The topic of charging fees comes up in travel agent forums on a regular basis, and this week was no different. In the most recent discussion, some of the travel agents complained about how clients don’t value our time, which leads to their resistance to paying fees.
They are wrong. Read the rest of this entry »
The news coverage around the country seems to be spotty at best when it comes to reporting the flooding and devastation currently going on in Louisiana. If you’re area news stations aren’t reporting about it, parts of Louisiana are suffering severe flooding. One travel agent reported over 30 inches of rain in her area in less than 48 hours. For some, it’s bringing back memories of the devastation of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, but this flooding is much worse. Some are reporting that this may be the worst single natural disaster to have ever hit the United States. Read the rest of this entry »
The quagmire of being available 24/7/365 is a debate that pops up on a regular basis in agent-only discussion forums. Storefront agencies have very defined office hours, and clients don’t seem to expect them to be open after hours. They may be expected to offer after hours emergency service for clients that are traveling, but otherwise clients do not expect to be able to walk in the door after hours and obtain basic service like looking and booking. However, home-based agencies don’t seem to have the same boundaries. When the topic comes up for discussion in forums the debates quickly get heated. There are agents that work 24/7 and have no qualms with doing so. If a client calls at 2 o’clock in the morning, they’ll answer the phone, even if the client is calling to confirm their dining time on the cruise departing in ten months. Other agents are adamant that they only work set hours and never respond to clients after hours, ever. Who is right? No one and everyone. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently I had knee surgery. As a big proponent of having emergency plans and back-ups in place, I arranged to have someone back me up for the four days I was in the hospital. What I didn’t plan for, was having someone continue to back me up for the weeks following surgery. I honestly didn’t think it was necessary. After all, I was going to be house-bound with nothing better to do. I re-arranged the bedroom and set up a mini-office on my nightstand. All of my electronics were within arms’ reach or a short hobble across the room. So why would I need to have a back-up in place once I got home? One word—narcotics. Read the rest of this entry »
I entered this crazy industry 11 years ago. I am just a bit overzealous in the analytic department; it took me over 6 months of analysis to pick a host agency. It took roughly the same amount of time for me to decide on my DBA or “doing business as” agency name (the corporation name was an easy decision). I am indeed one of those that resist pulling the trigger until everything is absolutely perfect; and I do know that is not necessarily a good practice in business. For the past 11 years I have always questioned if I picked the right agency name, wonder if I should change it and rebrand the agency. For the most part I resisted, because I knew it would be costly, both monetarily and also in the time required to re-launch basically from scratch. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m sure this has been discussed before, but it is worth repeating. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or in other words, support my business and I’ll support your business. Some travel agents don’t seem to get this concept. I’m currently working on building a relationship with a new client that I’ll call Jane. She has a very successful direct sales business, selling a product that would make good client gifts. Another travel agent told me Jane “wasn’t worth the work.” Her reasoning was that Jane always qualifies for her company’s incentive trips every year, so would have no need to pay for vacations. Read the rest of this entry »
After a recent conversation with a colleague at a trade show, I had a bit of a revelation. We tell clients to work with a professional to book their travel, and we can give them a laundry list of reasons why. We advocate working with a professional, but then we often don’t practice what we preach. When it comes down to us enlisting the services of professionals, many travel professionals resist. They mimic those consumers that they despise, the ones that won’t work with a travel professional and just book online or direct. Read the rest of this entry »
All travel agencies are required to be PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant, yet most believe that because they do not charge the credit cards themselves, they are exempt. They are not. Let’s talk about what PCI compliance is, and why all agencies are required to be compliant even when they don’t charge credit cards themselves, and some steps you can take to ensure your agency is PCI compliant. Read the rest of this entry »
Supplier relationships were topics addressed at two different recent conferences–Cruise World 2014 and the HBTA Forum in Chicago. At Cruise World the panel consisted of three travel agents sharing their best practices about building relationships with suppliers. In Chicago, it was a panel of supplier representatives moderated by our own Richard Earls, sharing their insight on the subject. What struck me was that many travel agents do not know how to develop and nurture a relationship with their supplier representatives.
So here are some tips I picked up at the two sessions, peppered with a few of my own ideas thrown in along the way. Read the rest of this entry »
I was recently thinking about what tools I used to keep myself in order. Let’s face it, this industry lends itself to disorder at best, to chaos at worst.
Back in August 2010 I declared Microsoft OneNote the next best thing since sliced bread. I fell in love with OneNote. I lived, breathed, and died by OneNote. And for the record, I still use OneNote. But I have been introduced to and have also fallen in love with Evernote. It’s the next best thing since…well, OneNote.
There is a definite learning curve to working with Evernote. But once you get the handle of it, it can be a powerful tool. And you don’t have to give up OneNote if you want to continue using it as well. Read the rest of this entry »
If we have not said it ourselves, we certainly have heard it said –“My clients want the lowest price possible.” Do we facilitate their focus on price, because we may personally focus on price in our lives? Do we just assume that our clients think price is the only consideration? Ultimately, we need to counsel, educate, and move their focus away from price if appropriate–which it usually is.
A while back, I did an unscientific poll. Would you pay $3.21 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline or $3.89 per gallon? What do you think the results were? Read the rest of this entry »
All travel agencies are REQUIRED to be PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant, yet most believe that because they do not charge credit cards themselves they are exempt. They are not. You cannot simply wipe your hands of responsibility merely because someone else is processing a transaction. Let’s talk about what exactly it means to be compliant and, more importantly, how to become PCI compliant! Read the rest of this entry »
Whether it is wave season or the quietest time of the year in the office, travel agents should be consistently marketing. Marketing online is great, but it is equally important to “get out there” personally (stealing an old tag line from Royal Caribbean)? But where do you go, how do you get out there?
Everyone knows about bridal shows (and some of us run screaming in the opposite direction from them). So where else can we set up and get the word out about our agencies? Here are events that some agents have successfully participated in: Read the rest of this entry »
A good number of travel consultants these days are independent and home based. As a result we don’t work in an office with peers that we can count on for back-up and support. We use forums like TRO’s Community to bounce ideas off of each other and for general support, and that’s great. But what do we do for back-up? Unfortunately, many of us really think about that. Read the rest of this entry »