Monthly Archives: November 2020

Austin Adventures: How to Thrive in Tough Times

 

Austin Adventures, the Billings, Montana-based adventure tour operator, acquired Wildland Adventures, a 36-year old company based in Seattle. To ensure a smooth transition, Wildland Adventures CEO Kurt Kutay will stay with the combined company for “the foreseeable future,” working on quality control and product development.

The happy ending of this story is that the acquisition will keep Wildland Adventures going after hitting a rough patch in 2020 that threatened to bring the company down for the count. And, in addition to that, this move also keeps the prime mover of Wildland involved in the company’s operations as it evolves through what can only be called a catastrophe for the travel industry. That’s as close to stability as can be hoped for in the Age of COVID. No company is going to come out of 2020 the same as it went in. Read the rest of this entry »

7 Reasons Why I Did NOT Buy from You

 

I am in the market to acquire something. You are one of many businesses offering what I need. It is your fault if I buy from you or not. From the moment I shop you online, correspond via email, chat by phone, or meet in-person – the judgement begins.

One way or another, you will influence me. It’s your fault if I buy from you or not.

I will buy what is best for me from who is best for me. Many others sell the exact same thing that you sell. Rub me the right way or the wrong way and the outcome is determined. Influence is everything.

These seven areas of influence will win me or lose me in the end. I am judging all consumer touch-points: your online presence (including web and social sites) and how you communicate with me in chats, emails and phone calls. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

 

As the world struggles to control the spread of Covid-19, the travel and lodging sectors continue to navigate the unprecedented turbulence and major business challenges delivered by 2020. The U.S. is showing a 50 percent decline, year-over-year, in digital travel sales – which are not expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2022. Even with the promise of a pre-pandemic return to a new normalcy in the next three years, we can expect some pandemic vacation trends such as “staycations” and road trips to thrive as the world gains some control of the virus.

Here are some key trends and predictions as we look ahead to the status of short-term rentals in 2021 and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

 

Now that vaccinations are almost here, many long-term cruisers are transitioning from “Should I go cruising in 2021 or 2022?” to “Which cruises are likely to be the most satisfying and safest?” Most typical cruise junkies are over 65 and no stranger to maladies such as obesity, diabetes, and previous cardiac incidents. After a year “on the hard,” as sailors say, a lot of us are willing to take some risks to return to cruising.

If I’m describing you, your partner, or parents, how do you decide which ships to go on, and which destinations you to consider? What about a system for choosing between cruises? I’ve taken 20 features that are now included on some ships, and I’m using them as proxies for the quality and safety of a cruise. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Picture yourself at 2500 feet above the ground, sitting in a Volkswagen Bug with wings. You are at the controls of a Cessna 152 single engine airplane sitting next to an FAA inspector who has your future as a pilot in their hands. At the moment you have their life in your hands, but since this model airplane has two yokes that really is not the case.

Yesterday I shared the meaning of “The Hay Is In The Barn” with you. Today has a similar theme, but in today’s case the result of making a mistake could prove to be far more painful.

Today was the day I had been training for, studying for, reading for, practicing for and looking forward to. Today was the day. And I felt I was ready. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Taking Control

The Courage to Look in the Mirror

 

Over the course of two months, I’ve tried to use most of these columns to reimagine our industry with a focus on the relationships advisors have with suppliers, destinations, and other third parties. I’ve advocated for the industry making a commitment to live up to its long-standing mantra – “travel advisors are our greatest partners.”

I say “live up to” because, while I think travel advisors have never had more respect from others for the value they create, I still see a good portion of our industry paying lip service to the notion that advisors are treated like true partners.

I see it in the travel advisor education portals that suppliers and destinations publish, which are for the most part focused on teaching features and benefits. Our industry conferences do much of the same. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hay Is in The Barn

It is a sad truth that some (many) people do not believe in paying their dues, doing their homework or paying the price that comes with success. Expecting something for nothing is a fool’s game, but many opt to take part in that game just the same.

This subject came to light when I read an incoming email reminding me that there is plenty of opportunity out there waiting for the prepared person. It was Louis Pasteur who once said, “Chance Favors The Prepared Mind.” The translation of this quote is, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

But what does this have to with hay or barns? Here is where I segue to today’s lesson. It was back in 1968 when I first heard the term, “The hay is in the barn.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Are you ready for a new world in travel?

In my home state of Maryland, we are in the predicted fall surge or COVID-19 with no real hope for vaccine availability until the spring or summer of 2021. The situation is likely the same where you are. The first cruise ship to begin re-cruising in the Caribbean is experiencing a COVID incident. This virus is not going away, so we are likely stuck in this travel holding pattern for another six months at least.  But are you ready when the demand returns?

First of all, the demand WILL return. It always does.  The trick will be for us all to keep it all together until it does.  But I think the travel landscape will look vastly different based on recent signals. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

 

Miki is in love with travel, culture, event planning, planning destination weddings, and creating Taylor Made Travel Xperiences & Events To Fit Your Lifestyle. She has been an accountant, domestic & international, for over 23 years. During that time she created & implemented a travel program for a software company that grew from 50 employees to over 200. With this experience came her love of working in the travel industry. When the best boss one could ever ask for decided to leave the company Miki was working at, Miki decided she needed more, and needed to feel able to make a difference. So, she left the security of a 6-figure income, became a Global Concierge, and created Taylor & Co. Travel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Ready, Fire… Aim!

There is absolutely no doubt that a failure to plan is one of the biggest mistakes many business people make.  Without a solid business plan, even the best travel consultant can fail to act consistently in any given aspect of their practice. Planning is truly essential.

But so is action.

I see far too many travel professionals planning their lives away, getting ready to act, and then… not acting! In the time of Covid-19, the problem can induce a near paralytic state. Too many times we over-plan and over-perfect, and in the process lose valuable opportunities to others who are quicker to act.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

Today, I’ve decided to call your attention to a valid sales lesson buried in a conversation I had last week with a travel professional.

This person was showing a sincere interest in joining our (Stuart Cohen and mine) Mastermind Retreat in Cancun in March of next year. I was reviewing the program when the agent mentioned the following.

“I am familiar with both of your and Stuart’s work and feel very comfortable I will be receiving meaningful and timely information and stimulation. But the primary reason for my deciding to attend your Mastermind has much to do with the attractive “social aspect.” Being a small (one-person) company, spending focused time with like-minded agents who are willing to openly share their information and experiences is downright exciting to me.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Underserved Niche Championed by Dina Farmer

As I interview travel professionals and persons in the travel industry, I find there are two camps for niching.

The first group plants a flag in the camp of, “choose a niche” you are passionate about, learn about it, visit it and then dominate you niche. The other camp says, “your niche finds you,” and often have incredible stories to back their claims. This is a story of the niche that found Dina Farmer.

Dina is an adventurer. Her world travels are exciting. Her past service to our country as a photographer in the United States Air Force is part of the tale. Falling in love with her husband, also USAF, is part of the tale. Marrying and having her beautiful children is where her niche emerges. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

 

There’s no better cheerleader for the cruise industry than Royal Caribbean VP, Vicki Freed. So it’s no surprise that when the CDC opened the door to resuming cruising from US ports, Freed took advantage of her Wednesday Coffee Talk last week to say the words so many have been longing to hear:

“As it tests the CDC guidelines, RCCL will offer free cruises to employees and invited guests. If you’re interested, send me an email.”

If there’s any doubt about the pent-up demand for cruising, the response should put an end to it. By the end of the afternoon she received 1,000 emails. Within the week she had several thousand.

Travel advisors raised their hands on my Facebook pages and across social media – and many said they were fielding calls from customers as well. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Yesterday, I shared what I believe to be a common conundrum among travel professionals as COVID-19 continues to hinder people’s travel plans. To be more specific, there seems to be a tendency for us all to become lazy when it comes to performing the needed duties associated with building a business.

At the root of the problem is the fact that, for the past ten months, we have found the time to enjoy the tasks that we consider to be more fun, more rewarding, and less frustrating or stressful.

Although we have succumbed to the problem, we now must “snap out of it” to borrow a phrase from the movie Moonstruck. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

 

Last Tuesday’s headlines like ‘One small jab for man…’ (Daily Mail) and ‘A shot in the arm to beat Covid’ (Metro) lifted our spirits on this side of the pond. No doubt, you saw something similar in your own media. After nearly 8 months of profound hope-deprivation (we’re in total lockdown here in the UK until 2nd December) the light at the end of the tunnel could be leading us all towards a brighter future.

With the prospects improving for the restoration of transatlantic flights and cruise ships weighing anchor, here are a few ideas that will help you to harness some of the pent-up demand for UK-bound travel in April and May.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

On Monday, cruise stocks, and in fact most travel-related stocks, surged on news that Pfizer’s Covid vaccine had shown to be more than 90 percent effective. Like us, you probably were cheered by the news. Indeed, the prospect of a vaccine that could end coronavirus is cause for optimism. Pfizer’s claim of the vaccine’s effectiveness stunned scientists. Many had expected initial vaccines that were 50 percent to 75 percent effective. The FDA itself established 50 percent efficacy as the minimum threshold for a successful Covid vaccine candidate.

Pfizer’s vaccine still has hurdles to clear, as well as more testing, but the company has said that it can have up to 40 million doses ready before the end of the year. That’s enough for up to 20 million people to receive vaccinations and boosters within a three-week time frame. Who will qualify for the initial two jabs has not yet been decided; nor is it clear when the general public will be able to receive vaccinations.

Still, the news of an effective vaccine suggests an end in sight to the global pandemic. Read the rest of this entry »

“Lazy” is Not a Good Thing

I was speaking with a seasoned travel professional the other day when he mentioned something that caught my attention. He shared a recent event with me. He was having lunch with a group of agency owners who shared the same affiliation. A common thread emerged from the conversation.

He said all but one in the group mentioned that, over the last ten months, they have become lazy when it came to focusing on their businesses. They were having trouble getting back on track and performing the daily tasks that ten months ago came naturally.

For obvious reasons, they have had time to concentrate on more personal activities and found enjoyment in performing non-work activities. This came as no surprise to me as the last ten months have affected us all in various ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Journeys Takes Off

 

Perillo Tours spun off its Learning Journeys division, which will now go forward independently under the direction of its founder Carol Dimopoulos.

The separation was effective Nov. 1. As a newly independent business, Learning Journeys will lose its affiliation with the U.S. Tour Operators Association and will no longer be a participant in the association’s $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program.

Perillo Tours has been a member since 2014 and continues its membership now. Dimopoulos says she intends to re-join USTOA next year as Learning Journeys. Tour operators who join USTOA as an active member must post a $1 million bond, which is in effect the collateral behind the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Spotlight

 

Bailey Foster serves as VP of Trip Insurance for Trawick International. She is responsible for overseeing the Trawick International Trip Cancellation product. Ms. Foster has nearly 20 years of insurance experience, with a proven track record of escalating responsibility. Bailey has developed a strong knowledge of insurance ethics and business practices related to the travel industry. Her experience enables her to provide proactive account management, training, consulting, and support.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

What’s Happening to Cruising? – A November Update

 

In the past five months in this column, I’ve suggested ideas that I’m sure many readers felt were unrealistic. Let’s see how well I’m doing.

COVID-19 is changing cruising in ways we couldn’t have imagined five months ago.
  • The NIH is mandating shipboard laboratories that can test all guest and crew daily cruises.
  • Some cruise lines are flying guests to-and-from port cities.
  • Cabins are being left vacant on every other cruise.
  • Crew members who were left stranded on the ships are finally going home with pay in their pockets.
  • Residents of some ports are saying, “It’s not worth it to host large cruise ships.”

Read the rest of this entry »

 

“PEOPLE ARE MORE APT TO BELIEVE YOU WHEN THEY SEE A CONGRUENCE BETWEEN WHAT YOU SAY AND WHO YOU ARE.”

Integrity Selling: How to Succeed in Selling in the Competitive Years Ahead— by Ron Willingham, page 99.

For years, sales professionals had a reputation of saying what their prospects wanted to hear, and then resorting back to business as usual. Politicians have honed this skill to perfection.

The sad truth is that this poor reputation has been earned over the years. That is why most people new to this, or any other industry, do not cozy up to the notion of “selling.” Read the rest of this entry »