Author Archives: Stephanie Lee

There are 20 articles by Stephanie Lee published on this site.


Google Analytics

Dear Stephanie,

I’ve installed Google Analytics like you suggested and I’m unsure of what analytics are the most important. Which ones should I pay more attention to?

– Kelli S.

Hey Kelli!

Glad you have Google Analytics up and running, even if you aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for… yet! The data you’re collecting is extremely valuable and the longer the history, the better. Read the rest of this entry »

Logos and Design

Dear Stephanie,

I am redoing my logo but not sure where to start. What are some things I should be thinking about?

– Jessica S.

Hey Jessica!

Congrats on the logo revamp!

My first advice is to make sure you use a professional graphic designer – don’t fall prey to the DIY logo maker sites. Just like travel agents bring their expertise to the table, so do graphic designers. If you can find a local graphic designer, I’d keep it in the community; if not, take a look at 99designs.com, a website where designers compete in design contests for your business. Read the rest of this entry »

Mobile Madness Part 2

Dear Stephanie,

I keep hearing about mobile sites. I already struggle to update my site with posts and deals.  I’m often behind.  Do I need a mobile site and how do I keep that updated?!

– Zoe S. 

Hey Zoe,

Last month we dove into the importance of keeping your site updated and if that wasn’t possible, to convert it to a static site.  This month, we talk about why mobile is important for travel agencies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mobile Madness

Dear Stephanie,

I keep hearing about mobile sites. I already struggle to keep my posts and deals updated. I’m often behind. Do I need a mobile site and how do I keep that updated?!

– Zoe S.

Hi Zoe,

We’ve got two important subjects to cover from your email and not enough space! I’m going to break this into a two-part series so I can make sure to give the subjects the ink they deserve.

Read the rest of this entry »

Life Beyond Direct Mail

Dear Stephanie,

What else can I do besides direct mail pieces to market my agency?

-Jen E. 

Hi Jen,

While direct mail pieces have the ability to be very effective for certain demographics, there are plenty of other ways to market your agency beyond that.

Before we start, let me just say this is a gargantuan subject to cover so keep in mind this column only discusses the tip of the iceberg. I’m a fan of grassroots marketing so let’s focus on that.

There are two different areas I’d recommend you focus on: in-person networking and the web. Read the rest of this entry »

Long Distance Relationships

Dear Stephanie,

I saw on your site that you don’t need to live in the same state as your host, but is that helpful?

-Kim R.

Hi Kim,

For some agents, it can be very helpful to live in the same state as their host. The problem is, for others, a host in another region may be a better option! Every agent has different needs and, depending on those needs, a local host may or may not be the best fit. Read the rest of this entry »

Sales Quotas: A Good Thing

Dear Stephanie,

Are there hosts out there without sales quotas?  What if something comes up and I take a break?

-Matt C.

Hey Matt,

The simple answer is yes, there are hosts out there without quotas.  However, as usual, I’m going to make the answer more complicated 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

Brick and Mortar Heads Home

Dear Steph,

I’ve worked at a brick and mortar agency and am now branching off on my own and going home based.  How do I get my phone to ring?

Paula

Hey Paula,

Yup. One of the biggest shocks for front line agents when they start their own agency is that suddenly, the phone doesn’t ring on its own!

So, how do you get that darn thing to ring? Read the rest of this entry »

Criminals in Travel?

Dear Stephanie,

A host requested that we give them a background check. Is this normal? Why do they need that info?

-Ali

Hey Ali,

Rest at ease when your head hits the pillow tonight; your host is being totally legit.

It’s normal for a host to run a background check on people entering their program. In fact, you’ll find hosts that run background checks and credit checks on applicants to their program. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Stephanie,

I would like to start my own travel agency business. Do I have to start working with a host agency?

Signed,
Dmitriy

Hey Dmitriy,

First off, welcome to the travel industry – we love newbies!

The short answer is no, you technically don’t have you to start working with a host agency when you enter the industry.  The typical paths taken if an agency doesn’t work with a host is to align yourself with a consortium/franchise or to go independent.  However, I’m a huge advocate of host agencies and feel they are the best entry point for most agents.  Here’s why: Read the rest of this entry »

TravelQuest — To infinity and beyond…

As the snow falls outside and temperatures drop, Minnesotans are winding down into hibernation mode.  The year is coming to a close and soon we’ll all start looking back on the year and coming up with New Year’s resolutions to make 2011 our best year yet.  With all that in mind, it seems a fitting time to wrap up the travel agent diaries series.

Last year, I had written that I wanted to grow our agent numbers from 200 to 400.  Hovering at around 300 agents, we didn’t quite meet that.  But remember that saying about shooting for the moon because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars?  I shot for the moon and I guess if you wanted to get all gushy, you could say I landed among the stars.  Cute in theory, but last I heard the only thing between Earth and the moon is space junk and satellites—not stars. Read the rest of this entry »

TravelQuest–An almost missed parable

Last week, someone from the office sent me a forwarded e-mail and I zoomed right by it.  The next day, they had asked if I’d read it and I admitted I hadn’t.  Feeling guilty, I opened it up.

Essentially, it was about a cab driver who hated his job.  Everyone was always rude when they hopped in and he found the day to day grind of driving these people around to be unbearable.  I’ll cut to the chase and say one day he had an epiphany that he controlled his surroundings.  He could quit, or he could try to make it a better experience for both him and the passengers. Read the rest of this entry »

TravelQuest — THETRADESHOW

Every year, TravelQuest heads to ASTA’s tradeshow and this year was no exception.  The weeks before are always a frenzy for me as I put together the final details, make sure everything is purchased and packed for the show, and, of course,  type up the very important document for the dogsitter— 10 Easy Steps to Making Rigel a Happy Dog.

This was my third year having a booth at the tradeshow and I can honestly say that it was the most successful show we’ve had.  Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Quest — Feed me dammit!

I’ve made my decision—I have to lay this out in the open.  For months I’ve started writing my column on the subject but changed my mind.  No one in the mainstream media is writing about it so surely it’s just me.  I’ve tried repressing it, I’ve tried downplaying the severity of the situation, I’ve tried hoping things will change.  But it’s as if I’m stuck in a recurring nightmare.

What am I taking issue with?  Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Quest — Socially accepted

Last summer, TravelQuest headed for uncharted waters.  We created a new marketing campaign that had social media at the heart of it and shied away from more traditional means of advertising.  A year later, we’re pretty happy with our decision. Traffic is up on our website, we’re hearing from more and more agents(remember, we are a host agency) that they heard about us through social media, and our page pulls up higher on the search engines. Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Quest — Vacation overload

Since getting back from a work trip a few weeks ago, I’ve been asking myself a question.  Before I pose my deep, philosophical question, I need to build up a bit of a framework.

As a person who’s job description does not include constant travel, when I leave the office for vacation or a business trip, it should be a refreshing change of pace and not a hassle.  I get to have new surroundings and break up the monotony a bit.

While on the road, all is cheery, I’m meeting new people and seeing new things.  My out of office auto-reply is on, letting everyone know that I won’t be able to respond until a future date.  Isn’t that one of the greatest technological inventions?  It’s a legitimate Get Out of Jail Free card when it comes to response time!    Beyond the joy of having a Get Out of Jail Free card, problems that would normally fall on my desk can either make themselves very cozy while I’m away or find someone else to resolve them (preference goes to the latter).  My regular work responsibilities?  I have none!

Or that’s what it feels like.  Until I came back. Read the rest of this entry »

Which is better?

  • Option A: Client calls to say they’ve booked elsewhere.
  • Option B: Client books somewhere else and never calls.

I’m of the opinion that if they didn’t book with us, I’d rather they don’t go out of their way to call and let us know.

We had a call today from a client who has booked with us before and was looking to book four cabins on an upcoming cruise.   She had called the cruise line directly for pricing and was wondering if we could beat the price.  After some quick research, we let her know we couldn’t find anything lower but we found the same price. Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Quest — Running like a dog

I was observing my pup Rigel at the dog park the other day.  A quick glance would suggest a fast, elegant runner.  In reality, he never keeps up with the pack and exerts way too much energy doing an adorable, but extremely inefficient, trot.  I mentioned Rigel’s knack for taking up the rear of the race to another dog owner.  Just as I said it, Rigel did his patented move.  He gets so far behind the other dogs he can cut across easily and make a beeline for the fastest dog, take second place (for awhile) and start his chase anew.  The other owner commented “Rigel isn’t slow, he just works smarter, not harder.”  While I’m not sure his assessment of Rigel is true, he did have a point. Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Quest – Nothing goes as planned

Every January and February it seems to suddenly dawn on people that winter isn’t going away anytime soon.  It’s like we’re pre-programmed to only be able to withstand 2-3 months of cold before we need to start making plans to escape on a brief hiatus to somewhere warm.  When that internal alarm goes off, phones in travel agencies begin to ring off the hook.  As a host agency that provides support to over 200 agents, our office becomes a frenzy of activity.

So while most things in nature naturally slow down during the winter, the opposite has been happening at Travel Quest.   Read the rest of this entry »

Despite having grown up in the family travel agency, I never thought I’d be a part of the travel industry.  Yet here I am; and I really enjoy it.    Before we get into the meat of the TRO Travel Agent Diaries, I want to give you a little background about myself and how I came to work at Travel Quest, my family’s host agency.

It’s a common story—I helped out with the family business growing up and then I flew the coop and set myself on a completely different course.  I love the outdoors, learning about all aspects of the environment and the causes and effects, and I love teaching.  So I pursued a degree in Liberal Studies and Environmental Studies, graduated from the College of Saint Benedict, and that’s where things got a little foggy.  What do you do with that degree anyhow? Read the rest of this entry »