Monthly Archives: October 2012

Posted In: Point-to-Point

6 tips for beating the travel blahs

You probably have never focused on it, but we are about to enter a period that is ripe for the “blahs”.

A slight depression can easily enter your life. I didn’t make this up. It happens every year. It may be a “star alignment thing” or just a “cold weather” thing. But it is for real.

If it does happen, don’t panic. There is no better way to fight negative thoughts than with positive “action”.

Your next good client is out there wondering where the heck you are hiding. Go find them. Go meet them. Go help them. You have five working days in a week to make a difference. What are you waiting for? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Beijing by ShoreTrips

From the substantial culture to the magnificent architecture and entertainment, this Chinese wonderland offers a memorable visit for everyone. The second most populated city in China, Beijing is a noteworthy blend between the delicate balance of nature and mankind. Proud of their past, the Chinese maintain the city with utmost care, making sure to incorporate it into the social and economic boom that has come to define their wondrous society. This 60 Second Destination brought to the travel professional community by ShoreTrips.

Read the rest of this entry »

As a follow up to last month’s diary, I’ve educated myself a little bit more on the GDS by speaking with other agents, my agency’s owner and an account manager from TravelPort .

Mike Papke, account manager at TravelPort had this to say in answer to my inquiry about the release of the Universal Desktop, “This new desktop point of sale application is still in beta testing and development in the US for Apollo through the balance of this year.  As soon as it’s ready for a general release I’ll be sure to coordinate a demonstration of the tool with Kevin Loveless and your Global Travel team. ” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

A critical look at a travel trade show

Last week I attended the Home Based Travel Agent Forum in Atlantic City and had a fantastic time learning a bunch of new stuff, rehashing some old stuff, and connecting with new and old colleagues.  There is nothing like a trade show to re-invigorate you and your thought process. A common discussion over the three days centered around the question of “why?”  Why should a customer use you? Why did you get into the business?  One of the most popular answers was “because I am passionate about travel.”  I heard it time and time again and to be honest…that is the biggest cop out ever.  It is like a personal ad saying that they are either male or female!  For crying out loud, we are all passionate about travel and passion does not set us apart any more than the color of the doormat on our front step. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 26, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: TROTips

Technology is rapidly changing how we do business, especially when it comes to computers.  In the last ten to fifteen years we’ve gone to large desktop machines to compact laptops to handheld iPads and tablet computers.  With each change in technology and each upgrade of a machine comes a weak point for data security that many people simply don’t consider. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Friday morning, I stepped off the American Queen, ending a back-to-back voyage that took us between Missouri and Minnesota and back. In short, it was a great cruise on a legendary river, and in the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing videos with you that capture and characterize the American Queen experience.

For now, however, here are nine parting thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

How to handle a bad FAM experience

In earlier articles on the subject I mentioned that you are on a fact-finding mission when you are on a FAM. I also noted that any and all service glitches should be documented and noted. Was your room overlooking that all-inclusive resort’s garbage dump? Well, at least you now know not to book that room!

But to go back to the metaphor of agent-as-employee while on a FAM, if there are problems with a supplier’s product, don’t you have a professional obligation to share that information with the appropriate person? It’s another tricky question. I’d like to say, “Well, of course you do!” And yet, discretion is often times the better part of valor, as the old saying has it. Maybe the best thing is to just let it slide. Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Earls wrote in a recent article “Mistakes are not the most desirable of instructors, but they teach lessons better than successes.” This made me smile, as I recently made a series of mistakes when I decided to escort my own group cruise.

The first mistake I made was assuming, because my husband and I combined, know a good deal of people, I would have no problem at all selling 16 cabins.  In fact, after I announced it to my circle of influence, I received very positive feedback.  I even created a nifty “all about the ship” PowerPoint presentation to address some of the frequently asked questions.  I was confident, with the right marketing; I would have at least half of the cabins booked by my option date.  But to my dismay, my first endeavor to escort a group was a bust to say the least.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

6 steps to achieving your goals

As the year winds down and we look to develop our 2013 marketing plans, we look back on the past for guidance. Undoubtedly there have been many successes and some failures along the way. Don’t let the failures get you down, because given the right motivation, you can achieve all of your goals. Here’s how in six easy steps. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 19, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

A Blank State of Mind

I wouldn’t say it was an epiphany exactly, but as I sat in a class during a recent Sandals Convention, the trainer said something that caused my brain to emit an almost-audible “ding”.  She said something to the effect that we should not plan trips or sell to our clients based on what we would prefer or what we would want to purchase, but based solely on what would be the best experience for our client.  Yes, I can hear the collective “duh”.  Don’t we always make recommendations based on what would be best for our client?  Aren’t we the ultimate “matchmakers” between travel virgins and the resort that is perfect for them?  I had the same initial reaction, followed by a niggling awareness, and a vaguely uncomfortable feeling that perhaps I am guilty–unconsciously of course–of doing that very thing on occasion. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Arrival Gate

Brick and Mortar Heads Home

Dear Steph,

I’ve worked at a brick and mortar agency and am now branching off on my own and going home based.  How do I get my phone to ring?


Hey Paula,

Yup. One of the biggest shocks for front line agents when they start their own agency is that suddenly, the phone doesn’t ring on its own!

So, how do you get that darn thing to ring? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Are you tired of everyone online and off telling you need to learn more about Facebook and how to leverage its marketing power?  Do you feel drained that so many people are raving about business social media and that it is a great way to source new business and then retain your current customers?  Are you also frustrated knowing ‘they’ are right and not knowing where to start?  After some personal experience following, learning, listening, and then listening some more to many experts, I thought I would share some insights into getting started with your own travel business social media strategy, specifically with Facebook. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Experienced travel agents have long used consolidators for obtaining the best possible pricing on international airline fares for their clients. However, many travel planners have little experience with consolidators and don’t know where to begin to establish the proper supplier relationships. The United States Air Consolidator Association, better known as USACA, is making it easier for travel consultants to work with its membership. USACA is an association of twelve distinguished consolidators who have joined together to provide travel agents with a better understanding of the consolidator market and the advantages to working with consolidator fares. USACA serves as the national trade association for airline ticket consolidators committed to integrity, trust and reliability. A travel agent may freely and confidently look to USACA members for consolidated airline tickets. The end result? Better international fares for clients and more profit for the travel agent. Sound like a good deal? Read on. Read the rest of this entry »

The holidays are upon us!  Halloween costumes sit on store shelves next to Christmas lights and tinsel.  This means that we’re about 2 ½ months away from 2013.  I continue unpacking and organizing my office after the recent move, while juggling bookings and client calls.  On the upside however, the last minute holiday bookings are starting to flow in.  One booking that I recently deposited was a direct result of my participation in the sports fest show back in June.  This commission alone covers the expenses related to the show; so we can now chalk that event up as a resounding success! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

An Interview with Margaret Murphy, Senior VP at CLIA


PictureMargaret Murphy is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Training for Cruise Lines International Association. Prior to joining CLIA, Margaret was president of 21C Communications Consulting.  Her background also includes leading a global Business Transformation practice as a managing principal of the IBM Consulting Group and heading the Atlanta public relations offices for GolinHarris (IPG International). She is a graduate of Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business.

TRO: With a background in business, what inspired you to go into the travel industry?

MM: As a management consultant, I worked in a variety of industries from finance to fashion.  Inspiration for me comes from a love for the industry and knowing I will work with people who feel the same way.  No question, we in the travel industry are in the business of making people’s dreams come true – it’s a real privilege and a joy to be in an industry where we create positive experiences for people. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last week, I discussed the different organizations that may (or may not) advocate on your behalf in the travel industry. And towards the end of the column, I mentioned that you are truly the only person who has the vested interest in shouting your accolades from the rooftops.  But many travel professionals seem to have some difficulty with that and I am not sure why. I have heard dozens of excuses as to why agents will not brag a little, but here are the top three. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – October 12, 2012

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Birthing a Marketing Idea

Yesterday we discussed  the need to continually foster creativity  in your travel practice.  When you finally arrive at an idea that seems reasonable and workable,  how do you figure out if it will work before investing too much time or money?

Imagine you have decided to promote yourself and your travel practice through a travel blog for your local market. You feel that when people read your blog about local drive market travel they will begin to see you as a local travel expert Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Avid Cruiser Voyages: The Panama Canal

For this week’s installment of Avid Cruiser Voyages, we’re talking about an itinerary that has something of an expiration date on it: the Panama Canal.

This amazing 48-mile long channel connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has been a dream for far longer than it has been a reality.  Numerous attempts were made to find a way to link the two oceans, via the Caribbean Sea, without success.  That all changed in 1904, when the United States entered the fray, buying up the remnants of a failed French attempt at constructing the canal for a whopping $40 million dollars, and began work on the canal on May 4th of that year. Read the rest of this entry »