Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry. He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada. Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.
TRO : Let’s first talk a bit about your newest passion: Social Media. There are so many platforms to choose from the well known, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, to the lesser known like Naymz, Google Buzz, FourSquare, Plaxo. Do you recommend the agent community pick one or two or try to be EVERYWHERE?
NB: Great question! First, think about the demographic of your target audience (not necessarily who you deal with now, but who you WANT). Facebook has an older user base; most are women 55 and up. Twitter has a much younger demographic with most 35 or younger. Next, think about your marketing style. Facebook and Twitter are more about being informal, personal and fun. LinkedIn is all about business to business networking so a more formal tone is better. If you are going to be “everywhere” don’t do or say the same things in all of them. Each slice of the social media pie Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing on my list of resolutions inspired by Travel Pulse, this week, it’s all about improving your sales skills. This should be an easy one! The first step to becoming a stellar travel sales person is you need to want it. Sales (in any industry) is not for the feint of heart. It is a tough job and many are not cut out for it. Thankfully, travel is not like car or insurance sales—they are a different animal. But how do you become better at selling travel? Read the rest of this entry »
Owning your own business is not for the meek and mild mannered. Business is tough—that’s all there is to it. If it were easy, everyone would do it. So how do you insure that you are ahead of the competitive pack? Well, that answer is constantly changing, but I have collected a few suggestions from my 21 years in the industry. (Note: I never wrote that out before…wow, 21 years. I’m old!) But I digress, here’s ten of my best suggestions to make sure you make it! Read the rest of this entry »
While self-motivation is a simple concept, we all know that it’s one of the hardest things to attain. Despite purely good intentions, most of us are better at slacking off than getting motivated. But no matter what your attention span, it is possible for you to motivate yourself and reach your goals; you just need to follow a few simple steps (I still feel that it is not possible for others to motivate you. Motivation is a do-it-to-yourself proposition).
“Your Most Powerful Sales Tool (Questions)”
Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 74
Here we go again. The topic of asking questions seems to have surfaced on page 74. I suppose what caught my attention in this quote are the words “powerful” and “tool.”
Sales today has very little (nothing) to do with “the gift-of-gab” and waxing eloquent while trying to talk people into buying your particular product or service. Consumers (people) are too smart for those tactics and thanks to the Internet, they are probably just as well-versed on your topic as you are. (Sorry!) Read the rest of this entry »
“Shared thinking is stronger than solo thinking.”
How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell, page 95
You are undoubtedly familiar with the phrase “two heads are better than one.” This is today’s message.
More and more people are following their dream of starting their own business and becoming their own boss. Although this sounds like an admirable achievement, it soon become evident that you bit off quite a mouthful. Read the rest of this entry »
“Strategic alliances are the most powerful networking strategy. Create opportunities with strategic alliances.”
Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath, page 93
Chapter 9: Leverage Your Network
I suppose the first question most readers have is “what does he/she mean by strategic?” The dictionary uses the words intentional, planned, calculated, and deliberate when defining the word “strategic.” “Alliances” is defined by the words deals, agreements, and coalitions. Read the rest of this entry »
If you have participated in a cruise line sponsored seminar at sea, or cruised on a TA rate, you’ve either been treated like royalty or felt like you were invisible. Either way, your experience traveling as a travel professional does not give you an authentic experience like what your clients will experience when they cruise.
Because we don’t receive the same treatment as consumers when we’re traveling as recognized travel agents, I strongly encourage travel professionals to cruise “undercover” as often as possible. Yes, that means paying full fare without TA discounts. But you can evaluate the consumer experience much more effectively this way. Read the rest of this entry »
No, that’s not a typo in the title. It refers to a remarkable, and slightly annoying, conversation I had with the owner of a shoe store. Some of it might make you feel uncomfortable, but I also believe it will make you think. At least I hope it makes you think.
I spend a lot of time on airplanes. As often happens, I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. We eventually asked about each others’ profession. I told him that I am a writer, speaker, and consultant mostly working within the travel industry.
He told me he owned a small shoe store (name withheld by request). While not verbatim, this was the gist of our conversation: Read the rest of this entry »
I know this will date me, but I’ve been a travel agent since the days of calling the airline. The only classes were Y or B. Your hands cramped from writing those four coupon conjunction tickets—and we used a typewriter to prepare documents. I was fortunate that the agency where I did my travel school practicum hired me. Two Scotsmen who let me do a wee bit of everything owned it, so I learned a lot. After that I taught a travel course. I enjoyed inspiring my students to be successful in a profession I was passionate about. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I discussed the importance of the experience to today’s traveler. Later in the week, Nolan Burris talked about the “wow” experience he recently had in South Africa. Are you sensing a theme here? In Nolan’s article, he included a video to visually highlight his written message—and it worked. In terms of traffic to Travel Research Online, it worked. That article, along with the views of the video was very strong. I wondered.
I feel very fortunate to have visited South Africa many times. Late last year, I was speaking at a couple of travel events there, and added some personal time to explore. It is one of those rare destinations that not only has something for everyone; it excels at making every experience rich and memorable.
There are hipster-gentrified neighborhoods in Johannesburg, teeming with one-of-a-kind shops and galleries; bustling shopping malls and fancy boutiques abound in Pretoria. You’ll find espresso perfection and café culture in Cape Town, along with breathtaking scenery, including the nearby Cape Winelands that easily rival Napa Valley’s best. Read the rest of this entry »
I attend and speak at dozens of events each year, both inside and outside of the travel industry. One of the benefits is that I learn the latest jargon, corporate speak, or marketing buzzwords making the rounds.
One ominous sounding word has surfaced at nearly every event I’ve attended lately. In some cases, it was the primary topic for more than one speaker at the same conference! Apparently, the buzzword of the year is: disrupters. Read the rest of this entry »
As a 20-year plus travel Industry career veteran Jen Duckworth has worked on both the supplier and agent sides of the business in the roles of Agent, Manager, Sales Representative, Ticketing Specialist, Corporate Agent, and now Special Services Manager.
Her path in the travel industry started in the early 1980’s with an OAG and a Res Card. From those early beginnings at a local agency she moved to a bigger player, American Express, and was one of the first 50 persons asked to service a new product by the name of the Platinum card. That brand had only a vision, and her team developed the rules as the product evolved. Read the rest of this entry »
For many travel professionals, social marketing and media has proven its worth. Those who have succeeded using Facebook, Twitter and the like to generate business are actively engaged by being both creative and authentic. No doubt, the fundamental marketing tactics of local, community oriented public relations, networking, and advertising are far more important and necessary to most travel agents than any social marketing efforts will ever be. However, layer your social marketing tactics on top of a solid foundation of fundamentals and truly excellent results can be the order of the day. Read the rest of this entry »
Once or twice a year I do a deep clean of my computer. Like going through a box of photos or knick-knacks, an old memory usually distracts me, so the process takes much longer than expected.
Tucked away in a random folder from 2008 was a PowerPoint file for a workshop I had presented to travel consultants. It was called “What Is Social Media?” Read the rest of this entry »
In the 60’s it was “signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs.” Today in travel, we have the internet, and it is all about online forums and communities. For instance, Travel Research Online has the Community. These internet forums are quite valuable, especially to the home-based professional who typically operates without the benefit of a co-worker in the same office. They provide a connection to colleagues all across the country, with different specializations and levels of experience. Story after story can be told of an agent asking a question on a message board and receiving immeasurable help, from advice for handling difficult situations to destination recommendations. But, there is a problem! Read the rest of this entry »
Like a lot of people my age, I recently received my first pair of hearing aids. Apparently, my ability to lip-read and mentally fill-in the missing bits had developed unconsciously over the years, masking the extent of my loss. Eventually I could no longer compensate and I am now the owner of two behind-the-ear life changers.
As the audiologist had warned me, the first day was overwhelming. I was suddenly awash in chaotic cacophony coming from all directions. I developed a headache, couldn’t focus, got dizzy, and felt nauseous. Read the rest of this entry »
Supplier A implements a policy, for example not allowing passengers to remove food from the dining rooms or buffet. The decision backfires as passengers complain in large numbers, and in very public forums. In less than a month Supplier A backpedals and rescinds the decision. The reason given for implementing the new policy was because the new CEO was appalled by the dirty dishes and trays lying throughout the hallways when he toured a ship. Read the rest of this entry »
Several years ago, at an industry event where I was about to speak, I was sitting at a table full of travel agents. As often happens, the subject of “the good old days” came up. I joined in with four fellow long-timers to share almost mythical stories of happy flight attendants, tasty airline meals, free FAM trips, and rock-solid commission structures. One tablemate said with a sigh “I sure miss the way things used to be.”
After about twenty minutes of listening politely, a relative newcomer to the industry could no longer contain herself. She blurted out…. Read the rest of this entry »
You’ve heard over and over again that you have to sell YOU as much as, or more than, you sell a supplier or destination. It sounds good, but it isn’t always obvious just how to do it.
Then there’s the challenge of finding the balance between talking about your strengths and customer benefits without it turning into a “sales pitch.” Does anyone really want to hear how great you think you are? It’s a real but important challenge to tackle. Here’s why… Read the rest of this entry »