Monthly Archives: July 2013

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last week, an article published in Woman’s Day originally titled 10 Things Travel Agents Won’t Tell You started a firestorm in the travel industry. Usually, columns like this offer tips and tricks like point beyond ticketing and hidden city tickets. They may tell you to ask about existing groups to mooch in on the amenities or perks. They might tell you what day of the week might be better to book your travel. But this one was different. They went on for 10 points explaining how travel agents were out to screw consumers.  And that’s how the fight started! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – July 19, 2013

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Arrival Gate

Google Analytics

Dear Stephanie,

I’ve installed Google Analytics like you suggested and I’m unsure of what analytics are the most important. Which ones should I pay more attention to?

– Kelli S.

Hey Kelli!

Glad you have Google Analytics up and running, even if you aren’t exactly sure what you’re looking for… yet! The data you’re collecting is extremely valuable and the longer the history, the better. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Auto Europe has been in business for over 56 years and operates in 130 countries world wide with 8,000 car rental locations.  They have the largest selection of vehicles including specialty Prestige and Sports cars, Luxury Chauffeur Services, Peugeot Leases, Motor Homes, and Motorbikes. Their “Beat Rates” enable you to guarantee the best prices in the market backed up by the best service. Their knowledgeable sales team can be contacted 24/7 to provide advice on locations and rates up to the very last minute. This US based call center is accessible toll free from Europe should your clients need assistance while abroad. Both GPS units with the country maps loaded and cell phones can be arranged and mailed to your clients before they leave the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Elephants don’t bite

Little things make or break deals.

In a “me-too-only-cheaper” competitive environment, the fundamentals and strict adherence to the little things will position companies faster and more accurately than just about anything else.

Take these three facts… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Discover Grand Bahama Island with Vacation Express

Grand Bahama Island one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Bahamas. There is no shortage of things to do on Grand Bahama Island. The beautiful white beaches, extensive list of water sports, fishing, wide array of night-time activities, scenic eco tours, and lively culture make this an exciting destination.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Explore Belize with Solar Tours

Belize may be a small country, but there’s still plenty to see and do. Though many visitors simply come for a single location to fish or scuba at an island resort, the entire country is an easily accessible natural playground. Take a few moments to explore wondrous Belize and the many itineraries that are offered by Solar Tours. The activities range from scuba diving, to hiking the beautiful rain forests, fishing, or just relaxing on a picturesque beach; there is something for every kind of traveler.  Read the rest of this entry »

Did you know that writing a column that has the word “Facebook” in its title will trigger daily phone calls and emails from their marketing team?  It’s not rocket science I guess, but is something I didn’t consider when writing my last column for Travel Agent Diaries telling of my intention to work on social media marketing.

Within hours of the post going live, I received the first phone call from a live person asking if I would like some help with ads on Facebook. What surprised me most was the live person when I listened to the voicemail; and it was a little flattering, but then the truth sank in and it was definitely creepy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

Stephen Hobday, Director of Sales for Flybe


Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 10.00.20 AMStephen Hobday has more years of sales experience within the travel industry than he is prepared to disclose. He joined Flybe having previously held management positions at P&O Ferries which operated across the English Channel, the UK Automobile Association and various independent travel agencies and tour operators.

Stephen and his team have been responsible for maximisation of agency sales at Flybe from the corporate, leisure, interline and cargo sectors. This has been achieved by the cultivation of relationships and negotiation with business travel management companies, tour operators, other airlines, trade associations and third party sales agents.

Challenges over the years have included the integration of the low cost model in to the travel agency environment and, more recently, the retention and development of an extensive portfolio of corporate accounts that were acquired when Flybe bought BA Connect from British Airways. For more information on Flybe visit

Travel Research Online: What has been your most memorable travel experience?
Stephen Hobday: Watching my children’s reactions when they were young during a chilly winter morning’s Jeep safari in South Africa as they witnessed wildlife outside of the confines of a zoo for the first time, not least when my son ventured alarming close to a family of crocodiles on the edge of the Sabi River. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Have you ever heard of MMGY Global or Peter Yesawich? If not, take note, because you should. They are not your competition. They are not some new start up with the next new travel application. But, they have a firm finger on the pulse of the travel industry. MMGY is an integrated marketing communications company that is known for its strategic thinking, breakthrough creativity and innovation in marketing practice. The firm’s Research & Brand Strategy Group is also regarded as one of the most respected sources of insights on the emerging travel habits, preferences and intentions of Americans.

Peter Yesawich is the vice chairman of MMGY and is regarded as one of the most respected and insightful sources on the habits and preferences of American travelers. Virtually every major travel company seeks his insight. In a sense, he is the E.F. Hutton of the travel trade. And we ought to listen.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – July 12, 2013

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Why is it that some travel agencies consistently manage to garner good press coverage while others don’t?  Smart travel agents that know how to get their name in the paper know how to find a unique angle for their story ideas or speaking engagements and to fashion and time the story to the needs of the press. By developing an awareness of trends, timely events and other cultural influences, you are more likely to find the public interest inherent in your story that reporters seek for their articles. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Way back in 2010, I wrote a series of articles for the Travel Agent Diary series for TRO and now have the chance to write again. When I first started writing, my company, Wandering Puffin, was still in its infancy.  Now 6 years in, my agency has matured and I am feeling the desire to keep going and keep growing. I remember the nervousness of starting on my own; it was exciting, but unnerving at times. I maintained a part time job as a safety net, which, until a year ago, I kept. I used to substitute teach part time, but my passion and my experience has given me the confidence to let that go and focus on the future of my business which has certainly grown. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Carnival’s Crucial ‘Conversations’

Question: What do stock market investors and travel agents have in common? Answer: They have both been jilted by Carnival.

It is clear that over the last few months the chickens have come home to roost. The line is now paying the price for some bad business decisions, plus a handful of well documented accidents (too often the result of bad operating policy). For all who have a stake in Carnival’s fortunes – agency owners and investors alike – it makes for a not-so-pretty picture.

Agencies selling CCL have taken a hit for several reasons – higher thresholds for over-rides making it more difficult to maintain top tier commission levels; expansion of the non-commissionable portion of already discounted, ridiculously low fares; policies that require agents to abandon the phones, forcing all bookings online as well as the resolution of all other issues. The net effect is an offloading of more and more work to travel agents for less and less commission.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Most travel consultants have opportunities to participate in local trade shows. The Chamber of Commerce business fair, a wedding show or even weekly farmers’ markets featuring local businesses are good opportunities to meet prospective clients. Trade shows can be tremendous consumers of resources like capital, time and energy, however. You can increase your chances at having a productive trade show by stepping up your game and following a few simple steps in your participation.

Firstly, make sure the cost for participation is in line with a realistic return on your investment. By the time the cost of the booth space, display materials, personnel and any travel costs are taken into account the costs associated with a trade show are not always as minimal as they may initially seem. You can also get lost in a sea of other businesses and competitors with better positioning and displays, so carefully scope out the participation of your competitors. It is often a good thing if other travel consulting companies are in attendance, particularly ones that have participated in the past as this indicates a satisfaction with prior results. Speak with past participants about their results and whether the promoter’s projections on attendance is accurate. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

In most communities, volunteer opportunities abound – so you should be able to identify at least one to which you relate and about which you are passionate. From the local animal shelter to charity work or participation on committees for organizations such as your local United Way, PTA, Hospice, and more, you contribute and thereby widen your circle of acquaintances. By joining others for good causes or civic committees, you not only work toward a positive goal in your community, but you also earn the opportunity to let new people know about your travel practice, your attention to detail, and the personality behind your skill set. As the other participants get to know you in a volunteer setting, their understanding of you in a charitable context serves to create a bond that can translate in a very positive way into a personal or business relationship. Importantly, you will discover that much of the pressure is off of you to “market” as you provide your services to the community. Knowledge of you and your business is a happy by-product of your central mission of giving to others. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

With the changes we have seen in the travel industry, many may be thinking about getting out. Maybe it is time to sell? Maybe it is time to buy? As with life itself, timing is the key to acquisitions. Despite the recent economic hell, we are a very resilient industry having recovered from 9/11, SARS, Desert Storm, recessions etc…

While some of this information may seem a bit negative, there is still a very strong market for acquisitions and mergers. The overall trend for what buyers are willing to pay for break even, small, retail agencies has plummeted from 100% of gross profit in 1990 to 33% of gross profit currently. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program

The Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program (TAAP) is a division of Expedia dedicated specifically to Travel Agents. TAAP is designed to give travel agents all the tools they need to provide their clients with competitive and comprehensive products and pricing. The TAAP program offers commissions, incentives, promotions and technology all geared towards facilitating the activities of travel agents. Currently TAAP operates successfully around the globe with over 25,000 signed up and loving it! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Lie on the soft sands of a beach, explore the vast jungles, or take a guided tour around one of the worlds most remarkable destinations; the splendor of Jamaica is unparalleled. Jamaica is a tropical paradise rich in beauty,culture, and unique scenery. From lush green mountains on the interior, to the bright turquoise waters that surround the island, it is no wonder people venture to this Caribbean oasis. Jamaica boasts some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, making it a top pick for honeymooners and families alike.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Remember when you were in high school and how you hated it when people “talked about you”? Well, adult life is not all that different from high school. But as a travel consultant, you want people to talk about you! In fact, it behooves you to give them something to talk about. That, in fact, is the very essence of a good word of mouth public relations effort.

Word of Mouth happens with or without your participation. However, that does not mean it is out of your control and cannot be managed. To the contrary, you can promote and amplify your brand through a good word of mouth campaign. By strategically cultivating your message, you can help ensure that when people talk about you, they are saying the things you want the market to hear. Read the rest of this entry »

My road to entrepreneurship has been a long and bumpy one. I have hung on so long; and now I realize I need a break. Any kind of break in order to stop, breathe and jump back on the bandwagon. I’m at that point. I’m juggling the business, a demanding leadership position with the US Army Reserve, and taking two college courses for good measure. You know, just because I thought I didn’t have enough on my plate.

I feel like the hungry girl at the buffet line, piling stuff on my plate just because it looks good. My mind has not been my own for the last few weeks, I’ve been waking up and going to sleep with business thoughts on my mind not to mention, the other thoughts; the ones that keep nagging me because I’m not getting enough stuff done as fast as I would like.

I need a break. Read the rest of this entry »