This past week in the TRO Community, there were several supplier rants and raves. Sandals had a poor showing in Montego Bay and Carnival had a poor showing with the ongoing “maintenance issues” with their ships. In both cases, the end user—our mutual client had—well, let’s not sugarcoat this—a crappy vacation. Certainly some travel issues are beyond everyone’s control—can anyone say Eyjafjallajökull? But sometimes, they are well within reach of the agent or supplier. And that got me to thinking…what makes a supplier a good one for you? Here are my 4 criteria. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Agent Perspectives
Some of us “older” curmudgeons have expressed bewilderment over what all the ballyhoo is about when it comes to social media and our travel businesses. There is Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (someone is trying to resurrect it), Pinterest, Instagram, and more. I’ve seen posts in forums and communities like TRO’s that constantly question the value of social media, and how some folks “never” get business from those avenues. So I have to wonder, are you doing it right? Read the rest of this entry »
This week we have engaged the reasons that clients might choose to book online through a portal like Travelocity, or direct with a supplier. In today’s final article, we deal with the most obvious reason: Why Not? For the last 15 years the consumer has been schooled in using the internet to research everything, including travel. During roughly the same time, the general cultural myth has been that the travel agent is dead, dying or seriously bed-ridden. Very simply, the public at large does not recognize the value travel agents offer. The travel community has failed to consistently and clearly demonstrate its value proposition. And it’s your fault.
Posted In: Deck Plans
In a previous installment of Avid Cruiser Voyages, we wrote about the natural splendors that awaited cruisers in New Zealand. It’s almost impossible, however, to talk about New Zealand without mentioning another country, equally as fascinating and diverse, located just a few days’ cruise away. We’re talking, of course, about the land Down Under – and the excitement of Australia cruises. Read the rest of this entry »
We are a society that puts a high value on convenience. The pace of life, frenetic as it can be, means that consumers looking for travel cannot always do so in a 9 to 5 time slot. Online booking portals offer a 24X7 opportunity to research travel and book. A consumer can choose their own time for research, can educate themselves and do so without encountering any pressure to make an immediate decision. It would benefit travel agents looking to establish long term relationships to find ways of creating a sense of convenience and accessibility that clients will find equally attractive. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the past few weeks, we have established that travel agents don’t sell travel. Although the public often views the travel agent through a “retail paradigm”, travel agents should strive to position themselves not as sellers of travel but as consultants in the buying process, building a long term set of relationships with both the client and a select group of suppliers. Either paradigm, however, inherently offers up a direct purchase from the tour operator, cruise line or other supplier as an alternative distribution channel. Understanding why clients sometimes purchase directly from a supplier can assist you in broadening your market reach. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
While grouting my bathroom tile of all things, the following question popped into my mind. “When was the last time I actually had fun?”
It seems the older we get the less time we spend having, or looking for fun. Chores… work … obligations … duties … sleeping and eating fill up most of our days. And the days turn into weeks and on it goes.
The most common reason, and one that overshadows all others for do-it-yourself booking, is “empowerment”. Consumers who book on their own like the feeling that they have full knowledge of the vacation planning process. The consumer feels “in charge” with so much information accessible on the other side of their keyboard. Whether the consumer is using Google to research a destination or using Travelocity to research and book the specific components of a trip, they have immediate access to hundreds, even thousands of options to even the most obscure destination.
Travel agents know well the counter-arguments. Having information is different from understanding information. The overload of possibilities, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Travel Agent Diaries
When looking at National Geographic Traveler online, what catches your eye? Is it the story on life in the Outback by the Aborigines, the story on scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, or the photos of the pristine crystal blue water and a scuba diver, underwater exploring sea life? Statistics show a picture or video will capture the attention of a customer faster than any words. Pictures and videos on your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest , and Google + will attract customers. Pictures are five times more likely to be “shared” on social media. Read the rest of this entry »
This week’s articles are inevitable. To have an understanding of how to best engage clients in the buying process, we need to analyze other distribution channels and the reason a consumer might choose those channels over a travel agent. A consumer might choose to book directly with a supplier or through an online agency. But in each instance, the consumer booking other than through a travel agent does so convinced that it is their best interest. This week, we will look at the most common reasons consumers book other than through a travel agent and the impact on the buying process. Read the rest of this entry »
Did you hear about the changes with the “Soon Come Back” program at Sandals? In case you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks, I will clue you in. In the past, if a client re-booked a vacation while at the resort, the original agent received the booking and the full commission. Now, if the client re-books, the agent can take over the booking (with client’s authorization) and will only receive a flat 10% commission. If this sudden shift in policy has you upset—get over it!
For the past two weeks, agents have been whining (yes, that is what has been happening) over this change in a policy that likely affects very few agents. It’s unbecoming for a professional and if you spent half the effort researching the impact and a resolution, it likely would become a moot point. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Agent Perspectives
I haven’t had a true vacation since I became a travel consultant. Every vacation I have had has turned into a miniature fam trip, even if it was SUPPOSED to be a relaxing personal vacation. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve been able to take at least ONE getaway each year where I truly leave the office behind and let my batteries recharge. If it’s something you struggle with, too, then perhaps my experience will help! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Arrival Gate
What else can I do besides direct mail pieces to market my agency?
While direct mail pieces have the ability to be very effective for certain demographics, there are plenty of other ways to market your agency beyond that.
Before we start, let me just say this is a gargantuan subject to cover so keep in mind this column only discusses the tip of the iceberg. I’m a fan of grassroots marketing so let’s focus on that.
There are two different areas I’d recommend you focus on: in-person networking and the web. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
Savvy entrepreneurs know that there is help available to them … if they look for it … and if they are receptive to it.
An interesting article by Allison Fass in the New York Times discussed “alliances”.
In this day and age, where competition is so great, companies can’t isolate themselves. They’re going to have to reach for ‘out-of-the-box’ opportunities.
Business is becoming more difficult, and competition is getting so intense that entrepreneurs are beginning to talk to each other more freely, more openly and without a hidden agenda. Businesses are realizing that going it alone may not be the answer. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Outposts
Perhaps no other trip could possibly be more rewarding than one to Peru. With some of the most distinctive indigenous peoples on the planet, a fascinating history, and a variety of natural landscapes, a trip to Peru is most often a life-changing experience. Peruvian festivals and holidays are among the most colorful on the planet, and with thousands each year, chances are good that you can add one of these unforgettable experiences to your travel to-do list. Peru is a magical, thrilling place and the memories you take from a trip there, will beckon you to return in the future.
Posted In: Travel Agent Diaries
So last month I shared with you my trip home to Scotland at Christmas for the first time since starting out in the travel industry almost 15 years ago. This month I want to share a little on how I got to where I am at the lovely age of 36. Being raised in Europe I was fortunate to enjoy overseas holidays every year to Spain, France, Greece etc. When I was about 7 and playing with my holiday rep one day in Spain, I told my mum “I want to do that when I am older.” Sure enough when I was able to study, I went into languages in order to have an advantage when moving overseas. Once I graduated, I got my first job as a flight attendant and off to Paris I went. I was 20, young, nervous, lonely, naïve but determined. It took some getting used to but eventually it became home and I thrived. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
I recently read a terrific article entitled Life On Purpose by Barbara Brown Taylor. The article in Yoga International is not yet available online, but I recommend you run out and buy a copy. What follows is not by any means a summary of the article, but rather is inspired by it.
As humans, we seek to ascribe meaning to everything. Our vocation and avocations are maybe the most important areas where we want to find meaning in life. We want to know what we do matters. We want what we do to have meaning, to be important beyond a paycheck.
Most travel consultants I know entered the industry for one reason: they loved to travel. Travel is inherently inspirational and I have always contended every external voyage is mirrored internally in our psyche. Some trips are journeys of a lifetime and others lifetime journeys. Your occupation as travel professional is most likely one of of the latter – it’s a life long journey across many years and sessions with clients. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, I was reminiscing about my younger bartending days and I could not help but smile about the antics of an old friend whose energy and verve literally knew no bounds. Pat Croce is always the life of the party–every party. He is never down. He never takes no for an answer; and everyone always wants to be with or near him. As a result, he is an incredibly successful businessman, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. Pat started his career as a physical therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers and eventually ended up owning the Philadelphia 76ers and taking them to the NBA finals in 2001. Since then, he has moved on from one successful venture to the next. Read the rest of this entry »