Monthly Archives: June 2013

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The value of a true professional

A professional can make all the difference in the world!

Last week, I found myself flirting with disaster. Since I barely know where to put  gas in my car, I wasn’t sure what was happening when my steering wheel started to shimmy. My car suddenly veered to the left as the steering wheel shook wildly. I assumed the worse–my steering gizmo was broken and my life (and that of anyone around me) was in imminent danger. Even worse, it was 6am and I was shimmying to the airport repeating to myself, “just get me to the airport, just get me to the airport.”

I made it! I shimmied into the airport’s long-term parking lot and caught my flight to Atlanta. But as soon as I got back home, I made a beeline to my trusted auto mechanic. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Discover Alaska with ShoreTrips!

At over 650,000 square miles, Alaska is by far the largest of the United States – larger than the next three combined. With all this land – most of it untamed wild – Alaska presents a perfect experience for those who want to appreciate the serenity and awe-inspiring beauty of nature, as well as those who want to engage the outdoors head-on with thrilling adventures! Come explore Alaska – brought to you by ShoreTrips.

Read the rest of this entry »

One of the “perks” in writing Travel Agent Diaries is the chance to try a new thing under the premise of having something to write about. In theory, at least, it feels right to experiment with some new marketing technique or office product in real time and then write about the experience. We can all learn something together and it might be interesting. Having an article deadline is not much different from having an item on a to-do list. It’s there staring you in the face—a figurative punch to get-‘er-done. This month I was planning to write about my ventures into social media advertising – especially Facebook. Unfortunately, the punch didn’t come soon enough and I didn’t start the process in time to write about it for this column. I’ll save that story for next time, but in the meantime, I will report on a couple of other fun things I’ve done with Facebook this past month. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Can you think of a more important quality than a great attitude? Not just a shallow “positive thinking” veneer but a really great perspective on your work, your clients and on life? There is always the temptation to let our disposition nose-dive a bit  when everything is not going exactly as we would have it in an ideal world. Let’s face it – travel consulting can be a stressful occupation. There is tremendous pressure to get things right the first time, and mistakes often have the most unfortunate consequences that seem totally out of proportion to the scale of the mishap. Travel consultants often feel trapped in a purgatory between clients who don’t understand what they do and suppliers that fail to appreciate the role of the travel agent. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Hopefully you have a business and marketing plan in place. In writing. And in use! Hopefully you are constantly revising it to maximize your agency’s potential and profit. We have mentioned the very real need to have a limited scope of service (you need to create a niche) and we have discussed the importance of partnering with select suppliers in a symbiotic relationship. If you are still around after the horrible (no need to sugarcoat it) downturn in the economy over the past 5 years, that is a testament to your hard work and good decisions. But don’t rest on your laurels. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – June 14, 2013

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

It is very easy to read a marketing article on Branding and to think that the article addresses “the company”. Certainly every company has it’s archetype – an image of its brand that sits at the core of the company and gives the company a personality with which people can identify. Based on core values and philosophy about life, travel and business, a company archetype fills out the corporate personality and makes it attractive to consumers. The more clearly defined a company’s archetype, the more clear it’s brand.

The most important asset of any company, however, is its people. Branding, ultimately, comes back to the people who make up the company. Especially in a service industry, there is no more critical aspect to the brand than the people who represent it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Arrival Gate

Logos and Design

Dear Stephanie,

I am redoing my logo but not sure where to start. What are some things I should be thinking about?

– Jessica S.

Hey Jessica!

Congrats on the logo revamp!

My first advice is to make sure you use a professional graphic designer – don’t fall prey to the DIY logo maker sites. Just like travel agents bring their expertise to the table, so do graphic designers. If you can find a local graphic designer, I’d keep it in the community; if not, take a look at 99designs.com, a website where designers compete in design contests for your business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

We are devoting this week to the concept of branding your travel agency. As we indicated in yesterday’s column, branding sets up expectations of a unique value in the mind of the client. If you have clearly articulated a brand message in all of your communications tools, those consumers coming into contact with your brand will have expectations of what it will be like to do business with you.

Your brand integrates every aspect of your business where clients come into contact with the company. For that reason, maintaining your brand is a continual process of interaction, feedback and adjustment. If any aspect of a client’s experience with your company does not meet the expectations that you set up in your brand marketing, maintenance is required. Brand consistency throughout your organization reinforces your message and creates the right atmosphere for your travel practice to grow and prosper. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

We are devoting this week to the concept of branding your travel agency. A brand is a short cut – when your brand is strong, clients and potential clients that have been exposed to your brand will think of you when they think of travel. Your brand will carry your company’s message and, as a result, your company will have a distinct market advantage. But these good results can only happen if you are communicating your brand to the market clearly and in a consistent manner. Further, your brand must appear with sufficent frequency to gain consumer mindshare. A quick examination of each of these elements can help you to better understand the importance of communicating your brand. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Do you know better?

In an older article I mentioned a curious phenomenon I see over and over again–people who succeed in travel because they “just don’t know any better.”  I am not suggesting their success is accidental or luck–quite the opposite. I was referring to those who enter the travel industry with little or no experience who do things a little differently than the rest.  I talked about those that seem to easily charge rather high professional fees.  (Note that I did not call them “booking” or “transaction” fees!)

Besides not “knowing any better” why do you think these entrepreneurs are able to so easily charge their fees?  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

The island of Jamaica is the third largest in the Caribbean. Ideally located, it captures trade winds that assist in maintaining a near constant temperature between 77 and 82 degrees and which bless the mountainous island’s northeast coast with abundant rain. Jamaica supports a wide diversity of plant and animal life. More than half the island is higher than 800 feet above sea level. The economy depends heavily on tourism, and some of the Caribbean’s finest resorts and elegant boutique hotels are found on the beaches of Jamaica. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Yesterday we established that your brand is the total sum of people’s perceptions about your company (or about you personally as a travel agent). Too often, branding happens without any intentional thought or direction – the company’s brand simply evolves from customer experience. If the travel agent is very good at what he or she does, excellent at communication and customer service, an unconscious approach to branding will work, but never as well as a directed, focused branding strategy. The goal of a branding strategy is to create an association in the mind of the public with you and travel – when clients think of travel, they think of you in the positive light you intend. In fact, they would not think of traveling without thinking of contacting you. It is possible to build this sort of strong, emotional connection with your clients and the public but it requires a concerted and consistent effort on your part. Read the rest of this entry »

Global Travel – Nightmare Air

So summer is in full swing here in Idaho and its feels wonderful.  People are in better moods, clients are getting closer to their summer vacations and overall it’s a fun time to work. As I have mentioned in the past, I love what I do but of course some days are better than others.

This month my struggle has been airlines and their policies when it comes to typos in the name on the PNR as well as reissuing tickets when the airlines change the schedule. As we all know, everything has to match the identification the client will be using when checking in exactly. When travelling domestically it’s usually a driver’s license and when travelling internationally it’s a passport. Sometimes mistakes are made; after all we are only human and we don’t live in a perfect world as much as we would like to think so. So, a mistake was made this month Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Marketers like to throw the word “brand” around a lot, but the reality is there remains a lot of confusion over exactly what is meant. Poorly implemented, a brand strategy can leave clients confused and unimpressed – exactly the opposite of what you intend. For that reason, TRO will spend this week looking at the basics of how to brand your travel planning practice. Whether you are the owner of a large corporate agency, an employee in a storefront or a sole practitioner working out of your home, branding is a vitally important component of your overall marketing plan. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

When was the last time you walked into a Ritz-Carlton and took notice of wilting flowers?  How about the smell of raw sewage at a Westin? Of course the answer is NEVER! These companies actually get it. When you walk into a Westin you might smell a custom scent made from white tea, geranium and freesia. Likewise, the Ritz-Carlton has fresh flowers delivered daily. Why? Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Why do so many travel professionals fail to realize this in their individual practices?

I am not suggesting that you need to develop a signature scent or to spend all of your profits with the local florist. What I am suggesting is to take some time and take a critical look at the first impression you are giving to your clients and prospects. Your office appearance, your personal appearance, your telephone appearance, your email appearance, you web appearance, and your written appearance are all critical to that all-important first impression. At best, a bad impression shows carelessness. At worst, it shows ignorance. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – June 7, 2013

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This week we have been looking at 10 fundamental marketing principles that will provide a basis for consistent and successful marketing efforts. We have looked at the importance of developing a coherent message and communicating that message clearly and consistently. But there are two related, additional components that underlie all good marketing campaigns. Good travel marketers know their business and they love their business. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Cruising Stockholm’s Beautiful Archipelago

The numbers are staggering: 30,000 islands, islets and rocks.

These chunks of earth comprise the Stockholm archipelago and imbue it with immense beauty. But the numbers say nothing of the feeling one experiences when cruising through the archipelago into or out of Stockholm.

I’ve done it both ways, and for me, an avid cruiser who has cruised along this planet’s most fabled waterways, the archipelago ranks at the top. There were two moments that did it for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

This week we are looking at 10 fundamental marketing principles that will provide a basis for consistent and successful marketing efforts. The next two principles seem easy to understand and implement, but in fact, observation indicates they are among the most difficult lessons for travel agents to integrate into their practice. The best of intentions will not substitute for the first, and trial and error is inadequate for the second. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Vacation Express Launches New Flight Plans

Weekend Flights from Nashville and Cincinnati to Cancun!

Vacation Express is pleased to announce new flight patterns to our fall 2013 and 2014 charter flight schedule. Two charters have been added to Cancun International Airport (CUN) departing from Cincinnati/North Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Nashville International Airport (BNA). Vacation Express will charter AeroMexico aircrafts for these exclusive non-stop flights boasting complimentary bar, select snacks, in-flight entertainment, headsets, one free carry-on bag and one free checked bag. Clients looking for more personal space can upgrade for only $75 each way. With an upgrade, clients receive first-class seating with priority check-in and boarding and a second checked bag free of charge. Read the rest of this entry »