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Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Saturation in the travel industry

I started writing this article many months ago as my busy season started in May. We have now come to the end of November, finally having a chance to complete it, so perhaps this is a year in review with still a month to go. I have written many articles in the past for TRO about issues in the industry and how I feel they should be handled; and also about concerns of the challenges we all face in this volatile world in which we live. It has been a year like Grand Central Station – crazy busy where I thought I had reached a saturation point and not knowing what to do. I thought I had reached my limit and perhaps many of you have felt this way at times. Business has been excellent, as I have read from many this year, which is a good issue to have, especially when you are self-employed as I am. It can also be bad, as there has to be a balance. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Perception is usually not reality this time

Perception is not reality; and it is our responsibility to make sure that clients understand that what may be happening in one part of the world, although serious, most likely will not have an impact on where the client is considering traveling.

I recently returned from Morocco and found it to be an amazing place–friendly, safe and not near the issues of the region. And yet, when I told people I was going there, some asked if I was concerned about Ebola and the issues of the Middle East and I said with certainty, no. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Firing clients

Once you have been hired by a client, do you ever feel the need to fire that client, especially when they have worked you to death without compensation or perhaps, you have been paid the agreed upon fee and then for every suggestion you make, they have questioned or negated the suggestion, not once, but many times.

I am not sure if this is a recent trend, but I certainly have had my fair share of these situations, and it is happening more and more often. Now, I can understand there are those who are simply out fishing for information; and if you are accustomed to the fishermen, you know when to say enough is enough. Answering a few questions is not a problem, but when you start to offer up options including itineraries, quotes, and more intricate planning and the potential client does not want to pay, what do you do? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Agent Perspectives

Catching up with a wandering puffin

Way back in 2010, I wrote a series of articles for the Travel Agent Diary series for TRO and now have the chance to write again. When I first started writing, my company, Wandering Puffin, was still in its infancy.  Now 6 years in, my agency has matured and I am feeling the desire to keep going and keep growing. I remember the nervousness of starting on my own; it was exciting, but unnerving at times. I maintained a part time job as a safety net, which, until a year ago, I kept. I used to substitute teach part time, but my passion and my experience has given me the confidence to let that go and focus on the future of my business which has certainly grown. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC–And we are outta here!

What a year it has been for Wandering Puffin LLC, for me personally and for the industry in general. When I first started writing these columns, I truly did not know where I would be at the end of the year. I certainly was much more pessimistic about business early on, but wow, what a change! When I started, the economy, although, still in bad shape, was in much worse shape. I had to supplement my business by not working one part time job, but sometimes two or three and we are certainly not out of the woods yet. The travel bug though is engrained in us and slowly but surely, business picked up and I was busy all year long with bookings and prospects well into next year. We also had to deal with the Icelandic volcano, civil strife in a number of different locations around the world and the British Airways strike just to name a few issues that affected the travel industry and my business directly. Certainly the fall and rebirth of Tripology had a major impact on my business. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — A change of plans

It has been an interesting month since I returned from Iceland–a short, but amazing adventure, including the ATV ride and returning to Gullfoss and Geysir. I always enjoy Iceland, a place where I am able to recharge my batteries; and since it was to be my only trip to Europe this year (or so I thought), it was one packed with professional and personal goals. When I returned from Iceland, there was an email invitation to Sicily for a symposium in November. And given I had never been to Sicily (and the price being right.), I accepted. This looks to be an exciting end to the year. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC–Wandering across the pond

By the time you read this, I will be in the Land of Fire and Ice, a place where the puffins live; although, being smart, they have already left for the season and are out to sea. I, on the other hand seek out the colder climes and amazing experiences, including the opportunity to take an ATV trip on the Vatnajokull Glacier. My hard work and dedication to my business had paid off and I am making it across the pond, or at least halfway across, to Iceland. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC–Third time’s a charm

When last we chatted, I was grading my performance through the first half of the year. It had been a roller coaster ride of sorts, but the hard work was paying off. I have tried to find new ways to continue the upswing and reduce the downside. Some things have worked and others have not. I have worked hard in trying to increase my client base and now it is time to refine it. I have continued to stay in touch with past clients, letting them know that I am still around to help them out with their future travels and ask that they keep me in mind when talking with their friends and family. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — A midterm exam

We have passed the halfway mark in the year and it is time for my midterm exam. Where has the year gone? So many events have happened this year that have affected the industry and my business, not the least of which has been the economy. We have had the volcano in Iceland, the British Airways strike, civil unrest in Athens and most recently the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Although these events and others have had a powerful impact on the industry, I have seen my business grow since this time last year — something I would have never imagined at the beginning of the year given the current state of the economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — Sharing the love

The past few weeks have certainly been hectic ones; and I am not here to complain. In fact, business has continued to grow despite my pessimism when I first started to write these diary entries. This is a business where every day, the different twists and turns provide an amazing challenge. I am not one for roller coasters in real life, but this business is, in a sense, a roller coaster ride and those that are willing to challenge themselves will succeed. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — Drats, foiled again!

When we last left off, I  was planning to write about my planned trip/study tour to Iceland. I ended up turning down the trip. It was not because of the volcano, an amazing experience to have had, to say the least; it was not because of economics, although, I believe, it could be partly due to that; and it was not the cost. It came down to  balancing out the need to continue to stay in touch with my clients, and my need to return to a place where I have enjoyed many travel experiences. My decision was driven by my desire to ensure that my clients were well taken care of during this latest time of uncertainty, with the volcanic activity, and the unrest in Greece (both places where I have clients traveling), could be affected by the events–past, present and future, and I needed to be here for them. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC–Striking a balance

I was trying to think about what to write this time around and looked back on last month’s Travel Agent Diary entry. Last month, I was considering a balance between being a generalist and having a niche market or specialty areas in which I have a passion.  I was feeling more optimistic about how my business was picking up, but it was just starting.  Thankfully, it has continued to do so. I was also concerned by the “demise” of Tripology which turned out to be premature as they are back like the Phoenix rising, and part of Rand McNally. I am excited to have this resource back, having found the other resources, not nearly as good. Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — Losing my comfort zone

I was going to write about the importance of having a niche or specialty versus being a generalist and trying to service everyone.  I truly believe that having a niche or specialty is paramount to success in this business, but as the economy has wavered over the past year, I have found myself taking business where I can.

I would say that up to last October, I was doing quite well with business. I have the privilege of having clients from all over the country and many still were traveling to Europe. My business was quite focused on the destinations of Europe. Many of the clients had already planned for travel and even with the economy, decided to go forward; which carried me through the summer and fall months.

Although Europe is quite diverse and a year round destination, my business started to drop off as these clients returned. Unfortunately, Read the rest of this entry »

Wandering Puffin LLC — A well defined niche

My name is Jamison Bachrach and I am the owner of Wandering Puffin LLC. I have been in the travel industry for over 14 years. Before starting my own home based agency, I worked for both an American Express affiliate and AAA, both as an in house travel agent and an independent contractor . At  AAA, it was in their call center doing Triptiks (remember those) and making sure road service was provided to members. I guess one can call that travel. I have also been an elementary and special education teacher, as well as a chef (working stiff, not executive). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Dear Diary…

We have officially closed the books on the 2009 version of the Travel Agent Diaries. Hopefully, you learned a thing or two and were able to benefit from the success (and failure) of others. To me, one of the best things about Travel Research Online is that most of our members are not afraid to let other see when they fall down. Life is never perfect and we all learn from our mistakes; here, we are also able to learn from the mistakes of others. Mistakes and failures are never fun; but they are offset by the successes we all achieve. And looking back on 2009, you can see successes in each weekly episode of the Travel Agent Diary series. 2009 was perhaps the most challenging year ever for the travel industry and the courage to share their trip with our readers is to be applauded. Read the rest of this entry »