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 »
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.
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 »
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.
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 »
I got a call the other day inquiring about pricing on our “upcoming group trip to Antigua.” Seems pretty routine, right? Well, the catch was that we did not have a trip to Antigua. I assumed she got her wires crossed and meant to call someone else, but she was insistent. In the end, we discovered she stumbled across an article I wrote in 2004 for MSNBC where I referenced a trip that we had done in 2003 to…Antigua. We shared a little laugh and then I got to thinking. Read the rest of this entry »
As if flying was not bad enough; hold on, it is going to get a lot worse. In March, the US put a ban on laptops and tablets in cabins from incoming flights from a select few countries, which affected about 50 daily flights. Now it seems that the ban may be extended to include EU countries and is expected to affect more than 400 daily flights and 65 million travelers per year. So what is a traveler to do? What is an agent to do? Read the rest of this entry »
Customer service will kill you. Well, let me be more specific…poor customer service will kill you. I am a patient guy for the most part. I realize that we are all busy and sometimes thing slip through. But sometimes my patience runs thin and any size screw-up can send me off vowing to never shop or patronize a place again. The tough part is knowing when I have had enough. Here are three ways you might be sabotaging your own business. Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »
My agency has evolved over the years. I entered the world of travel (as a profession) in 1996 when I purchased a single location agency. We grew it to five locations, weathered all sorts of issues including 9-11 and I sold the retail aspects in 2005. I continues on with a niche agency I had developed selling group travel to single parents and their kids. And I continue that to this day.
All too frequently, I get the ignorant comments such as “why are you still in a dying industry?” and “how can you make any money doing that?” And make no mistakes, those are ignorant. Am I rolling in the dough to the tune of mid-six figures? Not even close. But so far, I have been able to survive, have a good time, and put my three kids through college while working in a dying industry. Of course there is more than the dollars. I gave that some thought and here’s my reasons why I am sticking with this “dying” industry. Read the rest of this entry »
First United was dragging passengers off a plane to accommodate a crew shift; and now, less than two weeks later, American has hit a woman in the head with a stroller and a flight attendant has challenged a passenger to a fight. What is happening to the “friendly skies”?
Unless you are living under a rock, you know about the latest airline screw up. United oversold a flight and needed seats for their crew to staff another plane at the destination. The solution United came up with (as all airlines will do) is to bounce a few passengers. Where United differed was that, for some still yet unexplained reason, they decided to forcibly remove one passenger causing injury and embarrassment to both the passenger and the company. We can follow along with the unfolding saga and will ultimately find out what truly happened. But all that aside, there is another valuable lesson to be learned here. Read the rest of this entry »
AdWeek recently had an article on social media use as it relates to travelers. It piqued my interest and I dug in and came away surprised. Hopefully we are all using social media by now. A Facebook page for your agency is as required as a website and business license. And if you are not…or if you might be slacking, check out some of these stats! Read the rest of this entry »
Way back when in a and far, far away, airlines used to give travel agent certificates for free or discounted travel. One time, I had a bunch of them to use with US Airways and decided to just walk up to an airport with a suitcase and go someplace new based on the clothing in my bag—warm or cold. It was exciting. It was cool. I told the ticketing agent to just let me know the gate and not the destination. I tried to not know, but usually the gig was up when I arrived at the gate. But the serendipity was intoxicating. Fast forward to my discovery last week. Read the rest of this entry »
Hopefully every year you put together a marketing (and business) plan for your business. There are travel nights, travel shows, advertising, direct mail, email, Facebook ads, and Yellow Pages—well OK maybe not Yellow Pages, I have not been listed in more than a decade! But here’s a thought for you. Are sponsorships part of your overall marketing plan? If not, they should be; and here’s why! Read the rest of this entry »