Monthly Archives: February 2013

Posted In: Supplier Profile

USACA.com: A Powerful Resource for Travel Agents

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’s website is a virtual gold-mine of valuable information for travel professionals, who will find it easier than ever to benefit from the experience, reliability and comprehensive services offered by USACA air consolidators. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Be the one who cares

Travel. It is not all about fame, and money and notoriety. Far from it. But don’t take my word for it. Take a lesson from the creator of the Peanuts cartoon character, Charles Schultz, and make a difference in other people’s lives. Here is a reminder that it is truly the “ordinary” people who make a difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Encore Romance Travel – Paying it forward

In my last article I shared a bit about me, and what I did before I entered the travel industry. Today I want to tell you more about my experience after entering the industry and where I hope to go.

After I returned from my honeymoon to Fiji we were relocated to a new base as my husband is still on active duty. I brainstormed on what I should do next. Given the fact that we still had a few moves, I decided to write down all the things I was still passionate about. Helping others has always been at the top of my list and travel was right up there besides my interest in fashion design (which I haven’t practiced in a long time). I couldn’t figure out a way to marry fashion design with travel, at least not in the selling travel, but I could marry my love for travel and weddings so I decided to explore a career in romance travel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Stop second-guessing yourself

This past week, I have been privy to several online conversations where travel professionals are second-guessing themselves. First of all, you are a travel professional—period! While you may not know it all, you certainly know your market, your products, and most importantly your clients. Why would professionals ever begin to second-guess themselves? The whole reason you exist is because you bring value to a client that he or she is unable to get elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TROTips

Managing Computer Files

In the past, I’ve discussed steps you can take to organize your office, and even how to organize your office electronics.  This time, I’m going to discuss organizing the files on your computer.  If you’re the sort to dump everything into the same folder all the time, or to keep it all on your desktop, this article is written for you!  A computer file system is an extension of your paper filing cabinet; the more organized it is, the easier it is for you to find the information you need quickly.  And, while it seems like this is elementary information, there are a lot of people out there who just don’t think this way naturally, and put every file in the same folder, regardless. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

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Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

One of the best aspects of being a travel professional is the fact the suppliers in the travel industry want you to succeed.  Most suppliers know the value of travel professionals and their unique capacity to move a portion of the supplier’s inventory. What better sales force than one paid only when they make a sale?  What tour operator or cruise line would not want an army of sales people knowledgeable about and capable of expertly representing their product? Such suppliers recognize that the best partnerships are not zero-sum games but an opportunity for the parties to each achieve their desired aims. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Blue Ocean Strategy 4 – Niche Marketing

One of the best approaches to a Blue Ocean Strategy is to first locate a niche market and then to develop within the niche new value innovations.  A great advantage of a niche market is the way in which it helps you locate potential clients. When you are marketing general travel, everyone is your potential market and you lack focus. But when your market is better defined, e.g.  “golfers”, you know where to find them. Once you have located your market, it is much less costly to reach out to them as opposed to using much less efficient “shotgun” approaches.

In addition, when you focus on a niche, you very quickly become an expert. You will be able to speak with authority on your topic and marketing will be a matter of speaking directly to those who share an affinity for your niche. As an expert in a niche, your ability to generate referrals and word of mouth advertising will be amplified as those who have used you in the past tell others interested in similar travel experiences. You will also develop deeper and richer relationships with the suppliers that you use as they come to understand your devotion to their area of business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Arrival Gate

Long Distance Relationships

Dear Stephanie,

I saw on your site that you don’t need to live in the same state as your host, but is that helpful?

-Kim R.

Hi Kim,

For some agents, it can be very helpful to live in the same state as their host. The problem is, for others, a host in another region may be a better option! Every agent has different needs and, depending on those needs, a local host may or may not be the best fit. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Blue Ocean Strategy 3 – the WOW Factor

At the heart of Blue Ocean Strategy in a concept called Value Innovation – instead of an attempt to “beat” the competition at the game, a Blue Ocean Strategist will make the competition irrelevant by creating a value for the market that is a leap out of the red oceans.  There will simply be no competition. There is another way of phrasing “value innovation” and in the past I’ve called it the “WOW Factor.”  You get to WOW by fusing travel planning with an imaginative twist so creative as to surprise the client. The starting point for each such creative exercise is the client. Only the client is the real determinate of value. A client-centric approach, a high degree of client knowledge, is an absolute necessity to moving from ordinary travel planning to WOW travel planning. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Wizie is a US based Travel Technology Company providing World Class solutions to Airlines, Travel Wholesalers/Consolidators, Travel Agencies and OTA’s worldwide. With strategic offices in multiple locations globally we strive to provide multiple products and solutions that help our customers reduce cost and increase sales/revenue. While we provide Numerous Solutions for Airlines and Travel Consolidators/Agents, there are several core products we aim at Travel Consolidators/Agents: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The SS First Time Cruiser

I am continually amazed at how many people still have not experienced a cruise vacation. At social events, I always find myself taking a “who has been on a cruise” survey. I am awe struck at the large percentage of people who have never cruised. The not-so-good news is that they have missed out on a great vacation. The good news is that travel agents have a huge market. However, the travel agent seeking out a first time cruiser needs to be aware of certain keys to marketing and selling to these first timers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This week we are playing with Blue Ocean Strategies. I say “playing” because there is a very creative, imaginative side to the exercise.  At the heart of every Blue Ocean Strategy is a leap of value so large as to leave competition behind.  While other agencies are hand delivering documents and ordering bottles of wine and as “value ads,” your clients will be traveling down the Autobahn of your own turbo-charged vision.  But here is an important point – just as the trip itself is customized for the traveler, so too are your value innovations.  Ultimately, it is your client who determines what is valuable and you must know and understand their sensibilities to launch into the creative exercise of bringing those sensibilities to reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting social

Good morning from the coast of SE Virginia! I am Lisa Phillips-Jahnke, and I recently returned to the travel industry after a 20-year hiatus! I am a home based agent in Virginia, recently re-hired by my former employer (from 20 years ago)–Around The World Travel in Springdale, AR. Why did I return as a travel agent in this challenging time? Friends and former clients will tell you it’s my passion of learning about all the unique areas of the world and the ability to share that knowledge with my clients via social media through photo journalism. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Blue Ocean Strategy Plan 1

Last week, this column devoted time to the theory known as Blue Ocean Strategies wherein the  travel consultant is able to forget the competition and is, in fact, able to operate competition free! The Blue Ocean travel planner accomplishes this minor miracle by sailing into Blue Oceans where no competition even exists. By re-imagining the experience of travel and by focusing on the client  rather than on the travel product, the Blue Ocean travel planner creates an experience so unique as to be without competition.

This week, we are going to follow up our theoretical discussions with five examples of Blue Ocean strategy in practice. In each example, we are going to follow the pattern we laid out in our Mountain Biking Cruise example.  In each instance, we will focus on creating a leap in value so extraordinary, no other travel agency can compete. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

 

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Bonnie Lee entered the travel industry in 1994. She started as a home-based agent for four years working as part of two different host agencies. Because of bad business practices, the first host agency went bankrupt. The second host agency would withhold commissions from the home-based agents. Instead of trying to find a host agency that had everything she was looking for, she started her own.

In 1998, Bonnie Lee became ARC certified and created Travel Quest. What started as a small company of just herself and one other home-based agent has grown to over 480 independent contractor travel agents! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

It is unfortunate that every industry has some shady characters and shady businesses practices. And believe me, travel is no exception.  But today, I am not talking about MLMs and the “become an agent and travel the world for free” scams; I am talking about the way you market to your clients. Are you above board? Or do your clients find your mailings a nuisance. Do you know? Believe it or not, you could be a dirty, rotten, spamming scoundrel without even knowing it. Here is some food for thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Why Does Unprofessionalism Exist?

As travel professionals, it is our sacred duty to search out hotels, cruise ships, tours, activities, restaurants, and other must-sees and have-to-dos as much as we can. Invariably, we will be called upon to counsel a client and provide recommendations for all of those. Experiencing the product is important to understanding it and being able to sell it to the right client. In doing so, we come face to face with people who can make or break our clients’ experience. The waitstaff at a restaurant. The room steward on a cruise ship. The talking guide on the hop-on hop-off bus tour. Every one of them makes judgments about us, sometimes in our capacity as travel professionals, and those judgments can affect every one of us as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This article is Part 5 of a review of the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for Travel Agents. Click here for the rest of the series.

One of the clear aspects of a red ocean market is the vast majority of participants are engaged in very similar activities.  Certainly this is true in the travel industry.  Most travel agents accept the general definitions and structures of the industry and then focus on incremental improvements in service or product knowledge to be “the best” at what they do.  As a result, travel agents too often find themselves in a competitive battle where the most important factor in the purchasing decision is price.

The secret to blue ocean strategy is to break through conventional thinking. The improvements in value to the customer cannot be incremental, but must be a true leap that leaves the competition behind. Blue ocean strategy is not a process of predicting upcoming travel trends or generating new “marketing” ideas.  Read the rest of this entry »