Now that most agents are utilizing blogs to convey their messages to clients and prospects, one of the questions I see time and time again is “how do you get fresh content”?
Given that most people are not born writers and many have a phobia about writing, is it any wonder that it is considered a nasty chore? While photographs establish a visual image, writing establishes the mental image. And in the travel industry, both are equally as important. All you need to do to realize that is to open up any supplier brochure.
Writing for your travel related blog is not easy; but it will pay dividends for you in the long run. I am convinced that persistence is the key. On my Single Parent Travel site/blog, I average 30 new sign ups for my newsletter each day. Of course they are not all buying travel from me, but they are seeing my messages. Others have asked me how I can churn out a weekly column for TRO, keep up with Single Parent Travel, write the occasional consumer piece for other sites, and tinker with my MLM Blog. It isn’t easy. It is time consuming. But I have a plan and it works for me. Read the rest of this entry »
As professional travel agents, we arrange trips of all types for clients on a daily basis. We all have a passion for travel; otherwise we wouldn’t be in this business. Yet exactly how essential is travel experience to travel agents? I think there are a number of perspectives to consider.
All agents are familiar with what I like to call “travel essentials.” We all know that air bookings are made the same way regardless of the cities involved, and that hotel nights can easily be booked anywhere in the world. Obviously our clients have to get to their destination somehow and need a place to stay once they arrive. However, once we look past the how-to of booking these essential elements of travel, at some point either the agent’s experience or destination knowledge inevitably comes into play. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
Cloud Computing, also known as web-based software or SaaS (Software as a Service), is the latest buzzword in a long string of computing buzzwords and at first blush most travel pros might tend to dismiss it as “not applicable” to their day-to-day operations. Considering that the major advocates and advertisers are large (expensive) players – IBM, Sun & Microsoft, to name a few – it’s an easy assumption to make. Cloud Computing’s main purpose is offering shared access and data storage, which, of course is practical and a huge advantage for companies spread out all over the world. But what if your company is a small or home-based operation? How does Cloud Computing help you? Let me count the ways. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Lots of great responses from last week’s column! If you want to report something well done by a supplier, a res agent, or rep, we are happy to give them some coverage in Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. If you have a problem with airlines, tour companies, etc. or getting commissions, maybe we can assist. Contact Les-Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A THUMBS UP for Trafalgar Tours’ website. If the public sees an itinerary they like, Trafalgar encourages them to “Take this tour summary to your local Travel Agent. Your Travel Agent will provide answers to your questions and assist you in booking your dream tour.” How nice! Read the rest of this entry »
Last month found me taking a look at my website, business cards and working on my marketing plan. I was starting to make progress. Then August came. School is just around the corner with a last minute vacation with the kids, a class reunion, and a few weddings, block parties, pool parties, etc.. Add to that the craziest weather I have ever seen—one minute hot & humid the next we are in the high 50’s. Is it any wonder my brain seems to have taken a vacation. What happened to summer? It just started! It can’t be time for school supplies, backpacks and all the other fun stuff. Can it? It’s enough to make me want to retreat under my covers and not come out till spring again.
But I can’t forget that there is a business to run. Read the rest of this entry »
As a business owner, what is your number one goal? Why are you in business? I’m not talking the lovey dovey marketing fluff like “creating dreams for my clients” and “designing memories to last a lifetime.” Give it to me straight, why are you in business? It is a simple answer. There really is only one answer (as far as I am concerned) and it is three words long. It is not even unique to the travel industry—not by a long shot. Come close, let me whisper the answer in your ear…. Read the rest of this entry »
I am almost hesitant to discuss threats to your agency or travel practice. Most of us too easily imagine all the possible perils that await at every turn. It keeps us up at night. Worse yet, threats can cause even the most stalwart travel agent to do the worst possible thing – nothing. Threats have a way of making business people pull in their resources and withdraw from the marketplace. The value of a SWOT analysis, however, is to recognize threats ahead of time and to counter weaknesses and marshal our strengths so that we can not only exploit opportunities but can counter, prepare for and diminish threats early on. Read the rest of this entry »
I participate in a few different online forums. Each day I read about travel agents should be charging fees, they need a retainer, that generalist travel agents are dead, they need a niche, to only do group travel, that the Internet will be the death of agents…You get the picture. All these issues have their supporters and detractors. No matter which category you may find yourself in, there is a much larger issue that needs to be resolved—why are these clients coming to you and why they are traveling. Without that question being asked, you are dead in the water. Read the rest of this entry »
From our last two days of analysis, we know our hypothetical travel agency’s strengths and weaknesses. Now, it is time to think about the opportunities that the market is presenting. Opportunities are external to the company and present the possibility for profit and growth IF the company can position itself to take advantage of the opportunity – which is precisely what the SWOT analysis is designed to do. It is almost certain that the company will not be able to take advantage of every possible opportunity, so identifying the ones with the most potential is critical. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: 60-Second Geography
Much is made of the rich and famous who come to Anguilla to hide in plain site. No doubt there is plenty of luxury to be found on this small Caribbean island, But for every celebrity there are the thousands of visitors every year who come for the warm hospitality of the people, the brilliance of the beaches and the quiet, idyllic return to a more elegant, simple yet rich existence. 60-Second sponsor Luxury Retreats provides a wide range of villas in Anguilla.
Remember that travel agents can use 60-Second Geography articles on their websites and in their newsletters! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Supplier Profile
By now, you’ve probably seen emails and press releases about the Tripology Travel Industry Supporter Program. The program reimburses Tripology users for the cost of a lead when the travel specialist makes a booking using a product offered by a participating Travel Industry Supporter. Tripology’s Travel Industry Supplier Program is a win-win for both the company’s travel specialists, known as Tripologists, and for travel industry providers. For travel specialists, the new program offers the opportunity to garner free lead credits for bookings made with participating industry supporters. Industry supporters gain exposure to new clients via Tripology’s 13,000 registered travel specialists, marketing opportunities towards the agent community, dedicated relationship manager, and more. Read the rest of this entry »
An analysis of the weaknesses of any travel consulting business by its owner requires an extraordinary degree of both honesty and humility. It is not easy to admit where your program has weaknesses. Further, from the perspective of an insider, it is often difficult to even detect some weaknesses. For that reason, the input and constructive criticism of outsiders is an invaluable asset. It is likewise important to allow your insiders, employees and associates to openly point out deficiencies during the SWOT analysis. The customer or associate who provides constructive criticism is doing you a real favor, so be prepared to accept critical input in the spirit in which it is given! Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most important aspects of a SWOT analysis for travel agencies is very simply the act of planning: the analysis makes you take a good look at your positioning in the market. Your Strengths are those aspects of your business profile that give you a distinct market advantage and upon which you can capitalize in your marketing plan. The category of Strengths goes to those qualities internal to your travel practice, not to external factors like the economy.
Pull together into a list those qualities which are unique to your travel practice as well as those which you might share with your competitors. Strengths build upon one another and a set of qualities in combination may contribute more than a similar set with a key element missing or in differing proportions. Begin with your unique selling point: why do clients turn to you as opposed to your competition? Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve spent the past month working on my websites. This has really paid off with better organic search engine rankings and more leads. Unfortunately, out of all the leads I get, very few are realistic. There are so many people looking for that “great deal.” The problem, is that they are generally unable to identify a great deal when it is under their nose. There is no magic price point that screams “great deal”. All they know is that the media is telling them that travel is cheap. So if I quote a couple, $3000 for a week in October at a 5 star all inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya, including airfare from New York, transfers, taxes and gratuities I am told “that’s too much money, travel is cheaper than that.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
Amid all of the wreckage of the economic scene, there has of late been some good news for travel agents. The 2009 Yankelovich Travel Monitor recently reported that 62 percent of consumers who used a travel agent indicated their agent was “extremely influential” or “very influential” in their choice of vacation products. CNN last week ran an article entitled Are travel agents making a comeback? wherein it was noted that some travelers who historically used the internet for their travel bookings were shifting back to a brick-and-mortar travel agent model. Tales of the perils of booking online are not new – in fact there are sites devoted to the horror stories. What’s new is the tone of the recent articles that are not just indicating that self booking is both time consuming and dangerous, but also that using a traditional travel agent is a better alternative.
They are playing our song.
Before we spend over-much time congratulating ourselves, Read the rest of this entry »
Ever since birth, we have been told to do things. Come here. Do this. Get that. Sit down. Shut up. I am sure you remember them all from your childhood. You would think it would stop when we became adults; but it doesn’t. Just look at your own travel business and you will see what I mean.
A decade ago everyone told you that you needed to specialize in cruises. You needed to specialize in the all-inclusive market. Then you had to have a niche destination or type of travel. You needed to get a website, etc. And, it continues today. Did you read Nolan’s article? He says you need to be ignorant (hey he said it). TRO tells you that you need to embrace blogging, tweeting and Facebooking. Agents today are being bombarded with all sorts of marching orders. Is enough, enough? Read the rest of this entry »
August 20th is circled on my calendar in red. Why August 20th you ask? It’s the day the kids go back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. Working from home has its challenges with the kids, dogs and other distractions–especially in the summer. I am a big proponent for year round school, 2 weeks off and back to the grind. That would eliminate the endless questions of when are we going to the pool? When are we going here, there and everywhere? It would even eliminate my all time favorite, “Mom, I have nothing to do.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Supplier Profile
Most travel agents are not born knowing how to represent luxury travel. The good news, however, is they can learn. Platinum Seminars is a company dedicated to training travel consultants to serve the luxury market. Founded in 1992 by William W. (Bill) Brown, Platinum Seminars is backed with 17 years of industry experience. Platinum offers qualifying travel agents the opportunity to experience a luxury cruise at a familiarization rate, while participating in an on-board Seminar at Sea. Since 1992, over 20,000 travel agents have completed training on luxury vessels. Sailings offer one or more luxury sales modules written by travel industry consultants and accredited by The Travel Institute for three continuing education units. Modules are continually being modified to meet the changing luxury market, and new modules are being added to better assist representatives of the travel industry to sell in the luxury market. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
Editor’s Note: If you have been in the industry for more than a few years, the name Nolan Burris likely brings a smile to your face along with some thoughts to your mind. I have heard him speak more than a dozen times and always take away something that improves my business. Nolan is an expert in our industry and knows the business inside and out. We are proud to bring his refreshing and thought provoking columns to TRO–please welcome, Nolan Burris, Visioneer!
In 1979 I decided to change careers. “I stopped being a starving musician and started being a starving travel agent”. I’ve been a professional speaker and author since 1999 and I often mention the previous quote in my presentations. When I speak to travel agents, it’s always met with laughter and giggles. It was a joke that rang true 31 years ago and still sounds familiar to many of today’s travel professionals. But, something has changed. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m in the travel business. Day after day I work diligently to help others take the most memorable trip of their lives. After all, they’ve just spent months on end working hard and planning a wedding. They deserve a rest that usually includes a great destination or property, lots of memories, and endless amounts of good food and drink.
I’ve done quite a bit of hard work myself these past few months. I made a commitment at the beginning of the year to try to double my sales, and accomplish every single one of my New Year’s resolutions. Some of what I set out to do was easy, and has already been checked off as finished. Some items are still a work in progress. Other projects got off to a great start, and then suddenly hit the wall. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: 60-Second Geography
THETRADESHOW is being held in Las Vegas this year, but we wanted everyone to know that there is a lot more to the state of Nevada than Las Vegas. Remember that you can use 60-Second Geography articles in your own newsletters and websites. If you can attend THETRADESHOW this year, give it some deep consideration. It is a great opportunity to forge the relationships you need to put your travel practice into high gear!