This week, TRO’s 365 Guide will be examining the theory of client loyalty. In the context of your travel practice, what does the term “customer loyalty” mean? Does it mean that your customers always travel with you? Does it mean that they always come to you instead of booking online or with a supplier direct or instead of booking with another agency? Are these acts in themselves examples of customer loyalty or are these the result of customer loyalty?
Let me suggest the latter. Let me suggest that we might have the whole thing backwards. Perhaps the concept of customer loyalty has more to do with the travel consultant’s attitude toward the customer than the customer’s attitude toward the travel consultant. In other words, to have great “customer loyalty” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Supplier Profile
G Adventures is a leading adventure travel company with tours offered to any of the seven continents. For over 22 years, the company has defined (and redefined) small group travel with experiences that takes travelers off the beaten path for a taste of authentic local culture. To G Adventures, ‘adventure’ means active exploration, cultural immersion, embracing the unexpected and creating true lifelong connections with the people and places your clients will visit with them. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
Not too long ago, we launched a series of online training videos called “The Virtual Boot Camp.” Basically, it’s 20+ courses covering just about everything you need to know in order to succeed in this wacky wonderful business.
While we can’t see what individuals are accessing, we do get some very interesting statistics. The pattern is clear, and it’s very encouraging. Read the rest of this entry »
Marketing has a two-fold function – to acquire new clients and to retain your existing clients. For that reason, smart travel agents put into place a comprehensive client retention plan designed to keep an ongoing conversation with their existing clientele. When economic times get tough, it is your existing client to which you can most easily and cost effectively turn for support. It is commonly known and accepted that it is much more expensive to acquire a new client than to retain an existing one. Existing clients represent the stability of your travel planning business. If your clients are not traveling with you on a repeat basis, chances are you are doing something very wrong. Read the rest of this entry »
Carnival Cruise Lines did a study several years ago indicating 80% of cruisers booked their second cruise with someone other than the travel professional with whom they booked their first. However, the clients must have been satisfied with the cruise experience, because they took a second cruise.
So how to explain this rather startling statistic?
Understanding the title to today’s article is the beginning of a strong customer retention program. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
In my hometown, there are no less than 6 different organizations representing business owners. There is the Annapolis Business Association, the West Annapolis Business Association, The State Circle and Maryland Avenue Business Association, the West Street Business Association, The Eastport Business Association…the list goes on. While they all are comprised of fantastic people and have wonderful missions, their message tends to get lost in the crowd and the collective voice, which should be heard at City Hall, is merely a muffle. Is the travel industry becoming as diluted? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Kudos & Karma
Karma. It can happen. A client checks in and the resort doesn’t have a room available in the category booked. For that alone, we won’t dish out the karma.
However, when the resort lies to a client, and then throws the travel agent AND the wholesaler under bus, we dish the karma. Read the rest of this entry »
This week we have looked at the process of networking for business from a slightly more advanced perspective. Let’s now look at the mistakes people often make in their networking efforts. Much of this effort is simply the converse of what we have already indicated this week, but I want to drill home the importance of business networking and of doing it correctly! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Agent Perspectives
I was perusing a few traveler forums last week and came across one that specialized in beach resorts. The posters wanted Caribbean or Mexican vacations and were asking questions about them.
What struck me was the questions…
- Which resort has a nice beach?
- Who has a great pool?
- Where can I rent a bungalow on the beach? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Deck Plans
It’s no secret that the cost of luxury cruises can induce “sticker shock” for the uninitiated. Per diems typically range from $300 per person to $800 per person on many luxury cruises. But when all of the value-added extras are factored in, the cost of luxury cruising is actually much less than the sticker price. Read the rest of this entry »
Some travel professionals are natural extroverts and have no problem mixing in a group and participating in conversation. At the other end of the spectrum are the functional introverts, like myself, who are good listeners, but for whom gatherings of more than three people start to feel claustrophobic! Both groups and everyone between, however, would do well to spend just a bit of time considering how to best hone their conversational skills and planning aspects of their networking strategy as it pertains to mixing at networking events.
Prior to attending, spend some time researching the context of the gathering. If it is a business group, research and study local business issues. If it is an open house at an animal shelter, you are hopefully there because you first love animals and secondly have a few animal stories to share. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Supplier Profile
Africa is a vast continent and for travel agents who find it overwhelming, who want to learn more about selling it, or to stay in touch and in the know, there is APTA-the Association for Promotion of Tourism to Africa. APTA promotes tourism to Africa and her islands through the education of its members. www.apta.biz
So far this week we have established i) networking is work; ii) it works best when you are authentic and interested in the needs of others; and iii) networking is most effective when you approach it with a well-defined plan. Now let’s look at some specific strategies you can use to amplify your networking efforts in your local community.
Firstly, target people who can increase your circle of influence. For example, if our networking efforts introduce us to a local newspaper reporter, then we have also enhanced our prospects for better public relations efforts, right? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
We live in a world that seems to constantly change. I remember–way back when–the phone booth, banking before ATMʼs, rabbit ear antennae, corded telephones in our house, and going on a blind date before Match.com.
With all the changes, many times it is difﬁcult to step into tomorrow knowing there will be something else to learn, something else to eliminate and something else to add to our business terminology. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: 60-Second Geography
St. Petersburg, Russia is one of the most astounding places in the world. The incredible culture, history, and architecture set it apart from other cities similar in nature. There is no shortage of things to see and do; from art galleries, to ornate palaces, to museums rich in history, to remarkable cathedrals – St. Petersburg should be at the top of every travelers list who is looking to breathe in a city’s immense beauty.
As business people, we too often treat networking opportunities like parties: we attend and participate with no plan. While a haphazard approach might yield some result, a more studied strategy is the better choice. Having goals associated with your networking effort, executing strategies and tactics conducive to achieving real business objectives can pay off in ways merely “socializing” will not.
Yesterday I indicated the importance of choosing an appropriate venue for your networking. Finding events and opportunities in which you are comfortable and interested helps to assure you are authentic in your approach and a good first step in planning a networking strategy. We also discussed the real need to put your business persona in the background and to involve yourself from a position of being willing to assist others achieve their objectives. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Travel Agent Diaries
They told me this was to be a diary, so pardon me if I divert from a lot of travel talk for a moment. So we are half way through summer and all of a sudden, my world was turned upside down. I received tragic news that my brother passed away suddenly, and my life came to a halt. Being from Scotland (with family back there) and living on the west coast of the US makes this news even more difficult to fathom. The distance, and the inability to grieve with family members make the burden virtually unbearable. When I got the news, everything came to a standstill. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: 1:1
Mr. Li Dianchun, Director of Commercial Department, Hong Kong Airlines, has 15 years of experience in the Civil Aviation industry. Mr. Li holds a Bachelor degree in Industrial Foreign Trade from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He joined Hainan Airlines in 1998 and later leveraged his distinguished experience in marketing and air planning to Yunnan Lucky Air Co., Ltd.
He has played significant roles in Lucky Air including Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Director, General Manager, etc. in Lucky Air. He has also served as Deputy General Manager of Marketing Department in HNA Tourism Holding Group Co., Ltd before joining Lucky Air.
Travel Research Online: What was your first experience in travel? How did this shape your view of travel and the travel industry?
LI Dianchun(LI): My first trip was to Sanya (China) with my family. We stayed at Yalong Bay and visited Wuzhizhou Island. The blue sky, turquoise ocean, exquisite hotel decor, comfortable accommodations and considerate staff impressed me. This was also the first time I went diving in the ocean. Since that trip I was convinced Sanya would attract more and more visitors. Today, the Hong Kong-Haikou and the Hong Kong-Sanya routes are indeed among our most popular. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
I’m betting Meredith Bodgas, Senior Web Editor at Woman’s Day, is hoping this week is better than last. In response to an inaccurate and poorly edited and researched article
10 9 Things Travel Agents Won’t Tell You, the travel professional community descended on Woman’s Day like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. What was remarkable about the ensuing Woman’s Day roast was the spontaneous, unified and generally well-spoken reaction of the travel professional community.
The list of those who contributed included leadership from associations, consortia, franchises, media and, importantly, suppliers. Be sure to let them know how much you appreciated their responsiveness.
The WD article is certainly not the first time travel professionals have seen inaccurate and unfortunately slanted information fed to consumers as either entertainment or journalism. However, it IS the first time I can recall a travel professional flash mob so completely swarm and overwhelm a negative article.
Good for our side. But I ask you, is it enough to be continually in a defensive and reactive mode? Is it possible instead to be pro-actively involved in shaping public opinion and in educating the consumer on the role of the travel agent? Read the rest of this entry »
This week we want to go a bit deeper into our examination of how to network in your community. We are going to address your physical community this week, the one you find just outside your door. We will leave networking digitally for another time, but the principles below work equally well in both worlds. You might want to consider quickly reviewing our previous articles on networking to cover the basics.
Give some consideration to this simple principle: we are more likely to give assistance to people who appear equally eager to assist us in our efforts. The essence of networking is, at heart, the promise of partnership. For that reason, it is not enough to let others know about our own business and our personal needs. Read the rest of this entry »