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Beyond the lens of the news in the Virgin Islands

While catastrophic weather impacts each of our businesses routinely, it is still very easy to sit back and wait for the re-build. Hotels are insured we always say. And they are. We see cherry-picked scenes from the news—sometimes horribly inaccurate (I recall a major network filling a pothole with water after Katrina to make it look like the city was still flooded); yet many times they go for the easy shot. Or maybe it is the only shot available. That begs the question, what lies beyond the lens of the news.

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Travel Tech: A product I need

Every now and then you come across and idea and say, “why didn’t I think of that?” With me it is far more frequent than most. Band-Aids that are clear to match the color of an individual’s skin—my idea! Well, not really, but well before they came to market, I did think about why there weren’t different shades of band aids to match different skin tones—so I am going to own it. This past week, a new product scrolled across my Facebook timeline that I think has some incredible potential for the travel industry and frequent international clients. And like the Band-Aids, I did not think of this one either!

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If you are looking to get into the travel industry…or if you are already in the travel industry and woke up with a burning desire to read an outstanding article, this is the one for you! Mary Stein and Stephanie Lee from Host Agency Reviews pulled back the curtain on the cockroach of the travel industry—the MLM or network marketing agency.

With my own personal distaste for the MLM crowd, these two women are my travel heroes for 2017. In a very in-depth article, they peeled back the layers of the onion to really give readers a solid insight into the scam, and actionable tips on how to avoid being scammed. In fact, TRO also has a great resource for you!

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Today’s technologies have empowered customers in ways we never would have imagined ten years ago. With the touch of a few buttons, customers can have all the information they want at their fingertips.

Also, they also have the ability to decimate a business with a few taps on their phone with a negative review, or worse. This is particularly true for smaller agencies that tend to have fewer reviews—they will stand out! Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, I was reminiscing about my younger days bartending in Philadelphia, and I could not help but smile about the antics of an old friend whose energy and verve (some might say nerve)  literally knew no bounds. The guy was the life of the party. He was never down. He never took no for an answer And everyone always wanted to be with or near him. As a result, he is an incredibly successful businessman, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. Pat Croce started his career as a physical therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers and eventually ended up owning the Philadelphia 76ers and taking them to the NBA finals in 2001. Since then, he has moved on from one success to the next and is now happily retired. Read the rest of this entry »

This one is a tough one to write. It is Sunday afternoon and Hurricane Irma is starting her slam into the Gulf Coast of Florida after wreaking havoc as she tore across the Caribbean. Destinations all too familiar to us have sustained damage ranging from devastating to severe.

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I am not sure about you, but I am having a hard time fathoming the scope of the damage from Harvey to the greater Houston area. Texans will be recovering from this once-in-a-lifetime storm for years, if not decades. We have all seen the horrible news footage of the damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. We see the suffering of people and animals alike and are compelled to do something. I know I was—and I donated $200, which seemed very insignificant to me. But a Georgia travel agent was thinking out of the box a little bit (as we are prone to do) and offered to help. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexico Can’t Catch A Break

Mexico can’t catch a break!  Mexico is still reeling from the bad press surrounding a recent death of a young adult in one of their resorts and it just got a little bit worse–if that is possible. The State Department last week issued a travel warning for Mexico. However, a critical part of that warning has been overlooked by most media. Read the rest of this entry »

Your clients trust you; don’t betray them

I love the travel industry. I got into it back in 1997 (you do the math, big numbers scare me) and never looked back. I have said it before; but this is generally a happy business. People do not come to us with problems. While we do solve some problems, our primary task is to facilitate travel dreams. As a whole, I love my colleagues in the industry. There are very few industries in existence where competitors are so willing to freely share their successes. My colleagues are honest, trustworthy and nice. Well, except for this one.

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PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column on “fake news” in the travel industry. The media had resurrected a story about a tragic death in Mexico of a young woman who was found dead in a resort swimming pool. The story came to light for a second time because a lawsuit was filed. There was rampant speculation about the cause and one of the causative actions was leaning towards the resort utilizing tainted liquor. Not so fast! Read the rest of this entry »

When Starbucks just isn’t working for you

 

I am not sure about all of you, but my career in the travel industry started with an office job. I was doing the 9-5 thing. And then I sold my retail locations in 2005 and shifted. I worked from home with several independent contractors across the country doing the same thing. Technology, at that time, enabled us to work anywhere there was an Internet connection and a place to plop down your laptop. Today, we don’t even need that with the smart phones. Starbucks (and any other local coffee shop) became the de-facto “office” for many. And for me, today, Starbucks is just not cutting it any longer. Read the rest of this entry »

 

When the Internet first became a powerhouse in the travel industry, many said it was the death knell for us. We persevered. Through fees and specialties, we shrunk in numbers, but grow in profitability. Whether it was incredible prescience or dumb luck I will never know, but today’s travel agent is a far cry from the one of yester-year. Those of us still in the business can attest that our office today is nothing like the old ones. Many agents have no idea what the ARC is. Many are not familiar with a GDS. That is why, when I was catching up on my reading that I was thrilled to see Vogue magazine understand what we’ve known for a long time. We are here and we are strong. Vogue magazine gets us. They really get us! Read the rest of this entry »

 

I am sure you all have seen the headlines this week. “Family Searching For Answers After Daughter Dies at Resort During Vacation in Mexico.” It dominated my timeline and feed on social media. Ugh, here we go again. And, not unlike our current President, the media is proving to not be our friend. When I read the first article, I wanted to shout “fake news, fake news” but couldn’t. It is not fake at all. Tragically a woman died as a result of an incident at a resort in Mexico. The issue is that only part of the story is being told. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week I mentioned the new Facebook feature where you could include a video on your cover image. This week, I want to suggest another sense to explore with travel. Audio. Sure, there is an audio component to any video (or at least there should be), but it also requires complete concentration. Have you considered a Podcast? Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing tells the story of travel better than images. In particular—video! Think about it, what allows clients to picture themselves immersed in a vacation better? Is it your descriptive words like “luxury surroundings” or “pristine beaches”? Probably not. Now, give them some pictures and the immersion goes a little deeper. Before the days when online galleries were the thing, I used to loan my clients CD-ROMS of images to enable them. Today, of course, it is video and Facebook is in the process of launching a new feature tailor made for travel professionals. Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow is Independence Day. Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Like most people across America, you will probably doing something outside and maybe grilling up some food to share with family and friends.  But, did you think about your clients?  I am not talking about having them over (but if you have the space, it might not be a bad marketing move), but just touching base. I will send my clients and prospects an email broadcast wishing them well. No pitch. No telling them how great we are. No links to our website. Just a simple wish.  And it has paid off for me in the past, and I expect it will again tomorrow–well the day after tomorrow!  So what do I get out of it? Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, I went to dinner with a colleague. And like all great conversations, this one began after a few drinks. His phone stated to beep, vibrate, and buzz. I realize that most travel professionals today are on call 24-7, so it was not unusual for him to address the beeps, vibrations, and buzzers right then and there. I had expected a short, simple response and a return back to our conversation. But no! He kept tapping.

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We figured there would be changes

Back in a November column, I said that under any new Presidential administration that we should expect changes that impacted the travel industry. It is inevitable, the only unknowns are how severely it will impact us and at what cost? And what do we need to do as an industry to handle any changes and fight those that are detrimental?

Since November, the two largest changes have been the ban on electronics entering the US in aircraft cabins and the most recent repeal of former President Obama’s relaxing of travel to Cuba. While the first is a major inconvenience; the second has to potential to do harm to our bottom line. So what to do? Read the rest of this entry »

With Europe (notably the UK) in a bit of turmoil lately with terror attacks and a surprising election, it was a welcome respite to notice some good news last week.

I belong to several travel agent groups on Facebook. If you don’t belong to any, search them out; they are a great resource. But I digress. I was checking posts and I came across one that made me smile. Read the rest of this entry »

London: Two attacks in two weeks, what now?

First, a bomb exploded at an Ariana Grande concert in  Manchester on May 22nd. Then on June 2nd, a coordinated attack in central London has left 8 more dead. While it is still too early to know if they are connected, it is not too early to start planning on how the travel industry will (once again) deal with the risk of a terror attack in a destination that is usually deemed pretty safe.

What now?

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Last week, I got in a discussion with a colleague and the topic of preferred suppliers came up.  I have my list and he had his. In short time, the discussion turned into a friendly banter with each of us picking apart the other’s choices. I don’t know why you like Supplier A because they did this and that way back in 2010.  Well Supplier B has a reputation for doing this.  Eventually we agreed that we could pick apart ANY supplier if we dug deep enough. So we decided to restructure the debate to what we WANT in a preferred supplier.  Hey Supplier A and Supplier B–you listening? Read the rest of this entry »