Monthly Archives: July 2010

Posted In: Editorial Musings

3 Tips for Success in a Post-R Travel World

First the bad news. We have not recovered from the recession; in fact we are still deeply in it. Now for the good news, many people have become used to it and have adjusted their lifestyles accordingly. Money is starting to flow again and “discretionary income” is a phrase that is creeping back into our vernacular.  It is time to celebrate! Bone up on your destination knowledge and give the clients the “wow” factor which you know you deliver every day. But remember, today’s customer, as compared to a pre-recession customer is a different animal. If you are prepared to tame it with these three steps, the world is your oyster. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

The Importance of Follow-up

After a large sale last week, I was reminded of the importance of follow-up. The sale was for two families at Christmas and it was for $26,000.00.

After closing a sale, I always ask the client what the main reasons were that caused them to purchase from us. I find that this is a great learning experience for us to tweak or modify our sales approach. When I asked this client her response was a number of the usual reasons, ” your extensive product knowledge, your taking the time to really understand our vacation requirements and matching your recommendations to our requirements and budget.”  She also mentioned one other area that kind of surprised me. She told me that, as we had discussed she had received quotes from 3 other agencies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

When Crystal Cruises introduced its “As You Wish, All-Inclusive” program last year, giving a $2,000-per-couple onboard credit that passengers can spend on whatever they want, the line challenged the very notion of the “all-inclusive” cruise.

Luxury cruise lines have always hung their hats on being the most inclusive of vacations. What that means varies by the line, but for most – Regent Seven Seas, Silversea Cruises, Seadream Yacht Club, and the Yachts of Seabourn – it means premium liquors and wines, bottled water, specialty coffees, specialty restaurants, and gratuities, are all included. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

A short rant about email addresses

Everyone… take note. I have a new email address. It’s: – you can remember that, right? How about Surely your clients can remember that! They’ll store it in their address books forever. Maybe, not to be confused with Piece of cake, right?

Wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – July 27, 2010

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: 1:1


When agents think of CLIA, they identify Terry Dale, Bob Sharak, and the very popular Bernie and Tom.  But there is another face associated with CLIA, Jim Smith, the Director of Marketing.  And he certainly has been busy with the new enhancements to help travel agents, and the consumer.

TRO: You are certainly a veteran in this business

JS: I’ve been in the industry 39 yrs- Starting in my teens.  From a retail end, I ran over 120 ski trips before I was 21 years old.  Later on I headed the largest consortium, GEM, 

TRO: You’re coming off a “high” with the very successful CLIA Cruise 3Sixty conference in Vancouver.

JS: We had a great group of agents, many new ones attending,  46% of the delegates were Canadian.  We sold out  8 weeks prior to the show.  But it’s on to our next one in Ft. Lauderdale, Apr 14-17th.

TRO: The conference is only one facet of what CLIA is doing.  You’ve been hard at work working on aids to help travel agents.

JS:  We have begun three new initiatives.  The first is the “Industry Events Calendar.”  Events for up to two years in advance, tradeshows, vendor shows, Read the rest of this entry »

Advertising.  What works? What doesn’t?  As a business owner, I could spend all day on this conundrum.  I feel as if I’ve tried it all–newspaper, wedding magazines, bridal shows, local magazines, pay-per-click, radio, even television.  I haven’t seen any kind of response except from pay-per-click.  And we all know, that can get quite costly very quickly.

It seems that in talking with people, they still don’t know where to turn when booking vacations. They have no idea how to find a trusted agent who specializes in their ideal locations. How do we reach these people? Is the local chamber of commerce the trick? Or a networking group perhaps? I’m not sure how I feel about these types of meet-ups considering many of them want you to bring leads to share. I’m not a huge advocate of the “salesman” mentality, so giving out a client’s names to a group of people isn’t really my thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Of Two Minds About Rebating

Travel agents sometimes find themselves trapped between two masters, the client and the supplier. Earning a fee from the first and a commission from the second, many agents are haunted by a feeling somewhere in the back of their mind that they are “double dipping”. Indeed, this schizophrenic posture can sometimes create an appearance of impropriety in the minds of ill-informed journalists and consumers who view the travel agency system as antiquated and unnecessary given the information available to anyone who can type an itinerary into an online booking form. Information, of course, is a far cry from being able to make an educated and professional assessment of the information, but that’s another issue.

Travel industry guru Nolan Burris has a good answer that might just assuage your troubled conscience, should you have any problems sleeping with the issue of fees and commissions weighing on your mind. Nolan indicates that the client fee is what you earn for your services to clients and the commission is what you earn for your services to tour operators. After all, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Do you know what your clients do when they go on a cruise? Sure, they gamble, eat, watch shows, and eat some more; but what about when the ships dock and they plant their feet on dry land for a day or two? How would you like to earn an additional $20, $50, $100 or more on every cruise you sell? It’s very easy and ShoreTrips, an eight year old company has been helping travel professionals do just that. ShoreTrips specializes in destination activities, tours, and excursions for your clients.

For those who have not discovered this gem of a supplier, Barry and Julie Karp founded ShoreTrips in 2002 after many years owning an agency. Having a supplier born from the agency mold is unique and a decided advantage for consumers and agents alike. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

St. Croix — by Visit USVI

The US Virgin Islands are a three island chain (St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John) located in the eastern Caribbean, just 1100 miles southeast of Miami. The largest island, Saint Croix, has flown seven different flags during its long history–Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, the Knights of Malta, Denmark, and finally the United States as it remains today.

Although the US Virgin Islands remain under the US flag, the islands are an unincorporated territory with a non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Residents are US citizens, but have no vote in national elections and generally do not pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, though taxes are paid to the US Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue. Being a territory of the United States has a distinct advantage for US tourists—no passport is needed!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

While the individual parts that make up the United Kingdom have a history going back thousands of years, the United Kingdom (or Britain) as we know it is relatively new. The history of the United Kingdom as a unified sovereign state began with the political union of the kingdoms of England, which included Wales, and Scotland in 1707. The Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain, which shared a single constitutional monarch and a single parliament at Westminster. Prior to this, the kingdoms of England and Scotland had been separate states. Today’s United Kingdom is composed of four different countries which all fall under the same monarchy and government—England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

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

Sending up signals?

Over the past year, have you noticed that cruise suppliers are becoming less and less of a “partner?” Are you getting a sense of déjà vu with flashbacks to the mid 90s? Over the past month, the cruise lines have taken a beating from agents on several recent changes.  Are the cruise lines headed the way of the airlines? Is the criticism fair and just? Consider the following and decide. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TROTips

Make Your Electronics Market for You – SkinIt

I always seem to be in public somewhere with my laptop or netbook, meeting with a client at Panera Bread or Starbucks, or just getting out of the house and doing some work while grabbing lunch a local restaurant (with free WiFi, of course). When my laptop or netbook is open, I’m marketing for Toshiba or HP, but I should be marketing my business instead. It is hard to imagine a travel agent that does not use or carry some type of electronic device at all times, be it a laptop, netbook, cell phone, iPod, or iPad. If you carry them, then make them market for you.

But how? Skin them. “Skins” are personalized covers that you can place on a wide variety of devices. And with SkinIt ( Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Lisa Green is a group travel specialist located in the small town of Elkins, WV.  She holds destination specialist certifications in the Caribbean, Mexico and Disney as well as many others.  She has been in the travel industry for 15 + years while living in West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina (her favorite) and Colorado.  Lisa’s dream destinations are Australia and Italy.

After 15 plus years in the travel industry, I am back to my roots in the middle of nowhere. Operating a rural travel business. I say “travel business” instead of “travel agency” because I had intended to go strictly “group travel” when I returned to the business after a well-deserved hiatus. I had no intentions of becoming a full-service travel agency. The community had other plans. Herein lies the main challenge: saying “no” to a client. Especially a client with no internet access. “Are there really such people out there?” you ask. The answer, unbelievably, is yes. The rural client. Now, don’t get me wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

This just in….Cruise Line Private Island Disappears – Swedes Suspected!

Brand X Cruise Line’s new multi-million dollar private island development was recently mistaken for a floating island of waste plastic by agents of the Electrolux Corporation. Commensurate with Electrolux’s recycling policy and their new “Vac from the Sea” initiative – the entire island was inadvertently sucked up. The plastic was extracted, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Several weeks ago, I was speaking to an international audience (50 countries were represented) from a Fortune 100 company. I opened by asking the audience to lift one leg off the ground and to hold that position. This was an easy exercise — balancing on one leg, anyone can do that. I congratulated them on their athletic prowess. I then approached one executive and with one finger; and I quickly and effortlessly put an end to his balancing act. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — A midterm exam

We have passed the halfway mark in the year and it is time for my midterm exam. Where has the year gone? So many events have happened this year that have affected the industry and my business, not the least of which has been the economy. We have had the volcano in Iceland, the British Airways strike, civil unrest in Athens and most recently the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Although these events and others have had a powerful impact on the industry, I have seen my business grow since this time last year — something I would have never imagined at the beginning of the year given the current state of the economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile


Now is a better time than ever to plan a Caribbean escape to St. Croix, with exclusive travel savings to be had through the U.S. Virgin Islands’ “St. Croix Fantastic Flight” promotion. Travelers who book a five-night hotel stay to this island gem will receive a $400 air credit, an offer that’s too valuable to pass up. And, with convenient flights from major U.S. cities, St. Croix makes for a perfect tropical getaway. What’s more, St. Croix is perfect for any type of jet-setter, from the newly-betrothed, culture enthusiast, scuba diver and adventure-seeker, to families large and small, and everyone in between.

Travelers who book the “St. Croix Fantastic Flight” promotion now through August 12, for travel between August 15 and October 31, can look forward to cash back on their vacation with a special $400 air credit. Booking is easy, with various reliable travel partners to choose from: Cheap Caribbean, Travel Impressions and GOGO Worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


A 20-year cruise industry veteran, Joni Rein joined Carnival Cruise Lines in May 2008 as Vice President, Field Sales and was named to her current position, Vice President, Worldwide Sales, in January of 2009. In this capacity, she is responsible not only for Carnival’s domestic field sales but also the line’s international sales efforts. Prior to joining Carnival, she served as vice president of sales development for a Carnival sister company, Costa Cruises.

TRO – Carnival has recently implemented new pricing and automation policies effective August 1st of this year. You have stated that you are aware of some confusion and concern in the agent community, and the overall perception of Carnival’s aversion to taking agent calls. Can you clarify these new policies for those of us on the agent side of the equation?

JR– There’s been a lot of feedback and industry confusion, but it’s not about CCL disliking those calls, it is to encourage automation. We never meant to have a partner not call, we think that is very good. It’s more for the non-essentials that we are looking to automate, but certainly not to eliminate the personal contact – only things that I would call a simple transaction. That is the cornerstone of everything we are trying to do.

TRO – Can you describe how you got to where you are today?

JR– When I arrived at Carnival several years ago and would go out on our road shows and travel globally, the number one issue on the minds of our partners was help us with the tools that you are offering. Since that time we have done a number of things that we are really proud of, book CCL, we have revised Carnival University, we have far more communication Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Canada — by CLIA

When most people think of Canada, they either think of Pippi Longstocking or cold frozen tundra. Very few think of Canada as a cruise destination. Sure, a few may recall that Vancouver is one of the gateways to an Alaskan adventure, but what about the Eastern half of Canada? They have cities and towns too—and all worth seeing! If you are cruising, many of the smaller ships will call on these port cities directly. Larger ships may require a shore excursion, but regardless of how you travel to the area, these six cities and towns should be on your bucket list. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Tuscany is a region in Central Italy about 9000 square miles in size and a population of 3.6 million people. The regional capital is Florence.  Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Tuscany is home to some of the most influential people in the history of arts and science, such as Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci and Puccini. As to be expected, the region is loaded with museums, most of which are found in Florence, but others in towns and smaller villages. Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines-most famously their Chianti.

Remember that travel agents can use 60-Second Geography articles on their websites and in their newsletters! Read the rest of this entry »