Monthly Archives: August 2012

Posted In: TROTips

The word in the office these days is “fees” – plan to go fees, cancellation fees, consultation fees – you name it, it’s been done or talked about somewhere.  The general idea is that travel agencies need to develop additional revenue streams instead of being tied to a supplier’s commission structure, not only to increase revenue but to compensate for lost opportunities, especially when clients use our services and don’t book.

This has posed a problem for some – how should these fees be collected?  The traditional way of thinking involved collecting a check from the client, especially if they were not local to the agency.  This poses a number of problems, including the potential for bad checks, having to wait on a check to arrive at the agency, and further waiting for the check to clear the bank.  Then, in the event the fee is refunded, that poses additional issues and costs to the agency as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 31, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Deck Plans

Earlier this week, I told you about the culturally immersive experiences on our European Waterways‘ barge adventure through Alsace and Lorraine. Some of our meals on board were also cultural experiences.

In Lutzelbourg, for example, we enjoyed an Alsatian Charcuterie, characterized by an assortment of pork and meat, served with potatoes and Choucroute (sauerkraut). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The Rolling who?

The Rolling Stones are a rock group… a really, really old rock group. They are still doing their thing–after fifty plus years of rocking & rolling. Absolutely incredible!

They still have “the juice.”

Mick Jagger, the lead singer was recently discussing the groups’ allure after so many years:  Read the rest of this entry »

Simply Europe Travel – Get your axe in order

King Solomon, who is credited with being the wisest man who ever lived, said, “if the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.”   Now, just in case you are wondering, King Solomon ruled round 970 BC.

About two thousand years later, along came the 16th president of the United States with his own words of wisdom.  Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  He obviously believed in the value of tools that were in top working condition.  Even the recently deceased Stephen R. Covey states in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, that we need to “Sharpen the Saw.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

How to beat your competition…suck less

Today’s consumer has extremely low expectations. Aside from New Jersey, when was the last time anyone pumped your gas for you? Much less checked the oil and cleaned your windshield. For the “kids,” that used to be standard fare when you filled up your car for 25 cents per gallon. Department store clerks used to be more than cashiers. Waitresses and waiters used to be more than food carriers. But today, we have grown to accept mediocrity in our lives.  And that’s a good thing…  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

DO NOT Go In There!

In the 1994 blockbuster Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994? Really? It was that long ago? Holy…), the title character played brilliantly by Jim Carrey, attends a party and becomes involved in a bathroom incident where the toilet spews water all over the place.  Exiting the bathroom, he tells onlookers who are shocked at his thoroughly soaked appearace, “Do NOT go in there!”  I think about that scene almost every time I see my desk piled high with work to be done, and the rest of my office scattered with this and that and no real order to it all.

It’s said that a person’s desk echoes their mental thoughts – it’s hard to be productive and organized when your desk and office look like a maelstrom came into town, hit the local Staples, and made a beeline right for you.  Thankfully, there are ways you can de-clutter your office space and restore order once again….at least until the next time things get all out of whack! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 24, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Deck Plans

A few months back, we talked about World Cruises, arguably the grandest and most adventurous voyage an avid cruiser can take. Massive in both scope and scale, these multi-month voyages are growing in popularity, and, as you might expect, require a good deal of pre-planning — and a healthy bank account. But even if you don’t have the time or money, there are still ways to take part in a World Cruise: Segments. Read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

By now, travel agents know that the Internet has changed the field forever. We know that in order to stay in the game, we must incorporate technology into the way we do business. But while it is important to integrate strategies like smart phones, social media, and search engine optimization into your business, don’t forget to emphasize the one thing that will set you apart. When it comes to competing against huge online travel agencies, it is your personal touch that will get you the client.


Think about it: there is a huge world out there to compete with. How are you going to set yourself apart? What are your other interests beside travel? What once-in-a-lifetime experiences do you have the inside scoop on? And how can you incorporate those special interests and connections into top-of-the-line vacations for your clients? Figure out what you can offer that no one else can, then sell it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Vacation Express, part of Sunwing Travel Group Inc., has been in existence for over 23 years and is one of the largest tour operators in the Southeast. The Atlanta-based tour operator specializes in quality vacation packages to over 25 destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica.

The company sells air/land vacation packages from most U.S. cities via regularly scheduled airline service. In May 2012, capitalizing on the opportunities afforded by Sunwing, the company expanded its business model and introduced a seasonal Sunwing program featuring non-stop champagne flights from Atlanta, Cincinnati and Nashville to three of the company’s most popular destinations, Cancun, Jamaica and Punta Cana. The seasonal service has been extremely successful and due to unprecedented demand in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, the DOT has already approved a continuation of the Sunwing CVG service for 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Global Travel — The energy emerges

Our office has been buzzing this week. This is the week where we all are gearing up to go to Virtuoso Week in Las Vegas. Because of our physical location, we will be taking turns attending the event, as someone needs to be in the office to take care of our clients.

Virtuoso Week is the annual event for agencies and suppliers that are members of the Virtuoso consortium. I’ve been to travel conferences before, but as I listen to other agents who have gone to this one, I have a feeling I’ll be introduced to a whole new level of conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


Stuart L. Cohen is an accomplished international speaker, writer and business success coach for Exclamation Points Inc., a company he launched to help people and their businesses to achieve greatly. A 24-year travel industry veteran, he has served in many leadership positions with such companies as, World Travel Holdings and Celebrity Cruises. Cohen’s entrepreneurial spirit has brought brands like N.E.S.T, the Home Based Success Series, and the Travel Agent Success Series to life. Stuart currently produces and hosts the Stuart Cohen Show, an award-winning web-based talk radio show for travel professionals. He is also president of ResortForaDay, which offers resort passes to Caribbean & Mexico cruisers. Stuart lives in Long Island, New York.

TRO: What about the Travel Industry first appealed to you as an entrepreneur/businessman?

SC: I can’t think of another industry that I’d rather be in! I sell what everybody wants. I sell happiness and memories. Travel will never go out of style and there is always a new experience to be had! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

I fancy myself as a newshound. I some sort of innate need to be up to speed on all sorts of news—travel news, local news, international news, and even weird news! I have Google Alerts set up to keep me up to speed and I absolutely love Twitter that can deliver my news in short, 140 character (or less) bytes. I find that by keeping abreast of the various “worlds” that make up my life, I am keeping myself open to new opportunities that may come along.  Just last week I found another one! But, to my dismay, I was late to the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 17, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: TROTips

These days, having a signed agreement or waiver between travel consultant and client has become imperative.  Travel insurance declinations, travel planning agreements, credit card authorizations – it’s a fact of business and the CYA principle that the signature of a client is needed more than before.  With the help of email and social media, it’s quite common for a travel consultant’s book of clients to include people all across the country, rather than just their immediate geographical region.

So, how does one get the signature of a client who lives far, far away? The traditional methods are faxing, emailing, and mailing.  Each has their downsides that make it less than ideal to transact business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

It was fortuitous that I recently saw Nolan Burris speak at the Travel Weekly Cruise World Conference in Seattle. He was there to talk about fees versus free, and as always he did a phenomenal job. A few days later I participated in a large consumer show at the Nashville Convention Center. During the show I witnessed two different “episodes” of Nolan’s philosophy at work.

Example #1: Massage Therapists

In order to pull in foot traffic I arranged for two massage therapists to join me in my booth. They gave chair massages for a SUGGESTED donation of $1 per minute. Unbeknownst to me there was a massage therapy business in the booth located immediately behind mine. They were offering FREE chair massages. I thought we were pooched and would have reduced traffic as a result. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

We have spent the last ten days covering aspects of Facebook marketing for your travel agency and have moved from setting up your account, through appropriate content and organic and paid promotions. Before we leave off the Facebook portion of our series, however, I want to provide a few extra resources you may find helpful as you build out your social media strategy. Right now is a great time to be planning aspects of your 2013 marketing plan. Getting your strategies lined up early is no mistake!

One quick caveat: everything I’m about to write will very likely be dated a month from now. Facebook time is accelerated time, so anticipate having to make some adjustments as you go. Third party articles are out of date quicker than those maintained by Facebook. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Regardless of which side you take in the recent dust-up over the official ‘gay marriage’ policies of a major fast food company, the brouhaha itself proves that our Constitutional rights are working exactly as intended. We enjoy both freedom of speech and freedom of choice in this country. We are free to express our values…and free to vote with feet and wallets accordingly – usually with some civility. It’s the American Way, right?

Unfortunately, it is not that simple anymore. As Jon Stewart of the Daily Show so aptly puts it, we’ve morphed into a “Fast Feud Nation”. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Facebook Scheduling and TRO’s Facebook App

Posting and updating your Facebook Page status is an important part of maintaining your Edgerank. Too many businesses post infrequently and their Fans miss out on the Posts. As fewer interactions take place, the EdgeRank slips and even fewer posts are seen. This year, Facebook introduced a feature to assist users with scheduling their posts in advance.

The Facebook Scheduler is one of the “hidden” features of Facebook. Even many experience users do not know it exists. The built-in scheduler is not as full featured as programs like HootSuite, but it will suffice for many. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

CLIA is one of those acronyms that the industry likes to toss around. CLIA is said to be one of the “must join” organizations for travel professionals. It is also an affordable alternative for industry recognition if you do not want to be beholden to the airlines with ARC or IATAN (more acronyms). But beyond the certificate, stickers, bonus commission coupons and other goodies, CLIA offers so much more, including allowing you the ability to book cruises!


Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise association and is dedicated to the promotion and growth of the cruise industry. CLIA is composed of 26 of the major cruise lines serving North America and is an organization that operates pursuant to an agreement filed with the Federal Maritime Commission under the Shipping Act of 1984 and serves as a non-governmental consultative organization to the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations. Read the rest of this entry »