Monthly Archives: January 2022

Posted In: Deck Plans

Think no one’s river cruising? Think again. While river cruising in Europe generally takes a pause during the cold of January and February, as well as much of March, regions outside of Europe still see river cruises operating.

Earlier this week, we heard from Patty Moss and her husband Bill, who were in Jordan before traveling to Cairo to board AmaWaterways’ new 72-passenger AmaDahlia.

Patty and Bill are doing a pre-cruise extension before embarking on AmaWaterways’ Secrets of Egypt & The Nile 12-day cruise program. She and Bill were in Petra yesterday with 10 others who are also Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

What’s a travel advisor to do when a preferred supplier like Crystal cruises stops sailing? Communicate with your customers and be transparent. In the case of Crystal, you have to look at your booked customers in three buckets and reach out to each with targeted communications, says Alex Sharpe.

The CEO of Signature Travel Network, himself a former SVP of Regent Seven Seas, immediately reached out to legal counsel, who told him “you should cancel and dispute charges right away,” he told TRO. “With the ‘reserve accounts’ in place with the credit card colmpanies, I don’t know that disputing charges is critical, but at this point, it couldn’t hurt.”

Here’s an edited version of what Sharpe had to say in our 45-minute conversation last week: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

With interest in travelling to the UK steadily growing, so are the number of ’email conversations’ I’m having with enterprising travel advisors who want to offer their customers some different aspects of their old friend Britain. Some of the customised travel experiences were hallmarked by a selection of the On Location visits highlighted a couple of weeks ago. If you missed them, you can see them again here.

One of the most recent email exchanges was for a family looking for an imaginative countryside and London tour. They didn’t want to travel far, and what has emerged is an action-packed programme that starts in Royal Windsor, travels to Oxford before heading for London, where with jetlag parked, they will be able to get the maximum out of their four nights in the capital.

If this sequence appeals to you, discuss it with your clients and let’s start our own email conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Preview

AAT Kings has been a pioneer in the adventuring of Australia and New Zealand for over 100 years. They were one of the driving forces that opened the Australian outback to the eyes and excitement of travelers within the country, as well as international. Now, as Australia looks to open its borders to the world once again, AAT has set its sights on a new campaign to intrigue the traveler. The ‘Wild Awaits’ campaign seeks to jump right into the reinvigorated travel industry as COVID-19 wanes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The picture isn’t bright for travel advisors selling small luxury cruises on brands such as Regent, Seabourn, Crystal, Silversea, Viking Ocean, Oceania, Ponant, and Windstar. Most haven’t seen a decent payday in the past two years. Many have gone into debt trying to keep the doors open by spending countless unpaid hours processing cancellations, rebooking, and trying to attract new clients when they have little to sell.

The cruise industry sages predicted that Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and Canada would open to cruise ships carrying fewer than 1300 guests long before now. Then, along came omicron and problems with the domestic airlines. Recent reports of hundreds of infected crew members from the resort ships in the Caribbean being warehoused on other cruise vessels refute the cruise lines’ contention that cruising is now safe. Read the rest of this entry »

A Cup of Coffee With President George H. Bush

This is another true story that comes attached to a very pertinent message. Almost everybody has somebody they would like to meet. This may be a movie star, a sports celebrity, an author, or a TV personality. It may be a politician, a famous physician, or even the guy or gal living down the street. People are quick to identify their “wish-lists” but, more often than not, they fail to do anything proactively to make a future introduction.

Not long ago, I asked my wife if there was anybody she would like to meet. Without hesitating, she replied by saying, “I would like to meet President George H. Bush… and his wife Barbara.” I would be candy-coating my reaction if I said this selection surprised me to no end. I was ready to hear the name of some heartthrob. But President George H. Bush?

Priding myself as somebody who practices what he preaches, I begin to go to work Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: 1:1

PictureRicko Tindage is Elite Voyages’ Director of Sales and Marketing iso Chinatour.com’s DSM. His task besides sales and marketing to the travel agent community…is also creating new tour products.

Originally from Bali, Indonesia, Ricko has called Los Angeles home since 1981.

His academic background was in the hotel management. He has had hotel stints in Jakarta, Indonesia; Brussels, Belgium and in Los Angeles. Instead of a career in the hotel industry, tour and travel industry have shaped the majority of his professional career.

He started in the travel industry in 1990, Ricko has always been in the hospitality industry, even his spouse was a former director of sales of a major U.S. hotel chain. Prior to working for Chinatour.com he has served in several major U.S. tour operators namely UNIWORLD River Cruises and SITA World Tours. In between, he has developed and created small boutique-style tour operators specialized in incentive travels, honeymoons, destination weddings, luxury travels and leasing private jets. One of these tour companies was Romance Travel Concierge, a luxury boutique outfit based in Pasadena, CA, and he was president of the company. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Throughout the pandemic, it seems that the recovery has been nothing more than two steps forward and one step back. It’s frustrating. I get it. But if you do the math, we are moving forward, albeit, not as swiftly as any of us might like, but forward, nonetheless. As we continue or exit from the pandemic and our individual recoveries, we must keep several things in mind as we ramp up our marketing efforts! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

You Got Personality

My early recollections of the world of brands and business have to do with the companies with which a five year old first has contact. I can remember that Esso put a tiger in our tank and that my Keds tennis shoes would make me run a little faster and jump a little higher. The personality of many companies had to do with their cartoon mascots whether that was Mr. Clean , Green Giant or a leprechaun whose marshmallows were lucky charms.

Those were the days recalled by  “
Mad Men.” Brand identity and communications then were pretty much a one-way communication from the company to the public. The brand delivered information to the public through television or through the newspapers and we accepted pretty much what ever we were told. Those might have been simpler times, but I think perhaps a bit naïve and not as interesting as today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Traveling for inspiration

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

We all seek inspiration. Thoreau sought out the quiet solitude of Walden Pond to ponder life. I travel for the same experience. Travel is a big part of my personal psyche, and I’m guessing you share my passion for being on the road. But over the past two years, we have largely been relegated to a more internalized understanding of our motivations for travel. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Crystal is suspending operations for its ocean and expedition ships through April 29, 2022, with river cruises suspended through the end of May 2022.

The company announced in a letter to guests today that “Suspending operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Crystal’s parent, Genting Hong Kong says that it will run out of cash by the end of this month, putting the fate of Crystal in question. That’s not to say that Crystal is dead in the water. Read the rest of this entry »

Every time American society suffers a severe trauma, people re-evaluate their lives and re-prioritize. “Spending time with family” always rises in the list of priorities.

As it relates to the travel industry, every big shock causes an increased demand for family travel. In 2000, when the Wall Street tech bubble burst, the stock market lost a third of its value, causing stock portfolios to plunge in value and some retirement funds to evaporate entirely. It was a devastating blow to many families.

YPB&R’s National Leisure Travel Monitor marketing survey showed that people’s main priority had shifted from making money to travel.

The lesson of the crash was painfully clear. You can work years building up your assets only to see them slip through your hands like water. Your travel experiences with your family, on the other hand, will always Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to The Class of ’71: My Notre Dame Story

I was a senior in high school in 1967. It was a Friday afternoon when Mr. Zuckerman, my guidance counselor, informed me it was time to present my credentials to a number of colleges in the hope one would grant me admission. At the time, high school graduates had two choices: Attend college or get fitted for army fatigues before being shipped out to Vietnam. In most cases, this choice was considered a “no-brainer.”

The problem was, I had not given it any thought up until that Friday afternoon. Mr. Z suggested I go home and discuss my options with my parents before reporting back to him on Monday with my plan of attack.

I told my mother that it was time to identify a few college choices. She asked, “So where do you want to go?” I remember thinking of a reputable place where they played pretty good football. The name of the school shot into my head, and I said, “I think I’ll apply to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Who saw a pandemic coming? Not I for sure! But here we are and the good news is that the latest variant may be receding and more people are being vaccinated. All of that adds up to a collective us being able to manage this virus a lot better moving forward.  Travel took a big hit on the chin back in March of 2020 and most of us are still standing today. Congratulations, pat yourselves on the back.  But did we learn anything?

Everyone’s lessons will be different, but here are mine! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

“Give It Three More Weeks”, Says Frank Del Rio

Just hang in there for two or three more weeks, travel advisors, and things will be better.

That’s the biggest take-away from a press conference yesterday featuring Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO Frank del Rio and the head of its Health and Safety Committee, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer.

Here’s my transcript of what they said, slightly edited for brevity. I took notes in shorthand, which I am pretty good at but a word or two may be off, and I apologize for that. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Although your anglophile clients have been unable to fly to the UK since the end of March 2020 (!), aspects of Britain have been appearing frequently on their/your TV screens with reruns of Endeavour, Morse, Lewis, Poldark, Doc Martin, Father Brown, Keeping up Appearances, Grantchester, Downton Abbey, The Vicar of Dibley, All Creatures Great and Small—along with a whole host of irresistible movies, dramas, and sitcoms.

They’ve done a huge job of waving the GB flag, and I think you’re missing a trick if you’re not talking to some of your frequent UK travellers about how you can customise a tour that blends together leisurely On Location visits for their favourite TV shows with other must-see visits to castles, stately homes, cathedrals, literary shrines all washed down with some memorable meet the locals, pub lunches and suppers.

Here’s a handful of travel-less, see-more suggestions for you to consider. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

In last week’s post, Our New Year’s Eve Wish For You, we told you about Dolf Dunn’s Christmas Markets cruise. Dolf and his wife Lannie shared photos of Christmas trees at various ports of call (as well as Christmas trees on AmaSiena). The Dunns praised AmaWaterways for not missing a single Christmas Market. “If a city closed a market, AmaWaterways found an alternative one to take us to,” Dolf wrote.

AmaWaterways’ Kristin Karst saw our story and reached out to us. If you don’t know who she is, let me tell you about Kristin. Originally from the region of Dresden, Germany, Kristin is the high-spirited, always smiling Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

This week, I was able to go into a local pharmacy in West Los Angeles and walk out with a half-dozen Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Tests for $98.00. The staff in the pharmacy had stacked the tests near the register in plain sight, and the pharmacists asked people to buy no more than six tests at a time. There were no lines to purchase the kits, and the staff had not taken special precautions to prevent them from being stolen.

Yesterday, as another indicator of a better future, a healthcare executive we know walked into a pharmacy and got a fourth vaccine shot. He’s well informed about COVID-19 and is following the Israeli regimen that was implemented this week of providing a second booster four months after the first one. The Israelis make the second booster available for anyone who is over 60 or immune-compromised Read the rest of this entry »

The Day I Flew Around the Water Tower

If there is any truth to the belief that a good story is both entertaining and memorable, you are about to enjoy the information in my columns for the next few months. I am about to share with you my personal experiences that come equipped with some valuable lessons.

The first of these lessons come to you from 2500 feet above sea level. It was during my check ride, which requires a passing grade while flying alongside an FAA flight inspector. I was in the left seat of a Cessna 152 and I felt I was prepared for the “exam.” I read the books, practiced my landings, and Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

This time last year, I was optimistic about 2021.  We had some ups (vaccines, financial assistance, and a return to travel); but we had a whole lot more downs than I anticipated. Regardless, here we are in 2022 and I hope you all had a fantastic whatever-you-celebrate holiday and a happy New Year.  I am all rested and refreshed and now it’s time to take a deep breath and look ahead to 2022. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Making Sales from your Website

I often hear travel professionals complain they are making no sales from their websites. To my ear, the complaint, however, sounds a bit strange. If you are making “sales” from your website, I suspect you are using a booking engine or a search engine geared to supplier specials, much like Travelocity or Expedia. I also suspect the resulting sales are sporadic. However, for personal travel consultants, a website is far more of a marketing tool than a sales tool.  The difference in an important one to consider.

Firstly, every website should be designed with the business model of the company behind it in mind. There is no “one site fits all” website. If your business model resembles that of Expedia, then you are gearing for great volumes with little personal client interaction. In this scenario, a booking engine or supplier search engine makes sense and your website is indeed a sales tool.

Read the rest of this entry »