Monthly Archives: April 2014

Posted In: Outposts

A mere 3-hour flight from Miami, Costa Rica is Central America’s coveted jewel. Costa Rica appeals to travelers of all sorts; the country’s natural attractions, wildlife and reputation for enlightened conservation draw visitors from all over the world. The government has made immense efforts to preserve the country’s reputation as an eco-tourism haven. As a result of this watchfulness, Costa Rica shelters a whopping 5% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Clients are a great source of new ideas. Their travel ambitions are the stuff of which your practice is made. Their hobbies, interests and pursuits are fertile ground for ideas for marketing to other clients. Some of your clients will be quicker to pick up on cultural trends and leading edge destinations than others. But if you plot your best clients over a period of time, you will likely see trends and activities that will merit your attention.

In order to properly mine your clients’ ideas, you have to engage them at the level of conversation designed to gather feedback. Client surveys that range from topics as far reaching as travel dreams and aspirations to more particular questions about frustrations with travel planning and booking are important. Surveys can be taken in written Read the rest of this entry »

What’s up fellow travel agent peeps?   April is here, and along with it, those lovely April showers–well at least here in Arkansas.  You know that old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”  You know what else those showers bring? They bring out the 4 Bs — burn out, blues, bad attitudes, and broken resolutions.  You’ve made it through the majority of the super busy winter booking season, all those January and February bridal shows, and survived the freezing cold winter and snow.  No wonder you are tired, and need a break. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

New ideas can sometimes seem hard to come by. Whether you are looking for a new angle on marketing your travel practice, or a new product idea for a particular demographic, finding exactly the right approach can seem like swimming upstream. There are, however, a few well-known strategies for coaxing new ideas into existence. There are repositories of good ideas available to travel agents to research, try out and investigate. You just have to know where to look.

Here’s the good news – great ideas are everywhere you look. Most “new” ideas are really just a modification of an existing one. When TRO decided to give away destination guides to travel agents, the “new” aspect of the idea was not destination guides. There were already services providing destination guides to travel agents Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

We have all heard it…travel agents are like dinosaurs.  People have looked at us quizzically asking how we were still in business. Even the President of the United States offered up that we were doomed for extinction.  But alas, we remain. While I have heard that sentiment (and others like that) for nearly 20 years; just last week, I think I discovered exactly why we are still hanging in there. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Pick One

There are times when the business of travel planning can be a bit overwhelming. There are bills to pay, meetings to attend and marketing that needs to be done. Clients are calling with completely unreasonable requests and that hotel still has not paid the commission on a trip completed in June. Your desk is covered in paper.

The drawbacks to disorganization are all too familiar to me. I’m not a detail person, and my inability to work methodically shows. I clean my offices in flurries of activity and almost always uncover some important detail that was due to be completed yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – April 4, 2014

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Long before the days of the Harvard Negotiating Project and the publication of Getting to Yes, business people were schooled in “hardball” negotiating tactics.  I can remember a set of audio tapes of my father’s with the words “hardball tactics” in the title. You will still encounter those individuals who feel negotiation is a zero sum game – if they are to win, you must lose. Their strategy will seldom include a good faith effort to be above board and honest. To get the negotiation on track, you will have to change the game. The best method is to stay calm and unemotional. Then, open up their tactic and disarm it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I don’t claim to be a social media guru. In fact, I usually distrust anyone who uses the moniker (or similar).  But, I have learned a few things in my years working various social sites, and I will gladly share a lesson or two.

First – the big mistake businesses make in using social media is to chase the latest gimmick.  Like anything in life, success in social media is the result of consistent, persistent effort.  There are no shortcuts.  What the gurus sell may result in more followers; however, it won’t result in more sales.  And isn’t that the goal? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Negotiation, like any competitive undertaking, should have rules.  Establishing and agreeing to the rules is an essential part of every negotiation. In some instances the ground rules may be a simple understanding of the topic of conversation and the boundaries of the negotiation. In others, a very formal set of rules such as those undertaken in arbitration may be appropriate.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Summing Up Uniworld’s SS Catherine

I thought I had cruised Uniworld before. I had not. It is true that I had been on a vessel with the Uniworld name emblazoned on it, the River Empress. But that was in 2008. That Uniworld and the Uniworld I experienced this week were, well, Uniworlds apart. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Viking River Cruises offers destination-centric river cruising designed for experienced travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history. Featuring onboard cultural enrichment and included shore excursions, Viking’s journeys are competitively priced for genuine value. As the world’s leading river cruise line, since its 1997 inception the company has grown to a fleet of 52 river vessels (in 2014) offering scenic cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, and Southeast Asia. Enjoy exciting cities, rich cultural experiences, fine dining and deluxe accommodations on board the most modern ships—with everything from meals to shore excursions included in your fare. And our award-winning Viking Longships®  have raised the bar yet again with full-size veranda staterooms, the largest suites in Europe, al fresco dining and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

In order to negotiate well, it is important to listen carefully to the other parties to the discussion. Despite best intentions, not all parties will clearly and succinctly state either their objectives or their reasons for particular requests. In order to find mutual grounds toward which to work, therefore, a good negotiator will listen carefully, empathetically, and with a mind to understanding their counterpart’s motivations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The easy way to attract new cruisers

It is again time for me to get on my old soap box and suggest it is time for agents to stop selling the same old stuff…okay, okay, I know my CLIA training taught me to sell features and benefits but, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to talk about selling “new stuff.”  The good news is there are lots of “new stuff” you should be bringing to the attention of your customers and prospects.

My main takeaway for you cruise sellers out there is to focus daily on finding new cruisers, as well as working to retain your existing clients. I used to tell the agents in my training seminars they need to become human web browsers for their clients. They need to know what’s new in the travel industry because if the clients find it first…what do they need an agent for? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Explore Panama by Solar Tours

South America is a continent of vast expanse, resources and natural beauty. This wild continent, positioned between the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and the South Atlantic Oceans, remains unknown to many travelers, yet holds real treasure for both the intrepid explorer of nature and the lover of great cities.

Panama is the hidden eco gem of Central America—go now, before it is discovered. This narrow slice of land pushed up from the ocean floor four million years ago to bridge the gap between the North and South American continents. It boasts the most protected land in all of Central America, with 40% of the entire country declared national parks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

One of my most important business mentors was my father.  He once told me the first person to lose their temper in a negotiation was sure to get the lesser of the bargain.  I too often forget the lesson, but how right dad was!

Emotions can run high during a negotiation. It is too easy to forget how important a calm demeanor and attitude can be.  If we get upset, if we display anxiety or anger, we betray our rationale nature which serves us so well in negotiation.  Read the rest of this entry »

We are no longer with American Express and are now with Travel Leaders and suddenly it is the normal state of being.  Honestly, it can’t be anything but that now – we’re so busy that we can’t pay attention to the change in our status.  What is going on here?

Could it possibly be the end of the recession?  Business is coming in for the three employee agents like its 2007! Almost more than we can handle, really.  Well, almost.

Where is the business coming from?  Read the rest of this entry »