Monthly Archives: February 2016

Posted In: Soundings

Susan Schaefer“We are dream makers, not order takers.” That is a favorite mantra for a lot of travel professionals. We pride ourselves on our ability to consult with clients, not simply take their order to book an XYZ cruise. However, I think many of us, me included, drop the ball with some clients. We should be helping our clients create their dream vacations, not settle for a less-than-dreamy experience because of their budget. But so many of us let our clients pigeonhole us into their budgets, that the clients will never get to go on their dream vacation.

We have all probably had that one customer that ties their vacation planning to their tax refund. The bigger the refund that they get, the bigger the vacation that they’ll take that year. And if they don’t get a refund, that year’s trip becomes a “staycation” at the local miniature golf course. It can be depressing for them, and frustrating for us. I have one client whose dream vacation is a world cruise. At the rate she is going, she’ll never get to do it. She will never get a tax refund big enough to fund anything longer than a 7 to 10 night cruise. It’s my job to help her go on that dream vacation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

The quagmire of being available 24/7/365 is a debate that pops up on a regular basis in agent-only discussion forums. Storefront agencies have very defined office hours, and clients don’t seem to expect them to be open after hours. They may be expected to offer after hours emergency service for clients that are traveling, but otherwise clients do not expect to be able to walk in the door after hours and obtain basic service like looking and booking. However, home-based agencies don’t seem to have the same boundaries. When the topic comes up for discussion in forums the debates quickly get heated. There are agents that work 24/7 and have no qualms with doing so. If a client calls at 2 o’clock in the morning, they’ll answer the phone, even if the client is calling to confirm their dining time on the cruise departing in ten months. Other agents are adamant that they only work set hours and never respond to clients after hours, ever. Who is right? No one and everyone. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Departures

In 1974, Educational Travel Services (ETS), located in Lakeland, Florida, became a pioneer of Christian pilgrimages to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. Today, ETS is recognized as one of the industry’s leaders of quality Christian pilgrimages and group tours to the Holy Land, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, plus Greece, Turkey, Italy, Lourdes, and Fatima, and Faith Based Cruises.

During the past four decades, the faith based market has continued to expand and include a variety of destinations as featured on ETS’ website, ETS’ all-inclusive tours are structured to serve groups and individual travelers through travel agents.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Do you have a great looking social presence, but not as many ‘super fans’ as you’d like?

These ‘super fans’ are an elusive yet powerful voice for your brand. Understanding who these fans are and how to capture their attention is a bit of a challenge, so here are some tactics to identify and engage with them. Read the rest of this entry »

“In positioning, don’t try to hide your small size. Make it work by stressing its advantages, such as responsiveness and individual attention.”

Selling the InvisibleHarry Beckwith, page 120

Not long ago there was (and probably still is) a service on the web that answered your phone like you were a huge company. The operator would ask the caller what department they were interested in and read a litany of options. They then offered to patch you through to extension 4535. “Wow! I must be talking to a real Big Shot.” Read the rest of this entry »

Selling the Invisible: The Grocery List Problem

“Saying many things usually communicates nothing.”

Selling the InvisibleHarry Beckwith, page 172

For nearly 30 years I have been sharing my business views with travel professionals at industry meetings largely sponsored and supported by travel suppliers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Little Fish… Big Splash

Although I do not go out after the normal day-to-day corporate travel, I have expanded my travel business into the lucrative incentive and group meeting planning segment. To do this, I had to find ways to work my way into this market even though I knew that I would be competing with the large, established agencies.


In an effort to expand my home-based agency into this market, I researched and then joined numerous business associations, networking groups, and service organizations. However, it takes a lot more work than paying the membership dues and hanging a plaque on the wall. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Tunisair: Taking Travelers to Tunisia and Beyond

Tunisia is Africa’s northernmost country, bordered by Algeria to the west and the Mediterranean Sea both to the north and northeast. This is a country steeped in Roman architecture, home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, golden-sand beaches, and sunny weather.

Tunisair is the flag carrier airline of this proud land. The main base of operations for the airline is the Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN), named for the historic city of Carthage, a favorite destination for history lovers and architectural buffs. Read the rest of this entry »

Selling the Invisible: The Fear of Positioning

“Which terrifies service marketers most:
A) The suggestion that they must position their service?
B) The shower scene in Psycho?”

Selling the InvisibleHarry Beckwith, Page 104

I realize that not everybody reading this column can instantly visualize the scene I am referring to in the movie Psycho. After all, it was made in 1960 when Alfred Hitchcock offered this masterpiece to the public. Read the rest of this entry »

The first order of business for 2016 was to formulate and implement an actual marketing plan, like a PROactive one and not a REactive one!

The pillars of the plan were a newsletter, organized client rosters and lists, and a new client welcome packet by e-mail and regular mail.  It was a bit of a challenge to plan the schedule and frequency since I do not want to annoy clients with too many emails or calls, but it must be enough to stay top of mind and hit at peak vacation planning times.  We will see how it goes and analyze the long-term results and feedback, but at this point I’ve settled into the following marketing schedule: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1


Pam Hirsch is Manager of the Host Agency / Independent Contractor Program division for Travel Leaders Franchise Group, part of the Travel Leaders Group, which generates combined sales of over $20 Billion annually. Pam provides business solutions and support to franchised travel agencies across the United States.

In her current position, Pam is responsible for offering benefits and tools that will support the existing 3,800+ Independent Contractors affiliated with Travel Leaders Franchise Group. Her overall goal is to help agency Owners and Independent Contractors increase their business through preferred leisure and corporate sales. In addition to existing business development, a strong focus of her role is to increase the number of new Independent Contractors who are aligning themselves with a Travel Leaders Franchise Group agency. Brand awareness, educational opportunities, and preferred supplier relationships are integral to her day-to-day responsibilities. Read the rest of this entry »

“America’s great service successes are not the companies that did what others did, but a little better. They are the companies that decided to do things a whole lot differently.”

Selling the InvisibleHarry Beckwith, Page 15

“Me too, only better!” seems to be the knee-jerk response from a number of entrepreneurial start-ups in the travel industry. This is only logical since everybody in our “gig” has access to everything everyone else has. Nobody has the inventory advantage or the “special” gizmo. We are all in the same boat drifting down the same river. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Not another social media platform…

Well, not really. It is kind of a hybrid between a forum, Facebook, a lead generator, and something else. It is billed as the “front page of the Internet”; I am, of course, talking about Reddit. Are you familiar? If not, take a look. But I do want to preface my suggestion with the warning that it is not a true lead generator and the anonymity of the Internet can turn an overt pitch into mincemeat in three clicks or less. Still, there is much to be found on Reddit. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

King Cartoons – February 12, 2016


Posted In: Soundings

Susan SchaeferIn the midst of addressing client concerns about the Zika virus, we now also have clients freaking out about the recent storm that hit Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. If you missed the story somehow, Anthem left Bayonne, New Jersey on Saturday, February 6th and on Sunday it was caught in a severe storm. Cruise ships have faced inclement weather in the past, and will do so again in the future. When the storm is too large to “go around,” the ship’s captain is not always left with a lot of options. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Luxury Travel Tips

If you are going to be successful selling luxury travel to high-end clients, you need to know firsthand what you are selling. This has been a cornerstone of my philosophy since launching my business 10 years ago, and came as a natural extension of years spent traversing the world as a travel journalist. I realized early on that I needed to see the places I was writing about in order to do them justice, and the same holds true now when I am editing choices and curating vacation plans for my sophisticated clients.

There is just nothing that can replace firsthand knowledge, especially when you are dealing with so many requests for places and properties around the world. And, while it’s impossible to get everywhere and know everything, it’s never too late to get started on getting out there and visiting as many as you can! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

It is hard to imagine a more beautiful setting than Amalfi while at anchor. From the perspective of the sea, you can take in the whole town and its gorgeous backdrop. Amalfi is nestled in a ravine at the foot of Monte Cerreto, which rises to more than 4,000 feet. Amalfi was the capital of the Duchy of Amalfi, an important trading center between 839 and around 1200. In the 1920s and 1930s, Amalfi thrived as a popular holiday destination for the British upper class and aristocracy. With some imagination, you can envision lovely ladies in white dresses clutching parasols over their shoulders along with dapper gents strolling alongside. Read the rest of this entry »

“If you stay focused on how much benefit a prospective customer could gain from working with you, you’ll stay in the go zone.”

Snap Selling– Jill Konrath, page 161

Chapter 19: Aligned: Assessing Business Value

Long and short, this quote reminds us of the importance to stay customer-focused. You have the experience. You have the contacts. You have the supplier support. And if you’ve been in the business for any amount of time at all, you have true life examples to draw from. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

We all have challenges hearing!  Let’s face it, we often hear the actual sounds and verbiage, but fall a bit short on the analysis and next step. It’s critical to the sales process and the success of any business to not just hear, but to actively listen. You must process and act on that information! One hurdle to get over for any good listener is that people may be telling you what you DON’T want to hear, thus changing the course of your interaction and your ultimate sales outcome. Do not dismiss this information or assume anything; it’s all critical to forming a strong relationship and securing a sale. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Departures

With 43 years of experience in the industry, Aegean Mediterranean Cruises & Tours has become an industry leader for it’s original and featured destination, Greece. Over the course our company’s history, we have grown to include a dozen countries in our portfolio of destinations throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. Our flagship office can be found in Athens, and representative offices/affiliates in almost every town, village, island, city or resort area we work with.

Our services range from the typical tour coordinating you would expect from a major tour operator, to specialized services, such as special interest tours/groups (especially university and student groups), incentive groups, destinations weddings and events, conference planning, religious groups and pilgrimages, private yacht charters, villa rentals, and luxury travel services. Read the rest of this entry »

“All you need to do is create a series of simple but effective messages, and before you know it, you will be in discussion with a hot prospect.”

Snap Selling– Jill Konrath, page 77

Chapter 10: Priorities: Capitalize on Trigger Events

Two thoughts came to mind when reading this passage, and I think both of them have meaning. Read the rest of this entry »