Monthly Archives: April 2011

Posted In: Deck Plans

River Cruising 101

River cruising was an entirely new concept to Europe when it was introduced in the mid-1970s: a floating hotel that journeys between destinations. In its simplest form, a river cruiser is nothing more than a barge with a hotel on top. For many travelers, the slow chug along the river is just the right pace for getting the lay of the land. Sitting on the top deck of a ship under brilliant blue skies, you gaze on fabled landscapes dotted with castles, villages, and vineyards. A flight of stairs down you have all the amenities of a modern hotel—restaurants, bars, lounges, fitness facilities, spas, Internet access, and comfortable staterooms. 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: Point-to-Point

How’s your junk?

It happened again this past week.

“It,” in this case, happens to be when junk mail becomes a useful piece of information. The key to remember here is that it is not when the sender wants it to happen—but when the receiver is ready for it to happen.

The last time it happened to me was the morning after my hot water heater broke, and I instantly became an engaged carpet shopper. That was then. This is now. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Los Cabos, Mexico by Vacation Express

Glancing to your right, you notice a rocky paradise, a couple lounging upon stones that are older than time itself.  Looking out across the blue span of water surrounding you, you see a catamaran navigating the glassy waters, lifting one of its hulls high off the water, defying gravity while the wind has its way with its sails.

And finally, to your right, you see a foursome playing golf on a course with breathtaking views; every swing they take brings their ball closer and closer to the shore, the mountains in the distance cheering them on.

This beach paradise is America’s beautiful backyard neighbor – Mexico.  This is Los Cabos.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Costa Rica by Solar Tours

A 3-hour plane ride from Miami will place you within one of the most beautiful countries in all of Central America.  Costa Rica offers attractions for all ages; nature in its prime can be reveled in thanks to the government’s strong efforts to preserve eco-tourism.  The rainforests that populate this gem are some of the most unique in the world, and in combination with the perfect year-round climate and atmosphere, not to mention the extremely friendly locals, you are sure to desire a visit over and over again.

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Recently I have been thinking about all of the conferences that are held throughout the course of a year, because tomorrow, I am attending the International Destination Expo in Puerto Rico. At the beginning of each year, I start receiving email notifications from various organizations requesting my presence and extolling the value of attending their conference in order to check out all of the latest and greatest information that I can only hear about at their conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Do a SWOT Analysis for your travel practice

Periodically, a company needs to be reminded of the need for a SWOT analysis.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The traditional SWOT looks at Strengths and Weaknesses of a business (internal factors) and tries to thereby ascertain the relationship with Opportunities and Threats (factors external to the agency). Doing a periodic SWOT analysis is a good exercise as your develop your marketing plan and assists with developing the appropriate goals for your travel practice.

Generally speaking, your travel practice has certain strengths that justify its existence. These strengths give rise to the ability to take on opportunities. On the other hand, your agency probably has weaknesses that provide an opening to your competition Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

What don’t you know?

I had a wakeup call this week. Unfortunately it was not from the front desk of the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora. No, this was a business wakeup call. While I tend to kick myself for needing them, I do appreciate them for they keep me on my travel toes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – April 8, 2011

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign.
Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
– The Five Man Electrical Band, 1970

My grandson, Truman, is eight.  He has been reading since he was four, and now reads everything he can get his hands on.  He also reads signs.  When we took him to DisneyWorld for his fifth birthday, he would read every sign he saw.  Then, he’d ask, “Hey, Grammy, what does that mean?”  I would patiently tell him.  Then he would ask “Why?”

I think, that as we get older, we need to not only read the signs, but also ask what they mean and why.  Here are some more signs that are relevant to how the economy is affecting the travel industry and travel agencies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Oceania Cruises Marina: A Personal Work Of Art

On Oceania Cruises’ new Marina an unusual scene plays out. Bob Binder, the company’s president, and Frank del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises, are performing a job normally reserved for the ship’s carpenters. Dressed in custom-tailored suits, del Rio and Binder heft heavy pieces of framed art, arranging and rearranging, moving one frame of art from a wall in the hallway into a space they’ve chosen in the main restaurant.

Carpenters stand by ready to help, but clearly the cruise executives are in charge. After all, Binder and del Rio chose every piece of art on Marina, and that in itself is telling. Seldom, if ever, will you find executives with such a strong and, literally hands-on, approach. When I remind del Rio that I had seen him a few years earlier measuring spaces on Regatta for art pieces, he replied, “Yeah, we do that all the time,” and then jokes as he is helping Binder place a piece of art on the wall: “They just don’t trust us with a hammer.”

Marina debuted with a big splash in February 2011. The naming ceremony represented a victory for Frank del Rio. In less than a decade, del Rio and his team have built a highly successful cruise line in the upper-premium segment, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

VacationRentals4Agents® by Endless Vacation Rentals® is a leading provider of vacation rental properties specifically for Travel Agents offering over 200,000 accommodations in 100+ countries worldwide. VacationRentals4Agents offers individual consumers and business-to-business customers a broad suite of hospitality products and services across various accommodation alternatives and price ranges through its premier portfolio of world-renowned properties.

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Posted In: Point-to-Point

By The Numbers

A new and periodic feature for Travel Research Online will be “By The Numbers”. This column will take a hard look at the financial and operating benchmarks that tell the bottom line tale of agency economics.

The source content for By The Numbers will come from TAMS (Travel Agency Management Solutions), the premier financial benchmarking and networking organization in the travel industry.

TAMS membership involves 120 travel agency and travel management companies (TMC’s) in North America, ranging in size from $2 million to over $700 million in annual sales.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

San Juan by ASTA

Getting off the plane and exiting the terminal, you immerse yourself into an envelope of warmth in Carolina, Puerto Rico.  Hailing a cab, you settle into the backseat, taking in the tropical sights that surround you.  Darting through the streets and only moments later, the driver stops in front of your hotel.  As you exit, you are swept up in a wave of energy, the excitement flowing through the city with a pulse that is palpable.  Music blares from every direction and the smell of pork, rice and beans greets you with a wave of hunger. Welcome to San Juan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

It is said that Santorini has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, and after a visit, you will have a very difficult time disagreeing. A link in the chain of islands that make up Greece, Santorini is the complete historical destination – whether for nature and volcanoes, the dark, pebble-covered beaches, or the picturesque white churches with their vibrant blue domes.

One of 1,400 islands, Santorini is one of the most popular destinations in Greece.

Read the rest of this entry »

As I move into the second quarter of the year after a record breaking first quarter, I have determined that this quarter, I want to focus on my “cheerleaders”—the clients who referred business to us. We have come up with a drip campaign and will be sending a small gift to these clients monthly for a few months. One month may be for the parents; and something special for the kids the next month. While we always thank our clients, we are now taking it to another level. These are our best customers and are referring their friends to us for no other reason than they felt we did a great job. We are big believers in not marketing unless we can tell our story. Well in essence, our clients are telling our story for us—so what a great place to put my marketing money. The first gift will be a small box of fine local chocolates with our logo on the top, and the next will be a Disney-esque gift for the kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Uncategorized

lfriedmanLee Friedman is the Business and Outreach Director of Wilderness Inquiry (WI). Mr. Friedman leads WI’s day-to-day operations and business development activities, strategic partnering, community outreach, sales, and marketing activities. For operations, he directs WI’s financial management, human resources, and risk management. Before joining WI’s staff team in 2007, Mr. Friedman was a partner in the law firm of Briggs and Morgan, and earlier in his career a staff member for the 1991 International Special Olympics Games.


TRO: Please explain the operations and goals of Wilderness Inquiry.

Wilderness Inquiry (WI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission of facilitating community integration for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities; promoting healthy lifestyles; and encouraging stewardship of the environment. Since 1978, WI has pioneered integrated outdoor programs, setting best practice standards and serving more than 275,000 people with and without disabilities. In 2010, WI served 16,713 people in 320 canoeing, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, horseback, and dog sledding trips. WI has received numerous local and national awards, including the 2010 Nonprofit Excellence Award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

lfriedmanLee Friedman is the Business and Outreach Director of Wilderness Inquiry (WI). Mr. Friedman leads WI’s day-to-day operations and business development activities, strategic partnering, community outreach, sales, and marketing activities.  For operations, he directs WI’s financial management, human resources, and risk management.  Before joining WI’s staff team in 2007, Mr. Friedman was a partner in the law firm of Briggs and Morgan, and earlier in his career a staff member for the 1991 International Special Olympics Games.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last week, I was reading an article in Travel Weekly about the mobile world. Not the automobile, but the mobile that likely spends a lot of time in our collective pockets, purses, or strapped to our hip in some sort of holster. The gist of the article was that the travel industry was far behind other industries in developing apps (applications) for the growing smartphone market.  I tend to agree. I am a relatively new adopter of the smartphone craze, and now I cannot see how anyone can turn back on the technology.

The apps that are available are nothing short of incredible—especially for travel. In a new city and need to get subway directions? As the commercial says, there’s an app for that. A dining recommendation? Zagat at your fingertips. Checking into your hotel? Yup, not a problem.  Virtually anything need you might have on a trip, likely has an app. Lonely businessman at a Vegas convention—yes, there is an app for that! So it comes as no surprise that Sabre is one of the leading travel companies in application development. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Selling you to your sales team

It’s your turn to give a presentation to your networking group. Whether it is your first time or your twenty-first time, you are probably thinking what can you do to sell you to your sales team?

These groups go by different names; BNI, L-Tips, Powercore and a host of others. They all follow the same general format. Each member stands up, gives a 30-60 second commercial about their company, and shares what would make a good referral for them. On a rotating basis a member or two (depending on time) gives a 8-15 minute presentation about their business, who they are, what they do and who would be a great gate-opener or a referral for them. Then referrals are shared, testimonials are given and the meeting comes to an end. Read the rest of this entry »