Monthly Archives: January 2011

Posted In: Editorial Musings

They are just not that into that

For the past year, there has been a tremendous focus from TRO and every other trade publication in the travel industry on social media. We have had webinars. There have been seminars. We even devoted a large special section of the TRO Community to it. Yet there has been a push back and it makes me ask “Why?”.

More often than not, when discussing the value and benefits of social media, I hear comments such as: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Practicing What I Preach

For the past three years, each day I’ve written a marketing column here on TRO where I expound on the virtues of mission statements, branding, differentiation and points of contact.  I spend some solid portion of each day pouring over sites like, acquainting myself with what others in marketing, advertising and social media have to say about cutting edge strategy and tactics. I go to tradeshows and stand in front of groups of people and profess my theories of the best way to promote a travel company. But my best teachers have always been the very travel consultants with whom I am engaged in conversation. I don’t believe I have ever spoken about a marketing practice that I did not first see some travel agency using successfully.

Perhaps most humbling, some real experts last year allowed me to participate with them in the creation of the Travel Agent Success Series (TASS).  The likes of Nolan Burris, Mike Marchev , Stuart Cohen and Scott Koepf honored me Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Q&A on Consolidator Air Ticketing

My earlier article Booking Travel Through Consolidators generated quite a buzz amongst agents and consolidators alike, and I had the opportunity to converse with many of you one-on-one.  In the weeks that ensued, it became apparent to me that the article had opened up a dialogue with many questions that should be addressed. 

My intent in this follow-up article is to present some of the questions that were most often asked of me, in the hopes that it inspires interest, learning, discussion, collaboration, and profitability in the travel agent and consolidator communities.  As with many things in the travel industry, I must stress at the outset that there are no hard-and-fast answers to any question; it all depends on each individual situation.  Read the rest of this entry »

Thumbs Up for Shoretrips!

Les-Lee is finally back with some of her hits and misses from around the country. It’s Thumbs Down for cruise line boarding passes and Thumbs Up for Shoretrips! 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

Grandma’s Lessons for Facebook Etiquette

I absolutely love brussel sprouts!  I’m also a sci-fi nerd and mourn the day Battlestar Galactica ended.  I have elevated the perfect espresso shot to nirvana status and I cannot stand any type of seafood.  Like any other human being, I am a complicated mix of thoughts, ideas, opinions and more.  Some people think I’m a freak, and others love me for my weirdness.

 My quirky life was rarely discussed outside my circle of friends and family until something amazing happened:  Facebook!  Now, I can reach out to others just as mixed up and wacky as I am!  I can connect with brussel sprout supporters and latte lovers the world over.  The trouble is, everyone is watching, including clients.

 How can I express my views without alienating friends, or offending clients that may not share my passions?  By listening to what my grandmother told me when I was a kid:  “If you can’t say it nicely, don’t say it at all.”  I would add one more tip:  find another place to say it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Sky Bird Travel

Established in 1976, Sky Bird Travel is one of the nation’s leading airline consolidators and proud to be known as “Your Global Partner” for more than 30 years. Sky Bird assists professional travel agents and travel consortia derive the greatest possible revenue streams from their air bookings.

Sky Bird is headquartered in Detroit, with branch offices strategically located (New York City, Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) to allow maximum assistance to agencies across the nation. In addition, they maintain international offices in Toronto and Mumbai. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


Dr. Zack Protogeros is one of the owners and a member of the founding team for Destination Greece.   Dr. Protogeros has held the position of Marketing and Technology Director since 2000. Destination Greece is a US-based tour operator offering high-quality personalized services to clients visiting Greece, Egypt, Turkey and the Mediterranean with a local presence in Athens, Greece.

TRO: Destination Greece’s web presence started in 2000.  In the past 11 years, how has Destination Greece molded its image as a leader in Mediterranean tourism?

ZP: With a lot of hard work, honesty and integrity in our business with travel agents and clients, consistency in providing high-quality personalized services, competitive rates and extensive use of new technologies. Above all, though, we made it our priority to first gain the trust of travel agents and their clients and to build the goodwill of our organization. In retrospect, we feel we made the right business decision. After all, the phrase “Your Trusted Experts to Greece” is a Destination Greece registered service mark.

TRO: Describe some of your most popular packages. Read the rest of this entry »

Yes – you read the headline correctly.  While some may think that using “Brick & Mortar” and “Success” in the same breath is an oxymoron, I assure you, that is not the case!  My name is Linda Furlan, and I am a Cruise Consultant for The Cruise Shop – a specialized division of Viking Travel Service in Naperville, IL. I’m sure I speak for many other storefront based agencies everywhere that we are still, indeed, a very vital part of our communities.  As a matter-of-fact, 2011 marks our 40th anniversary.  In spite of suffering the “slings and arrows” of numerous commission cuts, 9/11, a sluggish economy, and (dare I say?) the Internet, we remain alive, well, and thriving. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

London by GTT

There are many exciting things to do in London, from a trip on the London Eye to an amphibious Duck Tour. For many, no reason is needed to visit London, but for those who need a reason, there are plenty. Among the most popular things to do in London is to visit one (or more) of the city’s many museums and exhibitions. The Tate Modern provides a look at the sometimes controversial world of modern art, and no visit to London is complete without a visit to the Natural History Museum.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Delhi by Hariworld

Delhi is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in India. Fair or not, many travelers base their opinion of the entire City on their first impression. Do not make this mistake as Delhi is certainly known as a tourist town (with the requisite tourist traps) but also a place of significant history.

Located on the banks of river Yamuna, Delhi consists of New Delhi (the Capital) and historic Old Delhi. It is home to over 15 million of people and India’s third largest city after Kolkata and Mumbai.

Be sure to look at the special fares to India from Hariworld after the article.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Travel Angels

I’ve never really much cared for the fact Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia managed to appropriate the term “travel agent” as in “online travel agent (OTA).” The implication is the entire role of a travel agent is purely transactional in nature and can as easily be performed by an impersonal database and some business logic as by a person. Truthfully, however, perhaps we should cede the designation of travel agent to the online automatons as the term “agent” no longer describes the dynamic between travel consultants and their clients.

This week, two participants in TRO’s Community related stories that every travel professional should read. I don’t want to recount the stories here as they were of a somewhat personal nature and shared in the confines of a peer community, but please do log in and read the threads there. In short, however, the heroic efforts of these professionals on behalf of their clients simply astonished me. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Do you want fries with that?

Aside from the fountain sodas, do you know what the most profitable menu item is at your local McDonalds? French fries! If you go to your local McDonalds and order a Big Mac and a soda (pop for those of you in the Midwest), what are the next six words out of the cashier’s mouth? “Do you want fries with that?”

What’s the big deal? Fries are less than a dollar and most people will at least order a small size to accompany their meal. Gotcha! McDonalds just figured a way to convince you to pay more money for one of their most profitable items.  Without a doubt, McDonalds is one of the greatest success stories ever written; so why aren’t you operating like McDonalds? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw January 21, 2011

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: TROTips

Many travel professionals have turned to WordPress to power their websites.  WordPress is a great tool – even though it has a small learning curve, it makes it easy for even the least technologically minded person to maintain a professional looking website.  Plugins allow WordPress websites to increase their functionality and features, and with thousands of plugins available, it can be difficult to know which ones are really important, and which ones are a waste of your time.  Below is a list of 10 plugins that you may want to install in your WordPress site.  You can find the plugin files at the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

About three months ago, I bought a new car. I spent four months beforehand researching options, taking test drives and figuring out the right car for me. I was replacing a 13-year old minivan that had topped 210,000 miles. The last visit with my mechanic discovered needed repairs were going to cost more than the car was worth. It is a familiar story to many. For me though, this was a chance to learn lessons from Scott Monty and Seth Godin.

During my research, I ended up chatting on Twitter with Scott Monty @scottmonty, the head of social media for Ford. In our chats, I shared with him of my bias against Ford because of my two experiences driving Fords. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Meet the Forrest Gump of Social Media

It is not a stretch to call me a true denizen of the digital age, after all, I know my way around Photoshop, know how to code a webpage with Dreamweaver and understand that CSS in not another spinoff of Law & Order. I even communicate regularly with my teenager via IM – often the ONLY way to get her attention.

But when it comes to Social Media, I’ll all thumbs and fumble fingers.  Weeks go by before I remember to check my Facebook page.

And Twitter? Even with two accounts – one personal and the other for business – I still don’t “tweet”…or read them.

(There is something about the scatter shot approach and ultra-brevity of the Twitter-verse that stops me in my tracks. It’s like fishing for trout with dynamite – too hard to spot the edible bits amongst the detritus that floats to the surface. And don’t talk to me about ‘hash tags’. That term will always be associated with corned beef in my mind.) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

12 words to achieve success in 2011

OK, the holidays are over and all of the wishes for a Happy New Year have been exchanged. Are you ready to get down to business?  You may have spent some time devising specific goals and actions to guide you through the new year. You have likely reviewed the past year to analyze what went wrong and what went right.   All good moves.  But let me see if I can simplify this a bit for you and save you some time. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicks That Trip – Kicking it off right!

Wow, it is hard to believe that a new year has already begun—one to be filled with endless possibilities and new terrain to be navigated. Business road maps are being completed; budgets are being worked on, and time management will quite possibly be at the top of the list of things that we, travel professionals, will continue to grapple with throughout the year. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Award Winning St. Lucia

For the fifth consecutive year, travel professionals the world over voted Saint Lucia the “World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination.” After receiving the top Caribbean accolade in this category at the World Travel Awards Americas ceremony in Jamaica in October 2010, Saint Lucia earned even greater global recognition at the 17th World Travel Awards Grand Final Gala Ceremony in London. Additionally, Saint Lucia was awarded “Best Caribbean Island in 2010” by Porthole Magazine. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

The Art of Persuasion

Sometimes, the best examples are bad examples. At the end of last year a discussion in the TRO Community caught my eye and I have returned to it several times. The discussion was about an article entitled What’s Your Response to ‘I Can Get It Cheaper on the Internet’? Take some time to read that article this morning, it will serve you well. Be sure to read the comments that follow the article.

I doubt there is a travel agent anywhere that would not immediately sympathize with the plight of the appliance salesman in the article. How often have you lost a client to a lower price on the internet? Does it seem like clients just don’t “get it”? Why don’t they understand the concept of value, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


Since 1998, Chris Austin has held a vice president position with Starwood Hotels and Resorts.  Mr. Austin is an active member of the TIA, ASTA, and ATME and holds a leadership position with the USTOA.  He is regarded as a leader in the travel industry, and was awarded the ITT Sheraton President’s Award and Starwood’s Sales Award of the year along with ASTA’s Allied Member of the Year Award.

 TRO: Starwood hotels has become well-known for its travel agent programs and initiatives.  For example, the Starwoodpro program that launched in 2007 has been very successful.  Please explain the reasoning behind the development of the program.

CA: At Starwood Hotels & Resorts, we know where our business comes from. We know how important the travel professional community is to our hotels and resorts around the world. We also know that time constraints and constantly changing product make it difficult to keep pace with the industry. We wanted to provide a resource for our travel professional partners that have all of the answers they need in one place. We developed as that one place. Since that time we have expanded this to be a true travel professional community, a hub where they have greater access to everything Starwood; to our best promotions and offers, to a unique and differentiated professional learning and development tool through Prolearning, (which now includes four modules and more to come), as well as a resource for news, information and commission information.  We even tell our travel professional partners where they can meet us under our news and events section, and provide valuable links to programs such as our Hawaii Aloha Amenity program.  Read the rest of this entry »