TravelResearchOnline | The voice of the travel agency community

Of ASTA, Agents and Advisors

ASTA recently took the bold step of rebranding itself to the “American Society of Travel Advisors.” For an organization of some 87 year history, a rebranding of this magnitude is no small feat. It may be years before the significance of the change filters through to the traveling public, but no individual in the travel industry should misunderstand the  shift in the dynamics of the relationship that has been taking place between travel professional and client now reflected in the new brand. Under Zane Kerby’s leadership ASTA has been remaking itself, reorganizing internally and shaping new opportunities for the travel community. With the rebranding, the clock begins ticking to see if the promise of those efforts can be made a reality in public perception. Read the rest of this entry »

I am proud to say I have been a part of the National Transaction Corp (NTC) family for over 10 years, and am now the VP of Operations. However, when I left the Army as a Satellite/Microwave Communication Specialist, I never would have imagined it would lead me to where I am today. When you think about it though, credit card terminals need to communicate, and most of the time, the problems merchants experience with the terminals, are communication issues.

Read the rest of this entry »

5 Savvy Ways to Use Social Ads

Do you get tired of scrolling thru your social feeds and only seeing ads that shout “Save Money”?

Are you bored with ads that beseech you to “Buy Now”

What if your own ads could stand out by NOT saying any of those oh-so-common come-ons?

Let’s tune into 5 essential ad types that boost business without sounding ‘sales-ey’ Read the rest of this entry »

Professionalism, we hear about it every day. For some reason the subject comes up more & more often in discussion. The majority of travel agents I observe do exhibit a high degree of professionalism. They are the first to point out there is no place in this business for those who behave otherwise. However, some agents, particularly new ones, will sometimes let their passion get in the way of good business and common sense.

What does it mean to be or act “professionally”? Here are a five things I believe epitomize what it means to be a travel professional. Read the rest of this entry »

Royal Caribbean Bans Emotional Support Animals

Did you see the story back in January about the peacock emotional support animal? A woman tried claiming her peacock was an emotional support animal, and she was denied boarding by United Airlines. If you didn’t see the story you can read about it here. It is not a surprise that the peacock incident led to United Airlines changing their policy about emotional support animals. Read the rest of this entry »

Cruce Andino’s Chilean Treasure

The Cruce Andino route through the Andes between Chile and Argentina is special for several reasons; which include the spectacular Vicente Perez Rosales National Park, a mosaic of lakes, waterfalls, lush Patagonian forest, and one of the world’s most perfectly shaped volcanoes.

Those who linger in the Chilean park — rather than taking Cruce Andino all the way through from Puerto Varas to Bariloche in one day — can hike or bike through the spectacular scenery, photograph the flora and fauna, relax in thermal baths, take a leisurely boat ride or raft a wild river, climb mountains, go fishing or swimming, camp, and more depending what time of year you visit. Read the rest of this entry »

A recent headline in our national newspapers about long delays at London Heathrow reminded me, to remind you, about the growing number of non-stop flights to Manchester, England’s northern gateway. Check your listings because for 2019 there are non-stop flights to Manchester from Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, JFK, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami and Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry »

Wealthy…Not Stupid

I recently spotted a billboard along the freeway that said “Just because I was born rich doesn’t mean I’m stupid.” This statement really struck a chord with me as I thought back 10 years ago to when I made the decision to move across town to an area that, in the past, had been less than desirable. Back then this section of town was comprised mostly of low income housing that was surrounded by undeveloped rolling hills and rural farm land. Read the rest of this entry »

There a number of ways a travel agency can stay in business and grow their asset. But, there is only one “fast” way to go out of business without unnecessary stress.

Here is the fastest way to go out of business: Wait for the phone to ring and then answer it like you really don’t care. Among all of the available options here is the surest way to maintain a growing business: Make it your number one objective to make your phone ring. Then answer it like you are happy the person thought enough of you to call. Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Fravel is the Founder and CEO of National Transaction Corporation. Founded in 1997, NTC has over 20 years of transaction processing experience, specializing in card not present and e-commerce solutions for the hospitality, tourism and medical industries, charitable institutions and franchises. NTC is an electronic payment expert, currently serving over 4,000 merchant accounts across Canada and the US.

Mark is a proven executive with a complete understanding of the back office operations in the Electronic Payment Processing business Including Credit, Underwriting, Loss Prevention, and Customer Service. He personally brings over 25 years of bankcard history to NTC, formerly serving as Vice President of First Data Corporation and General Manager of the Barnett Bank Alliance, where he managed a portfolio with over 100,0000 merchants contributing 1000 new sales per month with a consistent record of achievements including several top ten finishes.

Awards: 1994 # 2 VP, First Data CES, 1995 # 1 VP, First Data / CES, 1996 # 2 VP, First Data, 2000 # 9 MSP Nova Information Systems, 2001 # 7 MSP Nova Information Systems, 2002 # 2 MSP Nova Information Systems, 2006 # 3 MSP Nova Information Systems


TRO: You started National Transaction in 1997. Was there any particular occurrence or passion that spurred this move?

MF: The answer is yes, I needed to raise three young girls and not have to travel all over the United States. I left a large credit card processor to start my own small company out of my garage and entered the world of being a single parent.

 

TRO: You have an extensive background in managing financial systems. What major lessons have you learned in that time that are helping National Transaction accomplish its goals?

MF: I’ve learned to constantly be on the move, as soon as we have a system figured out, to protect us from criminals. The criminals use that and find another way, so we have to constantly be on our toes. In fact, we hire some of those criminals to help us constantly change our data security systems so we are constantly changing everything we do.

 

TRO: National Transaction currently handles over 4,000 travel merchant accounts. This includes clients such as airlines, tour operators, vacation rentals, hotels, and travel agents. In what ways can National Transaction help these clients, especially travel agents, manage their business for the better?

MF: We support all sizes and shapes and sizes of travel merchants. Every one of these travel merchants handles their financial services slightly different and that is where we need to be flexible, in the ability to customize solutions. Airlines tend to concern themselves with seat assignments, how much they can charge for a bag, or how much they can charge for a meal or a bag of potato chips. Hotels are more concerned with the facilities that you’re going to need at that hotel. Tour operators tend to be concerned with their particular part of the overall trip. The unique characteristic that I like about a travel agent is they are concerned with every piece of the trip because every piece of the trip is going to be a reflection upon the service that they provided the consumer.

 

TRO: Has National Transaction had any recent innovations that would be beneficial to travel agents?

MF: Yes, our NTCePay.com product has solutions for ‘all’ sizes of travel agents and is flexible, rich with features, and customizable! But first and foremost, secure; and I would challenge any expert to tell me there is a more secure way…as our product connects the issuing bank directly with the acquiring bank, so the transaction is done on the banks platform.

 

TRO: What would you say is National Transaction’s philosophy when doing business with clients?

MF: It would be flexibility, answering the phones promptly, and setting expectations. Sometimes there are things that are painful in our business and we try to minimize that pain. But, because we are in the financial services industry handling people’s money, there is a complexity and a dynamic that the honest approach is the best one.

 

TRO: The networks that National Transaction has setup seem secure. With multiple methods of connecting systems, you’ve created a safety net to protect clients’ (and their clients) information. Can you tell us more about that?

MF: Data security, cyber security, PCI and all of your security should be taken in layers. There is no magic “silver bullet”, all of the things that we recommend are critical to the process of protecting your data. Our NTCePay.com product is particularly secure as it connects the cardholder’s bank and the merchant’s bank, so the two banks are talking to each other with no software between that communication.

 

TRO: Does National Transaction have any big news to share about upcoming projects?

MF: The most exciting event is the announcement of our NTCePay.com product. This digital delivery platform allows for the integration of document and document signing at the point of purchase with the credit card order form combined into one motion. The one motion protects the card holder at the same time is making an efficient system for the merchant to collect the cardholder data in a secure environment.

 

You can catch Mark Fravel at the ASTA Convention in Washington D.C. on Thursday August 23rd about PCI Compliance in regards to Travel Credit Card Processing.

Torres del Pain with Marnella Tours

The Torres del Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine) is South America’s most impressive national park. Within its borders are mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers. It was voted as the fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic. A natural wonder that shouldn’t be missed, Marnella Tours wants you to know why the traveler should not miss it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Offering More with DSA Vacations

Dream vacations, and their destinations, vary greatly in the spectrum of travelers. Finding a supplier of vacations that span a large portion of the world and have cater to different styles of travel can be difficult. This is one of the many things that DSA Vacations does well. With vacation plans for southern and eastern Africa, the Americas, and Asia; and types of travel ranging through safaris, family, culinary, and adventure travel; DSA Vacations is there for the traveler and the agents they trust for their dream vacation. Read the rest of this entry »

Dazzling Douro Valley with Back-Roads Touring

The Douro Valley, also known as the Alto Douro Wine Region, lies northeast of Porto, Portugal. It is a fertile and mountainous region along the Douro River, which runs through Spain and Portugal. The valley is winding, with terraced fields of grapes covering its elevated sides that decline straight into the Douro River. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a great place to sip a bit of wine and enjoy vistas with a panoramic views of lush mountainscapes. Read the rest of this entry »

A Minor Inconvenience

It’s that email every travel agent dreads, “Subject: Flight Cancellations: Airline.”  The email arrived as I was returning from a mid-year conference and two-night inaugural cruise. I was sitting in traffic at a stop light when the email popped up on my phone. A planned ATC (Air Traffic Control) strike would close the airport in MRS (Marseille Province Airport), causing my clients’ flight from VCE (Venice Marco Polo Airport) to be cancelled in two days. The notice arrived late in the evening Italian time, but with two days’ notice to my clients as well as the transfer company. The time difference would also allow me to search for options on flights.

Read the rest of this entry »