Monthly Archives: February 2022

Never Underestimate Likeability

Here is another major lesson stemming from my days working with Maritz, while pursuing the Ricoh Copier account. This lesson involves a separate division of Ricoh, but I also consider this to be another life lesson.

After months of trying to schedule an appointment with Ricoh’s sales trainer, I managed to set a day and time to finally meet. Due to the importance of this meeting, my boss thought it best if he joined me for this ice-breaking introductory session.

We arrived on time and were escorted to a meeting room where we were to wait for Dan Piccoli. There was a large cake in the middle of the conference table surrounded by a full bouquet of colorful balloons. Our first thought was a birthday was being celebrated, or perhaps a promotion for one of Ricoh’s long-time employees. I remember thinking, “This is our lucky day. Everybody will be in a good mood, and we are about to enjoy a piece of cake.”

We soon learned that we were wrong in both assumptions Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

OK so Patti Page was singing about doggies, and we are talking about clients. But wouldn’t it be nice to window shop and cherry-pick our clients? Unfortunately, that is not the case and we need to get them the old-fashioned way—we need to earn them.  But at what cost? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Core Values

Do you know why your clients do business with your travel agency? Do they have a clear picture in their minds of what your travel practice represents? What type of relationship do you try to develop with your clients? How are your relationships reflected in the conversations you have with clients, your advertisements, your website and your other marketing efforts? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

You probably know far less than 10% of your followers on Facebook are going to see any of your business page posts. The organic reach on Facebook continues to decline. The Facebook algorithms have become more restrictive, yet many business page owners are surprised by their low engagement rates. The surprise partly stems from their experience with their personal Facebook profile which always generates commentary and “Likes.” However, the algorithms controlling the visibility of personal posts are completely different from those controlling business pages. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

With river cruising abroad resuming, many of us have plans to travel to Europe in the coming months. One vexing issue, particularly for those of us from North America, is how to obtain the European Union Covid Certificate, which effectively provides freedom of mobility while in Europe. While, yes, anecdotally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control vaccination card can suffice in some cases, assuming that you’re fully vaccinated (which in France includes the booster), the paper card is not guaranteed to work when stepping off an international flight in Paris, for example, and hoping to catch the train to the Strasbourg or Bordeaux. From our understanding, doing such will likely require the QR codes representing the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

I’m always on the lookout for living history experiences and new attractions that can add bubble, fizz and pleasant surprises to UK tours. This week, I’m introducing you to six of them that fit that requirement.

York’s annual Viking Festival has been moved from February to June, which means that many more of us can enjoy this mighty celebration of the city’s Nordic origins. This is then followed by the staging of the medieval Mystery Plays, a once in every four years event. In Manchester, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Bridgewater Garden is fast becoming one of the UK’s must-see gardens which, when coupled with the stunning estates in Cheshire and North Wales, will be of great interest to green-fingered customers. Meanwhile, in Liverpool, the brand-new theatre modelled on Inigo Jones’ cockpit-in-court 17th century masterpiece will throw open its doors in the summer.

Read on and let’s be creative about Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

“Keep calm and visit Ukraine,” says one travel insurance supplier’s recent marketing campaign, in a tone-deaf call for travel advisors to become evangelists for travel to Ukraine (Visit Ukraine – INFORMATION PAGE FOR FOREIGN TOURISTS).

And indeed, travel advisors report that many clients are holding steady on their planned cruises and FITs in the region, if not to Ukraine itself. Still, though, as final payments come due, politics and the drumbeat of military operations are beginning to take a toll.

“I sell cruises only, and I’m a top producer for Virtuoso, so I have lots of people going to that region—and surprisingly few have canceled,” says Linda Speer of Cruises by Linda in Harrison, AR. “Still, I have a group of seven cabins booked on a Baltic cruise in September that’s looking instead for something to do domestically. Between omicron and this Ukraine business, it was just too much uncertainty.”

Of course, that’s something Speer has gotten used to of late Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Two Disruptions for the Cruise Industry

When the curtain comes down on the 2022-2023 cruise season, the two most influential cruises lines for the rest of the decade may be Azamara and American Cruise Lines. Azamara has been leading the charge towards port-intensive cruising, and American Cruise Lines is introducing a dozen new ships that may change cruising forever.

Azamara’s Port-Intensive Cruising Experiences

Even when owned by Royal Caribbean, what set Azamara apart from the other premium ship brands was its emphasis on what it called “port-intensive cruising.” This means scheduling one or more overnight stops in nearly all their cruises. By typically scheduling at least 36 hours ashore for these intensive port stops, guests can often schedule as many as five Read the rest of this entry »

A Rookie Mistake

A common mistake rookies and amateurs make when it comes to competitive sales is arriving at the “last straw.” I remember all too clearly when I first fell victim to this fatal error.

I was working for Maritz Motivation at the time. My division of this highly respected motivation company sold supportive meeting services. What we referred to as “deliverables” often sold for six digits (often over $300,000).

One of my target accounts was Ricoh Copiers, and I worked for months trying to schedule an introductory meeting with the key decision-maker. You name it… I tried it. Regardless of the time, day, month, weather, position of the stars or phase of the moon, the end result of my persistence was always the same… no meeting… no sale.

I remember becoming exasperated before reaching for a computer to draft my final salvo. I can’t remember my exact phrasing, but it must have sounded something like this Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

I subscribe to Apple News+ and to Medium and enjoy them both. But I recently noticed something about the way I read them.  The headline grabs my attention (duh), and I click on the link to read the content. But if the article opens and it appears too long, I just close it.  Sure, I delivered an open to them, but the purpose of the article failed. I will totally read a BuzzFeed piece titled 10 Toys From Your Childhood You Forgot. But the one titled What These 47 Stars of Yesterday Look Like Today doesn’t stand a chance with me. So why is that? I suspect that the authors are writing with the assumption that their audience has the same interest. And that is a false assumption we cannot afford to make. Are your marketing emails appealing to you? Or your client? How do you know? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

The Value of Fam Trips

Does it go without saying that travel agents should travel? It is easy to ignore the very advice we give our clients. For a travel professional, however, travel is more than a divertissement…it’s our business. When a travel professional journeys, it is an opportunity to reconnect with the passion that first moved you to become a travel agent. By traveling, you are reminded of both the pleasures and the pains of the experience – it creates a greater degree of empathy for your clients. Without the availability of fams, many agents would not be able to afford to experience properties and destinations that are reserved for luxury clients or the greater number they must review to prepare for the vast majority of their clients. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Before getting into the meat of this article, I would like to take a moment to praise CroisiEurope. Here’s five reasons why I think the Strasbourg-based company is an exceptional cruise operator.

1. CroisiEurope has been in business for a long time, and it’s a family-owned and operated business, founded in 1976. The company has a heart and it’s here to stay in our opinion. Have a read about the company’s origins in my post, River Cruising’s Unlikeliest Pioneer: In Strasbourg, Where River Cruising Changed Course

2. CroisiEurope gets high praise from our readers. In the comments section of my story, The Only Two Americans On Board: CroisiEurope New Year’s Cruise In Provence, one reader wrote: The food is five star, which keeps us coming back. There is unlimited wine served at dinner with bottles of red, white and rose on the table. The bar is open after breakfast and included with no charges except for some Champagne and brandies. We have never gotten a liquor bill at the end of our trip. The prices are reasonable for what you get for your money spent. I highly recommend Croisi. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

Like Girl Scouts who are always prepared, travel advisors know that a successful vacation often comes down to having a backup plan. So when Lene Minyard of Perfectly Planned Journeys gathered a group of insiders earlier this month to come up with ideas to help travel recover, it’s no surprise they proposed a Plan B—for their own businesses, for their customers, and for the industry as a whole.

The discussion began, of course, with concerns over the present situation. “There’s a lot of new blood coming into the industry; they are coming in by the droves,” said The Travel Institute’s Guida Botelho. “We get 8-10 new people every single day. And we have a responsibility to educate and empower and propel these people forward.”

But for new advisors—and for the thousands of travel advisors already in business—it’s almost impossible to keep up with the changing regulations of every supplier and destination. And of course, there’s the Damocles sword: the better job you do and the more information you share with clients, the greater your liability if you say the wrong thing.

“We need more training on being a business owner, on defining the advisor’s role in the midst of the pandemic,” said TRUE Global Network vice president Margie Jordan. “When you make it your burden [to give clients information], it becomes your liability. Where do we draw the line? What is our duty of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Ex Fida Bona

Who Cares What They Think About You?

In life, I’m all about not really caring what others think or say about me. I live my life, in my own way, with my own standards; and make my own choices, without worrying about whether anybody else agrees or not!

In the business world—it’s a totally different story: What others think and say about me can either contribute to my success or ensure my failure. It is absolutely essential that I care about what my clients and industry peers think of me!

How about you? Do you really know what your customers think about you and your agency? As an owner, it’s vital that you understand how they feel about you and the service you provide. Regardless of how hard you work to be the best travel advisor you can be, in reality, you cannot be all that unless your customers think you are. Read the rest of this entry »

Cuba and COVID in 2022

I was surprised to see a Reuters article that said, “U.S. CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to Japan, Cuba, Armenia over COVID cases.” Why Cuba? I wondered. Why Japan, too, for that matter? As for Cuba, it ran counter to the information that I’ve been getting about the country’s handling of COVID over the last year and a half, which has been impressively successful. But Cuba tends to be a good whipping boy for the news media. In the travel media, reports on Cuba are almost always glowing. But in the news media, portrayals tend to be negative.

The American people are attracted to Cuba and fascinated with it. They jump en masse at the opportunity to travel there whenever the word gets out that the restrictions have been relaxed. But there is still an establishment that tries to punish Cuba at every opportunity. It must be the oldest political grudge in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Progressive Journeys With Intrepid Travel

Offering up the best of the best in travel isn’t easy; this takes tenacity, an open mind to the traveler’s wants and needs, and a healthy perspective on what a destination has to offer. And Intrepid Travel is a supplier that prides itself on these attributes. They have been a tour provider for 30 years with sustainable travel focused on local perspectives, an expansive list of countries, and even a not-for-profit foundation that has raised millions of dollars.

Intrepid Travel offers up more than 1,150 trips, in 23 countries, on every continent. These include family-friendly vacations, wildlife and polar tours, a journey through local foods, adventure cruising, and adventures like cycling and touring. The destinations of these tours span the world, from seeing Read the rest of this entry »

Change Your Angle: Change Your View!

I guess you could safely say that flying was embedded in my DNA. My grandfather was the President of Republic Aviation and was responsible for building the P47 Thunderbolt. My dad flew in World War II, and my Uncle Al also flew single-engine airplanes. It only seemed natural to earn my private pilot’s license back in 1983.

Today’s story involves a near land-based catastrophe. It was colder than expected the morning when my Uncle Al and I were going to satisfy our urge to take to the skies over Morristown, New Jersey. The sun was shining brightly when we arrived at the airport but the overnight cool air lingered, which made it difficult to start the single-engine.

Rather than jeopardize the remaining juice in the battery, Uncle Al Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Clients are valuable assets. When you go to sell your agency it is always a toss-up as to which has greater value—the customer list or the agents.  Both are integral to the success of your agency, so it is imperative that both are happy.  Hopefully, we all know what keeps a client and an agent happy, but what might turn a client off of your agency?  I have some thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Ex Fida Bona

Is Your Use of “That” Photo Legal?

The growth of sites such as Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay have so revolutionized the stock photography landscape that giants like Getty Images, which now owns Unsplash, and Canva (Pixabay and Pexels) are now major players. It all seems most attractive. A no-cost registration gives the travel professional millions of images to use on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms without laying out any money at all. It is the best of all worlds for the travel marketer.

Or is it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: TRO SMITH

Blogging Like An Expert

It is important to your digital marketing plan to consider incorporating a blog into your travel agency’s website. However, with so many blogs vying for attention, you need to take steps to ensure your blog will stand out and speak with an authority that captures the attention of your readership. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Knowing and Doing

We have a strange relationship with what we know. We know we should have a written business plan, and we know we should have a written budget. We know we should have a mission statement. We know we should always offer travel insurance to our clients or get a waiver.

When we hear best practices, or even the general principles of marketing, sales, and customer service, seldom are we surprised. Good business advice is not often a revelation, but a matter of common sense, reminding us of what we already know.

Moving from “I know” to “I always do” can be a major undertaking. Read the rest of this entry »