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Know Your Value

What value do you, as a travel agent, bring to your client?  Is the value you offer, the value the client wants? What we mean by this is that some clients want you to provide them with the absolute best pricing available – that’s their definition of value.  Others want true value – the best experience that their budget will allow.

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Anita Pagliasso took a leap of faith in 1992. Following her passion for travel, she switched gears from owning a successful and thriving electronic manufacturing rep business in the heart of Silicon Valley, CA., to opening her home-based travel business, Ticket To Travel. In 1993, Anita accepted Gary Fee’s challenge to become the San Jose/Bay Area Chapter director, which during parts of her 20 plus year reign became the OSSN flagship chapter. 

Anita serves as the Conference Director for the Travel Agent Forums, where she is responsible for educational content, securing relevant authors, keynote speakers, travel industry top executives, and co-coordinating panels and panelists, all while working closely with the staff at Travel Show Marketing Group.  Read the rest of this entry »

Wendy Dall, That Travel Lady

Sometimes it takes time to develop a niche. Not every travel agent starts in the industry knowing immediately where they want to specialize. Wendy Dall, That Travel Lady, is one of those travel agents. We sat down recently with Wendy and talked to her about her entry into the world of travel, and how she finally honed in on her niche of romance travel.

Travel Research Online (TRO): How did you come to the decision to enter the travel industry?

Wendy Dall (WD): Prior to getting into travel I was an International Marketing Manager on the technology side. One company I worked for provided customer relationship manager systems for travel agents. I did my MBA in Denmark and lived in Europe for 13 years. I came to the United States in 2000 as the tech bubble burst, so when my first child was born in 2001 I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. At the age of 40 I had my second child, and five years later I was looking to return to the work force. That is when I decided to get into the travel industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Focusing on a very narrow niche can be very successful, and Sharon Little has proven it with her strict focus on romance travel in Jamaica. We recently sat down with Sharon to ask about her business model and experiences in the travel industry.

Travel Research Online (TRO): How long have you been in the travel industry?

Sharon Little (SL): Here in the United States it has been approximately six years. Prior to that I worked in the UK for Thomas Cook for approximately 15 years.

TRO: Have you always been in the travel industry?

SL: Yes. I studied travel tourism in college. After college I got into business travel after college but switched to leisure travel pretty quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

What does your website say about you?

Do you ever just want to just bang your head? Like how do you get your ideal client (not the looker, but the booker) to hire you to design that trip? Sure, you get all kinds of inquiries but they are shoppers – they don’t want to pay a deposit, let alone a fee.

Then your email is flooded with hundreds of people telling you how to make more money, how to amplify your message, and you’re like “I just want to design travel”… you’re a travel expert, not a marketer, a Social Media guru, (fill in the blank here with other titles.), etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Relax, I don’t bite

After a recent meeting with some colleagues, we decided to head out for a drink.  As we were sitting at the bar chatting with the bartender, we started talking travel as usual. The  bartender mentioned that the woman at the end of the bar was also a travel agent. Not one to miss an opportunity to promote our small group of travel professionals, I asked if she’d like to join the group and network with her peers.  The next words out of her mouth took me aback: Read the rest of this entry »

Venture out of your comfort zone

A call came in from one of my favorite clients wanting a package to Maui – again!  They have been to the island countless times and have consistently stayed at the same two resorts.  Taking my roll as an “advisor” seriously, I mention perhaps exploring a different island in Hawaii or a new tropical destination.  It would be quite easy to fulfill her request and have a nice easy booking, but I really feel like there is more out there for this lovely couple to see!   Read the rest of this entry »

Fascinated, yet foiled by Facebook again

I had another topic in mind for this column; but then this morning as I was browsing quickly on Facebook I realized that I needed to change focus.

I try to limit my time on social media during the business day, but I do manage several pages and groups so I feel the need to check it a couple of times.  Here are the four steps I try to take: Read the rest of this entry »

Who’s time is being devalued anyway?

The topic of charging fees comes up in travel agent forums on a regular basis, and this week was no different. In the most recent discussion, some of the travel agents complained about how clients don’t value our time, which leads to their resistance to paying fees.

They are wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Cate Caruso, True Places Travels

More and more people are moving into the travel industry after having long, successful careers in other fields. Cate Caruso is one such agent, having made the transition from technology to travel. We recently sat down with Cate and talked to her about the transition into travel, and some best-practice sharing as well.

Travel Research Online (TRO): Before entering the world of travel as a career, what was your prior profession? And how did you make the transition to travel?

Cate Caruso (CC): Out of college I went into the technology industry working in sales and marketing, as well as project management. I was in that industry for over twenty years when I had to take about five years off to care of an elderly parent. Read the rest of this entry »

5 client types that need to be fired

As travel professionals, we work with many different types of clients. Some are easier to work with — answering our questions, knowing what they want, and not challenging our advice. And then there are those where we have to pull everything out of!  Sure we have our favorites, while others we affectionately call PITA’s.  We have our loyal clients and then those that use us for our knowledge but never book.   Read the rest of this entry »

Jacob Marek, Introvertravels

Focusing on a niche is something we hear about quite often. We have discussed some of what might be considered the typical niches: small ship cruising, luxury travel, all things Disney, vegan travel, etc. Jacob Marek has possibly touched on an underserved niche; introverts. We recently sat down with Jacob to discuss his business and his new-found niche.

Travel Research Online (TRO): Let’s start with what you did prior to starting your own travel agency. Read the rest of this entry »

Please, learn from the Louisiana floods

 

The news coverage around the country seems to be spotty at best when it comes to reporting the flooding and devastation currently going on in Louisiana.   If you’re area news stations aren’t reporting about it, parts of Louisiana are suffering severe flooding. One travel agent reported over 30 inches of rain in her area in less than 48 hours. For some, it’s bringing back memories of the devastation of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, but this flooding is much worse. Some are reporting that this may be the worst single natural disaster to have ever hit the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Shouse, Stamp Your Passport

These days, many consultants entering the industry do so as home-based agents.  But that wasn’t so for Jennifer Shouse.  She started as an employee of a traditional brick and mortar agency before branching out on her own last year, launching her agency, Stamp Your Passport.  Recently we sat down with Jennifer and talked about the transition from employee to independent contractor and agency owner.

Travel Research Online (TRO):  How long did you work for a brick and mortar agency, and why did you decide to move on?

Jennifer Shouse (JS):  I worked as an employee for a large, national brick and mortar agency for approximately 12 years before I decided to leave in late 2015.  Over time I felt that their attention to employees and clients had shifted.  They pushed preferred suppliers even if they weren’t the best fit for the client.  I eventually came to the decision that we were no longer a good fit. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you reading your market?

We all know that the publicity surrounding the recent attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East are spooking travelers who are either cancelling their planned holidays and/or putting vacation plans on hold.

Cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, and others combat this with new pricing deals and incentives in hopes of luring travelers back to their destinations. That’s always good for us travel agents. But the smarter travel agents do something more. They re-direct their marketing efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Be empowered, be free!

To empower is “to have the authority or power to do something” and also “to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.” That one word really carries a lot of weight! Empowerment can come from yourself, your boss, and even your client when they give you the authority to make travel related decisions on their behalf. To be empowered is to be confident! As you can see empowerment could come from others, but most importantly it must come from yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

Toni Anderson, Cruises by Toni

When you live close to a major cruise port, cruising is a natural niche for your agency.  Travel Agent Spotlight recently spoke with Toni Anderson about her agency Cruises by Toni, as well as her perspective on the travel industry.

Travel Research Online (TRO):  What was your career path before getting into travel, and how did you enter the travel industry?

Toni Anderson (TA):  In January 2007 I started to work for a vacation rental company.  They told me that selling vacation rentals was required before becoming a travel agent.  Of course that didn’t pan out, and I eventually found a host agency in Florida.  I was with them for almost two years before getting my own TRUE number through OSSN (now CCRA) in October of 2008, and starting my own agency. Read the rest of this entry »

Andrea Ross: A passion for giving back

Andrea Ross grew up in England, listening to her parents’ stories of colonial Africa and the Far East. Always one with an independent streak, she took her first solo international trip to Australia at the age of 8, and her passion for new experiences hasn’t diminished since.

That same spirit led Ross to open Journeys Within – a boutique hotel and tour agency – in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2003, long before most of the world had ever heard anything about the “kingdom of wonder,” other than possibly the existence of Angkor Wat.

At first specializing only in day trips for her hotel guests, Ross grew the tour company to include offices and tours in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar, as well as sales offices in Truckee, California and London, England. Read the rest of this entry »

Start your day off on the right foot!

Good morning! Or is it? How important is it to start your day with good habits and the right frame of mind? Research shows it’s critical! How you start your day has far-reaching positive and negative ramifications that affect work, personal life, and your overall well-being. We’ve all started the day in a panic because we are running late or need to immediately go into crisis mode, only to see the morning hours fade and the rest of the day be unproductive. There are days we wrap up work and feel elated and pleased with the services we have provided and the impact we’ve made; then there are other days when burn out and allow negativity to set in. Believe it or not, the first few minutes of your waking hours set the tone and paves the way for how you experience everything throughout the rest of your day.

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No more shiny objects for you

If you’ve been in this business for very long, it’s likely at some point you’ve found yourself completely overwhelmed with the things you’re supposed to do. Are you on social media? Do you have this app? What about this CRM? Have you done this online course? What about listening to this marketing pitch? It’s hard to know who to pay attention to, where to invest your money, and how to most wisely use the only asset you really have — your time. Read the rest of this entry »

Matt Schumacher, Travel Troops

Travel consultants come from all walks of life, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that some had previous lives on the supplier side of the industry. We recently spoke with Matt Schumacher about his road to becoming an agency owner.

Travel Research Online (TRO): What was your profession prior to getting into the travel industry?

Matt Schumacher (MS): Before travel I was in retail, I was working for the likes of Best Buy and Walmart as a manager. Actually at one point, I worked for Randy Alleyne in the retail arena (who is now with Liberty Travel). When my job was outsourced, I applied for a job with Sandals, and that was my entry into the travel world. Read the rest of this entry »