Monthly Archives: November 2011

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Lakani World Tours

Founded in 2003, Lakani World Tours, provides extraordinary vacations with memories to last a lifetime. Lakani World Tours programs feature the best that an area has to offer. While they recognize that quality does not come cheaply, they provide value through the agent and traveler experience and strong relationships with proven suppliers.
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Posted In: Point-to-Point

As a speaker, I travel a lot.  The Vancouver Airport Gate 85 Starbucks baristas always ask, “the usual?”  Even the customs officials know me by name.

The airport routine has become so repetitive for me that I can be oblivious to things going on around me.  That all changed recently when a smiling gray haired woman sat next to me and started to chat while we waited for our flight.

Within a few minutes I found out that she was in her seventies, practiced yoga daily, had lovely grandchildren, and was off to visit family in Las Vegas.  With half an hour to go before boarding she said she “needed to move around a bit.”  I expected her to take a walk.  I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Pasadena, California by City Escapes

Located in Los Angeles county, Pasadena can seem like it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the City of Angels. Just a short drive from the beach and some of the most beautiful mountains in the U.S., there is no shortage of activities for visitors.

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Just like the last five weeks of the Travel Agent Diaries in which each agent has summed up their year, reflected on their successes and regressions; it is now my turn to conclude this year’s series of articles and elaborate about how my business has grown and what I have learned about my agency and myself

In my world, the year is considered to have two halves and each one is vastly different, both in terms of anticipation and expectation.  The first half– January to June is a long trudging busy time for me in which I find a good portion of my business is centered around spring break and summer vacations.  This past year though, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Each day, Monday through Friday, TRO publishes at least one new marketing article specifically designed for travel agents. Now, we are going to take the next three weeks to organize the materials of the past year into a 2012 Marketing Plan for travel consultants. Follow along, day by day, read the materials, do the assignments and at the end of the three weeks, you will have a marketing plan. It’s as simple as that – and it is every bit that difficult. Building a workable marketing plan takes discipline. Set aside some time each day to work on your plan. 2012 will, I promise, be a better year for your effort.

Note that this series is for travel professionals, not “agencies”. Each agent in an agency needs their own marketing plan. Regardless of whether you are an employee, an independent travel agent or the owner of a mega agency, you need a personal marketing plan to enhance your net worth as an agent. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

2012 Wake Up Call

For the past five years, TRO has worked in depth with travel professionals assisting to put together their marketing plans. One thing we have learned is that great travel agents are not necessarily born that way.  Thankfully, it is possible to nurture and plan your way to greatness, especially with the proper mentoring. 

Not much in business has come easy over the past few years. The travel industry has been bounced between economic collapse, environmental and socio-political events and minor pandemics. Although the concept of planning seems to be an impossible task in the face of so much turmoil, failing to plan only adds to the sense of living impromptu.

In a few short weeks, the 4th and final quarter of 2011 will be over and 2012 will be underway.  When you are in business, time passes fast, as do opportunities.  Now is an excellent time to begin working on your 2012 marketing plan. Passion is a great start, but of equal importance is the ability to channel your passion into a real, workable plan. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Travel and the iLifestyle

I always have to smile when I realize that I am not in this boat alone. Perhaps there is something to that whole “misery loves company” saying, but in a sense it is reassuring (under any condition) to know that you are not alone.  In the travel industry, we bemoan the Internet. Sure, we embrace it—it makes our jobs a lot easier. But we bemoan it because of “those” clients. You know the ones. They always start out their conversations with you with something like, “well, my cousin Myrtle saw this same trip on www…..”  There is no doubt about it. The Internet has put many of us out of business. Granted, they were probably ready to go out without the Internet but it likely was the catalyst. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

I had a dream!

I had a dream—with a pre-emptive apology to Martin Luther King Jr. I had a dream, a dream that had me tossing and turning in bed all night.

I was driving to college in mid-August ready to begin another football season for the University of Massachusetts. I was in my fifth year, and knew a lot more than I did as a freshman. A few broken bones set me back a tad on the NFL draft chart, but since I enjoyed the game so much I pressed hoping to have my name embroidered on the back of a NY Giant jersey.

I pulled into camp not knowing if the head coach was expecting my return since I had fulfilled my scholarship obligations the previous four years. But I was ready to play, and I came to play. I was now the oldest guy on the team and much wiser. And, I was the quarterback. My injuries allowed for a fifth season.

I had my “speech” to the team already formulated in my head. This was very much out of character since by nature I was a silent QB who seemed to be content with “getting hurt.” (Broken ankle – busted collarbone – dislocated shoulder)

Here is what I said to the room full of big guys. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Casablanca, Morocco by Hariworld Travels

Casablanca, the primary port and largest city in Morocco, is the type of destination of which dreams are made. It is situated on the western coast of Africa overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, offers a myriad of activities and cultural experiences that will leave any visitor full of awe.

Casa, as the city is popularly called, is a new city, having grown from a small village of less than a few thousand only 150 years ago. The settlers are coming even today, drawn by the mostly false hope of finding a job, housing and a better life than what rural Morocco can offer. Some do make their fortune here, and the display of wealth on Casa’s streets and in its trendy bars and restaurants gives the impression of a city in southern Europe.

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As I reflect on the past year of writing the TRO Diary series, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s really not a finish line where myself and business is concerned; it’s not about the destination, but the journey.  And what a wonderful and wild journey it’s been!

Writing a regular diary has forced me to take a hard look at where I’ve been, and how I got there.  It’s been quite a ride, and I feel I’ve learned a lot in the process.  I learned that I can specialize, and not be everything to everyone.  I struggled for a few years trying to figure out what my specialties are, never really knowing. I can say without a doubt now that I love selling cruises and escorted vacations.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Travel decompression

I’ve heard it said that Thanksgiving is the “official” start of the holiday season. But if you have been shopping anytime in the past thirty days, you would see that the “official, official” start seems to be right around Halloween.  For most of us, this is a slow time.  The kids are set up in their school routines and the adults tend to be concerned with two major meals, holiday spending, and just making it through to 2012. Travel seems to come to a lull.

The corporate traveler is likely staying local for the holidays and putting the wraps on another year, or possibly making a mileage run to move to “platinum.”  Any travel happening around the holidays has already been booked and paid in full. Certainly, very few leisure travelers are thinking about spring break or summer travel.  So what is a travel professional to do? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TROTips

An Introduction to Skype

It used to be that when traveling internationally meant difficulty keeping in touch. When it was possible, it cost an arm and a leg, making contact difficult.

These days the globe is wired in ways that make it much easier to stay in touch without spending a ton of cash. Email and social media are the frontrunners, allowing folks to stay in contact and share their experiences – even destinations once considered “disconnected” have Internet cafes for a reasonable cost. But, sometimes, you need to TALK to the traveler in a situation that requires quicker communication than email or social media. What other option is there?
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Posted In: cartoons

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Deck Plans

The Appeal of River Cruising

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: Point-to-Point

I’m smarter than you are

I could wax eloquent on this subject and have lots of fun doing so. But in the interest of time–both yours and mine, I will immediately address the subject at hand.

I believe I am smarter than you for five very simple reasons: Read the rest of this entry »

The Cruise Shop/Viking Travel — New beginnings

It’s so hard to believe that my stint here as a “diarist” for TRO has come to an end!  It boggles my mind to think it’s been a year since I was first presented with the opportunity to be a contributor. It has truly been an honor to share my insight and experiences with you as a career, front-line Cruise Specialist in a traditional “brick and mortar” travel agency.  I’ve learned that – regardless of where our respective office may be located – it’s clear that we all still face many of the same issues, challenges, and – the biggest common-denominator of all – our passion for our vocation.    Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Olden Krusty comes out swinging

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column discussing the “old and crusty” mentality of the industry. It was meant to stir the pot and create conversation. Unfortunately, it did not happen in the comments as I had hoped and my email began to flood with people who took offense to being labeled “old and crusty” and with many good reasons why “old and crusty” might actually be a good thing in today’s environment. I am not backing down from my stance entirely—I still think we need to be on our feet and to evolve and embrace the technological wonders that are here and coming our way; but I did want to present one of the best responses by a gentleman that I consider a colleague and a good friend. He has many valid points. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – November 11, 2011

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Soundings

Steamboat’s a Coming…Right Here to River City!

The buzz is building. The Great American Steamboat Company is now open for business – as of September 30 – with cruises beginning in April, 2012. Jeff Krida and company are bringing back the great sternwheeler, the American Queen. Jeff is former CEO and President of Cruise West and Delta Queen Steamboat Company. Corporate offices are in downtown Memphis.

The marketing roadshow is making the rounds of major cities as we speak. A breakfast seminar reaches our mutual hometown on November 14, for which I have registered. Webinars are also currently available online. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Is it time for you to retire?

I suspect that most of us are tired of reading about how bad the economy is and worse yet, how many so called “experts” think it will not get better any time soon. But at the same time, we read how the President is continuing to try to come up with a “stimulus” plan that will get us back on track again. But, the real question we all wonder about is how will all this effect the travel industry in the near future, much less in 2012 and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

PictureFor more than 16 years Michele Olson has been passionate about vacation travel. Starting at entry level and working her way to Director of Product Development & Marketing she’s learned the tour operator business with an emphasis on how  to provide a quality product to travel agents (and their clients) while maintaining a profitable bottom line.

TRO:  What inspired you to work in the travel industry?

MO: I came across the job by accident but was inspired by our then Director of Product Development & Marketing and now President, Rene Jongmans. During the weekly meetings he would educate us on hotels and destinations and what was on sale. I had never traveled outside the United States at that point but was immediately bitten by the travel bug…and I felt like it was obtainable for even someone as young and new to the business as I was.
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