Monthly Archives: September 2010

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Become a mind reader

Over the twenty plus years I have been a travel agent educator, I have continually stressed the importance of being known by your clients as a true travel consultant and not just an “order taker.” I believe strongly, that to build a meaningful list of “life time clients,” that every year, an agent needs to recommend a couple of vacations that might be of interest to their best clients. The point being, if they are always finding every trip they take, do they really need you? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


PictureBob Sullivan, CTC, has 20 years of travel-trade publishing experience. He currently serves as Executive Vice President & Group Publisher for Travel Weekly and Business Travel News.  Prior to joining Northstar Travel Media in 2000, Bob was Publisher of Leisure Travel News. Bob and his wife have five children – four of which are in college – and currently live in Darien, Connecticut.

TRO: How do tradeshows fit into Travel Weekly’s strategic vision, and how do they complement the company’s print products?

Bob: As the industry’s leading business media platform, it is Travel Weekly’s mission to connect the travel agency community in every possible way. We provide daily and weekly editorial. We provide a complete portfolio of web-based training and trade show opportunities. This live trade show piece was the missing element in our platform of connectivity. We are, afterall, in the travel business. We all have to believe in the incredible value of face to face interaction. Through our live trade shows and events, we provide our industry readership with the best education, an opportunity to be part of a discussion of the most relevant industry trends, and access to the leading industry suppliers to help grow and shape their businesses.

TRO: Agents have a lot of choices these days in trade shows. How do you distinguish what Travel Weekly is offering?

Bob: We truly believe the industry needed the kind of content, business  sessions and dialogue that only Travel Weekly could create. Our goal is to bring our editorial charter to life throughout our trade show and conference programming. We know that this industry is filled Read the rest of this entry »

By the time you read this, I will be in the Land of Fire and Ice, a place where the puffins live; although, being smart, they have already left for the season and are out to sea. I, on the other hand seek out the colder climes and amazing experiences, including the opportunity to take an ATV trip on the Vatnajokull Glacier. My hard work and dedication to my business had paid off and I am making it across the pond, or at least halfway across, to Iceland. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Alaska–By Celebrity Cruises

To many travelers, Alaska remains a land of mystery, and that is a shame. Sure, many parts are rugged, barely accessible and nothing seems to be near anything else. Seeing Alaska by car or train will require a significant amount of time; however, the cruise lines have an answer for you. From majestic Mt. McKinley to the jagged edge of Glacier Bay, Alaska is unlike any place else in the world. One of the best (if not the best) to explore all Alaska’s offerings than with a cruise coupled with a cruise-tour.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Solar Tours has a long history of offering customizable Latin America tours to North America’s travel agents, dating back to its founding in 1984, when it focused exclusively on being a travel wholesaler and consolidator to Central and South America.

Much has changed since 1984 and Solar Tours has diversified its product offerings to include other regions of the world, but Latin America still holds that special place for Solar Tours.

It was no surprise then that Solar Tours decided to sharpen its focus on Latin America in 2010 by hiring more travel specialists, expanding the online offerings, and adding a new country (Colombia) to the ones it already sells. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Colombia — By Solar Tours

Planning to visit to Colombia? First of all, leave the prejudices at home. If something should be said about Colombians and Colombia, it is that everything here is done passionately–living, partying and arguing. “Intense” might be a word that describes not only the 44 million warm hearted people but equally applies to the whole of experience of Colombia: the lavish green of the Amazon, the deep blue of both oceans and one of the most exuberant and diverse flora and fauna  on the planet.

Colombia is a country for “travelers” more than tourists; if you are willing to spend some days immersed in Spanish, dealing with a different perception of time and marveling yourself at a country full of contradictions, this is your place. In spite of being considered a tropical country, Colombia’s weather is not the same across the territory: don’t be fooled by a map and be prepared to visit a chilly capital city in the mountains, or the extensive warm valley of the Magdalena river just a few feet above the sea level—less than two hours apart. This geographical variety also brings a cultural richness, which added to its colonial history results in a society where racial, ideological and cultural ends meet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Isn’t it great when everything goes off without a hitch? The stars, moon and planets all line up and all is well… I think that happened to me once. Most often however, we are going to find ourselves dealing with an objection or a complaint. The ease with which we handle those matters as business people says alot about our emotional and business maturity. The issue comes up for me after witnessing two good business associates sniping at each other this week. I’m certain each later felt badly, and neither came off well in the exchange. Their mutual complaints were not without merit, but their way of handling the situation was. It made me think how often we are tempted to respond in kind rather than with empathy.

So, in honor of a couple of good friends who are a bit miffed at each other right now, let’s think through this matter of complaints, objections and relationships as it applies to our profession of choice.

During the course of travel planning, it is inevitable that clients will raise objections to your suggestions. Actually, it’s not really a matter of whether your client objects Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

How to earn $1500 in ten minutes

We have heard the adage about thinking smarter and not harder. We also have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well if a picture is worth a thousand, a video might be worth 2500!  This week, I am trying something new. Let me know if you like it or not—leave a comment.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about learning to use the tools at your disposal to make an impact on your income. I cited my own ignorance of the features of AWeber, my emailing service. I boned up on my knowledge and have been trying new things and they are working. How well? Well, let’s just say that I made over $1500 in commissions in under ten minutes! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

In a Rut? Five Ways to Get Out

As travel professionals, we have a really tough job.  We wear many hats: psychologist, mind reader, advocate, billing clerk, accountant, IT, and more.  We deal with clients from all walks of life with a wide variety of different tastes and peculiarities.  On top of that, our industry requires us to have knowledge that is massive and ever-changing.  At times, it can take everything we’ve got to answer that next phone call, book that next cruise, put on that happy face and be the beacon of light our clients need.

For me, personally, dealing with all of that day in and day out burns me out after awhile.  It’s especially bad when I’m assaulted by customer service issues Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TROTips

Linkable and One Note

Anybody who knows me, knows two things about me: One – I love to make simple technology work to run a paperless office; and two – I am a packrat even in the electronic environment (don’t get me started on what my garage looks like!). I have discovered a couple of new, or new to me, programs and tricks that I have had a lot of fun playing with.

Linkable –

I have often commented that I would wither up and die if I lost my list of Favorite Bookmarks that I have been amassing for years – to me they are my salesman’s Rolodex. I’m so paranoid that it is one of the reasons I finally subscribed to Carbonite Online Backup. However, all those bookmarks makes it very difficult to navigate to frequently used ones, and my recent computer upgrade nicely re-alphabetized everything and completely wiped out Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw: September 23, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Deck Plans

At last, sensible internet on a cruise ship. You’ll need to dig deep into your pockets, but by doing so, you’ll be connected 24/7.

Pay $239, and you will never have to log out during your weeklong cruise. If you’re sailing more than a week, $399 covers you.

That may sound like a lot, but keep in mind, you are accessing internet from a ship in the middle of the sea. AT&T charges $199 for 200mb Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The Edge Of Excellence: These are the good old days

Not so long ago, at an industry event where I was about to speak, I was sitting at a table full of travel agents.  As often happens, the subject of “the good old days” came up.  I joined in with four fellow long-timers to share almost mythical stories of happy flight attendants, tasty airline meals, free FAM trips, and rock-solid commission structures.  One tablemate said with a sigh “I sure miss the way things used to be.”

After about twenty minutes of listening politely, a relative newcomer to the industry could no longer contain herself.  Read the rest of this entry »


Every year, TravelQuest heads to ASTA’s tradeshow and this year was no exception.  The weeks before are always a frenzy for me as I put together the final details, make sure everything is purchased and packed for the show, and, of course,  type up the very important document for the dogsitter— 10 Easy Steps to Making Rigel a Happy Dog.

This was my third year having a booth at the tradeshow and I can honestly say that it was the most successful show we’ve had.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Even with all the familiarization trips out there – there’s one program that gets high marks with agents who just want to get away for some personal R&R time on their own – without all the pre-requisite site inspections and product briefings. The Vacation Express “Freebies” program is designed for just this reason. It allows agents to earn one free night for themselves and a companion, for every qualifying booking. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

The city of Jerusalem is more than 5,000 years old, with a history held sacred by Islam, Christian, and Hebrew faiths alike. The old city represents what once was, with ancient buildings, courtyards, and pilgrimage sites visited by thousands. And, the newer section of the city represents the world as it is today – technologically advanced yet simplistic at the same time. One of the holiest cities in the world, Jerusalem is full of incredible attractions, shrines, historic sites, and modern anomalies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

While Nassau is a blend of the old and new, Freeport/Lucaya is a modern planned city on the Island of Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama Island is the second most popular tourist destination in the Bahamas. Here you will find long stretches of deserted clean-white beaches, hotels ranging from ultra luxurious to small boutiques, a major casino, a robust nightlife and world-class scuba diving.

Freeport is the resort center of the Island where most of the action can be found. The eastern and western ends of the island feature quaint settings and have an abundance of “hidden spots” for visitors to discover. Shopping is also a huge draw for Freeport with the centerpiece being the Port Lucaya Marketplace which is filled with duty-free finds from all over the globe.

Grand Bahama Island boasts of more miles of pearly white beaches, and luxurious hotels than the smaller (and more popular) New Providence/Nassau. Unlike Nassau, the less populated outskirts of Grand Bahama Island feature many serene and tranquil surroundings (read deserted) popular among those seeking a day or more of solitude.

For those into nature, Grand Bahama Island is also home to one of the oldest underwater cave systems in the world, located at the Lucayan National Park. Whether you’re looking for modern luxury or want to get away from civilization, Grand Bahama Island and Freeport offers the best of both worlds and Endless Vacation Rentals has a perfect property for either type.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

3 ways you may be destroying your business

Over the past few weeks I have had the misfortune of being the victim of poor customer service. And it might be attributed to a stressful week, but I have sworn off three companies this week and have vowed to never do business with them again.  The screw ups were not even that severe, but they were the victim of unfortunate timing. It was a stressful week and I am usually pretty forgiving by nature, but this week—not so much. So what did they do to lose my business? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Consolidator airfares are a great way to take care of your clients’ ticketing needs while increasing your sales and profits.  Through the course of the sales and ticketing process, you will inevitably find the consolidator agent to be indispensable.  These agents are specialists in air consolidation, and without their knowledge, efficiency, and attention to detail, it would not be possible for home-based agencies like mine to build substantial business in airline ticketing.

For that reason, I see great value in investing the time and effort to build relationships with consolidator agents.  Here are a few ideas to consider: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – September 16, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Thumbs Down to Resort Fees!

If you send a client to a hotel property, should the supplier charge a non-commissionable “resort fee” to the client? Where have we heard that tactic before? NCF’s anyone? And she’s a little cranked out by BDMs who don’t return calls for weeks! Hey, let’s take care of business! 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 »