Monthly Archives: April 2014

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Are you aware despite countless Federal Trade Commission regulations, the worst product of any category in the world is perfectly within its legal rights to call itself “The World’s Best” and to extol its virtues? This type of advertising is known as “puffery” – putting your best foot forward and using terms that most people understand to be more or less “bragging” rights. Is it any wonder people mistrust advertising?

Most travel advertising is “first person”. Inherently, first-person advertising is less credible than a third party endorsement. Think about it for a moment. Which do you trust more? A commercial on television or the recommendation of a good friend? Testimonials are the basis of much of modern social media marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I’ve noticed in the last few years, a lot of small travel agencies forming LLC’s, and I have to chuckle to myself.  For those of you who don’t know, LLC means Limited Liability Company, and is a hybrid between a Sole Proprietor/Partnership and a Corporation.  While it has its place in very limited circumstances, it is most likely NOT the best formation strategy in our business.  If two or three people get together to form a travel agency, doing business in one state, for a limited time, and are absolutely sure they never want to grow the business – the LLC might be the way to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

In this Avid Cruiser Audio Podcast, I talk with two people who over the past 10 years have become good friends. We’ve cruised together many times, and I love their product. I’m talking about river cruising on AmaWaterways.

At a cruise convention in Miami this past March, I sat down with Kristin Karst and Rudi Schreiner, certainly two of the happiest people in the cruise industry. They’re happy people simply by their dispositions but the success of river cruising hasn’t hurt matters. They are riding a wave of unprecedented tourism growth on rivers worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Consumer advocates often lodge the complaint that advertising is coercive and monopolistic, dictating public perceptions and buying habits. According to this theory, the public buys what they are told to buy, the product most advertised, rather than the product that is the best for their needs. Certainly companies with the resources to put into advertising have a distinct advantage. Regardless of the actual merits of the argument, the perception it creates makes it more difficult to form a relationship with clients based on trust. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

One of the chief complaints consumers have about advertising is it is often inappropriate – either wrongly targeted or misdirected. Often, travel agents will blanket their client lists with advertising that betrays a lack of concern for the needs or concerns of the individual client. For example, not everyone is a fan of cruising. Repeated advertisements for a cruise vacation directed at the wrong client will cause the client to doubt the sincerity of the travel agent. If the travel counselor is truly about the service and not the product, if a travel planner’s practice is really client centric, then the needs and preferences of the client come first and a stream of wrongly directed advertisments will callous the relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

I’ve long believed that travel consultants sell much more than “trips.”  I’ve always seen their role as more significant than deal finding and reservation making.  Until recently however, I’m not sure I realized just important travel is.

After winning a year and a half-long battle with inflammatory breast cancer, a dear friend was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and given a dismal prognosis.  A wife, mother, and passionate travel consultant, Michelle Pammenter Young has spent her life creating joyful experiences for others. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Discover the Magic of Juneau, Alaska by ShoreTrips

At over 650,000 square miles, Alaska is by far the most sweeping land in the United States. With all this land – most of it wild and untamed  – 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 Juneau, Alaska – brought to you by ShoreTrips.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Yesterday we discussed how many consumers perceive advertising as manipulative and less than authentic. Another common complaint is that advertising imposes itself on the individual in an unwanted manner – it interrupts the flow of information or entertainment to gain mindshare. Thus, a commercial appears at the climax of the television show, or the banner ad covers up what you are trying to read. Indeed, much of the advertising to which we are exposed each day is unsolicited and unwanted. Read the rest of this entry »

I know we have some true experts in the destination wedding and honeymoon markets, and I have been trying; but I still have some questions.

Bridal Shows–hit or miss?

On one hand, I have heard that doing bridal shows is simply not worth it. The reasoning is that most of these brides only go to the shows for the freebies. I can believe that, after my last show in March. I kept hearing “what are you giving away for free?” or “what raffles do you have?” And to a degree, I expected that from the brides Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 2.42.45 PMBill Gardiner has worked in the travel industry since the early 70’s. During his career, he was President of National Trade Shows which was the longest running series of Travel Agent promotions in the industry. During this same period he owned and operated a call center for a hotel rep company as well as multi-lined for a range of travel companies throughout the world.

At the same time, he was also a meeting planner for various tourist boards, tour operators, and other major companies in the industry. He has been an active member of ASTA , SKAL, Travel Agents of Tennessee and various other travel industry organizations. In October of 2013,  he came on board as the Vice President of Costa Rica Dream Adventures. His primary duties include the expansion of all sales and marketing efforts, with special emphasis on expanding our national presence and reach.

TRO: Tell us a little bit about your role at Costa Rica Dream Adventures.

BG: Costa Rica Dream Adventures is in the midst of a major expansion program. Our sales team has been tasked with bringing us to the forefront of the expanding Costa Rican travel market. Through a series of promotions and an intense one to one effort we hope to make the majority of our travel agent partners aware of the amazing range of product we have to offer. My primary job is to enlist our agency partner’s support and give them the tools to utilize CRDA to the fullest. In addition, I hope to be the contact point for many of the agents who are working with us now and the ever increasing number of agents who find us each day. Since we only serve the Costa Rican market, we offer the unique ability to offer full customization. This, combined with our expertise, is causing more and more agents to think CRDA when they think Costa Rica. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Consumers have a love/hate relationship with advertising. Some advertising is highly regarded, memorized and repeated, passed along virally. Other ads are the subject of scorn and vilification usually reserved for weapons of mass destruction. It is a worthwhile exercise to examine consumer attitudes toward advertising and to discover exactly what about it people find objectionable. Buried there is a lesson we can take back to our own marketing campaigns to ensure that it will be heard and trusted rather than frowned upon. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Face it, when it comes to selling travel, the end result is comprised of a million (or so it seems) tasks. There are follow-ups, deadlines, more follow-ups, more deadlines, deposits, payments, document deliveries, and more! How do you handle it?

Your tasks need to get done today, this week, or this month. Some are big, some are small. Some are important, some are mundane. Some are urgent, some are less pressing.

Where to start? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – April 11, 2014

Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

A few responses to this week’s series on brainstorming for travel agents have asked about the best way to brainstorm in a group. Here are some techniques that have worked very successfully. Like always, however, these are suggestions only. Your particular office may find variations or other techniques that work better, and please feel free to share those with us. One rule pertains above all others in the process of brainstorming: no criticism allowed! For the initial brainstorming sessions, postpone criticism Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

The Girl Scouts have been out in force with their cookies this month, and if you haven’t stocked up on Thin-Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs, keep an eye out for them in front of coffee shops and grocery stores. In fact, one Girl Scout is making headlines for thinking outside the cookie box by selling in front of a San Francisco medical marijuana dispensary. According to CBS News, she sold 117 boxes in two hours. I’m not surprised – but I am impressed.

Seeing this kind of up-and-coming opportunity, and being first in line to profit from it, is a gift great entrepreneurs possess. It’s how I’ve made my travel agency succeed despite terrorists, crashing economies and natural disasters. My first insight came at the beginning of the recession when I asked myself this question: “What will people always do, no matter what?” My answers were: Get married and go on honeymoons. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Embarking Tauck’s New ms Inspire

Aaron Saunders, reporting for Avid Cruiser’s Live Voyage Reports

Today, I stepped aboard Tauck’s new ms Inspire for the first time at the Port of Amsterdam. And what a beautiful ship she is! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Immersing yourself in the culture of travel is a good way to provide the right side of your brain with creative fodder for brainstorming. One way to keep yourself current and fresh in the travel industry is to mix with other travel professionals. The interchange of ideas, the trading of new techniques and destinations, is a nearly invaluable opportunity for you to learn how other agents are successfully putting new concepts into practice. What works in other markets is very likely to have some applicability in your own. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Founded in 1980, Trans Am Travel is the preferred supplier for travel professionals. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, our mission is to offer competitive pricing combined with excellent service. Trans Am Travel has been in operation for 34 years and is one of the best, as well as one of the largest airline ticket wholesalers in the United States. Our highly trained representatives average 15 years of experience in the industry and are committed to providing our customers with high quality service. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Travel agents do well to bring popular culture into your brainstorming sessions.  Remember, however, brainstorming is not daydreaming. Rather it is an active attempt to disrupt stale patterns of thinking, to break up and re-arrange your established notions. Anytime you need to develop new ideas or opportunities, when you want to improve the services you offer by some radical degree, brainstorming is the place to turn. Yesterday we discussed brainstorming with your office team and your existing customers, bringing their experience of your travel agency’s services into the discussion. Today, we want to look at popular culture as an resource for creative ideas for your brainstorming efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Here are three questions to ask yourself:

  • How Can I Add More Value To My Relationships?
  • What Makes Me Different?
  • How Can I Get and Keep My Client’s Attention?

The answer consists of only seven words. It’s true. And, I arrived at that conclusion after witnessing two recent events.

The first revelation came as a result of meeting a man at a trade show booth. After swapping business cards I told him that I would be getting back to him. When I called him the next morning, he said the following… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Experience Bogota by Trans Am Travel

Planning to visit to Colombia? First of all, leave the prejudices at home. If something should be said about Colombians and Colombia, it is that everything here is done passionately–living, partying and arguing. “Intense” might be a word that describes not only the 44 million warm hearted people but equally applies to the whole of experience of Colombia: the lavish green of the Amazon, the deep blue of both oceans and one of the most exuberant and diverse flora and fauna on the planet.

Colombia is a country for “travelers” more than tourists; if you are willing to spend some days immersed in Spanish, dealing with a different perception of time and marveling yourself at a country full of contradictions, this is your place. In spite of being considered a tropical country, Colombia’s weather is not the same across the territory: don’t be fooled by a map and be prepared to visit a chilly capital city in the mountains, or the extensive warm valley of the Magdalena river just a few feet above the sea level—less than two hours apart. This geographical variety also brings a cultural richness, which added to its colonial history results in a society where racial, ideological and cultural ends meet.

Read the rest of this entry »