Monthly Archives: October 2010

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Who is selling direct and doing a better job?

Over the years, many people have asked how I can keep up with a weekly (or more frequent) column. I will admit there are challenging times when writer’s block (or a beautiful sunny day and a sailboat) will interfere; but many topics I discuss are not my own. I credit much of my ability to write to my colleagues and the questions they pose. So, this week’s hat tip goes to DCTravelAgent on the TRO Community for getting me to think!

Earlier this week, NCL released a S-1 form to the SEC in preparation for their Initial Public Offering (IPO) and Travel Weekly reported on some of the information which was included.  Some of the more notable facts included Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

An Introduction to Culinary Travel

Culinary travel is an emerging trend amongst ardent travelers and food and wine lovers alike.  What exactly does the term “culinary travel” bring to mind?  As with any type of specialty travel, the variety of trips that could fall into the culinary travel category are endless:  a weekend getaway visit to the Lobster Festival in Maine; a wine connoisseurs’ cruise; a tour of the Napa Valley vineyards; or hands-on cooking classes in Italy.  What all of these culinary travel options have in common is this:  The focus is not on simply having travelers eat their way through their destinations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

A Luxury Cruise On Seabourn Odyssey: Suite 622

I am traveling comfortably on a luxury cruise in Veranda Suite 622 on Seabourn Odyssey.

My suite, situated on the port side, measures 300 square feet and features a sitting area, a truly functional table for dining or working, a somewhat-small-flat-panel-television for a luxury ship, an iPod docking station, queen-size bed, walk-in closet with safe, and a fully stocked bar and refrigerator. The earth tones suit my taste just fine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Big Ideas: Woulda, coulda, shoulda

A few years back, I was compiling articles for an e-book when I received a very interesting contribution from a woman in Tuscon, AZ.

By every measure, she was a successful businesswoman; and her contribution really resonated right to my core. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

The Travel Agent Success Series

One of the great rewards of my job is the opportunity to work with truly excellent people. The relationships that have have formed over the past few years redeem many trials and tribulations. It is especially gratifying when your work associates become good friends. Those occasions are rare indeed.

Last March I had the opportunity to work with Nolan Burris, Mike Marchev, Scott Koepf and Stuart Cohen on a project. We were brought together by the recognition that there were too few pure sales and marketing training courses offered to travel professionals. While the travel industry has a great many product and destination training opportunities, training in the fundamentals of sales, marketing and customer service was much more difficult to find. I reached out to the best trainers and speakers in the travel industry to suggest we fill that gap, and to my great delight each of the four purchased airline tickets and flew to the backwaters of Northern Florida for a couple of days of video taping, impromptu chaos and fun.

We set out to create a set of training videos and workbooks for the travel industry, one that would be different from anything previously offered. Everyone came with their best game on. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, someone from the office sent me a forwarded e-mail and I zoomed right by it.  The next day, they had asked if I’d read it and I admitted I hadn’t.  Feeling guilty, I opened it up.

Essentially, it was about a cab driver who hated his job.  Everyone was always rude when they hopped in and he found the day to day grind of driving these people around to be unbearable.  I’ll cut to the chase and say one day he had an epiphany that he controlled his surroundings.  He could quit, or he could try to make it a better experience for both him and the passengers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


PictureAkshay Shah is the President of the United States Air Consolidation Association (USACA). It is the mission of USACA to serve as the national trade association for those air consolidator businesses which provide their travel agent customers with integrity, trust and reliability. Travel agents can view the USACA site and take a USACA approved training course at

TRO: For purposes of clarity, Akshay, explain the definition of a “consolidator”.

AS: A Consolidator is a travel agency that has specific airline contracts that allows it to resell to other travel agents. These contracts allow the travel agency to offer bulk and commissionable fares in economy / business and first class to its travel agent customers. Mainly the airline deals that are offered to the travel agents are for international destinations and do not require the travel agent to purchase a land option with it. Consolidators mainly deal in the leisure markets.

TRO: Who then, is not a consolidator?

AS: Any travel agent that deals directly with the public or with corporations. Tour operators have airline deals, however they must sell them in conjunction with land which is different than a consolidator who can sell air without land. Consolidators generally have to put up a letter of credit with their bank as additional guarantee with the airlines.

TRO: Why should travel agents use consolidators?

AS: Travel agents today on the majority of carriers do not earn any commission. By utilizing a consolidator they are able to either get commission off of a published fare or get a bulk fare that will allow the agency to add a mark up and sell it to their customer. As our recent ad campaign indicates: “There’s Money in the Air”!

TRO: In what circumstances can consolidators provide the most value?

AS: On any international ticket for economy / business or first class consolidators can provide the most value to the travel agent. In addition, consolidators are extremely helpful Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

CLIA is one of those acronyms that the industry like to toss around. CLIA is said to be one of the “must join” organizations for travel professionals in the industry. CLIA is also an affordable alternative for industry recognition if you do not want to be beholden to the airlines with ARC or IATAN (more acronyms). But beyond the big box full of certificates, stickers, bonus commission coupons and other goodies, CLIA iffers so much more.  Have you taken a look lately?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

When you think of the Caribbean you typically conjure up images of white-sand beaches and tropical drinks with little umbrellas and cabana boys (or girls)to wait on your every need. It’s a pleasant thought, but the islands of the Caribbean offer so much more.  The contradictions hit you the moment you arrive. With a history built on piracy, sugar, slavery, revolt and colonial identity, the islands support a vibrant mix of cultures. There are cricket players and Rastas, Cuban rebels and lobster fishermen. The shifting sands on sheltered beaches come in impossible hues, from sugar white and salmon pink to coffee brown and charcoal black. While some islands are nothing more than an overgrown sandbar, others project majestically from the sea.

Be sure to see the recommended tours by ShoreTrips after the article.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

In Argentina’s south, lies the gorgeous and infamous Patagonian region. Known for its exquisite beauty and breathtaking adventures, Patagonia is a must see to those visiting Argentina.

The Patagonian region of South America also includes Chile, although most of it resides within Argentina. Patagonia was named by Magellan, referring to the Tehuelche people’s large moccasins, which made their feet appear huge. Charles Darwin’s account of the native wildlife in Patagonia is still considered as relevant today as it was back then. This gives an indication of how authentically wild Patagonia remains 170 years later. IN the little known fact category, Patagonia is also the final resting place of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.  Solar Tours has been offering trips to Patagonia for more than 20 years and has a variety of trips which cover the entire region.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Working smarter

I am perhaps one of the most impatient people I know. I can’t wait for anything. I hate lines. I hate slow moving traffic. Fedex is my friend. My friends and kids know this too—if they are talking and don’t get to the point fast enough, I will tune them out. But, my youngest daughter was confused when she overheard me on the phone discussing how pleased I was with a waitlist.  Then I had to explain that when I control the waitlist, it is a good thing; but when others do…not so much. OK, so where is this going? Working smarter! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 22, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

It is my position that a serious travel professional should be well informed.  At first, that statement is one that tends to elicit a “Duh!” response from others, but it’s a fully loaded statement.  Sure, it’s important to know what you’re supposed to know.  Carnival sells cruises, RIU operates all-inclusive resorts, and flying through Chicago O’Hare in the winter is a gamble.  If you concentrate on a specialty, what you’re supposed to know gets a little more specific.  River cruise specialists are supposed to know the difference between Uniworld’s river ships compared to Avalon’s, and Ireland specialists are supposed to know small details like the location of that one little pub in Dublin that adds the right cultural flavoring to a visit.  But, take a look at the travel community at large.  What should we ALL know?  As it turns out, more than you think.

The first item on the list should be basic spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  I cringe anytime someone writes something that represents them as a professional (for example, an article like this, or website content, or even a forum post) and it is chock full of errors.  It is difficult for me to take a fellow professional seriously if they do not have a grasp on basic elementary English principles.  A true professional is held to a higher standard by the general public, and especially by his or her peers.  Sending out a missive with dangling participles, misspelled words, and poor punctuation sends a blow to that professional’s credibility.

Second item: basic geography.  I once worked with a travel agent who was discussing a vacation with a client over the telephone.  She put the client on hold, turned to me, and Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TROTips

I am excited about the new “TRO Tips” column, because we have seen lots of great articles about software, hardware, and all sorts of 21st century stuff that’s all a bit overwhelming to me. I’m happy to have someone else explain those things to me, because technology is really not something that excites me personally.

So what tool or tip am I qualified to write about?  Books!

I’m a voracious reader, and my nightstand usually includes a good mix of travel magazines, trade publications, and novels — but I also like to include business books. They don’t have to be specific to our industry (in fact, most of them aren’t), but I find that they all contain at least some small kernel of wisdom Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Once in a while something comes across my desk with uncanny timing – just the right message at just the right time – lighting a fire under my rear end and getting me moving with renewed energy and confidence. Such a document is What Matters Now – a compilation of thoughts by the best thinkers of the blogosphere. Subtitled “Big Thoughts & Small Actions Make a Difference”, this e-book, distributed free of charge, wasconceived by Seth Godin and edited by Ishita Gupta.

Each page is dedicated to a specific area of thought by particular blogger – some are well known – some not so – about 75 in total. All entries make for inspiring reading, as well as being highly predictive and informative.

Several sections stood out as particularly relevant to our industry.

Example – Robyn Waters, an Ambassador of Trend and author of Trendmaster’s Guide, talks about trends and counter trends on a page titled Adventure.  One trend: “we have become small-minded, quick to judge and slow to understand”. The counter trend: “leaving the screens of our virtual world momentarily behind and indulging our senses with a real world adventure.Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The Edge Of Excellence: Facebook is kindergarten

I keep telling people, “I’m not a social media expert!”  Don’t get me wrong; I speak about social media–a lot.  It’s one of the most common topics I’m asked to address and lots of people say my approach to social media has worked wonders for them.  Confused?

I have never considered myself a technology wizard, nor an Internet guru and definitely not a social media master.  That doesn’t mean I can’t tell you how to get better results from all of them!

You see, I believe the secrets to succeeding with all this stuff, and whatever stuff may come along after it, are not hidden in bits, bytes or HTML gibberish.  You already know the secrets and you learned them in Kindergarten:  have fun and be creative, be nice, and share.

My real passion and my purpose are described in entertaining detail Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1



PictureWorld Travel Market is one of the highlights of the travel year for both suppliers and  travel professionals around the world.   Few North American travel agents attend, viewing the event as primarily for suppliers. However, each visit to WTM I have found to be both inspiring and invigorating, both as a travel agent and as media.  Every agent that visits is amazed by the energy and the spectacle of seeing literally acres of suppliers all eager to do business.  WTM’s new Exhibition Director Simon Press explains the event, his plans for the future, and why World Travel Market remains top of its field.

TRO: You were appointed World Travel Market Exhibition Director in January this year, tell us about your background?

SP: I have worked in the exhibitions industry for a number of years for some of the biggest exhibition companies. During that time I’ve managed awards, conferences and buyers clubs, so understand the importance of delivering high quality buyers to exhibitors.

I joined Reed Travel Exhibitions in 2007 taking up the position of Exhibition Director on Arabian Travel Market before joining WTM in 2008 as Head of Sales, which gave me a valuable insight into the premier global event for the travel industry before taking up my current position of Exhibition Director at the start of 2010.

TRO: What plans do you have for WTM 2010 and beyond?

SP: I take over the reigns of World Travel Market at a very exciting time for the event, having just celebrated it 30th anniversary at WTM 2009. WTM 2010 will be the biggest World Travel Market ever Read the rest of this entry »

October 15th was the two month anniversary of joining the team at Morris Murdock Travel. So far the pluses outweigh the minuses; but there are still many things that are still taking some time to get used to.

The first has to be the hours. Imagine, I need to be at the office at a set time for a set number of hours each day. Sounds kind of silly to those millions of people who go to their jobs at a set time each day but for those of us who have tasted the freedom of come and go as you please, it is a major transition. But I knew that going in, so I can’t complain about it too much–but I still do…in my head. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Australia — by GTT Global

Australia is a hot destination and will continue to be for  quite some time. Many clients feel that getting there is cost prohibitive; not so with GTT Global and their consolidator fares. With landscape that varies from parched red desert to Mediterranean vistas, golden beaches to tropical green rainforests, snow capped mountains to untouched islands, Australia sometimes seems like a microcosm of the entire world.

The past and future come together in the great coastal cities, with a forward-looking attitude that embraces Australia’s Pacific Rim location. This gives a decided contrast to a country that is so rich with remnants of its past. Australia has a wealth of prehistoric Aboriginal art that paints telling pictures of a distant time gone by and the fabled ‘Dream time’. Colonists have added tales of early prison settlements which have been replaced by Victorian Architecture that adds a distinctly European feel to the cities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Considering the variety of fun found in Myrtle Beach, it’s easy to forget about the beach. But that’s the city’s main claim to fame. The 312-acre Myrtle Beach State Park is the home to countless outdoor activities including boating, fishing, scuba diving, windsurfing, or just plain sunbathing—if it can be done on, in or near a beach, this is the place to be. Plus, if you’re looking for some fresh air but don’t want to get your toes wet in the ocean, there are plenty of nature trails to hike. Spend a week in a Myrtle Beach condo rental from Endless Vacation Rentals and the Atlantic Ocean and all that comes with it is your backyard.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Whether it’s mushing dog sleds across glaciers or flightseeing over the Arctic Circle, Royal Caribbean International’s 2011 Alaska cruise and cruisetours will offer your clients an unrivaled adventure vacation. The cruise line has announced 34 voyages for Royal Caribbean’s 22nd consecutive season in the Great Land, comprising six unique itineraries aboard Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas. Your clients can choose a seven-night northbound or southbound itinerary between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska, via the Inside Passage, or a seven-night roundtrip Alaska itinerary from Seattle. Read the rest of this entry »