Monthly Archives: May 2010

Posted In: Deck Plans

Last week as Amsterdam prepared for the lively celebrations on Queen’s Day, members of Cruise Europe gathered at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) to discuss the future of cruising in Northern and Western Europe.

AGM organizers managed to attract an impressive roster of speakers, including the key decision-makers for deployment and shore operations at Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line. The speakers’ collective message was a clear one: The sun is shining on “Cruise Europe Land.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Fish where the fish are!

Back in April, I attended the Cruise World 2010 conference in Fort Lauderdale. It was great to be around so many “up beat” cruise line executives and travel agents who were all reporting strong first quarters, with some predicting that cruise prices will start to strengthen again. This was good news to the agents who are focused on filling all the new ships that continue to come online. The math is pretty simple… Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — Drats, foiled again!

When we last left off, I  was planning to write about my planned trip/study tour to Iceland. I ended up turning down the trip. It was not because of the volcano, an amazing experience to have had, to say the least; it was not because of economics, although, I believe, it could be partly due to that; and it was not the cost. It came down to  balancing out the need to continue to stay in touch with my clients, and my need to return to a place where I have enjoyed many travel experiences. My decision was driven by my desire to ensure that my clients were well taken care of during this latest time of uncertainty, with the volcanic activity, and the unrest in Greece (both places where I have clients traveling), could be affected by the events–past, present and future, and I needed to be here for them. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – May 10, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Did your rug get tugged?

For those who were around in the late 90s, the travel mantra was fees, fees, fees. If you wanted to survive a reduced (and subsequently eliminated) commission environment, you needed to make it up in fees. And you needed to add some value to the transaction. Now we are in the early 10s and fees are now de rigueur. The old mantra has been replaced. Niche, niche, niche. But what happens when the carpet is pulled out from under you?

Richard Earls, publisher of Travel Research Online had a column discussing your “plan b” for when the unexpected happens—war, illness, recessions, terrorism, etc. Everyone needs to be prepared for the “what ifs” of our business. Richard’s examples were fairly immediate—if a volcano that no one can pronounce erupts in Iceland—we know about it pretty quickly and can react. But, are you able to react appropriately when something equally as significant sneaks up on you? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok is the hotel that all luxury hotels aspire to be. Few properties are so storied. Entire books have been written on the property, its history and culture. Consistently rated in “Best Of….” lists, the Mandarin Oriental , Bangkok is truly in a class of its own. The history of the hotel dates to as early as 1864, but the “official” date is 1876. Why the discrepancy? That’s just one of the hundreds of stories woven into the fabric of the property. Kings and Queens, explorers and actors, writers and diplomats have all called on this magnificent hotel on the river Chao Phya. I met with Jan Goessing in the famous Author’s Wing of the property where he provided me with a graciously large slice of his busy day to discuss his relatively new position as the General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.

Goessing is a life-long veteran of the hotel industry. The last 15 years have been at properties managed and in part owned by Mandarin Oriental throughout Asia and The Americas. From 1998 to 2006, Jan was the General Manager of the Kahala Mandarin Oriental in Hawaii having previously been the General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta. From there he moved on to the decidedly different venue of being the General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC. Then, in June of 2009, he took over the General Manager’s position from legendary hotelier, Kurt Wachtveitl, whose own tenure lasted a short 41 years at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.

TRO: You are here at the absolute pinnacle of your profession. What is it like to find yourself as the General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok?

JG: I am fortunate indeed, but I have been a part of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group for many years now. The values of the company are very much in line with those of the legendary “Oriental ” Bangkok. Extraordinary service delivered Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Unbundling Spirit Airlines

Everyone’s talking about Spirit Airlines and their carry-on fees these days.  The so-called “Unbundling” of fares has become the fodder for experts, pundits and bloggers alike.  Of course, I thought it only right that I weigh in with my own two cents.  Well, at least I wanted to weigh in with two cents, but I had to go to the bathroom on Ryanair and they took one of them.  So now I’m left with only one cent to give you.

Spirit Airlines have just released a statement saying their sales are up 50% since announcing this new carry-on fee policy, stating that this proves it is a success.  As my Grandmother was fond of saying, they’re counting their chickens well before they’ve hatched.  I believe they are going to be in for a whole world of trouble Read the rest of this entry »

Thumbs Up for No Life Vests!

Les works over some cruise lines this week for customer service that sounds like a good example of a bad example. Where’s a bridge group to play cards if not in a card room and what does “Closed to Agency Calls” mean anyway? 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

Big Ideas: Get validated

Yes, believe it or not, even the motivator has a down day or two. Although in most cases, I don’t like to admit this to the public because “I am supposed to be up all the time.”

Sorry to burst your bubble. If you are a member of the human race and still have the ability to fog a mirror, a few of your days will be less than stellar. Get used to the idea.

When this natural phenomenon, (blame it on your celestial chart) occurs, pick up the phone and call someone you trust who can remind you of the obvious, and give you a gentle whack back into reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Quest – Which is better?

Which is better?

  • Option A: Client calls to say they’ve booked elsewhere.
  • Option B: Client books somewhere else and never calls.

I’m of the opinion that if they didn’t book with us, I’d rather they don’t go out of their way to call and let us know.

We had a call today from a client who has booked with us before and was looking to book four cabins on an upcoming cruise.   She had called the cruise line directly for pricing and was wondering if we could beat the price.  After some quick research, we let her know we couldn’t find anything lower but we found the same price. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Skagway, Alaska – by Shore Trips!

In the late 1890s, the Alaskan frontier town of Skagway emerged as a hub of temptations; painted ladies, gambling venues and a multitude of saloons. Unlucky pioneers who arrived to join the gold rush were swindled out of their fortunes by infamous con-artist Jefferson R. “Soapy” Smith. Today, Skagway has a set of new temptations for the lucky visitors who find it an exciting port of call on their Alaskan cruises. If your clients find themsevles visiting Skagway, put them in the good hands of the staff of Shoretrips – your clients will have a great adventure and you will earn a bit of extra gold-rush for yourself on the excursions! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

One island, two countries. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean. Unlike it’s sister nation, however, the Dominican Republic has in recent years become one of the Caribbean’s most sought after playgrounds. With hundreds of miles of beaches and reefs, there is no shortage of sand and sun for visitors to the Dominican Republic. Travelers there inevitably compare the sand texture to sugar, but the crystal blue waters are an equally attractive asset. The Dominican Republic’s pristine beaches are slowly becoming the destination of choice for leisure travelers from the United States and Canada looking for real value and extraordinary all-inclusive vacations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Some days I really wish I was back in kindergarten. Just think about how good you had it back then—sing a few songs, color a bit, snack time, play time, and nap time. Rinse and repeat! Do you ever remember waking up on a Monday morning dreading heading into the classroom? Did you ever find it a drag to get yourself out of bed and get ready for the day? Not me. What about now? Do you sometimes find that your travel business is dragging you down? We all do. And my recommendation is to go out and play. Read the rest of this entry »