It’s funny how my final diary entry corresponds with the unusual confluence of three holidays: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and the start of the Christmas season. The funny part is that as I reflect on this year, reviewing my writings in an attempt to find a theme or a lesson, what strikes me as the only possible theme is “excess.” In a week full of too much eating, too much shopping, decorating, celebrating and gathering I also see my business efforts over the past year as excessive. In my home-based, solo travel business, I’ve just got too many turkeys in the oven, too many guests at the table, a fridge over-flowing with left overs and far too many “to-do” lists. It’s just impossible to give each holiday, (and in this case each project) the respect and attention it deserves. I find that in my attempts to do it all, I am losing the original passion and reason for doing it. Read the rest of this entry »
By the time this column hits the press, I’ll be in attendance at my fourth professional conference in three months. What is it about fall and travel shows? I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on some of the provocative thoughts I have rolling around in my head as a result of the classes I’ve attended and speakers I’ve heard this year. Attending a travel conference is exhilarating, motivating and exhausting; a lot like a good vacation. So, here’s the 5 things I’ve learned on my Autumn “vacations”: Read the rest of this entry »
In my last column, I wrote about using story-telling as a marketing technique. I surmised that the story you might tell about your business or to promote a trip or destination, is uniquely effective primarily because: #1 – it will be memorable and, #2 – It answers the ‘Why’ question. That is, “Why should you hire me as your travel professional?” Or “Why should you go on this trip or to this place?” Now, after a three-week trip in Central Europe, I’m even more convinced, and am anxious to try telling more stories. Read the rest of this entry »
Let me tell you a story.
Once there was a little girl named Pam who was a very picky eater. She refused to eat anything but grilled cheese sandwiches, iceberg lettuce and pizza. The other kids begged to go to McDonalds, but those burgers had chopped onions and Pam wouldn’t even touch them. There was nothing her mother could do but stock up on American cheese and wonder bread. When Pam left home for college, she was about to embark on an adventure that would change her life forever. A curious urge for adventure caused her to sign up for a study abroad experience and after four months in England, Read the rest of this entry »
Did you know that writing a column that has the word “Facebook” in its title will trigger daily phone calls and emails from their marketing team? It’s not rocket science I guess, but is something I didn’t consider when writing my last column for Travel Agent Diaries telling of my intention to work on social media marketing.
Within hours of the post going live, I received the first phone call from a live person asking if I would like some help with ads on Facebook. What surprised me most was the live person when I listened to the voicemail; and it was a little flattering, but then the truth sank in and it was definitely creepy. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the “perks” in writing Travel Agent Diaries is the chance to try a new thing under the premise of having something to write about. In theory, at least, it feels right to experiment with some new marketing technique or office product in real time and then write about the experience. We can all learn something together and it might be interesting. Having an article deadline is not much different from having an item on a to-do list. It’s there staring you in the face—a figurative punch to get-‘er-done. This month I was planning to write about my ventures into social media advertising – especially Facebook. Unfortunately, the punch didn’t come soon enough and I didn’t start the process in time to write about it for this column. I’ll save that story for next time, but in the meantime, I will report on a couple of other fun things I’ve done with Facebook this past month. Read the rest of this entry »
Lately I’ve been thinking about the circus. More specifically, I think I am channeling the tight rope walker who carries an impossibly large pole, yet walks gingerly across the high wire. He takes one step forward, stops and then takes another. Sometimes he takes a step back and then remains in place while the wire wobbles, maneuvering the pole to make it stop. If he falls into the net, he’s embarrassed himself and those watching are disappointed and unimpressed. Maybe they will never go to watch him again and he will be replaced with a better act. Do you ever feel like a tight rope walker? Read the rest of this entry »
In the spirit of the Easter basket, usually filled with your favorite delectable delights and surprises, can we just talk about customer gifts? You know about those, right? The very thoughtful and trip appropriate items that are packaged so cleverly and delivered to your client as a wonderful surprise with the travel documents or to the stateroom or hotel room, causing the client to squeal with delight? When you got into this business, did you have any idea that the travel agent was responsible for all of this? And by “all” I mean thinking of an amazing gift, shopping for the gift, paying for the gift with a chunk of the ‘amazing’ booking commission and many times packaging and delivering the gift. I don’t know about you, but this was a part of the job that I was totally unprepared for when I became a travel consultant. Read the rest of this entry »
In my first travel agent diary entry, I described my business and especially my “Tasteful Travel Experiences” – food and wine themed group tours and cruises. While I’m committed to this focus, I have to admit my success has been unremarkable recently. In the past ten months, I’ve had to cancel two custom group wine tours for lack of participants. It’s now time to step back and assess the situation. What went wrong, and what went right? What could I have done differently, and what will I do better next time? While we often read about the great success stories from agents like how an affinity group resulted in a full ship charter, we don’t often hear about the setbacks. Well, since I don’t have any full ship charters to write about, maybe others can learn from my mistakes, so here goes. Read the rest of this entry »
I believe that travelers should experience their destinations as opposed to merely seeing them, and that is why I became a travel agent. Hello everyone! I am Pam Hallberg, travel consultant, entrepreneur, CEO and jack of all trades for my business, Hallberg Travel & Tours. It’s incredibly humbling to be able to share my professional experiences throughout the year as one of the five writers for the Travel Agent Diaries column. If all goes according to plan, I might be able to share some 2013 travel experiences with you as well. Read the rest of this entry »