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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!

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Never abandon your clients when things go wrong

I like to think of myself as relatively technical. I am an early adopter of new technologies and can usually find a way to cut through the fluff and determine if it is a good fit for me, and how to most effectively use it. WordPress? Got it down and it powers all my sites. Solostream for themes? I can see which theme will best reflect the content. Dropbox. Facebook. Twitter. Office. Feedly. Evernote. I have them all and use the heck out of them. Where I fall short in my knowledge is what lies on the back end. And that, was the root of one of the worst weeks of my life last week. Read the rest of this entry »

Are business cards dead? Not by a long shot!

I have, and continue to be, a huge proponent of business cards. They are one of the least expensive, yet most effective marketing pieces you can have. Where else for $35 can you get 1000 chances to wow a potential client? Nowhere! Now that little bit of cheerleading does come with a caveat or two. Read the rest of this entry »

My take on FAM trips

For years we have been told it is our expertise that will differentiate a professional agent from a faceless database portraying itself as an agent on the Internet. I wholeheartedly agree. We need to make sure that our expertise is one step ahead of the game—all the time. Real agents get it right. When delays happen, the faceless, soulless app will likely not have accurate information. The real people in the airport may be trying to quell a situation and not be as forthcoming as they should. A hotel representative may be getting a commission for restaurant referrals.  Real travel professionals will get you the real information. And the savvy travelers know that! Read the rest of this entry »

The little things matter. Really, they do!

OK there is the old adage, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” And yes, I agree with it… to a degree. Many times, you have no control over the small stuff anyway, so sweating it makes no sense and cannot change the outcome. But the small stuff you do have control over… definitely sweat that!

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. How many times have we heard about perfecting that elevator speech? Well, the same advice applies to your written word as well. In fact, good impressions in writing are paramount to your reputation. Spoken words can be forgotten. Written words are their forever. (See what I just did?) Read the rest of this entry »