So, this is it. My year (closer to 11 months, but who’s counting) is up. Looking back, all I can say is what a year it’s been—both personally and professionally.
But first I would like to thank Travel Research Online for asking me to do this series. I can’t say it’s been easy – but it has definitely been worth it. You would think writing to a deadline would be a piece of cake, given the way we have to hit deadlines every day in our business. It’s not. The fact is, sometimes you just don’t feel it. On the other hand, sometimes you do. It’s amazing how many times, among all the other random thoughts going through my head, I have said to myself: “I need to remember this for the next Travel Agent Diary.” Read the rest of this entry »
Well, things went pretty much as predicted last month and by the time I got on a plane for my Mexico City FAM, I was exhausted. But I had a good chunk of the rest of my year all lined up. So, that made me feel better.
Mexico was awesome… but exhausting. The highlight of the trip was a sunrise balloon flight over Teotihuacan, a pyramid complex so old no one really knows who built it. It had been abandoned for centuries when the Aztecs first discovered it.
Mexico City itself was awesome: The history. The traffic. The culture. The traffic. The food. The traffic. Read the rest of this entry »
I can’t believe it’s August already. The year is two-thirds over. When last I posted, I was majorly pumped about exhibiting at CruiseWorld. As I sit here right now, I am majorly pumped over going to Mexico City for a whirlwind four day FAM trip—leaving in two days.
But, today is one of those days. Right now I am waiting for my contact at CruiseWorld to finalize the details of my presentation. I am waiting for the FAM leader to fill me in on the details of getting to the hotel and checking in before the fun starts. I am waiting on my invitation to the Norwegian Escape Pre-Inaugural, which I have heard are going out “any day now.” I am waiting for someone else to get back to me on a pre-cruise hotel stay before the Escape inaugural in November. Read the rest of this entry »
And during that time (completely changing subjects now), my partner and I decided (well, I decided and she is humoring me) to take a giant leap in to the unknown – trade show exhibitions in search of agents. Read the rest of this entry »
Two things of note this month – somewhat inter-related. First off, I just got back from Global Travel Marketplace West. And, in my opinion this is by far the best travel professional event of the year. It was very small (the suppliers outnumbered the agents), very intimate, with boardroom presentations to 10 travel agents at a time; and one-on-one appointments the rest of the time. I am very big on urging my agents to attend as many conferences as possible. I think the ROI is huge, if you use them to build relationships with suppliers and with other agents. A big show like CruiseWorld or Cruise360 has, literally, thousands of years of travel agent experience walking around, most of them willing to help out a colleague. The presentations represent further centuries of experience. And the suppliers there are going to pay out billions in commissions every year, and are more than willing to help you grab a share. So, yeah…I’m a fan, I go and I urge everyone else to do the same. Read the rest of this entry »
So, how is your month going? This column is supposed to be about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Travel Agent’ing. And I’ll get to that. I promise.
Who was it that said “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans?” If I find out, I am going to find him or her and tell them truer words were never spoken. Read the rest of this entry »
I am writing this before the end of January (trying to get ahead of the game), but it’s looking like, perhaps, the highest grossing January ever. It certainly is for my fairly new business. But it looks to be for me personally, as well. So, that’s exciting.
Even nicer, is that the cash flow is, well kind of starting to actually flow. The whole Christmas to February period is, as most business owners know, a time of year when you start by paying all your annual dues and fees to everyone, and then segue in to getting out 1099s to contractors, and prepping for the taxman. Not always fun period. Read the rest of this entry »
So, I was approached with the idea of doing this monthly column “detailing the struggles and successes of running a travel agency” and thought…why not? But before getting in to the day-by-day and week-by-week, I wanted to start with “How did I end up here?” I don’t yet know who the other contributors will be, or their stories. I assume it will be a cross-section of the industry, with home-based and brick and mortar, long standing and newcomer, etc., represented. I am the new guy. And the “home-based” guy. Although I don’t particularly care for that term, as I don’t think it reflects how I (and my IC’s) do business. We don’t sit at home in front of a computer and a landline. Thanks to technology, we can do business with anyone, anywhere, from a smart phone. I can conduct business at home, while grocery shopping or Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve been in business any length of time, you’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about “branding,” what it is, and how to do it. You’ve heard it from everyone else, so you might as well listen to my take on the whole branding thing as well.
First off, some definitions. ADVERTISING is when you put the word out through broadcast, print or social media; about a specific product with a “call to action” included. MARKETING is more generally putting it out there about the range of products and services you offer. PUBLIC RELATIONS is letting people know what you do outside of actually booking travel, generally through interviews, articles, press releases and that sort of thing. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve spent a considerable part of my working life training people to sell. The reason for this is simple: the best way to learn something, is to try and teach it to others. This forces you to analyze and breakdown things you may do instinctively. It makes you organize your thoughts and maybe do a little research. It also forces you to keep up on the subject matter, since obviously you cannot transmit something you don’t understand. Read the rest of this entry »
These days it seems most of my first contacts with prospective clients are written; the days of face-to-face (or even voice-to-voice) transactions are quickly fading into the sunset
I spent years as a salesman obsessing over every detail of how I dressed, how I sat and stood, entered a room or shook hands, all to make sure the prospect had a good impression from the moment we met. Likewise, I’ve spent many hours perfecting my phone greetings and conversations.
I realized a few years ago, that I just never gave that much thought to how I responded to emails, texts and messages. Read the rest of this entry »
I have already stated I am not a social media expert (though I play one on Facebook). What I am, is a sales expert. Pretty much my entire life has been spent selling something. Greeting cards, door to door, when I was 9 years old. Since then– advertising, jewelry, cars, houses, cleaners and now travel. And I have taught others to sell and now I teach new agents to sell travel.
So I have listened to a lot of people discuss the Art of Selling. The single most profound thing I ever heard is this: Read the rest of this entry »
I heard a sad story from a fellow travel agent today. It seems a client had missed a cruise, because they forgot the date. Now, he got a lot of sympathy from other agents, but my first reaction was “how do you let that happen?” And to make it worse, he described them as “one of my favorite clients.” If you would let your favorite clients forget their upcoming cruise, I don’t even want to know how distant you are from your average client. And in the same group was someone complaining about a supplier “stealing” their clients by soliciting them through their direct channels. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve noticed in the last few years, a lot of small travel agencies forming LLC’s, and I have to chuckle to myself. For those of you who don’t know, LLC means Limited Liability Company, and is a hybrid between a Sole Proprietor/Partnership and a Corporation. While it has its place in very limited circumstances, it is most likely NOT the best formation strategy in our business. If two or three people get together to form a travel agency, doing business in one state, for a limited time, and are absolutely sure they never want to grow the business – the LLC might be the way to go. Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t claim to be a social media guru. In fact, I usually distrust anyone who uses the moniker (or similar). But, I have learned a few things in my years working various social sites, and I will gladly share a lesson or two.
First – the big mistake businesses make in using social media is to chase the latest gimmick. Like anything in life, success in social media is the result of consistent, persistent effort. There are no shortcuts. What the gurus sell may result in more followers; however, it won’t result in more sales. And isn’t that the goal? Read the rest of this entry »