Monthly Archives: April 2016

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Carmen Schaffer, Viva La Vida Travel

What do you do when your low-paying, nonprofit job lays you off due to budget cuts? If you are Carmen Schaffer, Viva La Vida Travel, you assess your passions and end up in the travel industry. We recently caught up with Carmen and talked to her about her transition into the travel industry and what the past five years have been like for her.

Travel Research Online (TRO): What was the impetus for your entrance into the travel industry?

Carmen Shaffer (CS): I had been doing social work since I graduated college, primarily working for nonprofit organizations, but about 5 years ago I was the victim of budget cuts. I have always been intrigued by travel and other cultures. I went to France when I was 15 years old, and I also studied abroad in Costa Rica. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Luxury Travel Tips

The six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a special time in our home. Like most families, we have our “Griswold” like traditions. The biggest being the annual tree excursion. This always takes place the day after Thanksgiving – no exceptions. As our girls have gotten older, their boyfriends have thankfully helped out. They have been good sports as we (my wife) often spend hours searching for that “perfect” tree.

Once we get home, the annual ordeal of getting the tree just right in the stand, and then the decorating begins. This is one of our favorite traditions. When we travel, we always purchase a simple ornament from each country or city we visit to hang on the tree. As each ornament is strategically placed on a branch, we fondly recall each trip and what it meant to us. The wonderful family times we had including the teenage meltdowns (particularly the one in Budapest). Needless to say, this process goes on into the night. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Strolling Spain’s Most Famous City

The two ladies sitting behind me on the flight have it all figured out.

I’m travelling from Canada to Barcelona, Spain to embark an old friend: Silversea’s ultra-luxurious Silver Spirit, for a six-day voyage through some of the most off-the-beaten-path ports in the Mediterranean. And on my Air Canada Rouge flight from Toronto – devoid of any entertainment options whatsoever – I’ve now tuned into the two ladies sitting behind me.

Unlike me, they’re not spending three days in Barcelona pre-cruise. Instead, they’re flying all the way to Europe, day-of, to embark a cruise on a ship I won’t mention, other than to say it holds thousands of guests and definitely isn’t Silversea. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Posted In: Soundings

Susan SchaeferWhile we are used to cruise clients cancelling their plans, it’s not as prevalent for suppliers to cancel. When a client cancels, it often has a financial impact on us due to loss of commission. In most cases where the cruise lines cancel a sailing they will protect our commissions. However, the future cruise credit they give to clients may lead to low or no commission on the future booking. Commission aside, what else are we faced with?

The question comes up in the light of several recent cancellations. Fathom Cruises had to cancel their inaugural cruise to the Dominican Republic due to issues with Coast Guard inspections. There were revenue passengers involved, but many of the affected passengers were actually travel professionals and members of the media and blogosphere. Only one sailing was cancelled, and with the low number of revenue passengers, travel professionals were not overwhelmingly impacted. Read the rest of this entry »

“Your problem is that you’re worrying about speed instead of putting to make it.”

Putting Out of Your Mind: Dr. Bob Rotella, page 100

Speed: The Light Is Always Green

The white ball is not moving. It is still and it is right in front of you. The hole is off in the distance, not too far away. All you have to do is aim at the hole and hit the ball with the stick you are holding. How hard can it be? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Spring has sprung! For many of us it means refreshing, renewing, and planting the seeds for success. Think about your closet, sock drawer, garage, and garden. Imagine the sense of re-energizing that comes after a deep spring clean.

In the world of social marketing for travel and tourism pros, let’s look at how we can let the sun shine in and market more clearly with small steps to refresh, repurpose, and revitalize.


I’ll bet you have a number of social media sites that you use regularly to market and mingle. When is the last time you took a hard look at what your clients really see when they find you socially? Here are a number of spring cleaning ideas to refresh your own presence. Read the rest of this entry »

“Most golfers face a constant battle to stay out of their own way.”

Putting Out of Your Mind: Dr. Bob Rotella, page 62

Making Putts Routinely

If you practice as much as I am suggesting (all the time), then there will come a time when you just play the way you know how to play. You go with the normal flow of your body and you allow yourself to enjoy the journey. Read the rest of this entry »

“Make the putt in your mind. It’s up to fate if the ball actually drops.”

Putting Out of Your Mind: Dr. Bob Rotella, page 57

Gaining Control By Giving Up Control

This quote called to mind the power of “visualization.” All successful athletes practice this mental procedure. Why not introduce this practice to the game of business? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Bedsonline is the leading online global wholesaler selling exclusively to Travel Professionals. We put a world of accommodation and destination services – attraction tickets, tours, excursions, transfers and car rentals, right at your fingertips. Our user-friendly online booking engine allows you to create custom FIT Reservations from around the globe with ease.

Consider Bedsonline your “secret weapon” to creating custom travel experiences for your clients and differentiating yourself from what they can purchase online or ‘off the shelf’ from the OTA’s and Tour Operators directly. Whether it’s a simple transfers to or from the airport or a multi-destination jaunt throughout Europe’s countryside, our diverse selection includes Budget to Luxury accommodations, and all ‘Must Do’ and unique experiences. This coupled with our easy to use website, competitive prices, leading commission rates, and flexible payment options give you the tools you need to compete and win! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

I love to watch professionals ply their trade.

A few years back, I hired a man to dig a hole in my backyard and he used a machine called a “Bobcat.”  A Bobcat is a hole digging machine on 4 wheels… a mini bulldozer. I was digging a hole for a swimming pool and this guy could make that machine “sing.” Can you sing? Read the rest of this entry »

Putting Out of Your Mind: Two Types Of People

“You can’t be successful at putting if you’re letting fear of missed putts dictate your behavior.”

Putting Out of Your Mind: Dr. Bob Rotella, page 27

The Putter Jack Nicklaus Sees In The Mirror

What if they don’t answer my call? What if they don’t open my email? What if they think I am too expensive? What if they already have a travel agent they like doing business with? What if they “use” me, and then book directly? What if they don’t like the hotel I recommended? What if they miss their connection? Read the rest of this entry »

This past month, the goal was to gain some clarity on my objective, service, and message.  It’s actually harder than it seems!  After much wrangling and really focusing on the language for a mission statement, it’s absolutely going to become the foundation for how I currently do business and guide my future growth.  Looking back, I wish I had done this much sooner! It is never too late, and I feel that creating a clear emphatic statement in writing to guide any business can only be helpful.   Read the rest of this entry »

Putting Out of Your Mind: See It Through

“Gradually, I learned to care less about whether that putt went in and more about whether I had done everything I could to give it a chance to go in.”

Putting Out of Your Mind: Dr. Bob Rotella, page xxi

Whether you believe that sports analogies are appropriate to business lessons or not… they are. This week I will be borrowing quotes from “Putting Out of Your Mind” by Bob Rotella. He is one of my favorites. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Social media is amazing! It has opened so many doors for travel agencies and enabled us to expand our audience quite literally worldwide. Yet with that benefit, comes a very dangerous dark side.

If you find some great content (opinion, photos, advice, specials, etc) and share them with the right audience, the world is your oyster. Recently on a non-travel page I have, I shared a really stupid photo I took in a coffee shop. For reasons unknown to me, it took off. Go figure. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Picture Postcard Perfect: Symi, Greece

October 27, 1957. That’s the day I was born. October 27, 2015. That’s the day I spent in one of the most beautiful places ever: Symi, Greece.

Few of us, if any, on Seabourn Sojourn had visited this charming Greek island just 12 miles from Turkey. Francisco, Seabourn Sojourn’s shore concierge manager, was in as much awe as we were as we toured this tiny town that sprawls up hillsides. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Susan SchaeferWith few exceptions, most cruise lines do not compensate us for booking our clients on their excursions. When they feign shock, surprise, and horror at the thought that we would actually promote third party excursions to our clients (their cruise passengers), we feel like it’s an act. They know fully well they don’t pay us to book their excursions, and they should not be surprised to hear that’s what we do. In 2014 I was on an Anthem of the Seas pre-inaugural with Vicki Freed (Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International) and Michael Bayley (President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International). Bayley was relatively new to Royal Caribbean at the time, and new to feigning shock and horror at the thought that travel professionals would actually book third party excursions. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

“The best way to identify key combustion points is to study your guests. What do they complain about?”

Be Our Guest: Perfecting The Art of Customer Service – by the Disney Institute & Theodore Kinni, page 144

For reasons far too numerous to mention, we all have a tendency to listen to the good news and ignore or excuse away the bad news.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Did you watch the basketball game on April 13th to close out the Kobe Bryant era? I didn’t but I certainly heard about it, and later watched a few highlights. Occasionally in my life as travel agent, I feel as if some people will watch my whole game, and some will just watch the highlights. But if I think of myself as Kobe, I force myself to come out 100% for every game and capture the attention of my audience.

Let’s break this whole travel agent life into bite size pieces, because to do otherwise is like playing the whole basketball season at once instead of game by game or each win or loss. Read the rest of this entry »

“You can’t change people. But if you change the environment that the people are in, they will change.”

Be Our Guest: Perfecting The Art of Customer Service – by the Disney Institute & Theodore Kinni, page 107

This quote definitely caught my attention. My first thought was if you hire the right people in the first place, you will not have to change them. The truth is that you will never know if you made the right hiring decision until the candidate has time to prove him/herself over a period of time. (Many people interview well and can fool you).

Read the rest of this entry »