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 Vacation.com, 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!
My first job out of college was with an advertising agency. We created ad campaigns to sell microwave ovens, curtains and dental services. Soon I landed a marketing job with one of the largest corporate/leisure travel agencies in the country (Austin Travel, Long Island, NY). I was introduced to a new universe where I marketed experiences rather than products. It was love at first bite (particularly after my first cruise on board the original Sun Princess).
The microwave ovens I helped market through retail stores are long forgotten. The vacations I’ve helped market through travel professionals have lifetime hang-time. I love working with travel professionals, from supplier execs to front-line, home-based agents. There is a certain passion here you won’t find anywhere else. We love what we sell. We are responsible for good times in people’s lives!
TRO: What are the best and worst experiences you’ve had working within the Travel Industry?
SC: I’ve had so many “best” experiences that it would take many days to recount! Best experiences have been working for truly great companies and their inspiring leaders; meeting amazing people on the supplier side and agency side whose friendships I cherish; enjoying once in a lifetime travel industry events; creating new brands that still flourish today .. these are just a few of my favorite things. As for worst experiences, can I submit flight cancellations and delays? Actually, they’ve been few and far between (and very much a part of the travel experience). I am, however, reminded of the not-so-great companies and not-so-inspiring leaders I have served under. Upon deep reflection, I ended up learning more. So, maybe these worst experiences weren’t so bad after all? They have all of shaped me into who I am today. They equipped me to be a well-rounded business coach, relevant motivational speaker, and successfully self-employed business man today!
TRO: What are the origins of the Stuart Cohen show?
SC: I created the SCS for two reasons: First, I saw agents suffering from webinar “burn-out”. Too many of today’s webinars are too long and terribly dull so I saw an opportunity to raise the bar on training strategies. The Stuart Cohen Show is thirty minutes of entertaining training, or “enter-training” as I like to call it. We learn and retain more when we have fun, don’t we? My talk-show strategy attracts bigger audiences and delivers better results than yesterday’s webinar. I engage my audience so effectively that slide shows are unnecessary!
The second origin comes from my personal desire to be on a virtual stage when I’m not standing “live” in front of an audience. I love public speaking! I love delivering motivating training. I love taking the stage here and abroad at conferences and sales meetings. The Stuart Cohen Show enables me to virtually connect with industry professionals anytime, anywhere!
TRO: Why should agents keep ResortForaDay in mind when setting up clients’ for Caribbean and Mexican cruises?
SC: I believe that travel agents who do not package my Resort Pass, or any other shore excursion for that matter, are doing their clients and their businesses a disservice. Agents have enormous opportunity to transform an OK vacation into an awesome vacation, and a marginal profit to a exceptional income.
50,000 other travel agents can sell the same exact cabin, hotel room or motorcoach seat. Lest we forget the OTA’s and supplier-direct reservation centers. I believe it is our responsibility to take a vacation from good to great. It is our duty! It is the only way we will remain relevant.
At ResortForaDay, we add ‘daycations’ to cruise ‘vacations’. The concept is simple: come play for a day at a beach resort while your ship’s in port. Great for first-time, long-time, and celebration-time cruisers. Supersize a cruise vacation experience and supersize your income. Why on earth would a travel professional not aspire to achieve this greatness?
It’s a ridiculously simple product, yet so wonderfully satisfying for clients. We pay commissions, of course, so by selling a few passes you’ll have extra pizza money. Include Resort Passes for your cruise groups and you may earn enough extra margin to take a vacation yourself.
TRO: You have a lot of experience with Travel Professionals – what would you say is the biggest unforeseen pitfall for someone working as a Travel Agent today?
SC: Most travel agents today are “unremarkable”. That’s the biggest pitfall. Remarkably good business people are cash magnets. Unremarkable business people are unimpressive, go unnoticed, struggle to make a sale and keep a client. Achieving one’s remarkability is the single most important key to success. Everything from the way you answer the phone, write an email, sign a thank you card, post on Facebook, and interact with the people you meet can be consistently remarkable. This isn’t something you buy. It is something you live.