Monthly Archives: October 2009

Posted In: Editorial Musings


Happy Halloween! Tonight, all the goblins and ghouls will be out and about seeking treats. But there is no reason to be scared tonight. Haven’t we had enough to scare us over the past 18 months?  Tonight is the night to send those monsters packing.

Halloween is always a red flag for me. It is sort of a warning shot for what is to come in the next eight weeks! The stores all have their holiday decorations up, the television is buzzing with pre holiday sales, and stress begins to mount for everyone as three major holidays fall back to back. So, let’s take a look at these three holidays from an agency perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

What do you do?

Have you ever been at a cocktail party, family gathering,  networking event, Chamber of Commerce meeting or sitting at your kid’s soccer game  and someone asks you what do you do?  If you start reciting your 30 second elevator speech chances are their eyes are going to glaze over and they are going to make a feeble excuse to get away from you. So, how do you handle these circumstances? You don’t want to turn people off and running away. I suggest having a good 15 second introduction to tell them what you do.  You want to keep it short, snappy and tell them what makes you unique and why you are different from everyone else.  Be clear and concise. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Many of us in the travel business rely on lead programs to boost our business. Agents need to establish a process that works for them and search for a company that best meets their requirements. Tripology is the company I have been using consistently and with great results. Many of the agents who work with A Ticket 2 Travel, my host agency in San Jose California and a member, are using this lead service successfully as well. My sales from Tripology leads are over $120,000 for 2009 already, and I close approximately one sale out of every ten leads I invest in.

Sometimes getting discouraged and taking rejection personally can be two of the side effects of any lead program. Just remember, it is not you but the nature of the beast. People today are used to shopping the mega online travel sites without ever having to establish a personal relationship. Our job is to educate and demonstrate that we provide personal services they won’t find anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

For the 10th year in a row, Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa was named the world’s top cruise ship, according to the 2010 “Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.” Does Europa deserve the accolade?

In the atrium of Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa is a star-studded wall lined with plaques recognizing the much-celebrated vessel as the world’s highest-rated cruise ship. The Berlitz guide thrusts upon Europa Five Stars – Plus.

Lest anyone doubt that Europa deserves high stakes in the guide books, other plaques nearby recognize the ship as being tops in the game, and one guide even goes so far as to run Six Plus Stars up the flagpole. Read the rest of this entry »

Saizan’s Travels, LLC — Second thoughts?

This is a robust fall for travel, but not for bookings.  This spring I made a lot of bookings that are traveling now.  At least I know money is coming in.   Unfortunately there are few bookings being made now for the future.  One day at a time.  One foot in front of the other.  Patience is a virtue.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Forward into the past – with a difference

I spent this week as the guest of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) at their annual conference in Chiang Mai. It has been a traumatic year for the average TAFI agent. Beyond the economic turmoil and concerns over H1N1, India suffered through the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which they refer to as “26/11”. Then, the worst blow of all – airlines informed the agency community that the carriers would no longer pay a 3% commissions on airline tickets, instituting an additional surcharge to consumers booking through agencies. The TAFI agents felt betrayed and kicked into high gear politically to challenge what they refer to as the “Zero Demon”.

My initial reaction was to remark that most US agencies have not seen a commission for many, many years. However, there is a major difference between the TAFI agent of today and US agencies of 10 years ago. The business mix Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

A social success

Hopefully you have been reading Travel Research Online for a while and you have seen the emphasis many of the authors are putting on social media such as Facebook, blogging and Twitter. We have given resources, suggestions, tips and tricks. What has been noticeably missing are the results. Well, thanks to a Google alert, some good timing and a little luck, I scored a small motherlode last weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Sleepless in the land of corporate travel

When the economy went by the wayside last fall, many businesses and travel agencies took a major hit. Agencies closed or merged, everyone began scrambling to salvage what business they had. Huge travel policy cuts or lack of travel in general was a common denominator.  Unfortunately with that came the layoffs.  Many agents in other offices were in the same predicament, simply not enough work for the staff, the phones just weren’t ringing like they normally were.

I watched several friends and colleagues receive their pink slips and quietly head to the unemployment line.  Our office became a real life ghost town; I could almost imagine Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

There is a thin line between “customer service” and being a door mat. Remember–you can’t be all things to all people.

If there is one common refrain I hear (and if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times) it is:

Potential clients contact me to milk me for as much information as they can before they head out to book their own vacation on the internet.

Here is my answer: Read the rest of this entry »

Bliss Honeymoons, LLC– Goals, goals and more goals

When I began this year, my number one New Year’s resolution was to learn about why people set goals, and then never reach them. Like you, I’ve made that list year after year, only to see it fall by the way side; usually around March.

When I look back at the last ten months or so, a lot has been accomplished. The new website is finally done thanks to our local website designer, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

‘Spirited’ Competitor In The Luxury Sector

For those who follow such developments, Silversea‘s newest vessel begs the question: How will it compare to the other luxury launch of the year, Seabourn Odyssey?

The short answer is “favorably.” For the explanation, read on.

I was on both vessels this past summer, cruising in late July for seven days on Odyssey from Athens to Venice. My accommodation: Veranda Suite 622, measuring 365 square feet with the 65-square-foot veranda included in that measurement. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Your Client’s Keeper

I have the privilege of traveling this week and my columns are being written from the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Bangkok. In every respect this is one of the most fascinating hotels in the world, set in one of the most fascinating cities on any continent. Those of you who know Bangkok know the storied history of the Oriental’s legacy. Often named the best hotel in Asia, sometimes rated as the best in the world, this is the hotel that all others aspire to be. You will be hearing much about the Mandarin Oriental from me in the weeks to come. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Making social networking work for your agency

If you have been reading Travel Research Online for a while, you know that we have made a strong effort to provide tools, insight, and actionable advice for agents to improve their business. A good portion of our content is written by agents, so when you are reading an article, it is really coming from someone who has been in your shoes.

This year, one of the big buzz phrases has been “social networking.” You know—Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the rest. Many of our readers are using social networking and the top complaint I have read in online forums (yes, yet another social networking tool) can be summed up in one word—HOW?  Just how do you go about making money, increasing sales or building your brand with these tools? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Be your brand

If you had to guess, what do you think Royal Caribbean’s annual marketing budget is? How about Disney?  Or Sandals?

And what percentage of that budget do they allocate to promoting your travel agency? Or promoting you, specifically, as a knowledgeable travel professional? Many of the suppliers do spend marketing dollars promoting travel agents as a whole; but they are not in business to pump up my individual bottom line. Or yours.  Nor should they be. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a Thumbs Up for Princess and Costa!

Les-Lee’s a little unhappy this week folks, but at least she starts off with a strong Thumbs Up! 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 TRO’s 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
Read the rest of this entry »

I started writing this diary entry three times and couldn’t finish. Nothing came to mind and I mean absolutely nothing. I could think of nothing positive or encouraging to say. I thought that if I slept on it something would occur to me. Still no inspiration came.  Friday dawned and all hell broke loose.  Voila—instant column.  I have a group of 25 cabins departing in two weeks from Norfolk and had arranged a bus transfer from Washington, DC.  On Friday, the bus operator called to let me know the price had increased by $500! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Avidly Cruising

TRO is proud to introduce a new column this week: “Deck Plans”. Travel writer Ralph Grizzle began his journalistic career at the age of 32, following the conclusion of what he calls his “sabbatical decade.” From 1980 through 1990, Ralph bicycled across America, pedaled through Europe and island-hopped the South Pacific. After backpacking through Bali, bussing through Java, hopping a boat to Singapore and crossing Malaysia to Thailand, Ralph flew into Burma, tramped to Dhaka and endured a 32-hour train ride from calamitous Calcutta to bustling Bombay. From there, he hopped a plane for Greece and traveled to Switzerland before returning home, where he settled, quite naturally, into a career of travel writing. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Twelve Weeks and Counting

There are as of today twelve weeks left in 2009.  Around the corner a new year, new opportunities and, hopefully, a new economy awaits. There are a lot of things you can do to enhance your prospects for 2010. One of the most important is to begin work on your marketing plan for next year. TRO will be using the next six weeks of The 365 Guide to assist you in doing exactly that.

The most successful agents work with a written marketing plan.  The time you spend planning and thinking about your travel practice will be invaluable. One of the common syndromes of business people is to spend so much time “in” their business that they spend no time “on” their business.Your marketing plan is not fixed in stone, you will re-visit it throughout the year, making adjustments as circumstances change. A marketing plan Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Death with dignity

They say the recession is over or ending. Pundits have said it. Experts have said it. And we have said it here on Travel Research Online too. Undoubtedly, that is good, if not great, news for the travel industry. But we still must be aware that there is a very keen difference between “ending” and “recovered”; and there will certainly be more casualties of this economy before we are out of the woods.

If you are still in business, that’s a good sign that there is a positive end in sight. But there will likely be many bumps in the road as we exit the recession and are fully recovered. You are not immune to any of these bumps and before you come out a survivor, you will need to watch for the bumps and figure how to navigate over or around them. An upcoming column from Mike Marchev will suggest Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

10 tips for a successful trade show

The trade show – some people feed off them like a leech on a warm mammal, others see them as a necessary evil that must be endured.  Regardless of which camp you’re in, the trade show is an effective way to meet people, get information, and learn new things to improve your business.  Many people who attend trade shows aren’t as prepared as they should be, and so miss out on different aspects that would really have helped.  Check out my tips for being a good trade show attendee! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Big Ideas: Roll up in a big ball and die

I have no intentions of stealing Old Blue-Eyes’ thunder as he was the first one to suggest this option in his song, “That’s Life.” At face value, with all things considered, this option comes with limited future promise. There must be another way.

With all the “negging-out” that is being printed and relayed to us each evening at 5, 6, 10  and 11pm, it seems only natural to offer this as an alternative to what ails you and your business. But not for me … and I am hoping, not for you. Read the rest of this entry »