Monthly Archives: October 2016

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Xiamen Airlines (MF), a proud member of the SkyTeam Alliance since 2012, was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in the city of Xiamen in Fujian Province on the southeast coast of China.  MF operates an all-Boeing fleet of 153 aircraft, with an average age of 4.8 years, one of the youngest in the industry, and carries more than 23 million passengers per year.

From its main bases in Xiamen, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin, and Changsha, Xiamen Airlines operates 4,000 flights per week, serving 78 destinations, including the key cities of Greater China, Southeast Asia, and Northeast Asia.  Intercontinental flights are also offered to Seattle, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Sydney, and Melbourne. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Utilizing the traditional means of media marketing is more than cost prohibitive for the majority of travel agents.  Because of the financial restraints that most of us are under, word of mouth advertising is vital in building new business.  For this reason it is important that each new client you get is treated as a VIP, no matter how big or small their trip is.  Some of my most lucrative business has come to me as referrals from clients who did very little traveling themselves.  You just never know who they may know! Read the rest of this entry »

“Use a blog to build authority and expertise on a subject. Leave comments on blogs where you target audience hang outs.”

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, page 97

The only reason both prospects and clients seek your professional assistance is because (presumably) you are an expert in your field. And any expert, as we both know, is on a steady and consistent hunt to increase and expand upon their current knowledge base… right?

I would like to think that this is right, but the truth is that many travel practitioners call themselves experts or specialists after completing an overview and passing a key preferred suppliers exam. Please do not get me wrong, I strongly recommend that you take these classes and then you take every class that pertains to your particular niche. Your learning days will never be numbered and true professionals are always seeking more meaningful information. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Kyoto is a fantastic juxtaposition to its sister city of Tokyo: where Tokyo is filled with everything bright, colorful, modern, and electronic, Kyoto has quietly continued to keep its traditions and cultural icons the center of attention in the city. It has its quirks, like every city does, but its love of the simpler joys of life, tea, nature, and beautiful temples, are what truly bring out the best of Kyoto and its people.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Pick something specific as opposed to something general.”

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, page 43

Here we go again. Marchev is going to tell us to select a niche.

I am sorry my friends if I am starting to sound like a broken record. The truth is, in an age of numerous options, it has become more important than ever for a service supplier to know their business.

If you could somehow manage to know everything about everything I would be the first one to recommend that you become a jack of all traits. I personally feel however that this is not realistic and in that in trying to do so you’re not only hurting yourself but you will be hurting your clients. Read the rest of this entry »

October has started off with Matthew showing his wrath among travelers.

So far, in 2016 hurricanes have hit our Caribbean travelers with a vengeance. Hurricane season is really proving to be a challenge this year. Our clients have called with many questions and concerns regarding hurricane season, especially those trying to plan their vacations for 2017.

Well, we are not forecasters or seers, so we just give them the facts from our script… 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 38

This thought is voiced by many, but it has been my personal observation, practiced by few. In the travel industry, your job is not to sell cruises. Your job is to help people choose the right ship, the right itinerary, at the right price, for all the right reasons.

Your job is not to book 14 rooms at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun. Your job is to help your client satisfy their time and budgetary constraints so their girlfriends weekend is a safe and memorable experience.

With all the options available to travelers today they do not need you to fill out paperwork and make a few phone calls on their behalf. Of course this is a service you happily furnish, but it is not your strong suit by any stretch of the imagination. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

I have, and continue to be, a huge proponent of business cards. They are one of the least expensive, yet most effective marketing pieces you can have. Where else for $35 can you get 1000 chances to wow a potential client? Nowhere! Now that little bit of cheerleading does come with a caveat or two. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Training Cruisers Better

Susan SchaeferHurricane Matthew is reminding me of why we need to advise, or train, our clients better.  I am a masochist, and I belong to Cruise Critic and several consumer-focused Facebook cruise groups.  The posts and comments that I’m seeing this week related to Hurricane Matthew are driving me up the wall.  Yes, I could ignore them, or I can be better at advising and training my clients and other consumers.

What are the issues?  Hurricane Matthew is wrecking havoc on flights, delayed embarkation or debarkation, changes in itineraries, less than stellar weather during their cruise, etc.  It astounds me at the number of people that come across so entitled about what they are demanding from airlines and cruise lines.  I would like to think these are people that booked direct or online and not with a travel professional.

But just in case, let’s review how we can stand out and do better than direct or online booking options. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

“Provide encouragement and reassurance.”

The 3 Keys to Empowerment by Ken Blanchard, John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph

Just the other day I was having a discussion with an associate of mine. We were bantering back and forth about the power of applause, acknowledgement, and appreciation, and the need for each one. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

We’re here in Gozo Harbor, and we’re about to head out for a sailing trip. We’ll do some snorkeling and sightseeing. Let’s get going.

This is the Blue Lagoon, and all you need to do is look out and you’ll see why. There are many shades of blue and crystal clear waters. I can even see ripples on the sand under the water. This is also where they filmed scenes of The Count of Monte Cristo.

We had a fabulous swim, and now we have two choices: We can head to a beach or up the tower where The Count of Monte Cristo was filmed. Let’s head up to the tower. Read the rest of this entry »

“A team is two or more people working together to accomplish a common purpose and who are held accountable for the results.”

The 3 Keys to Empowerment by Ken Blanchard, John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph

The two words that jumped off the page when reading this passage were “purpose” and “accountable.” I also picked up on the word “team.”

The word “purpose” in today’s context can be considered as your goal. An old saying reminds us that “if you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Similarly, once you identify your “purpose” or “objective,” you will have a better chance of accomplishing your mission.

The truth is (in this or any other business), due to the nature of today’s competitive and unpredictable world, too many of us resort to the tendency of “winging” their way through life. They take on challenges as they surface, and not in any particular order. I suppose this tenacious approach could be considered exemplary, but it also impedes progress, as it is helter-skelter and unorganized at best. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Before social media, the Internet, and cell phones, there was Sky Bird Travel & Tours. With over four decades on the front lines of the travel industry, they’ve forged solid relationships with over 90 major airlines from all over the world. These airline partners trust Sky Bird to pass along their best deals to their community of trusted travel agents. Competitive net fares from Sky Bird Travel & Tours provides financial advantages to travel agents, giving them the ability to offer incredible airfare deals while simultaneously securing higher commissions. Read the rest of this entry »

“…a combination of competence and commitment.”

The 3 Keys to Empowerment by Ken Blanchard, John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph

Combination. Competence. Commitment: The 3 C’s. I found myself thinking about these three words when I spotted them in the book The Three Keys To Empowerment.

Let’s look at “competence” first. In the travel industry there are two types of competence. There is the competence required to call yourself a travel professional, have a business card printed, and do what needs doing to qualify for a few travel perks now and then. You are competent to perform the tasks that everybody else can perform for themselves. Competence as defined here runs rampant in the travel industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Thinking back a few decades ago, one of the main products retail travel agencies sold was airline tickets. And the other products sold from tours, hotel packages, and cruises added to the revenue stream that complemented airline sales. But with commission cuts and changes, the retail travel industry has evolved. And today the travel professional role has evolved into one more of specialization. Yes, we’ve become more than just being an “order taker,” and where we really provide value! Filling in the gaps and needs of our clients by joining those services and products together – in effect, bundling. Read the rest of this entry »

The 3 Keys to Empowerment: Think “Better”

“Can we improve on our original idea?”

The 3 Keys to Empowerment by Ken Blanchard, John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph

Where a lot of people go wrong is thinking that everything worthwhile needs to be new. In fact, most ideas are not new. Just about everything we need today already exists in some way, shape, or form.

So when it comes to thinking of new ideas, I want you to put a small twist on this challenge. I don’t want you to think “new.” I want you to think “different.” Think “better.” Think “more useful.”

You can begin this exercise by writing down those areas in today’s business environment that seem to get people mad, confused, or frustrated. What areas could use a little spit and polish (according to you) out there in business land? It is a jungle out there. Where can you help? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Crete is one of the many roots of ancient Greece, and a one of the country’s cultural and historical treasures. From museums to ancient ruins to gorgeous natural landmarks, Crete has a site for everyone to immerse themselves in. Between its sun-drenched beaches and its role as the place where mighty Zeus grew up and eventually vanquished his jealous father Cronos, it’s no wonder Crete continues to bring in visitors by the thousands every year.

Read the rest of this entry »

The entire month of September went by so fast! In the beginning of the month, I attended a Luxury MICE Event in Amsterdam, where I met high-end hotels and resorts throughout Europe and some from the Middle East. It was a great forum that enables Art Of Travel to build high-end products and packages both for our Leisure and our Meetings & Incentive clients. Read the rest of this entry »

“Empowerment is just another flavor of the month.”

The 3 Keys to Empowerment by Ken Blanchard, John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph

Wrong! Empowerment is not a passing fad. It is a skill you must develop if you are to succeed in business and in life.

“Enabling” and “permission” are two words that come to mind when I think about empowerment. I suppose regardless of whether you are a member of a team or are a solopreneur, these two words come into play on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

My take on FAM trips

For years we have been told it is our expertise that will differentiate a professional agent from a faceless database portraying itself as an agent on the Internet. I wholeheartedly agree. We need to make sure that our expertise is one step ahead of the game—all the time. Real agents get it right. When delays happen, the faceless, soulless app will likely not have accurate information. The real people in the airport may be trying to quell a situation and not be as forthcoming as they should. A hotel representative may be getting a commission for restaurant referrals.  Real travel professionals will get you the real information. And the savvy travelers know that! Read the rest of this entry »