Monthly Archives: February 2010

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Did you earn your keep this week?

I hate winter personally. But, I love it from a business standpoint. Being in the mid-Atlantic, we do get crappy cold weather and it usually makes people get the itch to travel. But when we get hammered like we did this past week, it really makes people want to travel—which is good for business. And to be honest, it’s about time that we had a few things go our way after the last two years. While the sales and commissions are certainly valuable to my bank account, winters provide something a lot more valuable to your success as a travel professional than money. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – Feb 12, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I often use consolidators to service my client inquiries. As a home-based agent, I choose not to subscribe to a GDS system, mainly due to the overhead cost. Therefore, I typically rely on consolidators to ticket international air as an ideal alternative. Our requests for international travel are wide-ranging, from business trips to students, couples, and families traveling for leisure. Our profits generally average $100-125 per ticket for coach tickets and $200-250 per ticket for business class.

Fortunately, I have found a few favorite consolidators who ticket for destinations worldwide, and I am very comfortable working with them. However, each individual client’s request may affect the ticketing scenario. These might include the need for more flexible tickets, the method of payment, the knowledge and efficiency of the consolidator’s agent, Read the rest of this entry »

Mostly Thumbs Up, Except for You and You and You!

Freshly back from a cruise, Les-Lee has alot of things to get off her mind this week. Smart marketing and education efforts by cruise line partners and cooperation from competitors all earn a big Thumbs Up from Les-Lee. Cougar Cruises? Not so much. Hotels that don’t pay travel agents commissions as promised? That would be a No Thumbs Up for you! 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 »

Posted In: Interruptions!

Introducing Ivanna Gabbalot!

Excuse me, dahrlings, but…

I’m Being Exported!

My weekly slag column on has been discovered! Yes, Pumpkins, after years of helping the Canadian travel industry wrench its head out of its navel — god knows some folks would suffocate without me — I have been exported. American trade publisher Richard Earls wants me. And from what I’ve heard, what Dicky wants, Dicky gets.

Richard, dahrling, I’m yours. Do with me what you will!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Big Ideas: What’s the best time to grow a tree?

If you have been listening to the evening news, it seems that a whole bunch of “stuff” has been getting in our way. Each broadcast is filled with negative doses of shenanigans associated with our health, automobiles, food, fuel, politicians, celebrities and other apparent news-worthy “stuff” that we need to know. Toss in some global warming and a receding of our glaciers, is it any wonder we sometimes want to toss our arms up and scream “I SURRENDER!”?

To pretend all of this news has no impact on your life would be naive. Even us positive, upbeat, motivational guys know better. Even if we blow a bunch of cleverly-tied together words, it still won’t put a bounce back in your step.

Let’s be real. There is only one thing that introduces “the bounce” back in your step Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – Feb 9, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Upon re-entering the travel industry after a 20 year hiatus, I have been overwhelmed by the massive amounts of information and disinformation I have had to sift through in order to get my group travel and club business up and running. I have a partner who has a completely different set of skills than I have, so hopefully, all of our bases are covered. After several months of trial and error, and several thousands of dollars in totally unexpected expenses, we finally have our first group trip to Israel for July 2010 in on the books. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Things have largely returned to normal along the beaches of Quinta Roo! Members of staff at Vacation Express have witnessed the work underway on the USD $71 million dollar ($957 million pesos) Cancun beach restoration and renovation project. The large government investment has brought tons of sand pumped from offshore Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Mykonos has long been the playground of the rich and famous, with the international jet set playing on its streets and creating its nightlife. But if your tastes trend more to lovely beaches, Greek village architecture and an activity level that buzzes rather than roars, you will find everything you are looking for in Mykonos. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

A few moments with NCL’s Andy Stuart


PictureAndy Stuart is the executive vice president of global sales and passenger services for Norwegian Cruise Line. Andy is responsible for global sales, revenue management, passenger services and public relations. He also ensures revenue optimization and oversees the Company’s public relations efforts. He was appointed to this position in November 2008.

TRO: How are you helping the travel agent community match the right client to the NCL experience? What does our community need to know to book more passengers on NCL?

AS: Educating our travel partners about Norwegian’s product offerings has been a huge initiative over the last few years. We launched our online travel partner community NCL University last year and this has played a major role in informing and educating our partners. We also began hosting interactive webinars to get the word out about news and relevant information which helps our travel partners sell Norwegian more effectively.

TRO:2009 brought a historic low to pricing across the cruise industry, are you starting to see stability? When do you expect to see a rise to match the experience to the product?

AS: The cruise industry is resilient and we’ve definitely started to see the booking window lengthen. The deals that were available in 2009 will start to disappear as the economy slowly recovers.

TRO: What do you feel is an ideal travel agency relationship with NCL? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Carnival rethinks policy

It seems that Carnival realized they opened up a hornet’s nest with their new policy of requiring passengers to leave their luggage unlocked at the pier.  Judging from the comments on last week’s column, both customers and travel professionals were not happy about the new policy.

We followed up with Jennifer De La Cruz to see if Lynn Torrent (Sr. VP of Sales & Guest Services) or Kirk Neal (VP of Sales, Eastern Region) would be willing to answer them or defend Carnival’s position.  They weren’t.  However, Ms. De La Cruz sent a reply to our follow up questions.  We asked seven of them: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw Cartoons


Posted In: Soundings

(Another in a series of articles suitable for your online Cruise Primer)

But first: For Agent Eyes Only ———————————

When cruise customers start pestering you with questions about shore excursions, point them to your personalized online version of the text below…the copy that starts in the “For All” section. (You may want to keep the information in this first paragraph to yourself.) For some time now third parties, such as, have been making huge inroads into the shore excursion market with consistently good product and reliable commission structure. They even pay a full 10% on purchases made via a direct affiliate link on your website. Once the proper code has been inserted in your homepage, you don’t have to lift a finger to earn your commissions. Total workload for the entire transaction: lugging that humongous commission check to the bank for deposit. Now that’s my kind of travel sales! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Specializing in international net fares and commission overrides to over 175 countries & territories, DFW Tours is truly a ‘One Stop Shopping’ experience. The international airfare consolidator offer fares in all cabins to fit the needs of both VIP clients and budget conscious passengers. DFW’s net fares allow travel agents to set your own commission which the company pays within 7 days of final payment.  The consolidator is a member of the United States Air Consolidator Association (USACA). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

On board Costa Deliziosa en route to Florence, Italy.

After 24 hours on Costa’s brand new Deliziosa, two things become apparent:

  • Deliziosa feels like a Carnival Corporation ship, which, of course, it is. Those who have cruised Carnival Corp.’s other brands, particularly Carnival Cruise Lines or Princess Cruises, will feel at home on Deliziosa.
  • There are about 1,000 people, or a little more than half of the population on this preview cruise, who look as though they’ve just stepped off a Milanese catwalk and onto the ship — and perhaps they have.

That’s because Deliziosa (is it just me or does the name sound like a cocktail or an entree at Olive Garden?) is an Italian ship through and through. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Growing Pains

It’s Sunday afternoon, my family is watching football, and I am sitting at my desk stressing out about the pile of work that I need to get through. I have six clients waiting for proposals/quotes, two sets of documents that have to go in the mail, a monthly newsletter to write, dozens of names that need to be added to my honeymoon database, bills to pay, filing to do, etc. The list seems endless, and it will only get longer tomorrow.

I know I’m not the only one in this situation. Anyone running a one-person, home-based agency faces the same challenges. We wear all the “hats” in the office, from sales and marketing to accounting, IT, and receptionist. There’s no one to delegate the work to, and no one to pitch in and help.

At the same time, we all want to grow. After all, the goal of any successful business is to sell more, make more, and keep more, right?

So how does one person, with only two hands and 24 hours in the day, resolve the conflict between the never-ending “to do” list, and the need to add even more business to that pile?

If you’re hoping I’m about to give you the magic answer, I’m sorry, because I don’t have it. All I can tell you is what I’ve been doing to try and manage my own “growing pains”. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Big Ideas: Getting dumped

Here is something to think about after you feel you have finally figured it all out. You haven’t.

The “Sold Out” sign from a Customer Service seminar at a recent industry event caught both my attention and curiosity. This was a real eye-opener and a great reminder. I was hoping that most people in the travel industry would have gotten this one down pat by now. Apparently not.

Why would you ever want to let a potential customer know that you can’t help them? Apparently, there is still an interest in learning how not to bite the hand that feeds you. Read the rest of this entry »

The Tropical Travelers–It’s a passion

The past 15 plus years of my life have been spent thinking about the tropics way more than most people should. Some might call it all consuming or an obsession. I call it passion. I’ll admit, I was bitten by the tropical bug early on and have weathered the storm of commission caps, cuts, wars, disease and recession ever since. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Four Steps to Greatness

Steve Jobs of Apple Computers once used the phrase “insanely great” as a way of describing his products and it became an anthem for his vision of Apple’s brand. Go to any Apple store and look at the people crowding around, staring at the products, touching them, playing with computers, phones and iPods and listening to music. You won’t find that kind of zealous activity in the computer section at Best Buy…unless they are looking at the Apple computers. iPhone. iPad. iPod. iTunes. Each of these products are benchmarks, what all competing products compare themselves against and want to be.

Do you want to be an insanely great travel professional? Did you ever? What an amazingly simple, yet powerful, goal to set. Too often our eyes are so focused on the day-to-day detail of the work in front of our face we forget the lofty goals and aspirations that first brought us to travel. None of us begins our career Read the rest of this entry »