Monthly Archives: July 2016

How Successful People Think: Fail Forward

“Cement your learning through action.”

How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell, page 78

Talk is cheap, and lip service is exactly that. The majority of people talk a good game. The proof is in the pudding.

I’ll throw in one more phrase that might hit a tender nerve, and that is: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

London, Now… NOW!

Now is the time to visit London! Due to the recent vote for Brexit, the London pound has fallen, which means the dollar will be strong in a city known for being expensive.

What does it mean when the pound loses its value? Does it make much of a difference, or are you simply saving pennies? By comparing a few of London and the UK’s attractions, you’ll be able to show your clients the potential benefits of taking that much-desired vacation to London now. Read the rest of this entry »

“80% of your effort should be spent on the 20% of your most important activities. Focus on those opportunities that promise the biggest return.”

How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell, page 14

I know how things work: the phone rings, the emails ding, front door opens, and your day takes on a life of its own. Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months in what seems to be a blink of an eye. Before you know it, you are uncomfortably positioned between a rock and a hard place. In all probability, you are saying to yourself, “How did I let this happen?”

I suppose if we have to place one word on this dilemma it would have to be the word “discipline.” Maybe it is “priorities.” Or even “focus.” Regardless of what you choose to label it, what we decide to do each day determines our future. Read the rest of this entry »

This past month has been a real test of being able to jump between tasks. Some days the phone didn’t ring and there were only a few emails as well. After a couple of days in a row like this, I was starting to worry about finances if things continued this way. Then the phone rang and the emails flowed! Read the rest of this entry »

How Successful People Think: Catch Your Ideas

“I keep a special lighted writing pad on my nightstand for such times.”

How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell, page 15

This quote hit me like a ton of bricks. That exact device was one of my early ideas; I thought it was going to make me a millionaire. But like so many ideas we have, it came and went. My idea. Your fortune. But I digress.

I’m sure you will agree with me when I say that ideas pop into our heads at the most unexpected times. My creative genius gene kicked in once I hit 35,000 feet after a single gin and tonic on just about any flight from somewhere to somewhere else. In fact, most of the chapters of my book Become The Exception were written high above Des Moines, Iowa. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

Michael WhiteheadMichael Whitehead was born in India and attended school all over the world, but not limited to: Hong King, Singapore, Scotland, England, and the United States. This included the same secondary school as the former Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair, although Blair arrived after Michael had already left. Michael began his career in the travel industry in the early 1970’s by joining Cathay Pacific Airways as a trainee manager in the Hong Kong head office. He stayed with Cathay until 2002, and between 2002 to 2008 when he joined the Air Astana team, Michael worked with an all cargo airline based in the USA, Polar Air Cargo.

In 2008 Michael joined Air Astana in Istanbul as Regional General Manager for Turkey, the Middle East, and Africa. In April of 2011 he moved to London, and now his responsibility covers the United Kingdom, Ireland, the USA, and Canada.

Michael is married with three daughters, all now in their thirties, and currently lives in London. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Swallow the frog

No, I am not talking about some French delicacy. If that’s your thing—enjoy! Today, I want to talk about motivation. For me, summers are slow. Dreadfully slow. My motivation to get up is near zero at times; and to tackle a project… well you can imagine. But I have adopted a “swallow the frog” mentality and it seems to be working for me! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

The Power of Excuses

Can any one of us make it through the day without at least one good excuse? I want to give it a try. Sometime. Don’t we always have the best reasons for not living up to the promises we make to ourselves and others? The pretexts we give for our failures to act as we should or do as we might, however, are some of the most serious obstacles we encounter on the way to being what we most want to be and having what we most deserve in our travel practices.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

I’ve been on board Regent’s new Seven Seas Explorer for less than 24 hours, and I have to say that I, along with many other industry professionals, am impressed.

Regent is making the claim that its new lady is the “world’s most luxurious ship.” Certainly there are contenders: Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2, Viking’s Sea and Star, Seabourn’s Odyssey-class vessels, and Oceania Cruises’ Riviera and Marina, owned by the same parent as Regent. Those come immediately to mind. And there will be contenders to come: Seabourn’s new Encore, Silversea’s Muse, and Crystal’s trio of ships. Not to mention Scenic’s expedition vessel, due out in 2018. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

More or Less

Susan SchaeferLately it seems that clients are becoming more conflicted about their itinerary choices in the Caribbean.  The conflict is whether or not to pick an itinerary with more ports of call, or less. Your typical 7-night itinerary out of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas typically call on 3, maybe 4 ports at the most. That then leaves 2 to 3 full days at sea. In order to have a more port-intensive itinerary in the Caribbean, it requires flying to Puerto Rico for the major cruise lines. For smaller cruise lines, like Windstar Cruises, you can sail out of St Maarten, Barbados, and Aruba.

It may be an easier decision when advising a client who is well traveled and has already visited quite a few Caribbean ports. They will be more open to suggestions of different cruise lines, departure ports, and itineraries. But what about the new-to-cruising client?  I just had one call the other day: they have never cruised before, but they knew they wanted a 7-night Caribbean cruise. They weren’t convinced that they wanted a lot of days at sea, but were clueless on what ship or itinerary to settle on. When they called me, they were leaning towards a port-intensive cruise out of Puerto Rico. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Toni Anderson, Cruises by Toni

When you live close to a major cruise port, cruising is a natural niche for your agency.  Travel Agent Spotlight recently spoke with Toni Anderson about her agency Cruises by Toni, as well as her perspective on the travel industry.

Travel Research Online (TRO):  What was your career path before getting into travel, and how did you enter the travel industry?

Toni Anderson (TA):  In January 2007 I started to work for a vacation rental company.  They told me that selling vacation rentals was required before becoming a travel agent.  Of course that didn’t pan out, and I eventually found a host agency in Florida.  I was with them for almost two years before getting my own TRUE number through OSSN (now CCRA) in October of 2008, and starting my own agency. Read the rest of this entry »

“Make your website user-friendly and likeable.”

Hot Button Marketing by Barry Feig, page 186

Here is an exercise I would like all of you to participate in in the next few days: Google the phrase “travel agencies.” Put quotation marks at the beginning and end of the words. I just did this, and instantly received 19,600,000 responses. That is a lot of competition. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Posted In: Luxury Travel Tips

Now is not the time to rest on your laurels

Wow, where has summer gone!  We are already halfway through July and many of you are using this time to see the world, experience new products, or visit old friends.  July and August is typically when booking activity is at its lowest point of the year. This is a great opportunity take a deep breath and recharge a bit.  You should be reaping the harvest (and a bump in cash flow) from the work you did in late 2015 and early 2016.

Enjoy the next few weeks as starting in early September, the most lucrative booking period of the year will begin. Are you prepared for it?  But you are probably asking “Dan, isn’t wave season, the 6-8 weeks after New Year’s, the busiest time of the year?” As those of us who have been selling travel for a while can attest, wave season is a very busy activity period, especially for lower-yield, warm weather destinations. The real money is earned in the fourth quarter with Alaska, Europe, and other exotic destinations.

Think about it: when are suppliers putting on their biggest promotional efforts for destinations such as Alaska, Europe, and Asia?  Answer: September-November. When do you have the hardest time getting the attention of your local business development managers?  September-November.  The BDMs are working nights and weekends to promote and sell their product. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Your website is your storefront. In many cases, it provides a prospect’s first impression of your company. You know what they say about first impressions; you can only make one and it better count. The good news is that keeping in mind a few fundamentals and making a few simple tweaks to your website can take it from bland to brilliant. You can create a website that attracts visitors, converts clients, and helps you build a prosperous and exciting business.

Here are 10 tips for taking your web site from bland to brilliant: Read the rest of this entry »

“Life is short. Meetings are dull. Selling is stressful. None of these alleged truisms have to be true at all when you add fun and games to the marketing mix.”

Hot Button Marketing by Barry Feig, page 144

“Fun and games? What’s so fun about marketing?” I can hear many of you yelling this last sentence into your computer screen. “I haven’t had any fun since I don’t remember when.”

Somewhere along the line, many travel professionals have forgotten that they chose to participate in one of the better industries available. You are not fixing flat tires, selling copy paper, or spinning pizzas. You’re not punching the time clock in a cubicle, and you’re not driving an 18-wheeler down route 95 in the middle of the night. You are working with vacations, Disney, golfers, honeymoons, cruise ships, and lovely European river towns and villages. The list goes on. What possibly could be better than that? Read the rest of this entry »

Hot Button Marketing: Keep On Giving

“Always give more than the value received.”

Hot Button Marketing by Barry Feig, page 77

When I underlined this phrase, I thought of the word “lagniappe” which I believe to be a Cajun French term that means more than expected. You may recognize this practice as “putting the cherry on top.” Regardless of what you call it, it is becoming important to exceed the value your customer has come to expect. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

So you’ve got a great group idea, but it requires another business owner to commit. How do you get in the door to make the pitch? What are the best ways to influence their decision?

I addressed this subject during a recent business coaching edition of the Ask Stuart Hour. Here are the top 10 methods I encouraged my boot campers to action: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

On the north side of Fuji-san, the honorific title given to the majestic form of Mount Fuji, are five small lakes that comprise the Fujigoko region in Japan. Also known as “Fuji Five Lakes” in English, this area is popular not just for those looking to conquer the beautiful mountain, but also for the natural beauty that has sprung up along the foot of Fuji-san. From the five lakes themselves reflecting the perfect peak of the stone giant, visitors enjoy taking strolls along the forest trails, eating the region’s famous udon noodles, and playing out on the lakes in boats both motorized and man-powered. Read the rest of this entry »

In your presentations, insure your clients that you are working for them.”

Hot Button Marketing by Barry Feig, page 70

One of the reasons why sales has earned such a poor reputation over the years is because the salesperson themselves speak and respond in a self-serving fashion.

One glaring example of this less-than-attractive reputation is the failure to listen to the prospect’s specific needs, wants, and desires. If one had to identify a single missing link in the success chain, it would have to be the skill, or lack, of listening. Read the rest of this entry »

Well, here we are halfway through 2016 and I only expect the second half of the year to fly by even faster. I made it to Wisconsin, but not before a brief delay to tidy up some loose ends with the business before departing. It has been a learning process for sure and one thing you will discover is that each and every situation in life is unique. While I had researched and found there were several options for moving my business from Tennessee to New Jersey, I discovered during my purchasing process that due to certain circumstances from the divorce and how they operate in New Jersey that I would need to dissolve my business in Tennessee. Read the rest of this entry »