Monthly Archives: October 2008

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Image Tours: Europe and only Europe

How much business do you think you would get if you did not publish your address or telephone number on your website or on the collateral for your product? On the surface it seems like a pretty foolish move, but for Image Tours, it is the only way to go. Image Tours has no desire to have their information plastered on the web or on their brochures. They prefer to have that information in the hands of travel professionals—it’s the only way they do business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

TRO is devoting the next few weeks to assisting agents in developing a 2009 Marketing Plan. Follow along with us each day to gain the traction you need to make 2009 your best year ever. You can find all of the previous articles in this series by clicking on the 365 Guide link at the end of this article.

It’s time to develop a public relations strategy for our 2009 Marketing Plan.  A strong public relations (PR) strategy is one of the cornerstone’s of a company’s brand image.  The ultimate goal of a PR strategy is to drive people into the sales process. PR is full-on marketing, a crafting of opportunities to put the company and its message in full view of the public, not by advertising Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

It amazes me when Independent Contractors (IC) expect 100% commissions from a Host Agency.  I’m even more flabbergasted when an IC is surprised to discover that their Host has defaulted on those same commission obligations.  Eventually the IC learns that 100% of zero equals  $0.00.

I spoke with a concerned agent last week.  He was dismayed that his Host Agency had defaulted on their commission sharing arrangement.  His prior Host Agency was supposed to pay him 100% of the supplier’s commission.  He thought the “100% Host Agency” could make up for the loss by doing more business!  Now it appeared that the “100% Host Agency” had run out of money and couldn’t afford to remit the agent any of his earned commissions. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Aloha 4Q 2008

The last twelve weeks of 2008 are just ahead of us. Certainly there have been and will be still some anxious moments in travel as this year winds down and we begin 2009.  But I dare say there is also some pent-up demand for travel right now.  For almost a year, people have slowed their travel spending as the dollar lost ground to other currencies. With just a bit of luck, the tide will turn in the traveler’s Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

So, what’s in a name anyway?

The other week, I had a fairly deep discussion with a colleague whose opinion I respect very much. We covered many aspects of the industry including my well known stance on Multi Level Marketing and the recent surge of organizations and individuals looking to “credential” our industry. The question came up, “What exactly makes an agent an agent?” (Disclaimer: this column will ask many questions and answer few.)

When you really delve into it, you will quickly realize that the whole credentialing thing is a very complex issue. We discussed a colleague that we both know to be the consummate professional. He has been in business Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I said FEE not FREE

Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Orlando and work at the Travel Research Online (TRO) booth with Richard Earls at the THETRADESHOW sponsored by ASTA. I met so many great people at the show, and learned a lot; and it never ceases to amaze me at how much you can learn from your peers. All too often, it is almost too easy to feel you know it all–and that is a dangerous place to be.

On the last day of the show Richard gave a seminar entitled “The 7 Characteristics of Top Travel Agents“. One of the highlighted habits was that top travel agents charge fees. When Richard asked how many agents in attendance were currently charging fees, only about 1% of those in attendance raised their hands. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Meet Jamaica

The island of Jamaica is the third largest in the Caribbean. It is ideally located, capturing trade winds that assist in maintaining a near constant temperature between 77 and 82 degrees and which bless the mountainous island’s northeast coast with abundant rain. Jamaica supports a wide diversity of plant and animal life. More than half the island is higher than 800 feet above sea level. The economy depends heavily on the tourism Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Solar Tours: much more than a consolidator

Back in 1997, Solar Tours was my preferred consolidator to Central and South America. Without hesitation, we would call Solar and get outstanding prices and exceptional service, and immediate payment from their Washington, DC headquarters.  Solar Tours began in 1984 as a wholesaler for Foreign Independent Tours (FITs) to Latin America. Due to their success and the relationships they built, expanding into airline consolidation made a lot of sense and Solar became known for their consolidation business. My how times have changed.

Today’s Solar Tours is still that great consolidator for Latin America, but they are so much more. They have taken their extensive FIT background and developed a program for agents not only in Latin America, but in Europe and the Asian-Pacific markets as well. Over the past five years, Solar Tours has invested on growing their business to include other products—one that every agent will love. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Get off your duff and stand out from the crowd

If you’ve been anywhere near a TV, radio, newspaper or Wall Street employee, you know one thing; the economy is taking a beating. I know my wife and I are looking for a nanny and it’s been tough finding good applicants…until a few days ago.  Then, a barrage of applications came in.  When I asked why this was happening, the lady at the agency said a lot of folks had lost their jobs and therefore, so did their nannies.
So, with this kind of news, can you assume the travel market will be impacted?  Sure. That’s not rocket science.  Some people WILL take a vacation however.  More important, many people will Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

A State of Disarray

Your income will increase, consumers will have greater awareness and respect for you as a professional and “instant agents” will disappear.  How?  Read on….

For many years, the Airlines Reporting Corporation provided travel professionals with a benefit that agents hardly recognized. In some way, shape or form, most agents were connected with an ARC agency. The formalities of airline ticket issuance and the requirements of managerial oversight in an agency provided the industry with an ordering principle, an array, around which the entirety of the professional status of the travel agent depended. A consumer expected a travel agent to be associated with a local agency, and it was clear who was and was not Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

What’s your Plan B, C, and D?

Recently, Mike Caplin discussed working this industry in tough times. Later this week, you will hear a similar theme from another industry leader. If you have followed the news the past few weeks, you have seen the housing, banking, and insurance sectors of our economy require huge bailouts to remain alive. Wall Street, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mae, and AIG all leaned on the U.S. Government for their Plan B.  Unfortunately, individual agencies and the thousands of home based travel professionals are not as lucky. Uncle Sam is not one of our blood relatives.

We are certainly not immune to tough times. The airlines are still bleeding. Hotel occupancies are down. And if any of the casual polls I have seen are any indication, leisure travelers are a lot more cautious than they have been since 2001. This convergence of bad financial news is bad news for sure, but by no means is it insurmountable. As a business owner, you need to be as prepared as you can for virtually any eventuality. With awareness comes success. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Miss Manners goes on a FAM

We’ve all heard the horror stories about Familiarization Trips, or FAMs, where some poor agent ended up with the roommate from hell. You know the one — stumbles around the room nude, drinks like a fish, and brings strangers back to the room at all hours of the day and night.

Obviously, that kind of behavior is inappropriate pretty much anywhere; but certainly on a FAM.  But, coming to a consensus on exactly what behavior is expected, appreciated and appropriate when one is fortunate enough to be invited on a FAM trip, is a bit more difficult. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Stalking Dragons in the City of London

Stalking dragons in the City of London is a serious affair requiring patience, a sharp eye and keeping your wits about you. Unlike many other tourist subjects, images of dragons rarely offer themselves up to the camera neatly poised against a powder blue sky. London dragons inhabit a complex world of ancient ledges, curving architectural spans and elusive corners. They secret themselves Read the rest of this entry »