Monthly Archives: August 2021

Three Keys to Earning Clients’ Trust

“Who do you trust?”

A handful of seasoned travel agents will recognize these four words as the title of a TV show first introduced in the early fifties and hosted by Johnny Carson.

Fast-forward nearly 70 years and these four words still represent an interesting question.

Exactly who do you trust today?

  • Do you trust the salespeople down at your local car dealership?
  • Do you trust infomercial TV personalities?
  • Do you trust politicians? (Local or national?)
  • Do you trust news representatives . . . or weather-personalities?
  • Do you trust your children? Your spouse? Your neighbors?
  • Do you trust what you read—and what you Google?
  • Do you trust me?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Well, if that is not an attention-grabbing title, I don’t know what is. But bear with me because there is a lesson to be learned and it is a good one. And I promise all links will be completely suitable for work.

I have long championed owning your own sandbox when it comes to an online presence. There are many travel agencies that rely on cookie-cutter websites provided by their host, franchise, or consortia. There are even some who have foregone a website and are relying on Facebook for their online presence. This is one of the most dangerous mistakes you can make. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Lessons for Travel Professionals from Whole Foods

OK. I confess. It’s not cool, and entirely too hipster,  but I’m a fan of Whole Foods.  Yes, I know the organic grocer is sometimes the object of all manner of ridicule.  However, Earth Fare, Whole Foods and Fresh Market along with some local organic grocery stores provide plenty of variety and a nice break from the standard grocer fare.  At one time, I could walk to a Whole Foods from my house, so it is my favorite, but perhaps you have your own.

I am of the opinion there are some  important lessons for travel professionals wrapped up, organically of course, in each of these grocery chains.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Now that Viking Cruises has all of 8 ships plying the oceans of the world and an ever-expanding fleet of Expedition vessels, it’s worth remembering that the highly-rated cruise line started out on the Rivers of Europe all the way back in 1997. After what Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen describes in television commercials as a period like “a long, long Norwegian Winter” the line is back doing what it does so superbly: introducing its life-long learners to its “thinking man’s cruises” on Europe’s most fascinating rivers.

Who can forget Viking’s presence during American Public Television’s Masterpiece Theater? In the midst of watching the incredibly popular “Downton Abbey”, a longship would appear along with incomparable scenery and sights along the way.  This writer confesses that this advertising that introduced Americans to river cruising in record numbers didn’t do justice to the experience to be had on Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Departures

Prague’s Day Trips

In the center of the Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is Central Bohemia—a region that surrounds the city limits of Prague, and covers almost 14% of the total area in Czechia. Thick forests, towns that are photo worthy and castles all around, Central Bohemia is a charming land for a relaxed trip into Europe’s historical settings. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Triple-Vaxxed Is the New Standard for Many Travelers

On Friday, one of my doctors asked me, during a regular video appointment, “Have you gotten your third shot?” I replied, “No, I didn’t think I was eligible yet.” He told me that the latest CDC recommendation to doctors states:

People with weakened immune systems are more likely to get COVID-19 than people with normal immune systems. And if they get infected, they are more likely to get seriously ill and spread the virus to other people in their homes.

The CDC is pushing the notion that only “immunocompromised” people are eligible for a third shot right now Read the rest of this entry »

Being Your Own Boss

Being “my own boss” for over thirty-five years has taught me quite a bit about persistence, resilience, and discipline.

Now that I think about it, words like focus, collaboration, creativity, and boldness also fit. I’ve learned a lot through the years. Although, it seems the more experience I’ve gained the more I don’t understand.

Here are five areas that still leave me scratching my head: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Marketing Like You Mean It

Many travel professionals will openly confess that marketing is not their forte. After all, a large percentage of travel agents, if not the overwhelming majority, very rightly entered the industry not because they love marketing but because they love travel.  Many have a very limited background or formal training in marketing, but manage to conduct a reasonably viable business out of a capacity to communicate their enthusiasm for travel and for being of service to others. That said, however,  travel professionals have the need to be serious about marketing.  The stakes are high – involved is not only your own business, but I dare say the future of the entire travel agency distribution channel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Travel is coming back. Over the past 17 months, travel professionals and suppliers have taken a beating. Some did not make it. Others are on life support. And thankfully, many will survive to thrive again one day. But we can’t do it alone. Just as we need suppliers, suppliers need us. And to survive, and one day thrive again, we need to work in a true partnership: something more than words. Here are my suggestions!


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Okay – I realize this is a bold claim. Do I think AmaWaterways really has the best soup? No, but it’s pretty damn good. So why as I was talking to one of my girlfriends about the excitement of my upcoming trip aboard AmaSiena, did I claim that “AmaWaterways has the best soup”? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I know that during November and December, thoughts turn to either staying closer to home or heading for sunnier climes. Given the pent-up demand for UK-bound travel among many of your anglophile clients, use some of these ideas to start conversations about spending a few days in the UK, either side of Thanksgiving.

Several of them might be tempted sampling their favourite single malts among other aficionados at the Malt Whisky Festival in northeast Scotland, while others (like me) will be attracted to the baroque tones at the Mozartfest in the Georgian city of Bath. Others will like the of combining great stately homes and castles imaginatively dressed for the festive season with gluhwein, bratwurst, and mince pies at Christmas Markets in historic settings. Families will certainly enjoy taking a spin in some pretty spectacular locations in and around London.

Look closely. Think carefully. Opportunities to sell these brilliant ideas have been missed in the past. Don’t let them happen in the future. With so much to choose from, let’s fine-tune your choice, add a few more bells and whistles, and gift wrap it for your customers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

What are the new guys on the block to do when the old timers hog the best spots? If the guys are Norwegian Cruise Line’s Frank Del Rio and Harry Sommer, and the spot is Alaska, the answer obviously is to build a new (and amazing) spot of their own.

That’s just what they’re up to at Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan, where Norwegian Encore’s August 7th post-Covid maiden voyage included two ribbon cuttings in the 49th state.

It’s amazing what has been accomplished in just 80 days, the locals say, since Alaska got the word that there was going to be any cruise ship season at all in 2021. The raven and the eagle that watch over the native tribes surely were at work, when “a piece of legislation that hasn’t been touched in years was changed with 100% consent in the House and the Senate and signed by the President in Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

How are Toasters and Travel Related?

Remember back in the good old days when banks and savings and loan companies gave away a free toaster for a minimum deposit? Then, if you added a bit more to your deposit, you became the proud owner of a free bakeware set too! I furnished my first apartment kitchen this way!

All the bank had to do to acquire a new customer was give away a freebie: a $20 toaster. Pretty easy.

Fast forward to the age of social marketing, and savvy travel marketers are providing freebies as a way to acquire new prospective clients. I’m not talking about toasters, nor free travel; I’m talking about a lead magnet that’s so valuable people will provide their contact information.

The result of gathering contact information from as many people as possible is that you’ll have a way to grow your email list, target your social ads more effectively, and potentially book tours for these people. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

Did they say, “all-inclusives in Europe, Asia and the Middle East?” Why let Cancun have all the fun?

In a Monday morning conference call about Hyatt’s acquisition of Apple Leisure Group, much of the excitement seemed focused on expanding its global reach—and that includes bringing the highly successful all-inclusive (AI) model to brand new markets under the Hyatt flag.

Of course, that’s not the only reason Hyatt Hotels Corp. will be buying Apple Leisure Group (ALG). The benefits include “increasing Hyatt’s footprint and capturing the growth in luxury leisure travel,” especially in the resort segment in general, and in keeping with Hyatt’s “asset-light strategy” of managing but not owning properties, Hyatt president and CEO Mark Hoplamazian said. In short Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

​Last week, the CEO of American Airlines, Doug Parker said that checking passengers for proof of vaccination wouldn’t be physically possible on domestic flights without causing enormous delays to the airline system.

It’s tempting to compare Mr. Parker’s statements to similar ones made by tobacco and asbestos CEOs, who insisted that health authorities should not regulate their products. What he probably should have said was,“Without some form of proof that a person is vaxxed, and streamlined airport procedures, it isn’t physically possible for domestic flights to check passengers for proof of vaccination.”

Many of the problems airlines and airports encounter involving COVID-19 could be prevented if passengers couldn’t enter either without verified vaccination credentials and a one-minute COVID antigen swab test, or a breath analyzer test at a TSA security portal. Read the rest of this entry »

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said Juliet Capulet, according to William Shakespeare. Times change, names change. Peking became Beijing. We got used to it. It doesn’t really matter.

Bombay is now Mumbai. Canton is now Guangzhou. Saigon is Ho Chi Minh City. St. Petersburg became Petrograd, then Leningrad, and now is St. Petersburg again. Constantinople is Istanbul. Natal province in South Africa became KwaZulu-Natal. New Amsterdam became New York. Cross Keys, Pennsylvania, became… Intercourse? I swear. It did. Look it up.

Now travel agents are known as travel advisors. Or travel advisers, depending on what you are reading. The reason for the change in nomenclature was, of course, to break from the past and emphasize that travel retailers don’t just turn over tickets for airlines Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing Lasts Forever

Just yesterday, my wife read me a story that inferred that over 50 well-known restaurants were in danger of going out of business… within the next 12 months. Many of which surprised me, but perhaps they should not have.

I recalled an article I read a few years back that announced the retail store Dressbarn was to close all 650 stores. This news meant nothing to me, but it was my wife who let out a quiet scream of concern. “I have a few sweaters and tops from Dressbarn that I absolutely love.”

Yesterdays announcement, along with the Dressbarn article, reminded me that yesterday’s accomplishments are, in fact, yesterday’s news Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

It doesn’t matter if you are writing a blog post, newsletter, or status update on your business page on LinkedIn or Facebook, the goal is to get people to read what you are saying and hear your message. Did you know that some of the best-paid people at Cosmopolitan magazine are headline writers? Think about why that might be and why they are at the checkout of your local grocery.  They are masters at grabbing attention, and you can be too. Here are 5 tips! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner


In a service industry like travel consulting, carrying a good attitude into the buying process is vitally important to success. Our outer world reflects our inner landscape. If we view clients as opponents, if we don’t feel good about our skill set, if we don’t fundamentally have a positive perspective on the travel profession, every aspect of your travel practice, including your revenue, will suffer. Clients intuitively detect, and respond to, attitude and mood.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Bordeaux River Cruise Price Comparisons 2022

Bordeaux River Cruise Prices 2022 is part of a continuing series of comparison charts and articles featuring European River Cruises offered by world class river cruise lines. Our goal is to provide a True Per Diem for each cruise, or the daily cost breakdown of the trip once all extra fees are added to the cruise fare. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Last week, I flew roundtrip from Los Angeles to Oakland to see my grandson and his parents. It was my first time in the air in more than a year. Here’s a report card on how everyone did.

Southwest Airlines: Grade B-

Southwest was nearly the same as it was pre-pandemic. Fast on-time flights, courteous service by flight attendants with a sense of humor, and reasonable prices. Except for wearing masks on the flights, it was like the Delta variant of COVID-19 didn’t exist.

Because my wife and I are both fully vaxxed, but are “Infected Flier Hesitant,” we took an aisle and window seat in the front of the plane and put this sign on the middle seat between us. Read the rest of this entry »