Monthly Archives: June 2009

With the deadline to get this diary entry written looming, I sat down with my laptop. Staring at the blank screen and the blinking cursor, I realized I had no idea where to begin. The problem wasn’t that I had nothing to say–rather I had so much to say I couldn’t focus. That’s been happening a lot lately. There were just so many things on my plate that they had begun spilling out onto the table. After trying unsuccessfully to decide what to write, I came to the conclusion that the real problem was plate size. If I couldn’t get a bigger plate I would have to remove some of the things that are already on the plate and be more selective about any new things I add in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

NCFs and the Big Blue Ocean

The subject of NCFs (non-commissionable fees) is certainly getting a lot of attention. Travel agent communities on the internet frequently target NCFs as a high priority for discussion. Most agents are voicing the opinion that in an era of deep discounting it is no longer worth the effort to sell a three, four or even five day cruise for a commission that essentially amounts to pocket change. But if travel agents have been vocal on the topic, the majority of cruise executives have been eerily quiet on NCFs. Those that have joined the discussion point to the fact that NCFs are a fixed cost. It is not that NCFs have increased, cruise line executives will tell you, but rather than the price of the actual cruise has been discounted to a much smaller percentage of the total cost of the cruise. Some agents respond that there seems to be little direct relationship between NCFs and the costs that historically Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Athens, Greece

What’s not to love about Athens? Travelers who remember Athens from visits in the 1980’s and 90’s will say the city is a bit pricy and  crowded. They will remember five million inhabitants spilling through its streets, filling the shops and by-ways with an audible hum,  the traffic fierce. But Athens holds a certain attraction felt nowhere else, and if you have not been there in the past few years, you are in for a wonderful surprise. The 2004 Olympics bestowed a new lease on the old city’s life, and Athens has made a quick about-face, at once ancient, yet excitingly new again. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

All hands on deck!

A shot has decidedly been fired across the bow of the ship of the travel agency community. While details are still slow in coming out, our “partner”, United Airlines, has taken the lead in a move that has been anticipated by many, including me, for quite some time. United has advised that some “select” agencies will no longer be allowed to accept credit cards on behalf of United. This move is a clear indication of the future of the industry, a clear affront to the consumers and is nothing more than a masked fare increase, and a pretty good sign that the airlines (United in particular) are in dire straits. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography


Las Vegas is an American icon, a mixed vision of glamour, wealth, lights, a city in a desert, a family destination but a place where what happens there, stays there. There’s only one way to really figure out what Vegas is all about: you have to go there. What better opportunity for a travel professional than this year’s THETRADESHOW?

Thanks to THETRADESHOW , the sponsor of this column, you can use this 60-Second Geography article in your own travel agency’s newsletters and websites. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

A travel pro dares to dream

As travel agents, much of our time is spent planning clients’ trips, solving logistical challenges, and researching.  I am often drawn to itineraries or locales my clients choose, resulting in a long list of “someday” trips I’d like to take.  When it comes to my “dream trip”, there is no question:  a cruise around the world, complete with a land tour component in each major city.  Read the rest of this entry »

Seamaster Cruises — Shiny metal objects

I’m a week behind  for my deadline for this diary entry. Even though I told TRO that I would be late, I still feel guilty because I am a stickler for being on time. It would appear that I have succumbed to Shiny Object Syndrome (S.O.S.).  I sometimes wonder if this happens more often to those of us without a storefront. As a home based travel consultant, I can set my own hours. I can let the phone go to voicemail, I can check email at a time of my choosing. In other words, I can get easily distracted. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Pick pick pick

Hopefully you have a business and marketing plan in place. In writing. And in use! Hopefully you are constantly revising it to maximize your agency’s potential and profit. I have always advocated the very real need to have a limited scope of service (you need to create a niche) and I feel it is of the ultimate importance to partner with select suppliers in a symbiotic relationship. We are now solidly into six months of one of the most difficult economies the nation has ever seen. If you are still around, that is a testament to hard work and good decisions. But don’t rest on your laurels.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

TTA seeks MVP

Traditional Travel Agent Seeks Most Valuable Partner

I married my husband right after college. Eighteen years and two great kids later, we often look back and marvel at how we managed to make such great choices at such a young age, but I think I already know the secret. We both knew to look past the surface and focus on things like values, priorities, and character.

It works when choosing a spouse (that’s how I avoided the party-hearty frat boys and ended up with my dependable, family-focused hubby) but it’s equally true in business. When we choose the suppliers we do business with, we need to look beyond the surface and examine the company’s core values, its way of doing business, and its overall “fit” with our business model. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Paris by EEI Travel!

Paris in the Spring, or any other time for that matter, is a joy. This is a city with a history that stretches back to Celtic beginnings, the cultural heart of Europe from practically the dawn of a European identity.

Thanks to EEI Travel, the supplier sponsor of this column, you can use this 60-Second Geography article in your own travel agency’s newsletters and websites. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Great Travel Quotes

To assist you with inspiring your clients to travel, TRO provides you in this special Outpost with some of the great travel quotes of all time. Please feel free to use this article in your own marketing efforts. If you have other quotes, please leave them in the Comments section of this post for others to use and enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer is my favorite time of year. Barbecues, outdoor symphony concerts, movies under the stars, block parties and family reunions are times to relax , kickback and restore my sanity. The days are long,   the weather heats up and schedules loosen up.  Summer is also a good time to give yourself a 6 month check up to see where you are, where you’ve been and where you need to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Mirror, Mirror

John Frenaye’s column this week hits hard not at his favorite target, MLMs in travel, but at something much closer to home: the traditional travel agent.  If I understand John correctly, he is saying that travel professionals are not sufficiently disciplined and not nearly as sophisticated as they need to be to retain their market share against upstart challengers for supplier distribution.  As a result, there is a real and continuing danger that market share will continue to be lost to  alternative distribution channels. If suppliers lose confidence in the travel professional industry as a whole, your stellar performance last year, this year or next is likely to have little meaning as supplier distribution shifts.

Unless you do something about it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

A wake up call with a senior exec

As a whole, are travel agents complacent? Over the past few months, I have heard a lot of chatter about how it is a bad thing to be “average” and how you need to strive to be “better than that”. I fully agree, but as I look around, I sometimes wonder if that desire and passion is really there for the industry in general. Are we, as an industry of sales professionals, mediocre—at best?  What do clients think? And, perhaps more importantly, what do the suppliers think?

My mother always told me it never hurts to ask, so I made a call to a senior executive with a major travel supplier to chat. I had nothing to lose. After an hour long phone call, I was shocked, surprised, and quite frankly, worried. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Clients say the darndest things

Clients. You have to love them–they pay the bills. But sometimes your clients can be exasperating. To be a travel agent you have to be a good listener and that includes listening to a lot of things that…well just don’t relate to travel. I am always amazed at the things a client will tell you or the comments they will make. Over the years, I have heard a bunch; these are my favorites. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and keep me out of court. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

The United States by Endless Vacation Rentals

Endless Vacation Rentals sponsor’s this week’s 60 Second Geography look at the United States! Remember that you can use 60-Second Geography articles in your own newsletters or websites. When you do, remember to thank Endless Vacation Rentals! Read the rest of this entry »

Saizan’s Travel, LLC–A fee revelation

Money talks.  When I request a research fee I am letting the client know that I am knowledgeable and worthy of respect.  Those who are serious about their vacation and have the ability to respect my knowledge will readily pay.  So far this month I have three more bookings than last month.  It pays to work with only those who are serious and respectful. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Strike while the iron is hot

Is something amiss in supplierland? Or is everything hunky dory? At TRO, we have discussed keeping a close eye on suppliers in case of financial difficulties; and while we are a long way from being out of this recession, that is still good advice. But this past week, a random post on the TRO Community, coupled with  an unexpected meeting in the supermarket began to get me thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

SEO for the travel professional

Search engine optimization is an internet marketing strategy that considers how search engines work and what people are searching for. You can optimize your website for keyword phrases people would search for when looking for the types of vacations you provide.  For example “all inclusive vacations” is a search phrase.  When you do a search on any search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) you will get a list of results.  The top three, usually shaded and described as “sponsored” along with the results on the right and the bottom are “pay per clicks.”  These companies are paying for each time a person clicks on their listing.  This can get costly and typically only agencies with large advertising budgets can afford these.  The rest of the results are natural, or organic results.  There is no cost to the company for these results. Read the rest of this entry »

One of my goals for this year was to figure out why people set goals, and then never reach them.

Setting goals is easy. Sticking to them is not. Who hasn’t started a diet on Monday only to find themselves caving to the temptation of Cinnabon by Thursday? Who among us hasn’t sworn we’d pay off our debts or finish school, and then realized that we were no closer to meeting that goal than we were five years ago? It’s always been a mystery to me that when given the opportunity to do something that is completely within our control and would create a positive change in our lives, we can find a variety of excuses not to do it. But this year is my no excuses year. So rather than letting myself down, I decided to go for 100% completion of my resolutions. Some were easy, like fixing up my yard. Some were fun, like getting a puppy. But then I had the two tricky ones-starting an exercise program and getting 100 new clients this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Travel Weakly: To YTB or To Not YTB

Most of you will have by now read Travel Weekly’s assessment of May 25, 2009 entitled YTB: What’s true and what isn’t. The “National Newspaper of the Travel Industry” published this piece in advance of their upcoming 2009 Power List. Get ready YTB recruiters: my guess is that you are about to be handed another piece of marketing that will again be worth millions.  The unverified numbers reported by YTB’s home office to Travel Weekly’s team of crack accountants, auditors and fact checkers even now are being scrutinized for inclusion on the 2009 Power List. 

But the May 25th TW article is in need of a few points of clarification.  Read the rest of this entry »