Author Archives: Barbara Oliver

There are 14 articles by Barbara Oliver published on this site.

Preparing for this last “Agent Diary” column was very interesting. I went back and pulled up all of the articles from throughout the year and reread them to review the journey that all of you took with me over the course of time. I have to admit – a part of me really wishes that I had accomplished some greatness to write about over the last year that I could point to as validation that I am good at what I do. Ta-Da! Read the rest of this entry »

This year, for the first time in many, I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel to a few destinations I sell quite a bit – Mexico and Jamaica.  Most recently, after Mexico and Jamaica, I was the guest of another island tourist board and stayed as a guest of the host hotel. Having experienced the whole gamut of FAM trips—from the “quick get on the bus we have 32 more resorts to see before your flight leaves at 5pm” trips to the most recent, fully hosted one—and everything in between; I have made some observations. Read the rest of this entry »

Over the course of my time in the travel industry I have had the opportunity to attend many, many events and conventions put on by various organizations. I began the journey way back when with Joel Abels’ Travel Trade Shows and though the years have gone to CLIA 360’s, ASTA TradeShows, NACTA Conferences, Vacation.Com Conventions, HomeBased Agent Shows, Luxury Shows, Travel Weekly Shows…well – you get the idea.  Read the rest of this entry »

I have always considered myself a lifelong learner – ready to take in a seminar or tune into a webinar if I think it will be useful for my business. Lately due to the social media craze it seems like a lot of programs are popping up discussing “finding your passion” and “niche marketing.” What I have noticed is that many agents I interact with in these situations confuse “finding your niche/passion” with the logical decision of which subcategory of travel will reap the most monetary return on their investment. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make money – I think choosing a niche based on that actually misses the point. Read the rest of this entry »

Wow as each month goes by, writing this column feels more and more like a stint in front of the “Confession Cam” that the reality shows use – but isn’t it nice to find out you are not alone in some of the day-in/day-out issues of running a business?

So what deep dark fear should we drag out into the light of day this month?

How about the M word – Mistakes. We all make them – for goodness sakes we are human – but it can be frustrating, embarrassing and even a little disheartening.  You swiftly move from trying to assess the damage, to thoughts about how you can fix the problem, and then finally, how you will save face in front of the client. Read the rest of this entry »

If you ask any of my Facebook friends they will tell you that I lead such a glamorous life as a travel agent! Why, just this month alone I jetted off to Cancun and Jamaica – posting beautiful pictures of the scenery I was taking in – what’s not to love? They picture me in these distant locales sitting on the beach with a frosty drink in hand…relaxing with the waves lapping at my feet. Of course in their minds, I got there for free as well. I even had an old classmate contact me today to ask how his daughter that “loves to travel” could get into the business! Read the rest of this entry »

Well – when I agreed to do this column for the year, I never envisioned that it would end up being a True Confessions column dishing all the dirty little secrets. But refreshing to know that we all are not alone! However-  given some of the responses I have received I seemed to have hit a chord with quite a few people. So let the blood-letting continue!

First things first. Last month’s column I talked about struggling with time management – sitting at my desk for too many hours and not giving myself enough personal time to enjoy life – which unfortunately had the strange effect of making me less productive! I vowed to take some time each morning for myself – catch up on my community’s news and actually be showered and dressed and ready for the day by the time I sat down at my desk. So how did I do? Read the rest of this entry »

The temptation when you agree to do a column such as this, is to choose topics that place you and your agency in a good light. However, I know that over the years I have personally learned much more when people have had the courage to share their challenges. It allowed me to relate and to brainstorm ways to overcome their obstacles for myself.

So in th spirit of service to others I will look straight into my imaginary reality TV camera – fall on my sword and proclaim…”Hi – my name is Barbara Oliver and I suck at time management!” Read the rest of this entry »

When I committed to doing the Agent Diary Series it was basically an exercise in throwing down the gauntlet for myself. I admit I have two major recurring issues with running my business 1-Time Management, and 2-Follow-up. From discussions with other agents in the TRO community I knew I wasn’t alone and I thought making myself accountable in a public forum would be a good way to not only kick myself in the rear to get my act together but let you guys know that you aren’t alone in these struggles and we could brainstorm together.

Then life happened – some good and some not so good; oh heck, no need to sugarcoat it, some really horrible. Read the rest of this entry »

All Together Now Travel -Who am I?

As I sat down to write this first entry into what will become the baring of my soul for all to see – this lyric and tune from current hit movie Les Miserable echoed in my ears – bringing a smile to my face and a sweet twinge to my heart—‘Who am I.’  Who we are today is the culmination of all the things we have been and done in the past – so I guess a quick recap of that is in order to gain perspective of the journey that lies ahead. Read the rest of this entry »

Do you take your own advice?

How many times a week do you talk to a client who tells you how stressed out they are? Work, the kids, and the house – egad they just need to unplug and get away for a while and recharge! We nod and smile knowingly. “Yes, yes…it’s very important for not only your mental health but your physical health as well to get away from all the everyday stresses!” We tell them, “Not only will it make you feel better, but you will be a better employee, parent and spouse when you take a little time away.” Then away we go to plan an awesome adventure for them.

Hmm…let me ask you though, when was the last time YOU went on vacation?
Read the rest of this entry »

Held Hostage in the Dining Room…

……or how a cruise line should NOT conduct a Ship Inspection!

As I was on the plane jetting home from what has become one of the industry’s premier trade shows, CLIA’s Cruise3Sixty, I reflected back not only on the updated industry and supplier information I picked up, but also on  the wonderful memories of interacting with my fellow travel professionals. I swear, I learn almost as much from them as with any of the official sessions in the program!

One of the main draws for me to travel to a trade show from California to Florida though, is the opportunity to participate in the various ship inspections. Brochures I can order online, product updates I can get from a webinar – but let’s face it, since so many of the cruise lines have pulled their ships from regular west coast itineraries – this is pretty much the only way I can get a chance to tour any of the ships, especially the newest ones. Read the rest of this entry »

Linkable and One Note

Anybody who knows me, knows two things about me: One – I love to make simple technology work to run a paperless office; and two – I am a packrat even in the electronic environment (don’t get me started on what my garage looks like!). I have discovered a couple of new, or new to me, programs and tricks that I have had a lot of fun playing with.

Linkable –

I have often commented that I would wither up and die if I lost my list of Favorite Bookmarks that I have been amassing for years – to me they are my salesman’s Rolodex. I’m so paranoid that it is one of the reasons I finally subscribed to Carbonite Online Backup. However, all those bookmarks makes it very difficult to navigate to frequently used ones, and my recent computer upgrade nicely re-alphabetized everything and completely wiped out Read the rest of this entry »

Paperless office: myth or reality?

We’ve all seen the ads of a carefree independent agent sitting on a beach somewhere – laptop perched upon bare legs soaking up the sun, sipping a cool beverage, on the cell phone with a client booking their World Cruise group.

While that all sounds wonderful in theory, sometimes the reality can be a tad more problematic. What happens when the agent realizes that they don’t quite have all the tools or information necessary, like client credit card or passport numbers, to complete the booking process? Or the client is returning your call and wants to talk to you about the trip details you quoted the week before while you were still in the office.  Or they’d like to see a brochure – but you won’t be back for a week. And don’t get me started on how frustrating it can be to deal with the excruciatingly slow Internet connection aboard a cruise ship when you’re trying to access crucial information. Read the rest of this entry »