Monthly Archives: May 2017

Posted In: Soundings

Non-Refundable Deposits are Here to Stay

Often one cruise line will test a new idea and, if it flies, other cruise lines will follow suite in short order. Disney Cruise Line spearheaded family friendly cruising. Now you can find Nickelodeon and Universal partnered with other cruise lines, water splash areas, water slides to die for, and family-friendly staterooms on other ships. Norwegian Cruise Line introduced Freestyle Dining, and now everyone has some form of open dining program. Someone raises their gratuity amounts? Others follow suit within months.

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In a recent phone call with a college classmate of mine, we found ourselves reminiscing on our experiences. What we were really doing was reminding ourselves how old we are becoming as the days fly by without permission.

It should come as no surprise that some people surrender to the years, while others keep pressing on with little acknowledgment of the number of candles on their last birthday cake. One 93 year-old friend of his was thinking about having a set of golf clubs custom-made for him while another “fossil” in training was out shopping for a new set of wheels. (Not for his chair.)

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Posted In: Luxury Travel Tips

The Fee Question

I had just finished presenting my Selling to the Affluent Traveler seminar at a recent industry conference, when one of the attendees asked the question, “Dan, how do you feel about fees?” This is a loaded question and, while it was outside of the scope of the program, everyone in the room was waiting for my response.

“I love fees!” I replied, to which you could almost hear a collective sigh of relief. “Especially service fees, but in my opinion,” I continued, “you should only charge planning fees if you are adding value to the purchase!”

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Whether you’re a WAHA (Work at Home Agent) or employed outside of the home, being a good manager of your time is paramount. You want to be able to plan out your day effectively to accomplish what needs to be done. This is necessary to ensure no important details fall through the proverbial cracks. As a small business practitioner, you can’t afford to make any needless mistakes.

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Effective Ways to Use Email Marketing

Most travel professionals today use email to some extent in the daily workings of their company or business life. It has proven to be an effective and cost-efficient way to keep in touch with both prospects and clients. However, many agents have failed to realize the marketing potential they have at their fingertips when it comes to email. You can do much more with email than just send an invoice or newsletter referencing the next team trip. Let’s consider some of the other ways email can be used from a marketing standpoint.

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Posted In: Point-to-Point

Financial counselors always advise taking 10% off the top of your salary and putting it in a savings account for the future. I use this same theory to invest in securing my client’s future business. By providing an unexpected added value, you are showing your appreciation for their business that will develop into a stronger client relationship with all of the loyalties that follow.

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Posted In: Supplier Profile

If you’re looking for event tickets on behalf of clients, look no further: Events 365 has you covered! Powered by Ticket Evolution, Events 365 makes it ultra-convenient for travel consultants to start tapping into inventory of more than 80,000 events worldwide.

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How to Stay Committed to Your Business

When some people are ready to set out on their own and assume the role of entrepreneurship, they often turn to travel, as it sounds so appealing.

When starting your own business it’s often easy to get yourself started, but a lot harder to keep yourself going when things become challenging.  Here are ten tips to help you stay committed.

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Posted In: 1:1

tammy CEO of Elite Travel, business strategist, and Resident Travel Expert for ABC’s featured show Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend are just a few of the titles that Tammy Levent claims. She is an immensely successful entrepreneur, having started her first business as a teenager. Tammy conducts seminars and events to get her message of strategic partnerships to large audiences; she also offers private consulting to help other business owners and entrepreneurs grow. Travel is Tammy’s passion, so in the face of hardship she decided to jump into the industry and make good out of the bad; it was then that she built Elite Travel, a travel management company that has done millions in traveled business. Now over twenty years later, she continues to work hard to educate and teach others the ins and outs of the travel industry. Read the rest of this entry »

When you’re starting a business, seeing the “big” picture is important. Many travel entrepreneurs have stated that had they known about the small details in their business, they may not have started it in the first place. This is because many of us get bogged down by all the small details, and often these small inconveniences can put us off from starting something new.

For those of you new to the travel industry, (and you old timers too), here are a few tips to help you stay focused on the “big” picture:

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Posted In: Editorial Musings

Customer service will kill you. Well, let me be more specific…poor customer service will kill you. I am a patient guy for the most part. I realize that we are all busy and sometimes thing slip through. But sometimes my patience runs thin and any size screw-up can send me off vowing to never shop or patronize a place again. The tough part is knowing when I have had enough. Here are three ways you might be sabotaging your own business. Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

The Marketing Mindset

If you are a travel planner, marketing is by necessity your  constant companion. Too often, however, travel professionals treat marketing like a hand tool that is pulled out of the box only when sales are “needed,”  when business seems a little slow. But effective marketing  is a mindset, a constant preoccupation for the successful travel agent intent on growing their business.

As I have often said in this column, marketing drives sales. The marketing you do today may not have an effect for weeks or even months. Business a bit quiet right now? Want this time next year to look better? It’s a good idea to begin marketing more thoughtfully and consistently. Now. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

King Cartoons – May 5, 2017


Posted In: Deck Plans

What. A. Great. Trip. In early April, I cruised with Avalon Waterways on the Rhine and Moselle rivers. The itinerary, bookended by Amsterdam and Paris, served up some of the same stunning scenery that inspired Dutch landscape painters such as Jacob Isaackszoon van Ruisdael. Just look at the photo below, for example, unfiltered and untouched, snapped with my iPhone from the Club Lounge, aft on Avalon Visionary, one morning on the Moselle.

I could have spent hours out on deck watching the landscape pass. Instead, I drew back the curtains and admired Europe in HD from my Panorama Suite. After only a few days on board Avalon Visionary, I understood what Avalon Waterways has been trying to market: framed postcard-like views from the bedrooms of its so-called “Suite Ships.”

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Snap Out Of It!

Examples of “how not to do things” seem to be running rampant these days. Is it due to the fluctuating Dow Jones? Global warming? Our relations with Russia?  The fact that the Cubs finally upset the world’s rotational balance? The relative disappearance of Taylor Swift? Who knows? Who cares?

The fact remains that it has become crystal clear to me that a great number of people seem to have thrown their hands up in surrender in favor of becoming “ordinary.” Tell me truthfully, are you striving to become “ordinary?”

Now to many reading this column, being “ordinary” is not a bad thing. To me, it is the kiss of death. Who in their right mind wants to be “just another one?”  Ordinary is a dime a dozen. Ordinary grows on trees. Ordinary is … ordinary.

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Posted In: Soundings

With little fanfare, Royal Caribbean rolled out new enhancements to their pre-cruise planning tool involving Onboard Credit redemption. Up until recently clients did not have the option to spend Onboard Credit funds before boarding their cruise. According to Royal Caribbean, new “system enhancements now grant your clients the ability to allocate their promotional and option code driven Onboard Credits towards desired purchases pre-cruise, giving your clients the ability to plan ahead and to better arrange their vacation activities/purchases in advance.”

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Blog For Great Success

The Internet is full of great new ways to communicate and form relationships with your customers. While businesses used to rely on email, they can now use forums, social networking sites, RSS feeds, and tons of other means of communication. One great way to talk to your customers and colleagues is through blogging.

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Posted In: Spotlight


Felipe Castro is the North American Sales Director of Australis, an expedition cruise company specializing in exploring the “end of the world.” Returning to Chile in 2005, he served as the Sales and Customer Service Director for Turismo Cocha, the largest travel agency in Chile. Felipe regards his best achievement as a Commercial Director as being able to participate in the team that developed the Lan Airline project in Peru, consolidating its operations through its subsidiary LANPERU; within the country of Peru, he immensely expanded his strong ties with airlines, tour operators, and travel agencies. Felipe Castro has over 30 years of varied travel industry experience, and was the acting president of the Association of International Airlines of Peru (AETAI) for two consecutive terms; he is also a Commercial Engineer and boasts a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Universidad Diego Portales.

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Posted In: Departures

VISITFLANDERS is a research-driven organization, as well as the only official tourist office for the state of Flanders-Belgium in North America. The office believes that supporting travel agents and tour operation partners is an important part of its success. VISITFLANDERS is also one of the first offices to develop an innovative tablet app just for the travel trade: the FlandersInsider (available in the iOS and Google Play stores and at

In 2007 the field of tourism was delegated from the federal to state governments, and at this time the Belgian National Tourist Office was separated into two tourist offices:  Flanders and Wallonia, with Wallonia eventually closing their US office in 2016. This is how VISITFLANDERS became the only Belgian tourist representation in North America.

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There are a number of effective ways to position yourself as the “go-to” source in your niche without spending a fortune on marketing. The first step is to know your niche inside and out. What do your customers want and need most? What are their pain points? That is, what are the most important problems that they need to solve?

Customers are looking for travel assistance and time-saving solutions that actually work and offer good value for the money. They are constantly asking the question, “What’s in it for me?” With so many websites and businesses online, you need to answer that question from the moment they show up at your website, or meet you at a networking event.

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Posted In: Outposts

If Belgium is on your list of travel destinations, do not miss out on the opportunity to see the city of Antwerp, located in Flanders. Known for its culturally rich architecture, and prominent fashion presence, Antwerp is home to a population of over 500,000 residents, giving it the title of the most prosperous city in Belgium. From the 15th to 17th century, Flanders was the dominating presence in Western Europe when it came to art, even inspiring some of the largest art movements in history, including Baroque, Primitive, and Renaissance. Read the rest of this entry »