No, that’s not a typo in the title. It refers to a remarkable, and slightly annoying, conversation I had with the owner of a shoe store. Some of it might make you feel uncomfortable, but I also believe it will make you think. At least I hope it makes you think.
I spend a lot of time on airplanes. As often happens, I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. We eventually asked about each others’ profession. I told him that I am a writer, speaker, and consultant mostly working within the travel industry.
He told me he owned a small shoe store (name withheld by request). While not verbatim, this was the gist of our conversation: Read the rest of this entry »
I feel very fortunate to have visited South Africa many times. Late last year, I was speaking at a couple of travel events there, and added some personal time to explore. It is one of those rare destinations that not only has something for everyone; it excels at making every experience rich and memorable.
There are hipster-gentrified neighborhoods in Johannesburg, teeming with one-of-a-kind shops and galleries; bustling shopping malls and fancy boutiques abound in Pretoria. You’ll find espresso perfection and café culture in Cape Town, along with breathtaking scenery, including the nearby Cape Winelands that easily rival Napa Valley’s best. Read the rest of this entry »
I attend and speak at dozens of events each year, both inside and outside of the travel industry. One of the benefits is that I learn the latest jargon, corporate speak, or marketing buzzwords making the rounds.
One ominous sounding word has surfaced at nearly every event I’ve attended lately. In some cases, it was the primary topic for more than one speaker at the same conference! Apparently, the buzzword of the year is: disrupters. Read the rest of this entry »
Once or twice a year I do a deep clean of my computer. Like going through a box of photos or knick-knacks, an old memory usually distracts me, so the process takes much longer than expected.
Tucked away in a random folder from 2008 was a PowerPoint file for a workshop I had presented to travel consultants. It was called “What Is Social Media?” Read the rest of this entry »
Like a lot of people my age, I recently received my first pair of hearing aids. Apparently, my ability to lip-read and mentally fill-in the missing bits had developed unconsciously over the years, masking the extent of my loss. Eventually I could no longer compensate and I am now the owner of two behind-the-ear life changers.
As the audiologist had warned me, the first day was overwhelming. I was suddenly awash in chaotic cacophony coming from all directions. I developed a headache, couldn’t focus, got dizzy, and felt nauseous. Read the rest of this entry »
Several years ago, at an industry event where I was about to speak, I was sitting at a table full of travel agents. As often happens, the subject of “the good old days” came up. I joined in with four fellow long-timers to share almost mythical stories of happy flight attendants, tasty airline meals, free FAM trips, and rock-solid commission structures. One tablemate said with a sigh “I sure miss the way things used to be.”
After about twenty minutes of listening politely, a relative newcomer to the industry could no longer contain herself. She blurted out…. Read the rest of this entry »
You’ve heard over and over again that you have to sell YOU as much as, or more than, you sell a supplier or destination. It sounds good, but it isn’t always obvious just how to do it.
Then there’s the challenge of finding the balance between talking about your strengths and customer benefits without it turning into a “sales pitch.” Does anyone really want to hear how great you think you are? It’s a real but important challenge to tackle. Here’s why… Read the rest of this entry »
I sometimes catch myself being a hypocrite. When it happens, it’s never a pleasant realization. Sometimes the awareness comes from learning new information, sudden enlightenment, or seeing the results of my own actions. However it occurs, I usually give myself a figurative smack on the forehead and try to correct course moving forward.
There’s another kind of hypocrisy where we willfully suspend and ignore our normal way of thinking. When we’re in that state, it’s possible to say or do things we would otherwise find annoying or offensive if said or done to us. It happens in our own industry! Read the rest of this entry »
Not so long ago, at an industry event where I was about to speak, I was sitting at a table full of travel agents. As often happens, the subject of “the good old days” came up. I joined in with four fellow long-timers to share almost mythical stories of happy flight attendants, tasty airline meals, free FAM trips, agent upgrades, and rock-solid commission structures. One tablemate said with a sigh “I sure miss the way things used to be.”
After about twenty minutes of listening politely, a relative newcomer to the industry had had enough. Read the rest of this entry »
Way back in 1979 I decided to change careers. “I stopped being a starving musician and started being a starving travel agent”. I’ve been a professional speaker and author since 1999 and I often mention the previous quote in my presentations. When I speak to travel agents, it’s always met with laughter and giggles. It was a joke that rang true 35 years ago and still sounds familiar to many of today’s travel professionals. But, something has changed.
It’s been a busy year for me — speaking at industry events, presenting webinars and conducting training programs for travel pros. In nearly every program I try to focus on, or at least highlight, the importance of communicating your real value.
Far too often, travel consultants assume that their clients already know all the work that goes on “behind the scenes” to craft the perfect trip. With all the flashy and seductive online alternatives competing for their attention, it’s a very risky assumption to make. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been fifteen years since I quit a perfectly good job in travel franchising to start my little company. I used to question the logic starting a new career and a new business in this crazy industry. At that time travel was in quite a state of upheaval.
The airlines had just completed their multi-year assault on commission, effectively reducing it to zero throughout North America. Travel agencies were closing, merging, fleeing the corporate business and turning to cruises. Professional fees were still a rarity and the Internet was still a novelty. It was clear that the net would continue to grow and flourish while many experts predicted the opposite for travel agencies. Read the rest of this entry »
Several years ago, I took a cruise that was considered to be in the “premium” category. It was a stunningly beautiful ship and my cabin was excellent. The vessel was impeccably clean with a constant flurry of workers erasing every fingerprint and smudge along the way.
The décor was flawless and the spa was a sight to behold. The entertainment was the best I have ever seen aboard a ship — regardless of class. This might sound like a perfect cruise experience, but I would never do it again! Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve long believed that travel consultants sell much more than “trips.” I’ve always seen their role as more significant than deal finding and reservation making. Until recently however, I’m not sure I realized just important travel is.
After winning a year and a half-long battle with inflammatory breast cancer, a dear friend was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and given a dismal prognosis. A wife, mother, and passionate travel consultant, Michelle Pammenter Young has spent her life creating joyful experiences for others. Read the rest of this entry »
I hear from just about every type of travel consultant and agency you can imagine. I hear both challenges and triumphs. And still, after all these years, professional fees still top the list of questions and comments.
Recently there’s been an increase in agencies successfully charging what many would call “premium” fees. They charge $250, $500, and even $1,000 on top of commissions earned. In some cases, they’re in the same markets where others claim any fee was impossible.
What makes the difference between these fee superstars and those who struggle with fees of any kind? Read the rest of this entry »
Every year, international visitors to the United States contribute more than $130 billion to the US economy. In addition, over one million US jobs directly depend on inbound tourism. However, foreign visitors are now re-thinking their US vacations and business trips.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (Pub. 519), any visitor spending a total of more than 31 days in the United States in the current year may now be required to file with the IRS. The filing is designed to prove that they have no further US tax obligations. In other words, they have to file with the IRS in order to prove that they don’t have to file! Read the rest of this entry »
Technology has become an integral part of nearly ever facet of life. In business it is not only integral, but also essential to survival. Improved productivity, lower costs and enhanced communication with employees as well as customers are all just a few of the promised benefits.
Unfortunately the adoption of technology has increasingly come at the expense of something far more important: the human factor.
Even in this online, self-serve world, we seem to have forgotten that humans are behind every click, tap, and transaction. Business is becoming de-humanized. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr. Bob Joselyn enlightened me about professional fees more than twenty years ago; and I’ve been on a mission to help others overcome fee-fears ever since. As a result, my email inbox receives a steady stream of success stories and pleas for help.
I hear from those who struggle with $10 service charges; and those who collect $250 with ease. I’ve seen successes in virtually every market imaginable. For every proclamation that it won’t work, someone is doing it. Last month however, a truly unique situation developed. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1979 I changed careers. I went from a starving musician to a starving travel agent for nearly 20 years. I’ve been speaking professionally since 1999 and I often mention my career change in my presentations. When I speak to travel agents, it’s always met with laughter, giggles, and a subtle sense of acknowledgement that I am closer to right, than wrong. It was a joke that rang true 35 years ago and still sounds familiar to many of today’s travel professionals. But, there is something different.
I spend a lot of time in airports. Today at Vancouver International I decided to conduct an experiment. I wanted to compile some data… on you!
As in most airports, you can buy newspapers from almost every major city. I grabbed one for all the North American major markets including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and a few more.
I was on a mission to find a reason to use a travel agent. My source? You!
Actually I was looking at the ads travel agencies had placed in the papers. I was not disappointed in the volume; there were plenty of them. But, my quest to find a reason to use a travel agent was completely unfulfilled. Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »
My mother loves garage sales. When she is out and about, any car she is in gets magically pulled toward the nearest driveway of bargains. While her 80 year-old vision is failing, she can still spot a garage sale sign from distances well beyond ordinary human visual range.
As a result, from my toddler to teenage years most of my clothes, shoes, games and toys came from fifty-cent piles and dusty boxes.
Along with countless puzzles missing just one piece, I acquired many lessons for business and some tips for succeeding with professional fees: Read the rest of this entry »