Monthly Archives: November 2010

TravelQuest — To infinity and beyond…

As the snow falls outside and temperatures drop, Minnesotans are winding down into hibernation mode.  The year is coming to a close and soon we’ll all start looking back on the year and coming up with New Year’s resolutions to make 2011 our best year yet.  With all that in mind, it seems a fitting time to wrap up the travel agent diaries series.

Last year, I had written that I wanted to grow our agent numbers from 200 to 400.  Hovering at around 300 agents, we didn’t quite meet that.  But remember that saying about shooting for the moon because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars?  I shot for the moon and I guess if you wanted to get all gushy, you could say I landed among the stars.  Cute in theory, but last I heard the only thing between Earth and the moon is space junk and satellites—not stars. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


PictureAs the founder and president of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), Louis D’Amore has been a key contributor in promoting travel and tourism as a “Global Peace Industry.”  Mr. D’Amore has experience with different government agencies as well as organizations focused upon initiatives such as community development, social impact assessment, public participation, and cultural/heritage development. 

TRO: What events or circumstances inspired the development of IIPT?

LDA: My consulting firm in Canada, L.J. D’Amore and Associates, did what I believe to be the world’s first comprehensive study on the future of tourism in the mid-70’s. This was done for the Canadian Government Office of Tourism and served to introduce a social and environmental ethic into tourism. The study was done through a ‘North American lens’ and was very bullish on the future of tourism with higher levels of education, a growing middle class, persons retiring earlier and with pensions, etc.

We continued to be futurists and in the early 1980’s began to look through a ‘global lens’ which gave us a totally different view of the future.   Increasing tensions between East and West with the Cold War and escalating military build-up of both the U.S. and Soviet Union; the growing gap of ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ regions of the world; an increasingly deteriorating environment including the issue of acid rain; and the peaking of terrorism in the mid-1980’s all contributed to the development of IIPT.

After considerable prayerful reflection on what I would do with the rest of my life I decided that rather than continue researching the future we would ‘flip this around’ and ask: How can travel and tourism be a positive force for a better world? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Palm Springs is southern California’s most famous resort destination. Littered with vacation hideaways, palm trees, and more golf courses and swimming pools than you can count, Palm Springs attracts visitors ranging from retirees to spring breakers, all seeking the perfect climate and luxurious accommodations the town has become known for. Unlike Las Vegas, Palm Springs has managed to retain its identity, and still feels like a little resort town in the middle of the Southern California desert.

Located in the Coachella Valley with the snow-capped peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains on the horizon, Palm Springs has long been a destination for area visitors and residents. Movie stars and mob bosses escaped Los Angeles to vacation here during the town’s first boom in the 1920s. The town received another tourist boom during the 50s, and much of the style and decor here is reflective of that era.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

GTT Global

We always hear talk about consolidators and how they have great fares for agents to pass along to their clients. Consolidators are a good way to improve your bottom line and to increase the value you provide to your client. But many travel professionals just don’t know where to start. The first step is to select a consolidator with a good reputation. The second step is to make sure that particular consolidator serves the markets you sell. And the third step is to establish a relationship with the consolidator and learn how easy it is to add this valuable asset to your business. This week, we will look at GTT Global. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Black Sea Cruises

The Black Sea is an inland sea in Eastern Europe, surrounded by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. It is connected to the Mediterranean by the Bosphorus Strait. A Black Sea cruise will take you to lands known for their history, terrain, unique cultures and long-standing traditions.

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Posted In: Publishers Corner

Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities. – Winston Churchill

Most of America was quietly relieved when holiday travelers opted out of participating in “National Opt-Out Day.” Everyone who boards an airplane knows the conflict of wanting to be safe but not wanting to be subjected to inefficient security procedures or, worse yet, potentially dangerous or overly intrusive body scans and searches. But nobody I know wanted to be delayed on their travels by a protest. The anger and nasty attitude that has pervaded national discourse in politics has now found its way into the fringes our industry.

Indeed, I raise the issue here because air travel is so vital to our profession. If the consumer is too afraid of a random act of terrorism to fly, or if the anticipation of a security confrontation at the gates is a part of every trip, some percentage of people will opt-out of traveling altogether.

That’s not good for anyone. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

A belated Thanskgiving

No doubt we have been inundated with hundreds of Thanksgiving messages this week. Some were cheesy, some were heartfelt and others literally brought a tear to the eye. But here we are on Saturday and I wonder how many of those messages have been forgotten now that the turkey induced slumber combined with the frantic shopping has worn off?

The New Year is typically the time when we make all of the resolutions to better ourselves—both personally and professionally. The successful resolutions typically make it to Super Bowl Sunday. The other ones might make it to January 10th. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Time to be thankful

I suspect that most of you are glad 2010 is almost over, as there is no question that it was another year full of challenges for both travel suppliers and travel agents alike. However, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, it is a good time for all of us to reflect on some of the things for which we are thankful. And if we are honest with ourselves, we know things could have been worse. Hopefully, most of you have had mostly good health this year and have had time to enjoy your family and friends.

To better make my point, most of you should be thankful you didn’t have any passengers that were stranded on the Carnival Splendor last week. I’m sure there are a few of you that had some first time cruise passengers on the Splendor and now you are facing a little challenge convincing these folks that they should try a cruise again. Read the rest of this entry »

Morris Murdock — Graig eats some crow

Recently, I was selected to attend the trade show and conference for Signature Travel Network as part of the contingent from Morris Murdock. I have to admit, I went into it with mixed feelings. I have attended many trade shows before and always questioned if they were a good use of time and effort.

This time around it was worth it on both counts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Sunny Land Tours

There is something to be said for staying power and very few suppliers can boast that they have been around for nearly 50 years. Sunny Land Tours can certainly claim that success and it is a result of paying close attention to the business of your business, not straying too far from your core competencies, and respecting and rewarding your partners who help you to succeed. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Puerto Vallarta has long been held as one of the most beautiful, cultured, luxurious vacation playgrounds in the world. The city is a seamless combination of traditional Mexican culture and modern convenience and luxury. In Puerto Vallarta, you can find everything from bullfights to grilled marlin served beach side to spectacular sport-fishing to all-inclusive resorts that cater to every budget

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Roatan with ShoreTrips

Situated off the coast of Honduras, Roatan is one of the three Bay Islands, and is a relatively undiscovered secret for most tourists. However, it has been known as a Mecca for divers for many years. However, vacationers from the colder North and South American locales area catching on to this tropical vacation destination with a variety of water activities, un-crowded white, soft powdered beaches, and inexpensive hotels and restaurants. Roatan is a long narrow island of almost 40 miles in length. It is a beautiful island with mountains and lush green tropical foliage.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Carnival’s got class

I have never shied away from criticizing a company when it is deserved. Just take a look at my blog! But I am also fair and will give credit when credit is due. Carnival Cruise Lines has rightfully earned its fair share of criticism over the past year for their ever changing policies which are distinctly agent unfriendly. But last week, they may have redeemed themselves in my book. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – November 19, 2010


Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I recently attended Travel Weekly’s Leisure World and Home Based Agent Show in Atlantic City, and wow, what an experience!  It was a week chock full of fun, networking, and learning.  It was terrific to meet so many TRO members there, and to meet many people who will become TRO members!

I have always found trade shows to be beneficial on many different levels.  First, getting the chance to meet supplier representatives in person is very important.  Often, these are the same representatives who become your point of contact for that supplier: having a face to face relationship with them cannot be valued highly enough.  Understanding how a supplier’s product could fit into your product mix is vital to growing as a business and offering what your clients want from you.  Hearing about new experiences and new suppliers is an important part of the trade show, too: in fact, Atlantic City marked the debut in the United States of Wendy Wu Tours, a tour operator specializing in China and well-known in the United Kingdom.  Wendy Wu herself was present, and it was exciting to learn about her, her company, and explore the new options she presented. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The Edge Of Excellence: From soup to slop

A while back I took a cruise that was considered to be in the “premium” category.  It was a stunningly beautiful ship and my cabin was excellent.  The vessel was impeccably clean with a constant flurry of workers erasing every fingerprint and smudge

The décor was flawless and the spa was a sight to behold.  The entertainment was the best I have ever seen aboard a ship of any class. This might sound like a perfect cruise experience, but I would NEVER do it again! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


PictureAs President of Funjet Vacations, Michael Going leads a team of talented associates that strive to deliver an unforgettable vacation experience to each and every customer. A travel industry executive and business strategist, Going joined Funjet Vacations in November 2006 as chief marketing officer and was promoted to the role of president in April of 2008. Prior to Funjet Vacations, Going held positions as chief marketing officer for Certified Vacations; senior vice president of marketing and sales for Air Jamaica; and senior vice president of Worldwide Sales with Vanguard Car Rental, parent company of  Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental.

Going’s work has been recognized by prestigious third parties throughout this career. He has received the Atlas Award from the Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME) for inspiration and leadership in marketing efforts, and in 2000, was recognized as one of the Top 25 Travel Industry Executives by Leisure Travel News.

TRO: What do you want to make sure Travel agents know about Funjet Vacations?

MG: Funjet focuses on providing programs, training, product, and incentives that help travel agents thrive and build their business for the future. While other travel companies are interested in getting travel agents’ business, Funjet is interested in keeping travel agents in business.

TRO: How important are TAs to Funjet Vacations? Explain about the genesis of your new marketing campaign: “For a good time…”

MG: The well-being of travel agents is our main priority; they are extremely important to us for a variety of reasons. We make many product, program and marketing decisions based on agent feedback. And, they are extremely important from a customer care aspect – we firmly believe that the best way to research, plan and book a vacation is with a travel agent. They’ll care for a customer and protect their vacation investment way beyond the capabilities of any online travel Web site. The “For a good time call…a travel agent!” campaign generated from that belief. We wanted a fun, catchy way to communicate our travel agent support to consumers and drive consumers to seek out a travel agent for their vacation needs. Read the rest of this entry »

Heading into the holiday season I am reminded to take stock of all the reasons we have to be grateful or to show gratitude. And looking back over the past year I am also reminded that even in the midst of a nationwide economic crisis, good things can still be found.

Some things are tangible such as meeting a quota or personal financial goal, taking a long awaited trip to someplace that you always wanted to go, or even making a luxury purchase that you previously thought was out of reach. While all of these things are wonderful and do hold value, there is also intrinsic value in those things that seem to be intangible, such as lessons learned.

So in the spirit of the season and in an effort to acknowledge those intangible items, here is a list of the lessons I am grateful for having learned this year. Some of these lessons learned have saved me time and some have saved me money, and really, when you think of it, time is money! So here is my short list: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

River Cruising In Senegal – by Variety Cruises

While not on the “A-List” of most travelers, for the adventuresome client, Senegal is worthy of consideration.  Not a tourism mecca, a unique and relaxing way to get to know this West African nation is by boat. Variety Cruises operates the M/V Pegasus with a start in Dakar and traveling along the coast and up the Gambia River .

Senegal, 76,000 square miles is located in the westernmost part of the African continent. It is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, on the north by Mauritania, on the east by Mali and on the south by Bissau Guinea and the Republic of Guinea.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Educational Travel Services

Every day, the trade media is bombarding agents with advice to specialize and nichify their agencies. It is good advice. One of the niches that is on the upswing is religious travel. Most of the major tour operators who handle the Holy Land have a program in place. But to deliver the “wow” factor to your clients, perhaps it is best to consider a specialist in the field yourself!

Since 1974, Educational Travel Service has been providing Travel Agents with excellent service and quality products for their Christian clients. ETS has handled over 350,000 Christian travelers to every corner of the globe on our Christian tours and Holy Land tours. Let the wholesale power of ETS work for you.

If you have not heard of ETS and do any type of Holy Land travel, this is a supplier which needs to be checked out. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Like Cancun, Costa Maya is a fabricated destination built for tourism—notably the cruise industry. Costa Maya is the newest port in the Western Caribbean and is located on a peninsula which feels eerily similar to many of the private islands owned by the cruise ships.  The area is located on the Caribbean Sea approximately 100 miles south of Playa del Carmen and quite close to the border of Belize.

The port itself is nothing terribly special–a man-made tourism village with bars, restaurants, shops and pools at the ready. The area was built in 2001 from scratch. The only nearby inhabited place is the village of Mahahual with its population of about 200. These folks helped build the port (along with others who came from other areas) including the brick roads, concrete cottages, and the water filtration plant. And before you ask, yes the water is safe within the confines of Costa Maya.

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

Read the rest of this entry »