Monthly Archives: October 2016

Posted In: Soundings

How Long is Too Long for a Cruise?

Susan Schaefer

What is your definition of a world cruise?  When you research world cruise options, you’ll typically find something ranging between 106 and 180 days in length.  The longest world cruise on record to date is Oceania’s 180 day world cruise departing in January 2017.  My definition of a world cruise is one continuous itinerary, all onboard one ship, with an itinerary that circumvents the globe.  Note that I don’t include how many ports, countries, or continents that they have to include in the itinerary in order to qualify.

Now Mundy Cruising is launching a 357 day adventure that they are touting as the world’s longest cruise. I’m calling it a cheat. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Cinque Terre is comprised of five charming villages set along a rugged stretch of the Italian Riviera. Collectively, the villages and the coastline make up Cinque Terre National Park, a place so unique that it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The first of the villages that we’ll visit is Manarola. In the past, the primary industries in Manarola were fishing and wine production, but today it’s the tourist trade that makes tiny Manarola a bustling attraction.

The locals speak a dialect known as Manarolese, but you’ll still be understood when you greet the friendly folks of this town with a hearty Italian bonjourno. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Do you ever just want to just bang your head? Like how do you get your ideal client (not the looker, but the booker) to hire you to design that trip? Sure, you get all kinds of inquiries but they are shoppers – they don’t want to pay a deposit, let alone a fee.

Then your email is flooded with hundreds of people telling you how to make more money, how to amplify your message, and you’re like “I just want to design travel”… you’re a travel expert, not a marketer, a Social Media guru, (fill in the blank here with other titles.), etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Full Steam Ahead!: Find the Joy in Your Work

“Every single person working here will come to work each day, enthusiastic about being here.”

Full Steam Ahead! by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner, page 108

Isn’t that a great idea? To actually enjoy going to work.

I am reminded of a philosophy that reminded us that we do not have to go to work. We get to go to work. That, my friends, is a refreshing slant on your 40-50 hour workweek. I am also reminded of the fact that as entrepreneurs you get to work half a day. Which 12 hours you work is entirely up to you.

I think one of the saddest commentaries I have ever heard is when people can recite to the day and hour their retirement date. Talk about wishing your life away! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

For 47 years, Cloud Tours has offered high quality independent tours at competitive and affordable prices. Cloud Tours specializes in Independent Tours & Groups to their European destinations creating unique travel experiences. They recognize the fact that you can select from many tour companies to handle your clients’ travel plans and respect that you have contacted them. Your clients work hard and deserve to have an unforgettable and incredible vacation. Cloud Tours will customize their itinerary to meet your clients’ travel dates, budget, interests and desires – all at affordable rates.  After all, their vacation is for them and about them! Read the rest of this entry »

“What business do you think you are really in?”

Full Steam Ahead! by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner, page 29

I have heard many answers to this question over the years. “I am in the travel business.” “We are dream-weavers.” “We are in the business to sell cruises.”  “Our business is to make money.” If you happen to be a Peter Drucker fan, you probably have heard yourself say that you are “in business to generate customers.” No, no, no, no and no.

I’ll tell you what business you are in, and I expect many of you will stop reading once I do.  You are in the marketing business. I say this for a number of reasons, and I believe that once you hear me out, you will not only become a first-class marketer but will begin enjoying your business more… starting today.

By definition (my definition), marketing is the series of events that culminate in having potential customers know you, like you, and trust you. The unwritten result is that their next step is to buy something from you. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The need to be visible

Last fall when I reached out to a savvy cruise line executive for some input and help, he said, “Cindy, you need to be more visible to be found, and not be a hidden gem.”  It was a great tip, and I’ve reworked my own strategy, along with implementing new tactics to hit my key target and goal. 

As the landscape of travel industry continues to change and evolve, the growth of the home-based travel professional has become a viable one. Storefront retail travel agencies still exist, and with that can bring more immediate visibility. In the case of home-based professionals, ways to be visible in order to build ongoing clients and get referrals requires more tactics, but ones that can be implemented using diverse strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Anyone who loves the feel of fresh powder under their skis, the bite of frigid air on their cheeks, and the smell of pine in the air will adore St Moritz. This Alpine resort town is the perfect winter getaway to stretch your legs and pump up your adrenaline, all while enjoying some of the most enchanting snow-frosted scenery in Europe. If you’re not looking to burn calories in the snow, then make sure to check out the delicious local gourmet food scene and the intriguing museums and galleries.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Fraser Island received its name from Captain James Fraser and his wife Eliza, who were shipwrecked off the western coast of the island in 1836. Shortly after their arrival, James died and Eliza was left to live with the native Butchella people until she was rescued by a convict, John Graham.

The island was previously named K’gari by the Butchella people, which translates to “paradise”, due to the sparkling, deep blue freshwater lakes, creeks and sandy white beaches. Fraser Island is a marvel, as it is one of the only places where a rainforest can grow in the sand.

Created by sand drifting from the coast of Australia over thousands of years, Fraser Island is heritage-listed and is considered to be the largest sand island in the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

“It is a great time for thinking and reflection.”

Full Steam Ahead! by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner, page 26

Although the dictionary lists rational, philosophy, and reasoning when inserting the word “thinking,” I find myself “thinking” of the word “planning.”

It was General Dwight Eisenhower who reminded us that, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Well, I am not going so far as to imply that your plan is a total waste of paper, but I will endorse Ike’s sentiments that the thinking part has great significance.

You can easily blame your stressful workday on one of a hundred various interruptions. You are either worried about your next commission check or burdened by having too much to do with too little time to address all the details appropriately. Read the rest of this entry »

Since fall is a bit slower, I’ve been taking the extra time to enhance my knowledge on agent incentive programs and destination knowledge.  It’s really amazing how much there is to learn and what a challenge it is to stay updated with relevant information! Many hotels and resorts offer agent rewards that I was not even aware of, but have now registered.   Read the rest of this entry »

“Everyone assumed responsibility for their own actions. They took charge of their future, not passively waiting for it to happen.”

Full Steam Ahead! by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner, page 24

I am reminded of the three types of people who make up our entrepreneurial landscape. There are those who make things happen. There are others who watch things happen. And yes, there are quite a few who sit there scratching their heads wondering, “What just happened?”

I would like to remind you that you happen to be in one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting, businesses there is today. My reasoning is academic in that there is a minimal cost of entry, you have no carrying costs, your product availability is endless, and there is a huge market to serve. These four considerations spell nothing less than “enormous opportunity.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

I like to think of myself as relatively technical. I am an early adopter of new technologies and can usually find a way to cut through the fluff and determine if it is a good fit for me, and how to most effectively use it. WordPress? Got it down and it powers all my sites. Solostream for themes? I can see which theme will best reflect the content. Dropbox. Facebook. Twitter. Office. Feedly. Evernote. I have them all and use the heck out of them. Where I fall short in my knowledge is what lies on the back end. And that, was the root of one of the worst weeks of my life last week. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Is It Possible to Lose Weight on a Cruise?

Susan SchaeferCruises still get an unjustifiable bad rap for making people gain weight.  It doesn’t matter if people have never cruised, or if they’ve been on twenty plus cruises, they all seem to think that cruises are fattening.  Of course, pop culture hasn’t helped.  The first wide-reaching look into cruising dates back to the TV dates of The Love Boat.  Staterooms were unrealistically huge, and food was found everywhere.  More recently, Disney’s movie Wall-E didn’t help, as it seemed to poke fun at the Oasis of the Seas.  Back in 2008, Arnie Weissmann even interviewed Vicki Freed about it.  In the interview Vicki said “The reality is that it [cruising] was like that at one time. It was sedentary and about eating. There was an old joke that you came on as a passenger and left as cargo.” Read the rest of this entry »

“If you make your business about helping people you will always have plenty of work.”

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, page 197

I can almost hear many of today’s readers saying to themselves right now: “Raise prices? How can I raise prices if I don’t even charge a fee in the first place?”

Good question. An alarmingly sad question, but a good question just the same. If you are not already positioning your services as a valuable contribution to one’s travel plans, then perhaps it is time you start thinking about it… today.

Years ago the travel agency model allowed for a commission-only system which satisfied the cost-to-profit-ratio, and it appeared to work to everyone’s satisfaction.  A travel agent’s position in the distribution system was recognized as an integral part of the puzzle since they alone had access to all the pertinent information. This is no longer the case in most instances, thanks to the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Posted In: Deck Plans

Today we’re in one of Turkey’s most charming coastal villages. It resembles a Greek village, and in fact we’re going to see something unusual, a Greek Orthodox church that shares space with a mosque. We’re also going to wander the maze of streets and stop for refreshments. We’ve got a lot to do, so let’s get going.

Alaçati was originally settled by Greeks in the 17th century, but the Greeks were forced to leave in 1914 and the village was practically emptied. Many returned in 1919 when the Hellenic army occupied the region of Izmir, but they fled again in 1922 following Greece’s defeat in the Greco-Turkish War. The Greeks left a strong impression, however, which remains to this day. You’ll find old Greek homes in the city center and a Greek/Turkish style of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Relax, I don’t bite

After a recent meeting with some colleagues, we decided to head out for a drink.  As we were sitting at the bar chatting with the bartender, we started talking travel as usual. The  bartender mentioned that the woman at the end of the bar was also a travel agent. Not one to miss an opportunity to promote our small group of travel professionals, I asked if she’d like to join the group and network with her peers.  The next words out of her mouth took me aback: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Luxury Travel Tips

Advice from Gary Brown

The best piece of advice I got in this business was also one of the first, and I have lived by it my entire career.  I got into the travel business after recognizing an opportunity.  I came to realize most of the problems we dealt with, as a purser onboard cruise ships at the time, tended to be travel-agent related.  It was then I decided to start a cruise-only travel agency.  Back in those days, there were probably fewer than 500 cruise specialists in the US and far fewer dedicated cruise agencies.  From the ship, I sent letters to 5 or 6 cruise-focused and franchise companies for information on starting the business.  Not a single one responded, with the exception of Gary Brown, owner of Metairie, Louisiana-based Cruise Shoppes America.  Gary explained, they were no longer in the franchise business, but if I was interested we could join his new consortia and he would help us get up and running. Read the rest of this entry »

“If you make your business about helping people you will always have plenty of work.”

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, page 187

This quote on page 187 made me think of a Japanese strategy, tactic, philosophy, or discipline known as “Kaizen.”

Kaizen in its simplest form means “incremental improvement.” It is the polar opposite of advancing one’s current situation by taking a quantum leap. At first glance, taking a huge new step in a new direction may sound prudent, but time and again it has proven to be a failing strategy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Are you using Facebook Ads in your business? Most travel professionals I speak with WANT to use Facebook Ads, but they aren’t always sure they are getting a good return on investment from them.

Today I’ve got 5 tips for you to create Facebook Ads that get noticed… and get results. Read the rest of this entry »