Tomorrow I am going to a program in my hometown called Ignite! Actually, I attended my first one last year, and I am going again to maybe work up my courage for next year! Ignite is (my definition) a very short TED Talk with a twist. You come up with a topic. You provide 20 slides to go with your presentation and you have 5 minutes to finish it with each slide advancing every 15 seconds. No pressure there huh? So what does that have to do with travel?
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Earlier this week I received an email pitching a service to help agencies detect fraud. It piqued my interest initially and to be honest, it did not seem to have a whole lot of meat to it. So much of it was not applicable to agencies, but more to tour operators, OTAs, and airlines. And then there was this statement that make begin to think. Read the rest of this entry »
It was in 1995 when Delta sent out the notice. No longer would they be paying 10% commission on airline tickets; they were capping the commission at $50. Do the math. Whenever you issued a Delta ticket valued at more than $500, you were losing money. As predicted, the other airlines followed suit. And the caps were followed by cuts. And the cuts were followed by elimination. Remember that history as we navigate 2018 and the news that Marriott has decided to reduce commissions on group bookings. We can learn much from the past. Read the rest of this entry »
Disclaimer: This is a fluid situation and like anything in Washington, it can change in a heartbeat!
Well, the government is shut down. And while we bemoan any governmental intrusion into our lives, it is a necessary evil and often times we simply go about our lives oblivious to the government. Not so much with a shut down. A government shut down can have far reaching impacts on the travel industry.
Sometimes little things get under my skin. Often, I will just let them go—typically they aren’t a very big deal. But sometimes they fester. Try as I might, they keep coming back and bugging me. And right now, it is a popular commercial that has me fired up. It is kind of stupid to begin with; but it can also be seen as irresponsible. Have you seen it? Read the rest of this entry »
With my business, I rarely do individual trips. But for the occasional, preferred client I will. Recently, I was working on a European FIT for a client with a … how shall I say this delicately…rambunctious child. Now on our group trips we can usually keep the crowd under control when we escort them, and other parents are keeping a watchful eye. But solo travel is another beast and I felt it best to make a point of it to my client. Make sure you keep an eye on junior. First, losing him would be horrible; but secondly, you never want to be painted as “that” tourist. It gave me pause to think and share the stories I had heard over the years about tourists behaving badly—and I smiled. Here are some of my favorites! Read the rest of this entry »
Like the new car smell, I love the feel of a fresh new year. It is a chance to put your mistakes and missteps behind you. It is a chance to create new goals for yourself; and it is a chance to press that giant reset button and affect change in your personal and business life. Certainly 2018 will see some changes in the travel industry. What they will be is anyone’s guess—but if you asked me, here’s where I think we will see some change. Read the rest of this entry »
In this “go, go, go” world we live in, it is important to take some time for yourself. Forever (it seems) teachers and professors have been able to take sabbaticals to refresh and renew. They take their time off and relax, and re-educate themselves to be the best they can be for their students when they return. Unfortunately, in our industry few of us have back up agents to carry us for many months; and those that do likely don’t have the cash flow to support that time off. So here’s what we do.
Once upon a time, people were loyal to brands! They identified a brand that provided quality and was built to last. Once found, they were loyal for life.
Then things changed. After WWII, quality seemed to improve across the board as technology began to take hold. In order to secure brand loyalty, we began to see jingles, contests, and product placements. Brands did what they needed to do secure their position in the market.
Then things changed again. Quality was irrelevant—it was all similar and people began to ignore the brand because the same product with the same quality was available at (quite literally) their fingertips. Yes, today, it is true—you can buy anything you want online at the lowest price and have it delivered to you in some places in a matter of minutes.
That sucks for us doesn’t it? Maybe not! Read the rest of this entry »
Every year, I look forward to Travel Weekly’s Travel Industry Survey. It is a great snapshot into the industry, our competitors, and best practices to help me figure out how to best navigate this changing industry. Recently they released the report of 2017 and I was surprised. Approaching 20 years in the industry, I run the risk of sounding like one of those old and crusty travel agents of yore; but I’ll bite the bullet and let you in on the five trends that surprised me. Read the rest of this entry »
The day in and day out of work can take a toll on us all. And when that happens, we check out. A Dale Carnegie study found that as many as 45 percent of the workforce is not engaged and another quarter are actively disengaged. Yikes!
Whether you have a team of employees running your agency, or a team of one, keeping engaged and appreciated is key to your success. Failure to keep engaged and appreciated can result in your employees looking for greener pastures—or even yourself looking to bail on the industry. As Jack Torrance said in he Shining—all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Be sure to reward those who work for you…even if it is only you. And remember, it does not need to be extravagant. The results will pay dividends.
Here are seven simple, inexpensive ways to keep motivated and engaged. Read the rest of this entry »
If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Branson.
The man, not Missouri! Without a doubt, Sir Richard Branson is a disruptor. From record stores, to hotels. From wines to banks. From airlines to cruise lines. What? Yes it’s true, Fincantieri is in the process of building the first ship for Virgin Voyages! Of course “cruises” was too boring for Branson. Read the rest of this entry »
The other day I was going down the road and passed a car for a cleaning service. It was all wrapped and colorful with the domain on the back window that ended in “.cleaning”. I thought nothing of it and continued my drive. Then I realized something—have the vanity extensions (for lack of a better word) become commonplace as the Internet has grown? Read the rest of this entry »
Are you still struggling with your email newsletter? Are you (gasp) not sending one out? As anyone who knows me knows, I am a strong believer in the power of email. Next to face-to-face it is the most powerful tool you have–even more-so than the telephone! Your website is like any store in your local mall. People can stop by, take a look, maybe buy, maybe not. You have very little control. With email, you are more like the trusted UPS driver that has the code to the front door so they can leave packages inside. Think about it. With an opt-in email newsletter, your customers and prospects have given you explicit permission (and never add names because you can) to come into their email inbox. But there are some tricks to making sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.
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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.
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!
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!
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.