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When you need help, ask for it…or find it

 

Recently I became overwhelmed. I was falling behind on returning telephone calls, emails, and a final payment for a group was barreling down on me. I also had a non-travel related pressing project that was looming. While I like to think of myself as super human (and I did for a brief moment), I realized that there was no way in the world I was going to get all of this done in time. Something was going to get left behind and ignored. I needed help. But I am not in a position with my agency to hire staff. I have looked into virtual assistants in the past and could not justify the move—I tend to be one of those guys who think that no one can do a task as well as I can. So what to do? I just needed to get over this hump. Read the rest of this entry »

How to handle a fibbing client

We all are used to clients playing us against the Internet….their cousin who is a travel agent…or even the supplier directly. It comes with the territory it seems. Is it dishonest? I don’t necessarily think so. It is likely just a consumer making sure they are getting the most bang for their buck.  I bought a television a while ago, and I sniffed out Best Buy, HH Gregg, and Amazon to see if there was much difference. But every now and then, I get a client that not only shops, me; but comes out with an outright lie.
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New discoveries in the world of travel appdom*

Without a doubt, the travel technology we have seen develop over the past two decades has been amazing. We have gone from communicating via phone and fax to email and text. Considering we (travel agents) were one of the first industries to have desktop computers, I guess it should not be such a surprise. But that technology comes with a price as well. Certainly it has “stolen” some of our business by giving clients the ability to do some of what we used to do. And that is ok. As far as I am concerned, much of what today’s tech provides the client is what I despised doing in the first place. Now, I can concentrate on offering advice and crafting experiences rather than making sure a connection is legal and finagling with seat assignments. With that all said, I recently came across some new travel apps that impressed me and will now be in my arsenal of information provided to my clients. Read the rest of this entry »

Swinging at curve balls

When life hands you lemons; the adage says you make lemonade. You swing at a curve ball. But let’s be real here for a moment. When you get lemons, sometimes you just want to wallow in a pity party. But then, you need to pick yourself up again, reinvent yourself, and carry on. It’s called entrepreneurship and it is what we do. Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

The travel industry does not live in a vacuum

 

Hopefully as you grow your business you are taking advantage of all the mistakes people who have come before you have made. I know I have made more than my share of them. Hopefully, you are also taking advantage of the successes they have experienced. Learning from others usually is a tremendous asset to any business. But the one question I have for you is “where do you look for these warnings and inspiration?” Read the rest of this entry »

Is there a better mousetrap out there?

Facebook is such a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with old friends, new friends, and for sure colleagues that are across the globe. When a topic pops up where I feel I can contribute, I usually hop right in. And last week, a thread popped up in my Facebook newsfeed from a travel agent community and I hopped right in. Read the rest of this entry »

3 types of clients that drive me crazy

When I dive into something, I like to learn as much as possible. I may not be an “expert,” but I tend to feel I know more than the average person—after all, that is why they are coming to me. I take the time to do extra research. I ask for opinions from true experts. I learn from my mistakes and I am very willing to share my knowledge with others. Sometimes I am a fast learner and other times it takes more time to become proficient.  I am sure we are all the same! So why are there three types of customers that drive me crazy? Read the rest of this entry »

And today, I just don’t know

Usually I have a pretty decent insight into the industry and the world around me. I can usually pick out a signal when a big change is afoot with a supplier. I can look at reports and figure out what will be a “hot” destination for my agency. I can usually predict what impact on travel a poor (or rebounding) economy may have. SARS… Avian Flu… Mad Cow Disease… war… political unrest across the globe… I have been pretty good about managing the expectations for both my agency and my clients. Right now, I just don’t know. Read the rest of this entry »

We are all entrepreneurs. In that role, the critical trait we all must have, and execute well, is self-discipline. No matter if it is in our personal life or trying to make sure your travel business stays on the right track, self-discipline is critical.

It is the key to leading a healthier, happier, and more successful life. But, often times, it is elusive. I know it is for me; and I am reminded of that every time I stare blankly at a computer screen for what seems like hours with nothing to show.

I asked some colleagues what keeps them focused. Here are their thoughts. Do you agree? Read the rest of this entry »

Are you tuned up?

It’s funny how words change. Or maybe it is how we define them. Take the word “tune up.” To a musician, it may be the preparation for a concert. To a mechanic, it is all about spark plugs and filters. So, let’s cut to the chase and just say that for this week, I am talking about your website. And I am about to list some recent figures about the Internet that you will want to know. Read the rest of this entry »

Ocean Medallion: Cool or creepy?

I have to give them credit: the cruise lines are always at the forefront of the technology train. Flat screens in the cabins, digital images, sea passes. They also have been at the forefront of the customer service train as well. Now it appears that Carnival Corporation has married the two into a gizmo called the Ocean Medallion, which was released at the CES this past week in Las Vegas. I am not sure if it is incredibly cool, incredibly creepy, or a little of both! Read the rest of this entry »

Managing your 2017 goals in bite sized pieces

Happy New Year! Have you made your resolutions? What were they? Huh? Huh? I can’t help it. When a new year rolls around, I am full of energy and excitement. And I think that 2017 will bring plenty of excitement on many different fronts.

My goals are set and I am a believer in setting goals for yourself, both personally and professionally. I am also very careful to make sure the goals are attainable. Not easy goals, hard ones. Goals where I need to work to achieve. Many will be met, some will not!

Sure, I’d love to personally sell $10 million in travel this year. But that is unreasonable. So I try to keep things real in 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Saying goodbye to a good friend of 8 years

Well, the title sounds a bit more melodramatic than reality; but hey, you’re reading. As is tradition at TRO, we are taking the last two weeks of the year to refresh, relax, and rejuvenate. New columns may be sparse as we revamp for 2017, which will be here sooner than we realize. And with every New Year comes fresh ideas; and sometimes, they replace older ones. And such is the case with the TRO Travel Agent Diary series. Read the rest of this entry »

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and carry on

On Saturday, I attended the 117th Annual Army-Navy football game in Baltimore. It is a storied rivalry; some say the best in all sports. The Navy team had a 14-year winning streak and a record-setting season. They are scheduled to play in the Armed Forces Bowl and made the conference championship game last weekend. That game cost them two key players. Yesterday’s starting quarterback was the third stringer. Almost predictably, Navy lost. The streak was done. The bus ride home was surely like none of the ones over the past 14 years. But you know what? Navy will pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and carry on. Just like you need to do when you run into a setback in your travel business. Read the rest of this entry »

How do you refresh?

Wi-Fi has now become so generic that we expect to be able to connect anywhere from our mobile devices. For me, I tend to be tethered to a desk for work—I am not sure why, but it is what it is. I am an advocate to taking a break and getting away from it all—even for a few moments. And many times, that is just what the doctor ordered for a fresh mindset.

If we want to be innovative and generate ideas that will benefit our lives, we have to think. We need to brainstorm. And we need to relax, so our minds can formulate. Particularly now, as we look forward to a new year, a fresh perspective may be just what the doctor ordered. Read the rest of this entry »

What can travel learn from Amazon and Apple

Over the past several weeks, I have had the need to order from Amazon and Apple, and coming off of those experiences I realized that there is a good lesson we all can learn from the two giants. Typically I am not a fan of online purchasing, but in today’s environment, sometimes it is necessary. Often times it is a horrible experience, but this time—quite the contrary. Read the rest of this entry »

Hey mister, are you thankful?

Well, it is almost Thanksgiving, and this morning a child in my neighborhood asked me if I was thankful for anything. It caught me off guard and I was not quite sure how to respond in a quick, casual, “I’m walking the dog” kind of way. I looked at him and simply said, “Of course. While I don’t have much, I look at others who have less and realize how fortunate and thankful I am.” And then I added that I feel particularly thankful that I am able to do a small part in my community to help those less fortunate than me. As I walked away, it seemed like it was a standard answer that most people would give. And then I began to really think. Read the rest of this entry »

Let me introduce you to your best friend!

No, it is not a throwback to Scarface with Al Pacino. It is right here, right now, and may be gathering dust in your rolodex. What am I talking about? Your BDM. Call the position whatever you like—BDM, Sales Manager, Sales Associate… whatever. But every supplier has a sales team to take care of their agent partners. With so many new faces in the industry, many with small books of business, many do not realize the value of this resource!

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What will tomorrow hold for the travel industry?

Tomorrow we go to the polls to elect a new President of the United States. Will it be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Who knows! And I am not here to endorse, persuade, or pontificate on the election beyond saying that I probably speak for the majority when I say that we will all be glad to have it over! But once the new administration takes over, things for the travel industry will change. Read the rest of this entry »

Little things can yield big results

My town is not that big. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that own small businesses and I try to support them as much as possible. So, when the Executive Director of a small non-profit asked me to be a judge for a kids Halloween Walk they were having, I said sure. I figured I had no plans for what turned out to be a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Annapolis. Read the rest of this entry »

To heck with best practices

Our world is cluttered with clichés and phrases… most of which are meaningless. “The mission of XYZ Travel is to provide wonderful experiences. We make memories. We think out of the box. We have applied a paradigm shift to the travel industry and turned it on end, blah, blah, blah.” And my personal favorite—best practices. I say to heck with best practices. Read the rest of this entry »