Monthly Archives: October 2011

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Are you old and crusty?

Last week in Boston, I met some fantastic people. I also met a some agents, which a colleague refers to as “old and crusties.” Now it is not meant to be a derogatory term, but it is an accurate one. The knowledge and skill present at the Home Based Travel Agent Forum was beyond reproach. But for some, the resistance to change…make that the unwillingness to even consider change, was remarkable.  For an industry that has been on the leading edge of technology, I was somewhat shocked. Maybe these “old and crusties” are simply biding their time before hanging up their fare ladders. But if they aren’t they had better change their tune. Let me take you on a trip down Memory Lane. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 28, 2011

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: TROTips

I’m often asked where to get images for a blog, website or newsletter. This is something that comes up quite often and it’s one of those issues that,if not handled correctly, can cause legal complications that you simply do not need!

First off – why should you use photos in your digital publications? Simply put, people like to look at pictures. Just witness the volume of photo sharing that occurs on social media platforms for evidence of that. Utilizing photos can enhance your marketing and help you sell – words can only paint so much!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This week, we have been looking at other professions to see what can be learned from each. When you enjoy a retail experience, and even when you don’t, there is almost always something to be learned that you can apply to your travel practice. There are loads of lessons to be gained by watching a professional waiter. In many ways, the profession of being a server in a dining establishment is especially instructive. Not only do most of us have frequent exposure to waiters, but many of us have actually been servers.

Who does not enjoy a truly great waiter? It does not matter if the meal is in a breakfast diner or a fine restaurant, a great waiter improves the experience. Equally true, a bad waiter can ruin the best of food. Here’s what I see as the quality that makes a great waiter great: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Port Profile: Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland

Glasgow is a city of contrasts. On the one hand, Scotland’s largest city is home to a large number of houses built in smart Victorian style. On the other, this is a city whose industrial past continues to be an essential part of it. At the same time, Glasgow is also known for shining glass and steel structures from a more recent date. An example of the latter is the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, the Clyde Auditorium of which was designed by the renowned Sir Norman Foster.

If there is one particular style that Glasgow is more well-known for than others, however, it is probably Art Nouveau. Glaswegians, the inhabitants of Glasgow, are proud of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

I am a yoga convert. Let me first tell you that my 54 year old  body so strenuously objects to yoga that at times I resemble a trauma victim more than a practitioner. I know I am making progress by the simple fact that fewer people at each session ask me the question “Are you OK?” But your local yoga studio has something to teach travel agents that perhaps we should examine.

Yoga stresses the value of practice to both body and soul. Yes, stretching is great exercise. By performing yoga on a regular basis, the dedicated student becomes more limber, less susceptible to muscle strains and to the perils of everyday movements. By diligently practicing yoga, a student can gain strength, flexibility and can even lose weight.

But there is more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Keith Powell’s 3 Rs of Change

We live in a world that seems to constantly change.  I remember (without giving my age) the phone booth, banking before ATMʼs, and blind dates versus online dating services just to name a few.

With all the changes, many times it is difficult to step into tomorrow knowing there will be something else to learn, something else to eliminate and something else to add to our business terminology. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Los Cabos 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: Arrival Gate

Most of us have had the experience of purchasing an automobile from a car dealership. There are certainly many, many aspects of the experience that are good examples of bad examples for anyone seeking to learn something about sales. Too often, the “come-on” is too strong and the sales person inauthentic. What is most obvious, typically, is that the sales person on a car lot is all about the transaction and your needs are secondary.


Car dealers know how to get you to relate to their product, to find your emotional connection to the vehicle. Let’s go for a test drive.

 Americans have a love affair with cars, with the idea of the automobile. Beyond their function of getting us from one place to another, cars are about freedom, independence, and status. We have to find the automobile that is “right” for us that fits Read the rest of this entry »

Journeys Unlimited — That’s a wrap!

Hello again to everyone who has been following my transition this year.  This is my last column, and I want to share how enlightening this experience has been for me.   As you may remember, this was my year to take control of my business, and not let the business run me.  I was focusing my marketing efforts on my destination and wedding niche.   It is now 4th quarter of my 2011 business year, and now it is time to see how it all worked out. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

What Travel Agents can learn from Insurance Sales

Every profession has something to learn from other disciplines. While the products from one industry to the next may vary, and while the need for one product may be vastly different from the need for another, every industry has developed strategies and tactics that are both portable and teachable to other professionals in differing lines of work. This week, let’s take a look at five other industries and see what we might learn from their marketing, sales and customer relations efforts.

Chances are you own insurance, and not just one policy, but insurance of multiple types. Your car, your home and your boat are insured. Your life may be insured. Hopefully, you have health insurance. Travel agents certainly recognize the need for travel insurance when their clients travel. Indeed, insurance is an almost omni-present but nearly invisible product in modern life. We seldom think about it – until we need it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last week I had the opportunity to serve on a panel at the Boston Home Based Travel Agent Forum and attend the trade show.  I also had the opportunity to meet a good many of the 600 attendees and learn a little bit about what they feel is needed for their agencies to thrive in today’s market. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 21, 2011

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

What is My Job Again?

One of my niche specializations is group travel. I love working with groups – I have a lot of fun organizing events for my groups, handling large amounts of information and doing all sorts of fun things in Excel to keep the numbers in check. But, it never fails to happen – at least one of my groups every year has at least two parties who have to be chased down for payments. It got me thinking – just what is my job? Am I a travel consultant or am I a bill collector?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Silver Explorer – A Cruise Even For Non-Cruisers?

Bequia must be the most idyllic of Caribbean islands. I had read that Bequia is a small island where people were exceptionally friendly and where no one hassles you, and indeed, I enjoyed the “Hellos” and “How are yous?” today on a six-mile walk from the Caribbean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the island.

Interacting with the locals was almost as memorable as the stunning landscape. To make sure we could appreciate the landscape, Silver Explorer’s expedition leaders arranged today’s walk with local guides. For those who weren’t up to shuffling their peds, there were complimentary shuttles to transport them. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Expedia’s Travel Agent Affiliate Program

Expedia is one of the nation’s leading travel suppliers, and with good reason. They provide everything travel professionals need for researching, planning, and purchasing clients’ entire vacations.  Expedia’s impressive network of global travel products and services allows their partners direct access to one of the broadest selections through its North American website. They take their relationships with travel agents very seriously, and have committed to serving all of their partners on a global basis and with many different user segments — from families booking a summer vacation to individuals arranging a quick weekend getaway to high end business travel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

I’m boring

I never thought I would be writing this!

Much has happened this past year: My son got married, my Scottish friends have come to America for the twelfth year in a row (and thankfully have returned to their wet yet beautiful weather), my wife has had another birthday, I have been asked to speak in a number of fine locations for a number of fine organizations, I have ridden a zip line high over the beach in the Caribbean and I have managed to keep my weight below the danger line.

And still, just the other day, I heard myself saying to myself, “Mike, you are beginning to bore me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Brazil by Sky Bird Travel & Tours

Brazil is on a roll, and its star city of Rio de Janeiro is the hub of all the action. Already the ninth largest economy in the world, Brazil may well reach the rank of 5th by the time the Olympics make their debut in 2016. Now is a good time to get to know Brazil because the 14.4 billion dollars scheduled to be spent preparing the country to host the Olympics is likely to forever change its face.

Did we mention that Brazil is also hosting the 2014 World Cup? The two sporting events have the nation bursting with pride, the tour operators and hoteliers working overtime and the city struggling to upgrade the nation’s tourism infrastructure. The International Olympic Committee chose Rio over Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo, and the Brazilians seem determined not to let the opportunity pass without giving it their best.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

There may be no more diverse destination on the planet than O’ahu.  Not only is the terrain amazingly varied – deserts, beaches and lush rainforests, mountains and oceans, deep valleys and soaring volcanoes – but the climates there range from sub-arctic to tropical.  The available activities are almost without end.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is my favorite time of year.  October brings my birthday along with the change of colors, cooler temperatures and Halloween.  There is just something in the air; and after a long hot summer in south Florida, it is a welcome relief. Additionally football on all levels ramps up in October–and being a head coach for a team of 13-15 year olds, my season is reaching its climax.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Everything Old is New, Again

I’m sitting in the Boston Sheraton putting the finishing touches on a presentation I will give today on Facebook.  I have the great good fortune of having two of the best Facebook coaches in the industry in Nolan Burris and Sophie Bujold.  I’m sure there is some synchronicity in the two of them being both Canadian and residents of Vancouver, but the explanation for that fact is beyond me right now.

What I do know is what they have both indicated more than once to me and which bears repeating. Social media is new, but social marketing is not. If you have ever attended a Chamber of Commerce function, or spent an evening at a Christmas party, you were social marketing.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like are all very potent new media forces. They show great, if not fully realized, potential for travel Read the rest of this entry »