Monthly Archives: October 2011

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 »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

To continue with my social media theme from last week, I wanted to harp a little more on Facebook. Last week I stressed that engagement was critical to the success of any Facebook page no matter the number of fans or likes you acquire.

And once you have the fans and are engaging them, the next step is to sell them something. There are several methods and I will list four of them here. Feel free to print this out, cut out the tips, and tape them on the side of your monitor along with all the other sticky notes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 14, 2011

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

It’s a fact of travel agent life:  at one time or another, you’re going to screw up. You’re going to make an error so massively huge, you will feel like crawling into a hole.  You will think the client will hate you forever, and you’ll never work in this town again.  I know, because it happened to me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Since 2006, I’ve celebrated Christmas with friends and family in an unlikely setting — on the rivers of Europe. It’s a tradition that I have very much enjoyed and one that I plan to continue.

I love the cozy feeling of being on a vessel that transports me, and a hundred or so others, along the main arteries of Europe during this festive time of year. I enjoy bundling up to stroll historic city streets among the Christmas markets and returning to the ship to sip on hot mulled cider or, when the mood strikes, Gluhwein. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Steve Jobs: Master of the un-needed

I am writing this on my nearly new MacBook Air on the day that Steve Jobs passed away.  I happen to be in New York City for a speaking engagement.  My hotel is very close to the “flagship” Apple Store on 5th Avenue.

Within an hour of the announcement of Steve’s death, people began to gather, light candles, leave flowers and (for some) to shed a few tears. I realized that I, and many others, had developed an emotional relationship with Apple and the visionary that was Jobs.

It’s hard to imagine an emotional relationship with an electronics maker, but that is exactly what made Apple such a success.  Against all odds, in the middle of a horrific recession, their stores are packed, their stock is soaring and they cannot make their products fast enough.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Costa Rica by Avanti Destinations

Costa Rica is Central America’s special jewel and it is only a three hour hop from Miami in a plane. Costa Rica will appeal to all ages and the country’s natural attractions, wildlife and reputation for enlightened conservation draw tourists from all over the world. The Government has made a real effort to preserve the country’s image as an eco-tourism heaven, making Costa Rica one of the best places to experience the tropics naturally and with minimal impact, at least for now. The country’s bio-diversity attracts nature lovers from all over the world. Add to this the incredible warmth and sincere hospitality of the local people and the exceptional variety of hotels along Guanacaste’s Pacific coast and you have a recipe for a unique and memorable destination for couples, singles and families. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a busy time of year for me.  September through December are full of training, seminars and travel, but it’s crucial for me, as I usually run out of steam by September and need to be re-energized!  There’s nothing like a conference or seminar to get the creative juices flowing again.

I’m really excited about the last quarter of 2011 for my travel business.  I am working with a local Life Coach to set up retreats all over the world.  We’re also networking with other select local businesses.  We don’t have a Chamber of Commerce here in our small town, so se set up our own to promote each other.  It’s helped me to zero in on my targeted clients–something I’ve not done in the past.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

If you have not heard of the term “social media” in the past three years, it is time to come out from the rock you have undoubtedly been living under. While social media is in a constant state of evolution, one thing is certain—it is here to stay. You can take that to the bank! Most travel professionals are using social media in some form; yet most are also misusing it. Over the next few weeks we will take a look at what works and what doesn’t. If you are in Boston for the Home Based Travel Agent Forum next week, be sure to catch my panel discussion for more ideas. But for now, I want to discuss the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to social media. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 7, 2011

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Since 2005 CLIA has been promoting the “World’s Largest Cruise Night (WLCN)” in October. This year they are promoting “National Cruise Vacation Week” from October 17-23. Here I will share one of my experiences with a WLCN event and lessons I took from it.

As home-based agents we typically do not have events in our home for a variety of reasons: insurance, working at the kitchen table, pets and kids in the way, etc. We have to find locations to give presentations, educate the public and promote travel (cruises for the purposes of this article.) We don’t have the luxury of an office space to decorate using co-op funds with rows and rows of agents taking bookings like our colleagues in a store-front location. Many times our shoestring budgets do not allow for rental facilities, tables, chairs, food, A/V and the like.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Need to transform your life? Read how I transformed mine in the most serene of places — at sea.

“Dad, you’re getting fat,” my 14-year-old son Alex said to me last April. This, from a boy who had never said an unkind word to anyone, at least to my knowledge. His proclamation, however, wasn’t meant to be mean. He was telling me to get healthy, lose weight, “because I want you to live for a long time.”

And so I promised Alex that by his 15th birthday (in December), I would deliver to him a new me. Accountability to my son (and daughter) is a strong motivator.

Although December is a couple of months away, I’ve already made good on my promise. Here’s how I dropped more than 20 pounds in six months. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

AccessFares – A Better Class of Service

For more than 20 years, AccessFares has provided travel industry professionals with heavily discounted, unpublished first and business class international airfares to most major international destinations, offering agents the opportunity to sell premium travel at a discount of up to 60% off published rates. Continue reading to see why Travel + Leisure named AccessFares one of the best resources for amazing first and business class fares.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

What is a travel agent’s #1 challenge?  Sure we hear a lot about product training, knowing destinations, learning technology, sales skills, and more.  But the real answer is simple and almost completely universal:  More, good leads.

In fact when pressed, I have yet to have an agent not admit that if they “just had more good, qualified leads interested in buying from me,” everything else would fall into place.

So, what is the answer?  How does an agent really get “more good leads?”  I know there are lots of places to generate new leads, but the fact is the best place to get leads is from your existing database.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

The French Countryside by Solar Tours

When thinking of France, most of us immediately imagine Paris with its bright lights, first-class shopping and museums galore. While Paris is a lovely getaway, the French countryside offers a more personal experience enveloped in some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world. From stunning castles, chateaus and boutique inns to rustic restaurants offering gastronomical perfection, a trip through the French countryside will have travelers feeling as though they are living in a fairytale.

Remember that travel agents can use 60-Second Geography articles on their websites and in their newsletters! Read the rest of this entry »

As you may recall, my last diary entry here – “The Human Touch” was my “rebuttal” to President Obama’s remarks that travel agents are essentially obsolete, implying that most people buy their travel on-line – similar to how one favors an ATM over using a bank teller. Thank you for your many positive comments and e-mails, by the way!  Your solidarity was very touching – and refreshing!

Imagine my delight when a recent article caught my eye, all about the gradual phasing-out by some supermarkets of self-checkout lanes!

Apparently, according to extensive market studies, there’s been a 6% drop in usage of self-service lanes in only 3 years; apparently, people reported being much more satisfied with their supermarket experience when they used traditional cashier-staffed lanes.

The irony–retailers anticipated a labor savings by encouraging shoppers to check themselves out.  The reality–problems like long lines, computer glitches, and keying-in incorrect codes have resulted in many customers avoiding self-serve lanes.  This has led to the decision by some stores to reduce or even eliminate the self-checkout option all together. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Have we lost our travel mojo?

When you are in a hole, you stop digging! When you are in a rut, get the hell out. Ruts will never go away on their own—ever.  The other day, I was reading an article on NPR about the acceptance of QR codes. This caught my eye because a week earlier I had written an article on the same subject for TRO.  The article was interesting enough, but one statement stood out. Read the rest of this entry »