entrepreneurs, I have long term goals and a long term plan. I have taken the advice of many forecasters and focused on the big picture so as not to become discouraged in these economic times. But it seems I have focused on the horizon so intently that I neglected to keep an eye fixed on the short term economic picture. That is until I came face to face (or rather voice to voice) with my host’s short term expectations. I just haven’t been producing as much as they’d like. I was not meeting their expectations or my own. You know the old adage about not being able to see the forest for the trees? Well last week, I became victim to the reverse. I could see the forest just fine. It was the trees I didn’t see coming. Read the rest of this entry »
TRO is going to follow the progress of a few travel agents and their business over the course of 2009 to allow our readers the opportunity of comparing notes and experiences with other agents. These brave souls have promised to write about both their successes and failures this year. Be sure to leave them some comments if you would like to share some of your own experiences.
My name is Nia and I am the owner of LK Cruises & Tours, LLC. Well that’s not exactly true. My parents named me Karen. My ex called me Kami, my children call me mommy. So where does Nia come from? In 1998, I wrote a novel; the main character was named Nia, which means “Purpose” in Swahili. Unable to convince many folks that it wasn’t autobiographical, I decided it was easier to join them, so I became Nia. And that suited me just fine. I’ve been Nia ever since. I like it, and it serves as a constant reminder to stay focused.
In 2006, I was introduced to the travel agency industry through Your Travel Biz (YTB). All of their hype claimed to be a way to break into the travel industry and start a business with little training, little cash and even less business sense. As hard as it is to believe, neither the hype nor the reality bankrupted me. Read the rest of this entry »