Monthly Archives: June 2010

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Don’t become invisible

It happens to the best of us.  Really, that’s who it happens to. You do such a good job, people expect it of you.  That’s a great thing. When you set expectations properly, and then exceed them, you develop the kind of client loyalty of which some travel agents can only dream.  Not only do your clients return to you time and again, but your clients become evangelists for your travel practice. 

Unless you become invisible.

When you become invisible, people quit noticing all of the amazing things you do.  The great travel itineraries you create, your responsiveness, the way every element of an FIT works perfectly and on time. But the sad fact is that most people only know how to evaluate a situation when it is poorly done. They take good craft for granted. They only take special notice when something goes Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Peru — By Solar Tours

Peru ranks amongst the world’s great centers of ancient civilization with remains which fascinate travelers and archaeologists alike. Peru is one of the most diverse countries due to the climatic, natural and cultural variation of its regions, which include coast, sierra and jungles. Peru’s people (all 23 million of them) are largely descendants of Spanish settlers and native Inca and pre-Inca cultures. Today there are three national languages: Spanish, and the native Quechua and Aymara, reflecting the native Indian and Spanish roots that cultivate modern Peruvian society. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

While Colonial Mexico is not a specific area or a destination, it is descriptive of the towns which were built all over Mexico between the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521 until the Wars of Independence in the 1810s. These towns are rich with history, art, culture and eco-tourism. No matter what you are seeking in your Mexican getaway, the Colonial Cities likely will have what you need. From the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta to the scenic and relaxing squares and plazas of Guadalajara you will find something for everyone. Solar Tours makes it easy for you to be the expert on these hidden Mexican gems.

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: Editorial Musings

While you were sleeping

Very quietly in the middle of the night, two things happened that can have a decided impact on your bottom line. Well, OK, maybe it wasn’t the middle of the night, but if you were not paying attention, you may have missed it—and it was a biggie. Carnival Cruise Lines took a little more cash from your pocket, while Viking River Cruises added a lot more to it! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Watch Your Tone

Recently I made two major mistakes in my business that were so bad I wish I could turn back the clock and have a do-over. I had failed to heed the advice which says “Watch your tone” in any of your communications.

My favorite way of communicating is via e-mail. For me it is a time saver. When dealing with specific itineraries and instructions it helps to have a written record. It is not only what the majority of my competitors are doing, but it has the ability to send mixed messages. Because you cannot put inflections into the written word unless you are a texting teen and use the library of smiley faces and abbreviations, you run the risk of alienating a good friend or what could be a valued client. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

On-Site with Vacation Express!

The staff at Vacation Express is certain of one thing: there is no substitute for first hand knowledge of destinations and hotels.  VE’s product department and company President, Rene Jongmans have been conducting an on-going series of site inspections in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Cozumel. VE staff members have visits scheduled for Aruba, Jamaica and Punta Cana to review all of the properties used by Vacation Express. The inspections enable company representatives to offer up-to-date information to agents and strengthen the tour operator’s relationship with the hoteliers. Read the rest of this entry »

4 out of 5 Thumbs Down!

Only one Thumbs Up out of five this week. Looks like some travel agents are finding plenty to grumble about mid-year. 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

Does size matter?

I suspect that most travel agents become uncomfortable when the topic “does size matter,” comes up, especially in mixed company…. with non-travel agents. But, with the number of big ships that have been coming out lately, I think it is time for travel agents to become more comfortable with this controversial subject.

Let me start out by acknowledging that big ships probably should not be offered to your small ship clients. But, there is nothing wrong with letting them know what’s new in the cruise industry. Just maybe some of the new big ship features might interest them if they are looking for something new—maybe a special occasion or a family reunion. For that reason, let’s take a look at some new features that just might appeal to some of your open minded clients. Read the rest of this entry »

Travel Quest — Vacation overload

Since getting back from a work trip a few weeks ago, I’ve been asking myself a question.  Before I pose my deep, philosophical question, I need to build up a bit of a framework.

As a person who’s job description does not include constant travel, when I leave the office for vacation or a business trip, it should be a refreshing change of pace and not a hassle.  I get to have new surroundings and break up the monotony a bit.

While on the road, all is cheery, I’m meeting new people and seeing new things.  My out of office auto-reply is on, letting everyone know that I won’t be able to respond until a future date.  Isn’t that one of the greatest technological inventions?  It’s a legitimate Get Out of Jail Free card when it comes to response time!    Beyond the joy of having a Get Out of Jail Free card, problems that would normally fall on my desk can either make themselves very cozy while I’m away or find someone else to resolve them (preference goes to the latter).  My regular work responsibilities?  I have none!

Or that’s what it feels like.  Until I came back. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Silent Summer

Tallahassee, Florida. Far too often, the travel industry finds itself in the role of helpless victim. Swine Flu, SARS, the Great Recession, a volcano in Iceland, 9/11, the Greek economy, you know the score. Travel agents, tour operators, cruise lines, hotels, meeting planners and other industry sectors sit on the sidelines and watch as events unfold, knowing that our businesses will be pummeled by circumstance. In each instance we know not all of us will make it to the other side of events as economics outside of our influence take their toll.

As you read this, an environmental catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. The first oil from the BP oil disaster (I refuse to call it a “spill”) has already hit the coast of Florida. The short and long term economic effects, the loss of both recreational and commercial activity and opportunity is nearly unfathomable.

The loss to tourism, to the livelihood of every person reading this article, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Yeah, so what?

Last week, I received an email from a colleague who had received an email from a colleague (following me?) asking for input on some marketing language to be used on an agency website. While I am not a marketing expert, I am a firm believer in honest criticism and having as many eyes as practical offer opinions.  But when I saw what was sent, I began to channel my inner Simon Cowell and said “yeah, so what?” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

When to say “No”

I had that “pit of the stomach” feeling again the other day. And I don’t mean the mid-afternoon growling when you realize you forgot to eat lunch. I’m talking about the sinking feeling you get when you’re about waist-deep in a vacation proposal that you realize you never should have taken on in the first place.

You know the ones. The time-sucking, headache-inducing, no-win pieces of business that do nothing but bring you down. We all can recognize them AFTER the fact, so why is it so hard to avoid them in the first place?

I’m no expert, but I can tell you the process that I go through.

The first step is recognizing the projects that you should not agree to take on. When that phone rings, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Interruptions!

Where’s The Fun Part?

Excuse me, dahrlings, but…
Where’s The Fun Part?

Fair warning, Pumpkins, read at your own risk. We do not take responsibility for sudden attacks of nausea or alcoholism.

Cancun’s Mayor has just been arrested for being in cahoots with a violent drug cartel. Great. That’s really what we needed to hear this morning.

The U.S. has started fingerprinting tourists flying out of ATL and DTW to make sure they actually leave the country. Makes you feel all warm and wanted, doesn’t it? Apparently it will help “develop standard procedures for use at airports across the country.” Which means we will all be fingerprinted. I actually think that’s a great incentive to leave the country. So good, in fact, I likely won’t go in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Entertaining, insightful and ever-inquisitive, Peter Cox writes about his experiences during 40 years of travel around the world, personally and professionally and at the end of a fruitful career with The Yachts of Seabourn. In place of my voice here this week on Deck Plans, please enjoy Peter’s look back as he charts a new course ahead. Congratulations Peter!

Travel, especially the exploration type that I prefer, is undeniably one of the best and most exciting ways to learn about the ever changing world and the diverse people that populate it. Being open to sharing food with the locals may not always be comfortable or to the liking of one’s taste buds – or occasionally one’s stomach – but it is always interesting and, more importantly, it facilitates bonding with one’s hosts and inevitably deepens the relationship as it is effective in bridging any cultural divide. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Big Ideas: Music to my ears

Last week, Lee DeWyse edged out Crystal Bowersox for the title of American Idol. Come on, you know the show. Do you remember the first season’s winner?  It was Kelly Clarkson. And I am proud to say that I particularly like her second hit titled Breakaway. It is a message-baring beauty that comes with a refreshing melody.

One morning, after getting my morning cup of coffee, I found myself sitting in the car waiting for Breakaway to end and then the lyrics hit me.

“I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change and breakaway”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – June 2, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Is it just me or are there more and more people with unrealistic expectations lately? Of course, the mainstream media does not help the matters by not clarifying anything. All they seem to report is on the “bargains” and “killer deals,” but when it comes time to book those things, someone has to tell travelers about the restrictions, taxes, and “limited availability.” That all seems to fall on me, the lowly travel professional. And when I have a client or prospect with those unreasonable expectations, invariably they end up disappointed—and it is my fault. Read the rest of this entry »