Monthly Archives: March 2011

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Vacation Express, which bills itself as a “Boutique Tour Operator”, offers some of the most lucrative travel agent bonuses in the business. Due to the clear popularity of the program in 2010, Vacation Express has made the decision to offer the Commission Stimulus Program again for summer 2011.

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Posted In: Point-to-Point

It is your responsibility to make your clients feel special. This is no longer an option. It has become a necessity in an arena of intense competition. Here is how you do it.

Decide what response you want to hear when you ask your clients: “How was your trip?”

Here are a few possible replies: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Aruba by Vacation Express

Welcome to a sunny day in island paradise: 82-degrees Fahrenheit with only a few clouds scattered across the sky.  Sparkling, aquamarine waters gently brush the vibrant, white beaches while a lone windsurfer floats on the horizon, catching air on the low-breaking waves.  Farther down the shore, a couple riding horseback disappears down the coast, basking in the warm temperatures and loving every minute of their vacation in Aruba.

The small yet plentiful island of Aruba is a divine place for all things outdoors, a sparkling jewel on the bracelet of the Lesser Antilles.  If the Caribbean is the place you want to be, look no further – Aruba is the perfect island destination.

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Posted In: Outposts

Dating as far back as the mythological days of Homer and The Odyssey, the beautiful European nation of Greece is a captivating place for people, both real and imagined.  Featured time and time again in movies, novels and epic poems, the country thrives every day of the year, pleasing its visitors with ample activities, sights, dining, history, crystal clear seas and phenomenal architecture.

A country that revolves around water, Greece sets the bar for every other destination.  Between the volcanoes spotting the horizon, the easily recognizable white and blue-tiled homes, churches decorating the coastlines and the history that dates back thousands of years, you’ll want to return here as soon as possible.

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Over the past month I’ve been very busy building my social media presence. I love anything that has to do with web pages, facebook, twitter, blogging and newsletters–I am a techno-geek at heart.  I recently participated in a 3-month course called Geek School, with Chelle Yarbrough, and loved every minute of it.  I then joined The Travel Blog Project. I’m also enjoying that, but it’s more nuts and bolts than I expected, and my head swims with information overload. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

RrothneyRebecca Rothney is the founder and chairperson of Pack for a Purpose®. Rebecca took her first overseas trip at age 11 and has since visited 41 countries and 7 continents. After graduating from Washington University, Rebecca taught middle school specializing in European and non-western cultures.  For 24 years, Rebecca has hosted visitors from around the world as a member of the International Affairs Council in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has served on their board of directors for 12 years.

TRO: What inspired you to establish Pack for a Purpose?

RR: During our first trip to Africa, my husband Scott and I learned that while we were limited to 40 pounds of luggage on safari, the airline had an allowance of 100 pounds of checked luggage plus a 40-pound carry-on. In making plans for a second trip, we looked into visiting a school near the lodge we would visit in Botswana. We contacted our safari company to see if we could determine any specific needs of that school. Armed with that information, we were able to deliver 140 pounds of school supplies, including soccer balls, to the school.
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Posted In: Editorial Musings

At a loss for words

As I sat down to write this week’s column, I realized that there is very little I can say as my heart hangs heavy for people all over the world that are affected by the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown/volcano in Japan. While many in the US feel that Japan is a half a world away and these events will have little impact on the “good ole US of A,” we know better. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Experienced travel agents have long used consolidators for obtaining the best possible pricing on international airline fares for their clients. However, many travel planners have little experience with consolidators and don’t know where to begin to establish the proper supplier relationships. The United States Air Consolidator Association, better known as USACA, is making it easier for travel consultants to work with its membership. USACA is an association of twelve distinguished consolidators who have joined together to provide travel agents with a better understanding of the consolidator market and the advantages to working with consolidator fares. USACA serves as the national trade association for airline ticket consolidators committed to integrity, trust and reliability. A travel agent may freely and confidently look to USACA members for consolidated airline tickets.The end result? Better international fares for clients and more profit for the travel agent. Sound like a good deal? Read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Knowledge is vital in today’s business world. If I asked you, “what new things are you going to learn this year?”, what would be your answer? Do you even have an answer? Many times that is the challenge. We want to learn but are not sure what it is we want to learn. Now is a good time to make that list. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Nairobi by Transam Travel

As unrivaled as it is picturesque, the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, is a very special place. Not only is it home to Nairobi National Park, whose residents include giraffes, lions, rhinos and zebras, but it is the only city in the world with a park of its magnitude, let alone one with such wild tenants.

Visitors to this magical place can easily walk from the city streets to the African plains within minutes, coming very close to magnificent creatures and seeing how they are destined to be viewed – in their natural habitat.

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Posted In: Outposts

Puerto Rico by ASTA

Picture yourself in a five star hotel, looking out onto the crystal clear ocean, the roar of the town at your feet, when you suddenly hear a sound. Unsure of what it is, you listen closer to the high-pitched call. After a few moments, it dawns on you – it’s the country’s unofficial mascot, the coqui, officially welcoming you to island of Puerto Rico.

In a territory as modern as it is historical, Puerto Rico offers something for everyone. While the country may be on the smaller size – roughly 3500 square miles – don’t let that fool you. The country is rich with heritage and sights to be seen. It boasts the only rainforest in the United States National Forest Service, amazing history (San Juan, the capital, which is the oldest in the U.S.), remarkable culture, breathtaking beaches, and phenomenal nightlife.

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When I last left you, I extolled the virtues of travel agents as a whole, and how we are very much alive and well and relevant! And I am proud that I am a frontline agent for one of the most successful and reputable travel agencies in my area. But the very definition of my role has morphed over the years: long-gone are the days of people finding you in the yellow pages, or walking-in from off the street. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

johnpetersJohn T. Peters joined Tripology as President and CEO in 2008. Since then, John guided the team at Tripology in hitting critical growth milestones. In early 2010, Tripology processed its 175,000 trip request and has assembled a network of nearly 15,000 Travel Specialists. In March 2010, John sold to Rand McNally. Prior to Tripology, John was Vice President of Business Development & Travel Trade where he led the successful launch of Endless Vacation Rentals® by Wyndham Worldwide.

John is a frequent speaker at trade shows and international meetings including World Travel Market, EyeforTravel, Vacation Home Expo, The New York Times Travel Show, International Cruise-a-thon and others.

TRO: Since joining Tripology, you have been instrumental in meeting multiple milestones within the company. Why do you believe Tripology works so well at meeting the travel industry’s needs?

JP: Tripology is the leading online travel referral service that matches consumers with travel specialists, known as Tripologists, based on their specific vacation request.  The service provides the best of both worlds for travelers and travel professionals.  For travelers, Tripology combines a content-rich online experience with access to travel professionals for the personal attention and service they seek.   For travel specialists, Tripology is a cost-effective way to get qualified travel leads.  It enables agents to harness the immense reach of the Web, then work one-on-one with prospective clients to cultivate a customer for life.

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Posted In: Publishers Corner

Your Office Ecology

Whether you consider yourself “green” or not, there is one place where every travel planner should be an environmentalist – your office. No matter if you spend your days in an office building with associates down the hall or in a converted spare bedroom, your office is your constant companion. A few moments thinking about the environment in which you exist for a large portion of your time is well spent.

Here’s the thing – our office is in reality a mirror of our inward disposition. It not only reinforces our mood, it reflects our attitude.  Do you have one of those “You want it when?” signs somewhere in the office? I’m just saying… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

And in this corner

Everywhere you look there are battles being fought—Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Lybia, and Wisconsin to name a few. But one battle hit a little closer to home last week when Insight Vacations threw off their gloves and came out swinging against Collette Vacations with an email broadcast to all of their travel agent partners. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – March 4, 2011

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Travel is now a Commodity?

This is a premise shared by many agents these days, especially with cruise lines.

The “commodity” idea is a red herring. There has never been a time when someone wanted to pay more for their travel and the hotel room, stateroom, etc has always been just that, a hotel room, stateroom, etc. Price has always been an issue; it was not as transparent as it is now.

Suppliers pay higher commission percentages to travel agencies so agencies would be the suppliers MARKETING and sales avenue. Suppliers knew they could not reach every neighborhood in a city as large as Los Angeles or in a rural area such as Wood River, Nebraska.  Brick and mortar agencies had great displays, brochure racks, and posters on the walls or in the windows. Agents went out into their community and marketed suppliers product. Many agencies sent out supplier direct mail pieces to their client list or took out co-op ads in the local travel section of their Sunday paper. Suppliers needed us to market product. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Step aboard Variety Cruises and enter the world of small-ship cruising. From the moment you embark, experience the distinctive atmosphere of a private yacht – an environment shared by only 40 or 50 fellow travelers. Savor Variety’s upscale 4-star amenities and personalized service typically found at only the finest boutique hotels.

Each day you will discover a new port of call, a hidden cove with crystal blue waters to cool, a glimpse of ancient history to amaze and rich cultural diversity to intrigue. Variety Cruises offers intimacy and personal service that larger vessels simply can’t provide – come discover the difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Dublin for Cruise Passengers

Cruise visitors to Ireland’s capital city will find a friendly welcome. Situated off the east coast of Ireland, near the Irish Sea, Dublin is a small and compact city that offers cruise visitors a wealth of opportunities to explore. Designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, the city takes great pride in honoring its authors. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

You talkin’ to me??

That memorable and off repeated quote of Robert De Niro, from the movie Taxi Driver should also serve as a mantra for communicators who are trying to reach today’s potential travelers. I’m sometimes at a loss trying to figure out what message they are sending, and to whom.

The tremendous advantage technology brings to today’s communications is allowing us to tailor our conversations directly at a targeted segment. No longer are we faced with a one size fits all mentality. No longer are we bound by such real world factors such as printing time, shelf life of an offer, or a brochure. Today’s marketers can target, communicate, measure and move on to the next segment. Here are some suggestions which may help crystallize your next marketing campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

St. Thomas and St. John by Vacation Express

This winter has been a harsh one.  With record amounts of snowfall in the Northeast and below average temperatures across the rest of the country what better way to escape than heading to the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands?  With temperatures flirting in the low 80s every day, winter on the Virgin Islands simply translates to more sunny days and extra beach time.

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