Monthly Archives: March 2010

Thrillseekers Travel Club — A change of plans

Although 2010 definitely started out much better than 2009 ended, the progress we were hoping for is somehow still eluding us. Even though our efforts have intensified enormously, it’s almost as if we are learning what not to do by a process of elimination. Unfortunately, this has proved to be very costly, in dollars and time.

How is it that there is so little helpful information available regarding Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

When did they add that?

Back in November, I suggested that when it came to social networking, we all should take the advice of Ferris Bueller and just look around a little bit.  That is pretty good advice for almost anything you do. “Be aware of your surroundings” is something we tell our clients all the time. But are you aware of your surroundings? I am not talking about your physical surroundings necessarily, but more

along the lines of the tools in your business arsenal. I learned a lesson last week—I need to look around a bit more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Traveling on a Spiritual Journey or Retreat

Spiritual travel is certainly a growing segment of the travel industry, mostly due to the generation of baby boomers having the time, inclination and desire to look deeply inside themselves. Perhaps the inspiration for this kind of travel started back in the “hippy days” when we were first investigating new and different approaches to spirituality – looking at Eastern philosophies, meditation techniques and esoteric spiritual traditions.

Of course, many years have passed since then, and many of us have experienced marriages or profound relationships that may or may not have been successful. We have questions about our lives and how we want to experience the next half of our existence. As rebellious as the baby boomers were as a group – for the most part we have bought into the traditional family model Read the rest of this entry »

Hey You! Travel Agent! Thumbs Down to You!

Hey, don’t mess with the Les! Thumbs up, Thumbs down, wax on, wax off. We have tour companies folding and tour companies going the extra mile. Even one travel agent earns a Thumbs down this week! And Les-Lee just can’t seem to get over the fine print in travel insurance contracts. 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: Point-to-Point

To be a true professional requires a plan

We all know that the Internet has changed the way people gather travel information, as well as “shop” for their vacations. The Internet continues to grow in usage as the “one stop” source for travel information and travel specials being offered by mega travel sites and travel suppliers alike.  But recently, it has been documented that most travelers actually prefer to book their vacations with an actual travel professional, after gathering their information online.

The above facts confirm a major paradigm shift from the usage of the traditional “storefront” travel agent to  the true “travel professionals” including the home based professionals who specialize in specific travel segments. Over recent years, clients have continued to become more concerned with the knowledge and expertise of their travel professional and less and less concerned about where that professional works. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Interruptions!

This Is Our Best Campaign Yet…

Excuse me, dahrlings, but…
This Is Our Best Campaign Yet…

How’s your moral turpitude, Pumpkins? Wait…don’t Google it, I already did.

The U.S. coined this gem of a legal term for “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice.”  Oh my nerves! And, that’s just one of the questions on our dear southern neighbour’s fancy new Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form that lots of folks who want to visit the U.S. will have to answer.  Starting March 20th, a little trip to Disney World, Vegas or the BIG Apple from any of 35 ‘Visa-Waiver’ countries – including the U.K., Australia, France, Germany and Japan – will require completion of a wildly and weirdly worded online questionnaire prior to their trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – Mar 9, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Groups are on my mind today. I’ve put together my fair share of wedding groups, from small (10 people) to large (100 people).  Last year, I decided to try my hand in incentive group travel and I’m still not exactly sure what I think of the process. I started working with one prospective group in May 2009 and after five months of negotiations, I finally had a signed contract in my hands. The group is headed to the Mayan Riviera in May 2010.  To say it hasn’t been a frustrating process would be a lie. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


PictureFor many years, GOGO has been a tour operator that was at the top of the list for travel agents. When, Australia based, Flight Centre, known for its retail division, took over GOGO not too long ago, the name was changed to GOGO Worldwide Vacations. Agents have expressed their concern about possible changes using GOGO, so we took those concerns to the President of GOGO, Michele Kish.

TRO: Michele, what is your background?

MK: I started as a travel agent. For 25 years, being on the retail side, moving up to sales manager and branch manager and now for the past 3 years, President of GOGO.

TRO: Agents have expressed their concerns about offices closing and the long hold times on the phone.

MK: Actually we have only closed one office, and consolidated some other offices. With some, sales teams of two offices are together in one. Yes, we’ve had some longer hold times, but that has been corrected. We just completed our new web site and computer platform. We listened to the concerns Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Step aboard Variety Cruises and enter the world of small-ship cruising. From the moment you embark, experience the distinctive atmosphere of a private yacht – an environment shared by only 40 or 50 fellow travelers. Savor Variety’s upscale 4-star amenities and personalized service typically found at only the finest boutique hotels.

Each day you will discover a new port of call, a hidden cove with crystal blue waters to cool, a glimpse of ancient history to amaze and rich cultural diversity to intrigue. Variety Cruises offers intimacy and personal service that larger vessels simply can’t provide – come discover the difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Belize – by Solar Tours

Belize may be a small country, but there’s still plenty to see and do.. Though many visitors simply come for a single location to fish or scuba at an island resort, the entire country is an easily accessible natural playground. Do yourself and your clients a favor a take a few moments to explore Belize and the many itineraries offered by Solar Tours who sponsors this article and makes your use of it in your own newsletters and websites possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

What’s the worst that could happen?

Over the years, I have written hundreds (maybe thousands) of articles both for consumers and the trade alike. Some of my most popular consumer articles were the down and dirty advice stories. You know, the ones that tell you what to do on the off chance (wink wink) that something might go wrong when you are traveling. I have even penned several columns for the trade with my suggestions and recommendations for handling issues that arise in the day to day existence of a travel professional.  But there was one that I missed. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

As an industry, we are continually looking for ways to increase the visibility of our our agencies and our position against competition, especially on-line travel companies. The tool that  gives us the most visibility and competitive edge is specialization. The definition of a specialist is “one who concentrates on a particular activity or product”.  When you specialize in a particular area of the travel industry, over time you to develop a reputation as the expert in your area of specialization. As an example, our own travel agency specializes in up-scale all inclusive resorts. After specializing in this area for over 7 years, we now receive 5 – 10 calls a week from people who state Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Winter Cruising In The Med: Would You?

A few weeks ago, I left Asheville, North Carolina, for Venice, Italy. Up to 18 inches of snow had blanketed the North Carolina mountains in the days preceding my flight. I was lucky to get out, connecting via Atlanta and Rome to Venice.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of a winter cruise around the boot of Italy. In December, I sailed Silver Spirit from Monte Carlo to Barcelona. Weather was chilly, but not bone-chilling cold.  On such a short cruise, we had little time to take in the shoreside attractions, so my experience was limited to the ship. The Venice trip would be different. We would have time ashore in Venice, Naples and Florence on the four-night cruise to Savona.

As the Alitalia flight descended, I could see a blanket of snow covering the flat stretches of land surrounding Venice.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

One of the sad travel news stories to emerge in 2009 was the report in May that a New England-based educational tour operator for student groups had suddenly filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The fallout affected student groups from about 40 high schools across the country with trips planned and booked to visit Europe during the summer.

Kids, and their parents, who had conducted fundraisers for months to pay for their trip were suddenly faced with a loss of $4,000 or more per student. Although other student group tour operators admirably stepped in to offer land discounts for alternative trips, the damage Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — Losing my comfort zone

I was going to write about the importance of having a niche or specialty versus being a generalist and trying to service everyone.  I truly believe that having a niche or specialty is paramount to success in this business, but as the economy has wavered over the past year, I have found myself taking business where I can.

I would say that up to last October, I was doing quite well with business. I have the privilege of having clients from all over the country and many still were traveling to Europe. My business was quite focused on the destinations of Europe. Many of the clients had already planned for travel and even with the economy, decided to go forward; which carried me through the summer and fall months.

Although Europe is quite diverse and a year round destination, my business started to drop off as these clients returned. Unfortunately, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


PictureBob Sharak, Executive VP of Marketing and Distribution for CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) is the guy with all the numbers. He and his team set the education goals for travel sellers that are unique in the industry. He directs consumer and trade marketing efforts, including the annual cruise3sixty travel agent conference and trade show, Web site development, collateral production, CLIA’s annual National Cruise Vacation Month and World’s Largest Cruise Night campaigns.

TRO: When one thinks of education in the travel industry- you have to think of CLIA.

Bob: CLIA is the cruise industry test book. There are not many travel schools and colleges left to teach the agents.Over 15,000 agents have earned certification as a cruise counselor, with 11,500 actively enrolled and pursuing their education. Read the rest of this entry »