Monthly Archives: September 2021

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Over the past few months, I’ve written a great deal about some of the English regions you may be familiar with; but this week, I’m sharpening the focus on a destination you may not have come across before.

Welcome to the ancient county of Dorset, a less well-known area of stunning countryside and coastal scenery that can be traced back to the time of the dinosaurs and the Jurassic period. It has inspired great writers like Thomas Hardy and, among many other must-see attractions, is also home to no fewer than four former winners of the prestigious Historic Houses/Christies Garden Of The Year Award.

Located just to the west of Southampton, creative tour planners can bookend a few nights here with a couple in the cathedral city of Salisbury and two more in Winchester, the capital of England in Anglo-Saxon times.

Read on, check out the three videos and begin to experience what the region has to offer. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Departures

Wine and Culture in the Pécs Region

The fifth largest city in Hungary sits at the slope of the Mecsek Mountains. A city settled before the spread of the Roman empire, its cultural history runs almost 2000 years. Though, the city is not alone in this distinguished position. The region around it, spanning 240 sq mi, is appropriately named the Pécs Region. Here, the traveler will find what Hungary is known for and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

Sheila Folk, Founder and CEO, Travel Industry Solutions

Sheila Folk is an experienced travel business owner with an impressive history of working in the leisure, travel, and tourism industry. She grew her travel agency to $8M in two years by creating and implementing a broad range of solutions she needed (but that were not available in the marketplace) to make her business a success. Sheila’s new company, Travel Industry Solutions, has now brought her contracts, tools, guides, and scripts to the entire industry.

Throughout her career, Sheila has demonstrated strong professional skills and expertise in management, strategic planning, and business development; new program and product development, branding, budgeting, and positioning; and negotiation, sales, and corporate communications. She has extensive, hands-on experience in all phases of B2B management, from marketing to establishing protocols for start-up firms. Her big-picture vision to establish and achieve corporate goals has led to triple digit growth, year after year. Before starting her own companies, she held such positions as director of business operations at a global branding company and assistant vice president of marketing at an international professional association.

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I once attended a Home Trade Show and was introduced to a number of entrepreneurs in booths manned by good, hard-working individuals trying to make a living.

Some booth sitters came on stronger than others. Some caught my attention as I passed by. Others actually repelled me away from their booth.

“What was the difference?”, I asked myself as I sauntered down each aisle.

I think you have to refer to it as “chemistry,” or could it be “packaging.” I don’t know how else to explain it—except maybe for the obvious. I recognized the fact that the products I had an interest in had a better chance of capturing my attention.

This brings me to a truth I have always tried to share Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

When we were little, we all knew about the two magic words, right? I mean it seemed that if I used them, the world was my oyster, and I could get anything I wanted. That new GI-Joe could be mine if I said “please” and “thank you.” Well, as I grew up, I realized that my hypothesis was false; but it was always a good idea to use them.  But after decades of owning a travel business, I realized there are not just two magic words, but five.  So, what are the other three? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Sitting Still?

Like a shark, you know you have to keep moving forward. In business there is no such thing as sitting still. Clients come and go. Destinations rise and fall in popularity and demand. There is always something new on the horizon. In fact, if your business is not growing, chances are pretty good you are losing ground. No time for sitting still.

Is it too early to talk about 2022? I don’t think so if you are headed that direction. Here are five ways to keep  both you and your travel practice growing and even thriving. When 2022 arrives, you will be on the right footing. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

Bekah Eaton came home from ASTA’s annual conference with new ideas, new relationships, and a case of Covid. She believes she caught it from the woman who sat next to her for two hours. “I felt betrayed and almost angry that she would put me in harms way, and expose me without warning or anything.”

Another travel advisor, who asked to remain anonymous, was on a fam trip to Italy when she thanked the woman sitting next to her, whom she knew was opposed to vaccines, for getting vaccinated before the trip. “She went off on me about how she felt forced to get the vaccine—and that was very alienating in a small group atmosphere.”

Then she saw someone attending a FAM in Europe after being at an ASTA event where there were positive cases. “And I’m thinking, weren’t you in that room at ASTA with people who tested positive? Shouldn’t you be quarantining and not on this AMA cruise in Europe?”

Those experiences changed the way she sees those people. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

I now know what it’s like to be a ping pong ball. Trips booked, then postponed, on again, off again, vaccine freedom, then Delta dread, governments imposing mandatory quarantines, then …

We were all set for our October 4, 2021 Crystal Debussy cruise on the Rhine. Flights booked, hotels booked. Ready. Set. Go. Not so fast. A month before our departure, in early September, the government of the Netherlands imposed new rules that required both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans to quarantine for 10 days. Crystal and other river cruise operators were left scratching their heads, along with those of us who had booked cruises departing from Amsterdam.

What to do? A 12-hour transit loophole provided a solution, a not-so-great one. The idea was that we would cancel our hotel rooms, reschedule our flights to arrive the day we were to step on Debussy and get the herring out of the Netherlands as quickly as possible – well, at least within 12 hours so as not to violate the quarantine requirement. Read the rest of this entry »

Cuba: Hope Springs Eternal

There are many ways to look at Cuba. From a strictly-business point of view, it’s a sad story. There’s never been any question that there has been huge pent-up demand by Americans to travel to Cuba. After more than half a century of being prohibited by their own government from traveling to what used to be considered one of the hottest vacation destinations in the world, of course there is demand. It’s 90 miles from Florida, a heavenly tropical Caribbean destination. But for practical purposes it’s blackened off the tourist map.

There’s never been any situation that compares to it. Americans can travel pretty much anywhere. Americans are not dictated to by their government as to where they can travel. They can travel to America’s Cold War nemeses, Russia and China, even to Vietnam. But not Cuba. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Listen up! We’ve all heard the phrase “What’s old is new again.”

  • Bell bottom = flares
  • Midriff tops = crop tops
  • Telephone party line = live audio rooms

Live audio is all the rage now. It’s the mash-up of old school and new school. First off the block was Clubhouse, now comes Live Audio Rooms from Facebook.

Tune in for a quick low-down on these 2 popular platforms. Read the rest of this entry »

Beware of What You Read

“All Indications Point Toward a Banner Year For Travel Professionals According to James T. Bigelow”

How do you feel after reading this good news? How do you feel after reading any favorable forecast depicting a promising future?

You don’t know the writer, and he or she doesn’t know you. Yet, I am quite certain that you are feeling better about your travel business knowing a bright light at the end of the tunnel is being forecasted.

Things are looking up, according to some person known as an “authority.” In this case, his name is James T. Bigelow. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

When COVID sprang onto the scene in March of 2020, we had no idea what to do and had so many questions. Mask? Stay inside? Stay outside? Do we wash the groceries before putting them away? How often should we wash our hands? Where the hell did all the toilet paper go? What do you mean there is a beer shortage? And as we come out of COVID (yes, I believe we are…it may not be as fast as anyone wants, but I believe we are), there are more questions and concerns. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Timing is everything

The year is slipping by quickly. The holiday of the autumnal equinox, traditionally called Harvest Home, came to us all in September and traditional Autumn is close behind. Long ago, humanity lived by such agricultural markers. But your clients, and all of the potential clients “out there,” have their own schedules. They travel when they are ready. Their travel plans have nothing to do with your preparations, business plans, or agendas. But someday, Ms. Client will look at Mr. Client and say something like, “Let’s go to Ireland off-season this year.”  Before they next think of price or plans or preparations, will your clients’ thoughts turn to you? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

When AmaWaterways invited me to the Christening of AmaSiena, I said yes immediately. The prospect of going on a river cruise for the first time since the summer of 2019 excited me so much that I agreed to come on the trip without giving any of the details a second thought. But, as my cruise approached, I found myself questioning my decision to cruise during Covid: What happens if I test positive for Covid on board the ship? Do I need to pack anything extra? What do I need to do to be cleared to fly to the Netherlands and, on the way back, to the United States? And, most importantly, how will my cruise experience differ to the cruises I’ve taken in the past?

I realize that many of you are considering river cruises as well but traveling during the pandemic leaves you with similar questions, which I want to share with you how I prepared for my return to Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You “Useful?”

Today I want you to think about the word “useful.”

I believe that by just thinking about this word, your contribution to your prospects and clients is bound to improve. By following your thoughts and becoming “more” useful your life will immediately change for the good.

Question: Are you useful? Are there opportunities for you to become more useful?

Think about it. I am certain your performance, and the way you approach prospects and clients, will begin to change once you start addressing these two questions.

How you become more useful is something only you can determine. I can’t possibly know what value you are providing now, so I can’t intelligently recommend Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

Michael was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. He attended Northern Illinois University where he received a BS in Biological Sciences. It didn’t take him long to realize the routine of scientific testing work didn’t match with his personality.

Following a 29-year career working for the airlines in increasing sales roles, Michael joined Sky Bird Travel & Tours in 2015 as Sky Bird’s first Business Development Manager. As the sales team grew, Michael took on the role of Director as well as overseeing the Customer Service division. He is often the face of Sky Bird at industry events and the voice of Sky Bird on webinars featuring our WINGS booking engine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Take A Break. We Deserve It

Today is Labor Day. It is a National holiday that is to “celebrate the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States.” And while we are not considered “laborers” in one sense, the travel industry has been laboring for the past 18 months and quite frankly, we deserve a break. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

(Caution: there’s some science and math ahead. But Norwegian solves the equation for you—and in so doing, offers a lot of hope for the future of selling cruises during a pandemic.)

Question: Is 100% really that much better than 95%?

Answer: Yes.

It’s a math problem Norwegian Cruise Line has been tackling for months, and the result is a little painful.

When we set sail earlier this month on Norwegian Encore’s first post-Covid cruise to Alaska, many lamented that the strict vaccine mandate meant families with small children could not sail—a big loss for a family-friendly cruise company and its loyal customers and partners. 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: Deck Plans

The writer was a guest of Silversea Cruises for the purposes of this review.

Delayed for months by the never-ending pandemic, Silversea’s magnificent new vessel, Silver Moon finally welcomed her first passengers this Spring. Silver Moon began a series of cruises beginning and ending in Athens. And each and every one of them showcased what’s on board this wonderful ship.

Greece rescues the Cruise Industry

Read the rest of this entry »

It Matters Who You Travel With

I noticed recently that Expedia is using the slogan, “It matters who you travel with.” I found that to be a curious choice for the mega online travel agency. I agree with the statement wholeheartedly, but applying it to Expedia is a mismatch. It would be appropriate if you applied the slogan to the American Society of Travel Advisors.

ASTA used to use the slogan, “Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.” And it was, ironically, Expedia who taught me the truth of that statement. It was a hard lesson.

It’s surprising to me that after so many years Expedia still has customers. I have to think that the people who still book with Expedia have never had anything go wrong on a trip. Because if you book with Expedia, and something does go wrong, you really are on your own. At least that was the case in my experience. Read the rest of this entry »