THE E-MAGAZINE THAT FOCUSES ON THE REALITY OF SELLING TRAVEL
Keep those sales just
a ZIPPIN’ along by
Find out how to
new & exciting
SMP Training Co.
4 IC TRAVEL AGENT MAGAZINE
6 WHAT’S IN YOUR WORLD?
8 EXPLORING NEW PLACES TO SELL
10 ENCOURAGING CLIENTS TO TAKE THEIR NEXT ADVENTURE
12 RADIUS SELLING
14 TRAVEL2JAPAN – A New Publication From Steve Gillick, TalkingTravel
15 CULINARY BLISS – By Steve Gillick
18 THE POWER OF TRAVEL AGENTS
20 TRAVEL AGENT IS THE NAME…
22 NEW TOOLS
23 THE ‘SKETCH YOUR WORLD’ PROMOTION
24 OLD MEDIA MARKETING
26 GOING DEEP INTO YOUR DATA
28 ROUGH LUXE, DELUXE, GLAMPING AND MORE
29 TRAVEL AGENT REVOLUTION
30 CTIE CERTIFIED TRAVEL INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE
31 CTRG 2013/14 CANADA TOURISM RESOURCE GUIDE
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TABLE OF CONTENTS – ST SEPTEMBER 2013
EDITORIAL – September 2013
WHAT’S IN YOUR WORLD?
As you may know, it is your job and role and responsibility to keep your clients tingling with
excitement about where they can go next. It’s also your job, role and responsibility to search for new
and exciting destinations that answer the call for your clients – each by one or the entire client
collection on mass. In other words you need to know your clients one-by-one (targeted) and tease
them with new and exciting places to visit and then repeat this performance targeting your entire
client list (mass market).
I hear you. Not an easy task. However, it has to be done. You must work out what’s in your world that
fulfills the travel dreams of your clients. You’ve read this next bit before in my previous articles – and it
focuses on asking each and every client what their dream trip is. Once you have, let’s say, 300 to 500
dream trips recorded against each of your active clients, this data is huge. It’s BIG. It’s decision making
worthy and allows you to plan your dream trip initiative.
So what is in your world? How big is YOUR world? Are you focused on a small part of the planet or are
you all over the orb? Have you developed a destination niche or a travel type niche? Adventure has
always been my world and Japan has always been my niche country and photography has aways been
my travel activity. With those three elements I know what’s in my world. Did I mention cemeteries? No
idea why, but I am drawn to them. Reading 16th
century headstones or standing by the resting place of
someone historically famous… fascinating. See, there’s more to the world than continual cruising or
heading back to the same ole beach. Word to the wise, you may be handling the same ole beach trip,
but someone else for sure is booking that grand adventure for your clients and the reason for that is
simple… perhaps your world has not expanded as it should.
You have the opportunity now to explore and discover and
perhaps even surprise yourself as to all the new places you can
send your clients.
Be worthy of YOUR world and travel it as far as you can. Become
Marco Polo and return to tell the stories you have witnessed –
then sell like there’s no tomorrow!
Here’s to a very successful month.
All the BEST!
Steve Crowhurst, CTC
Publisher and New Business Generator
You can find it HERE.
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Alright. You have 50 people sitting in front of
you, some hanging out at the back in the last
row of seats as humans tend to do in such a
meeting. You’ll be using all your skills to
entice them forward as you want them in the
front row and you want their undivided
When you have herded your attendees to
the front, you can now introduce yourself,
and tell your audience what you are going to
tell them, then tell them and then wrap it up
with a quick review of what you told them.
Then what? Then you shout, “Who is brave
enough to come with me?” Do you have
something new and exciting to talk about?
If not, this will be a sad presentation. If you
have been living the life you are mean’t to be
living then you would have explored new
places and with that knowledge return
home to sell them to your clients. This is one
major role of a travel agent and if you are
new to the industry, learn it now. You must
invest in your own travels and explorations
and this in turn gives you something NEW to
So again the question: What’s In Your
World? I’m looking for something beyond
the beach – unless that beach is along a
coast that is not overrun with hamburger
noshing tourists. “What have you got for
us?” your clients are asking.
The world of travel as we know it is getting
smaller each and every day. Not so much
caused by global warming but more by
global warring. It seems, and sadly so, that as
a human race, we have not yet understood
what world peace is all about and that
reduces the places you can book your clients
to for a marvellous vacation.
Outside of the warring areas is where you
can concentrate your attention and do your
due diligence in terms of looking for new and
exciting places to visit, adventures to
experience and opportunities to explore.
The map shown above can be viewed at the
link below it. You can clearly see that YOUR
world is having a bit of a challenge in the war
department. Take another look and make a
note of the space, the territory that is not
involved in a war or skirmish of some kind.
Review your list and think about the areas
that are peaceful that you would like in your
world and start developing your plans for
self-study, followed by a visit and then
generate your marketing plan to bring your
chosen area to life for your clients.
You might want to tie this study into what it
is your clients want to do this year and where
they want to go to do it. This also applies to
their dream trip as and when they have the
time and money to fulfil this life event –
chances are they have more than one dream
trip pending. Lucky you!
Much of the time, your next and best, new
and exciting destination is most often tucked
away in a remote corner of the country you
already sell. Or, it might be a type of travel
that you might never have thought of that
could be enjoyed in this or that location.
As you decipher your client’s dream trips and
their desire for new adventures, you may
consider creating a list of expert tour guides
who will guide your clients around a city,
country or area, based on the guide’s
expertise and personal interest. In Prague,
my wife and I were lucky enough to be
guided by someone who loved books and art
and so we visited the book stores and print
shops he enjoyed. I use the word ‘lucky’
however we did request a guide with the
same interests as ourselves – but then you
can always be fooled. Not so in this case. We
When you read the facts, stats and studies
on who wants to go where – you will often
find that the Baby Boomers that are still
travelling are looking for an adventure in the
truest sense of the word. They want to be
thrilled. Younger generations, as they
should, are looking for that beach vacation
and to meet their own age group. Then
somewhere in the mix are those clients who
will do anything and go anywhere as long as
it is most definitely new.
The question returns: What’s in YOUR
World? You are the leader of the band. You
should be out in the world bringing home
those new discoveries to promote to your
clients. So what have you got for me? Where
are we going next? What’s driving the need
for something new and exciting in yourself?
As a client, I’m looking to you, my leader.
To carry on from What’s In Your World? –
let’s now explore how you might explore the
world and visit new places to sell to your
Typically travel agency owners and
managers and in some cases frontline
counsellors will go on a discovery tour to
check out new destinations. They take time
to review them in their own time and then
return to the office to discuss their findings.
How the new destination could be marketed
is explored. Then training dates set for each
of the agency team and over a few months
each counsellor is to visit the new and very
Present day, there does not seem to be too
much interest in exploring new places as
mentioned above. If your competition have
become tired, and disinterested in delivering
new and exciting places to visit to their
clients, then this suggests a huge
opportunity for you.
This same opportunity is there for you too if
you are an IC and manage your own working
hours. When you undertake these
exploratory journeys promote the fact.
You are indeed out there, looking, searching
and bringing home the latest information,
images etc., of a certain destination. Your
delivery, your content is first hand. Hot off
the press and so on. Just what the consumer
is looking for – you were there. You tested it.
You liked it and now you will take me there.
It’s Always Close
Believe it or not, many new and exciting
places are only a few miles up the road,
across the pond, on the next island, or just
across the border to the well-known places
you sell day-in and day-out.
Take any group of islands. There is always a
main island, then, out of the other 300 or
3,000 islands in the chain, there’s one or two
that are gems and yet to be truly overrun
with tourists. This is a find.
Let’s zip to Europe. Choose a spot. Okay we
go for Poland. You could offer the major
cities once again, but then, as always, with a
little more exploration you find an area, a
village, a place, scenery that has not yet
made the tourist map. Another find.
Let’s keep looking…
How many more stuffed buffet bellies can a
client look at? OMG… offer them something
new and exciting here too and what you are
looking for might just be on the next dock.
Take a look at the smaller vessels. Check out
the adventure based ships. Study up on small
boats and canal boats – and in all of this, look
for cruising action in untapped areas of the
New Place or New Activity?
As you may know, there are no new places
on the planet. They have been here for more
than a few thousand years, it’s just that you-
me-we have not yet had the pleasure of
visiting them. Life gets in the way of these
explorations, so you’ll need to plan the trip.
Some countries have split up, changed their
names (and even disappeared); you could
count each change as a new place, however
in real time, new name – old country.
So what about a new activity then? Same
place, but a new way of looking at it. A new
side of that same place. Could you go up as
in climb a mountain? Could you go down as
Are there luxury accommodations in
wilderness areas for your Glamping clients?
Can you go with more a culinary based view
of the area, or religious tours, could volcano
tourism be just the thing you are looking for?
Go With Your Niche
Best to figure out what you like first. Find out
which countries crank your lightbulb to full
glare and go from there. Decide which places
really do turn on your inner traveller and
then review how well you know this place
and finally work on your marketing plan to
plot how you will take your new found place
or activity to market.
It’s time to pack that wheelie luggage of
yours, pack the camera and laptop and head
out. Be sure to arrange your visits through
the tourism offices of the countries you
intend to explore. If they understand this is a
scouting trip versus vacation you may well
receive additional help and introductions to
people who can help you along the way.
Now, what’s your plan for new places?
Hey, ya never know!
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Here’s the thing. If you want to
encourage your clients to take off
once more you’d better be doing it
yourself and be back with the news.
That’s what this issue is all about.
Unzipping your world to find out
what’s out there, then go there and
come back from there to tell your
clients about your new find.
The key word, ‘encouraging’ does not mean
or translate as bothering or pestering. It
means keeping updated and informed and
using excellent slogans to entice, suggest,
nudge and overall help each client fulfill on
their desire to travel.
The world is currently topsy-turvy as you
know. Not as safe as we’d all want and
wondering why we just cannot seem to get
along as well as we should. This has an
impact on your client’s state of travel-mind.
So it’s up to you to pitch the good news.
Choose colourful and cheerful font’s, and
images and show not only gorgeous
landscapes for instance, but with someone
in them, “like YOU” who is obviously
enjoying their travel moment.
Very important to show, and suggest and
then as I say be clever with the wording and
slogans to attract, tease, tell and sell. It’s
the old bucket list thing. Although that
phrase has been done to death by now,
many people as in your clients, still use the
concept of generating a travel list to
complete before they head off into the
sunset. Knowing this you can include the
words bucket list in your next adventure
promotion. It has meaning and it will
resonate with the baby boomer generation,
especially those in their later years.
So here’s what you do:
1. Create an
poster for your
2. Add a “Where
to Next?” slogan
at the top of
message – not
the bottom, the
top. It will be
read by 99% of
the people who
receive an email
3. Add a digital
version of that
poster to your
4. Wear your
on your t-shirt,
ball cap and
add a button to
Your slogan question will prompt a
conversation. Once you’re in that
conversation you can start to ask questions
such as: “So tell me, where have you always
wanted to go…?” – and then, as you well
know, you shut up. You allow your client to
talk, to ramble on, to dream and when they
are in that space, you know they are
encouraging themselves to go on their own
Keep it low key, keep it subtle and you will
encourage your clients to take off once
“I love to sail forbidden seas and land on barbarous coasts”
Herman Melville (1819-1991)
Here’s something you need to factor into your selling travel activities and
marketing plan. It’s got to do with your selling radius. In other words where you
can effectively sell travel in real time not hope time. Hope time is based on
passive marketing and advertising – which as you know, is NOT selling. Your
selling radius then is very important and once decided and acknowledged will
save you wasted time and effort.
Now… the typical selling radius is 5 miles around where
your agency is located. You can map that out and then
you’ll know the territory your radius includes.
Next… here’s where you use your in-house data to create
your TRUE selling radius. Using your CRM program, or, if
you don’t have one / use one, then it’s all down to pen and
paper. The activity here is to identify the postal code of
every client on your mailing list, and then highlight the
clients who have booked with you this year. Your selling
radius is more likely to be a rather distorted and wandering
line – it will however map out the territory you can refer to
as your selling radius.
Once… you have completed this activity you’ll need to study your map and be guided by it. What
you are looking at and especially if your map is ‘over time’ which means you have mapped out,
let’s say 5 years-worth of postal codes, then this territory is your generic marketing reach. This is
your area you sell to.
The Social Selling Radius
Here comes the challenge. Like all travel agents you want in on the social media marketing action
and as well you should. Or should you? Can you actually service a client in Miami who wants to
go to the Caribbean? Could you advise a Japanese couple who wish to visit New York or see the
Aurora Borealis? The answer is you could, but not well. Plus, you should be more focused on
your generic clients that are within your local selling radius. Did I mention your theoretical
agency was located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada?
It’s important to know where
your clients live and how far
your sales reach actually is.
Your social selling radius is of course world-wide and it’s here that so much time and effort can
go to waste. When you market your agency and yourself socially as in across all social media
platforms, a large amount of your marketing seeds will fall on stony ground. The recipient of your
social media marketing is outside your real time selling radius. They cannot and they won’t be
buying from you.
SOCIAL SELLING RADIUS OUTCOMES GENERIC SELLING RADIUS OUTCOMES
Your mass marketing social selling radius activity will win you one or two perhaps ten bookings
for your efforts. Your targeted generic selling radius activity will deliver more bookings and for
the simple reason that you are on-location.
The Social Selling Radius Opportunity however is large if you have a dedicated niche market; you
operate a dedicated website that is updated each day every day; your social media activity is
constant; the content absolutely well timed, top quality and you make excellent use of cutting
edge technology - AND you have a support team to counsel, sell, convert and close your socially
The Inbound Social Selling Radius is another matter. What if your outbound promotions where
selling inbound tours into your country, county, territory, state, town, city or village? Then you
would require a different business model, but hey, this is where more money can be made. Check
with your local tourism office and explore how you can be a crucial sales outlet for inbound
programs. Expand your global selling radius though social media. Expand your local selling radius
through local store marketing.
Enhancing the Value and Joy of Discovery
In this issue:
A few of my favourite things
Hellbent for Adventure: Jigokudani
Making the Right Accommodation
Yamaguchi: The Entrance to the Mountain Forest
Travel2Japan is a TalkingTravel.ca Publication
Popular dictionary definitions of ‘bliss’ include words such as happiness, joy and
contentment. We know that travellers with specific interests (niches) enjoy a
kind of personal bliss when they have an opportunity to engage in their passion,
whether it’s bird watching, shopping, climbing a mountain or lazing on a white
sand beach. Culinary Bliss has its own special connotation
‘Culinary’ refers to food and drink. The
presence in our daily lives of Food TV,
cooking shows, celebrity chefs and
restaurant reviews has enhanced the
awareness of local and international cuisine,
so much so that culinary tourism is now one
of the largest niche markets. People are
travelling specifically for the food experience
and/or the drink experience. And in this
context the world is an open book for the
curious traveller, who is only limited by their
own sense of throwing caution to the wind,
experimentation, trying something new, and
acquiring food ‘bragging rights’ (e.g. I ate
ants in Colombia). Of course the other side
of this relates to the traveller who wishes to
try the local food in order to acquire a better
understanding of the people and the culture
and the ‘taste’ of the destination.
‘Bliss’ in culinary travel translates as the full
utilization of the 5 senses: sight, touch,
smell, taste, hearing, as well as 2 other
senses. The 6th sense is exactly that: the 6th
sense-consisting of that tingling sensation;
that little voice in the back of your head that
advises you NOT to do something; that
nagging doubt that what you are about to do
may not be in your best interest (e.g.
drinking your 5th cup of Tuak (a home-
brewed alcoholic beverage) in the Iban
Village in Borneo).
And the 7th sense in attaining culinary ‘bliss’
is the sense of humour. Having fun with your
freedom to do what you want, or doing the
opposite of what your parents would advise
you to do, or just doing something for the
sake of doing it. For me, I think of the time
that I was alone in a Beijing restaurant,
where no one spoke English and I don’t
speak Mandarin. In order to order the
chicken and rice dish that I wanted, I
resorted to imitating a chicken and then
imitating the act of eating rice out of a bowl
with chopsticks. The server got the message
right away and broke into a laugh and a
smile—and then so too did the entire
Culinary tourism can involve any destination
in the entire world, and even if they don’t
serve their own unique local speciality, they
will certainly have their own version of
someone else’s specialty. I think of our night
in Kandy, Sri Lanka, where it seems that
every restaurant in the city was closed,
except for an international pizza chain
Guest article by Steve Gillick, Talking Travel
restaurant near our hotel. We ordered the
pizza but figured that we should at least add
some local flavour—so we had Tandoori
Pizza. It tasted like spicy cardboard but at
least it was unique to the location.
Here are a few of my more memorable
Tibet: Sitting in Barkhor Square in Lhasa,
Tibet we ordered Yak Burgers for lunch. The
rich taste was similar to a regular hamburger
but, as Yaks are the main work animal in
Tibet, we felt that this was more meaningful
and memorable than a regular western dish.
Mongolia: I arranged to spend the bulk of
one of my days with a Mongolian family in
their Yurt (Ger). The day before, in Ulan
Bator I had been offered, and tasted mare’s
milk (horse) which is a popular refreshment.
Emboldened by the experience the next day
one the sons from the family went into the
woods with a rifle. I heard a shot and he
walked back a few minutes later with a
marmot (a large rodent). This was going to
be our lunch. I had read that marmots are
tasty, but they are also susceptible to
bubonic plague so the thought of eating one
can get your 6th sense ringing and buzzing.
Nevertheless, the ‘chef’ took the marmot,
cooked it using a blow torch, then broke it
into small pieces for everyone to taste. And,
needless to say, it tasted like chicken—a bit
greasy but not too bad. It was a matter of
respecting the family that had ‘honoured’
me with a fresh marmot lunch.
Xian: One of the tour participants and I tried
some famous Xian dumplings and then
decided to go the distance by trying the
other city specialty: mutton soup. We
climbed the stairs to a restaurant, filled with
locals, who paid very little attention to two
tourists. We didn’t really have to say
anything to the server, as the only dish
offered in the restaurant was the soup. The
waiter placed a basket of bread on the table
along with two bowls and left…and we
waited, and waited. After about fifteen
minutes we started to eat the bread—which
turned out to be a major faux pas. We
received some tsks from the nearby patrons
and one of them signaled for us to watch as
he took a large piece of bread, broke it into
tiny pieces, and put them in his bowl. Then
the waiter picked up the bowl, poured the
mutton broth in and returned the completed
dish to the table. So we did the same, and
the waiter came by almost immediately and
returned with two large (actually huge)
bowls of greasy mutton soup. My
companion dove into the dish with gusto. I
sampled from around the edges and while
the soup was really good, I decided that a
greasy lunch on an unbelievably hot day,
with lots of activities still planned, would
probably not be a good idea. I may have
been right as my companion spent the rest
of the day and night in his room; while I
scampered up the pagodas, bought some
souvenirs in the flea market and attended an
evening cultural performance.
Fugu: Shimonoseki City, Chugoku, Japan.
Fugu is the dreaded poisonous puffer fish—
at least to North Americans. In Japan,
especially in the west, it is a fairly common
dish most popularly served deep-fried (you
can munch it for lunch), steamed, boiled (as
part of a dish called ‘nabe’) or as sashimi,
eaten with a sprig of green onion. My friend
went to a market to buy a Fugu fish to send
home to his family in Tokyo. Then he bought
a small paper bag filled with deep-fried fugu
and offered me some. It was quite nice.
That evening we had fugu sashimi with our
dinner, as well as the opportunity to chat
with a fugu-certified chef—who actually
showed us how to remove the poisonous
organs. All in all it was a day of discovery, as
well as an opportunity to dispel the myth
that eating Fugu is a life-threatening
experience. I’ve eaten it many times over the
last 9 years.
Mendoza: Argentina. If truth be told, the
main reason for choosing to explore
Argentina a few years ago was the
opportunity to visit Mendoza and Salta—
two of the prime regions for the production
of Malbec wine—which is my absolute
favourite. In Mendoza we toured three
different wineries to see three different
methods of grape selection, production and
storage. And we sampled about 15 different
varieties of Malbec, learning new techniques
in wine tasting, meeting the owners of the
wineries on occasion and getting a better
understanding of the vintage, year and
significance of the ‘reserve’ label. In every
place we travelled in the country afterward,
we checked out the local wine markets,
found some exceptional bottles of Malbec
and returned with 20 for home consumption
(and yes we declared them and paid duty on
them at customs).
Wineries, distilleries and beer and sake
breweries are always included on our
travels, not so much for the free samples at
the end of the tour (really) but for the
learning experience. Whereas ten years ago
I knew nothing about Whiskey, now I can talk
fairly intelligently about blended whiskey,
single-malt Scotches, Irish Whiskey and the
answer to that pesky question: ‘Why does
Guinness taste so fresh in Dublin but not-so-
fresh in Toronto?’
Markets: No article on Culinary Tourism
would be complete without some mention
of the market-culture. This refers to the
venues where local chefs purchase fresh
food for the day. I have adjusted a travel
schedule on more than one occasion to
ensure that I am in town for the local market
e.g. In Kochi, Kyushi it was the Sunday
outdoor market; in Villa de Leyva it was the
Saturday market. Food markets allow for
great opportunities to sample the local
produce as well as for photographs and
Attaining a state of culinary bliss has
become, for many travellers an integral part
of the travel experience. Travellers today
are looking for that ‘what else can we do”
when they travel and are catering to their
senses (literally) to make the travel
experiences more holistic; more involved,
more meaningful, and more memorable.
The following is a reprint from the Selling Travel blog. There seems to be a rise in anti-agent
rhetoric from sources that are unqualified and who lack insider knowledge and at the same
time a lack of instant retort by the trade to protect their businesses. Retorts were made albeit
days after the events and then made by trade associations versus TAs. As you read the
following don’t get too power hungry, but know when to bite the hand that doesn’t feed you.
Come on now. Stand tall and feel the power.
Travel agents for some reason have never really understood or grasped the power they have in the local
market place or the global world economy. The recent Woman’s Day article and the hiring firm’s profiling
of a travel agency job and the return to promoting travel agents in their ads by Carnival. What’s new with
all this? Nothing. It’s been tried and done before – and still travel
agents are back in their seats come Monday morning whereas
many suppliers are out of business and as for Woman’s Day
magazine their YOY 2012 – 2013 readership is down 4%. Hello!
This information is easy to find online and before reacting to
these jabs and this type of misinformation, due diligence should
Own Your Own News
As I have always suggested, each and every travel agent must
own their own news. For too long now, the trade has sat back
feebly and waited for their trade associations to hammer the
offending media and news feed. Although they speak on your
behalf associations do not feel the pain as you do. It’s on the
shoulders of every travel agent to defend their business and to
do it by first understanding their power and then offering a well
thought out, well written and business-like rebuff and not some
of the playground commentary we’ve seen and read. Work with
and support your trade association then focus on owning your own news. It should start at home in each
local community. You should be prepared as and when something hits the fan in an attempt to hurt the
industry and damage your business.
It’s Not Personal
First things first. Many of the comments posted
by travel agents to the various affronts are
obviously delivered from the heart. Fact is, this is
not emotional, not personal – it’s all business.
Travel agents, even in their heyday of 25 –
30,000 bricks and mortar agencies in North
America could never sell all the seats, berths,
cabins, rooms, cruises, tours, hikes or
adventures. The inventory is and always has
been beyond the selling capability of the retail
trade. This in turn forces the suppliers to sell
direct or make certain adjustments as to how
they do business, to stay in business. There is no
room for one business such as a travel agent,
calling down another business such as a supplier
who decides to change their business format. If
you have a problem with that, then start your
own airline or cruise line. The supplier – retailer
relationship runs the same way no matter the
The Power of Travel Agents
When the airlines reduced and removed travel
agency commissions back in the 90’s I was one
working on plans to counter their move by
directing business away from the offending
airline. At that time it was simply a matter of
choking off the supply of bookings. Had
thousands of travel agents and especially the
chain agencies understood this rebuttal and in
their own way moved on it, even for a three
month period to prove a point, the collective
trade could have reduced any airline to one
begging for mercy.
There were a few suppliers who jumped on the
no-commission bandwagon – one specific cruise
line even placed ads encouraging consumers not
to book with travel agents. The outcome was
simple. Travel agents dumped and shipped back
all the cruise line brochures, choked off the
bookings and the end result was that the CEO
and his team were fired, the cruise line begged
to be returned to the brochure rack, invested
over a million dollars to get back into favour
through a variety of travel agent engagement
programs. A similar event took place when a
travel insurance company in Australia decided to
thrash travel agents in print. The insurance
company recalled the ads but not without a last
Onwards and Upwards
The retail travel agent as we know them today
has been in business since the mid to late 1800s.
Naturally as in any business and industry things
change and as we are all well aware, technology
has changed and will continue to change how
travel agents and suppliers sell and travelling
consumers buy. The job and role of the travel
agent will never disappear just as airlines will
never disappear. Will they change format and
design? Of course. Will business methodology
change? Of course. Will the travelling consumer
be able to purchase more travel online and
direct? Of course. Are there any opportunities
left for travel agents? You bet.
Plugging Into Your Power
Although it may seem trite, it pays to know your
roots and in doing so, it grounds you to what
selling travel is all about and the knowledge also
wakes you up as to the commitment made by the
men and women who built the trade some 130+
years ago til now and continue to do so.
Further study will inform you that you are part of
the world economy as the consumers you
attract, sell and close spend their money globally
and help build local economies. You are involved
in world tourism 100%. The end result of your
day-to-day work is employment for hundreds of
thousands of people around the world as they
service your clients. If you are receiving the
message, your role in the world is huge. You
have enormous power if you choose to accept it.
Reprinted from the Selling Travel Blog.
If it’s to be,
it’s up to me!
- William H. Johnsen,
is the NAME,
IS the Game…
There’s more to be said about the title on your business card and how you label
yourself. This ties into the trade chatter about travel agents heading over the cliff,
bricks & mortar agencies crumbling under the weight of the host agency and IC
growth and as someone suggested, mentioned or set the thing in motion, the
term travel agent is obsolete. My response is: what a crock!
The title of travel agent has burned into the
trade of travel for over a century and a half.
The consumer knows what a travel agent is
and what a travel agency does. So what
should you do with this information that’s
handed down from parents to kids? Change
it? Why change a good thing when it’s been
working all these years? You know what
happens when you confuse the consumer
base – they go online and look for an online
travel agency! Not quite the outcome you
want or need.
…or, are you a
Here’s the plan. Stick with the universal title
of TRAVEL AGENT - it is who you are and be
proud of your roots. Next… within the
framework of your agency, your niche and
your customer promotions, you can most
certainly add a marketing title that focuses
the client on your specific expertise.
You can be a Cruise Specialist, Adventure
Specialist, Culinary Tour Specialist… and you
can be these titles under the main banner of
travel agent. You can be a Travel Agency
specializing in Caribbean Cruises.
When you try to be too fancy-dancy you will
confuse your clients and lose your clients. A
travel counsellor, travel advisor, travel
consultant…are all decent titles and I have
personally worn each hat. BUT, you are first
and foremost a TRAVEL AGENT. Make no
Stake your claim as the BEST travel agent and
travel agency in your community and
promote why you are the BEST. Be proud of
being a TRAVEL AGENT especially when
asked “What do you do?”
The Sharpie website!
In the world of all things
digital, sometimes it pays
to pick up a Sharpie, and
create something hand
drawn. The why is this:
hand drawn, has the
same effect as the hand
written sandwich board
sign. It just seems to pull
people to read what’s
written – versus printed.
Oh yes, they have more
colours than black!
Over time I have managed to horde a ton of marketing bits ‘n’ pieces that suppliers have
handed out at trade shows to help travel agents sell more of their products, or simply to serve
as a reminder to book this or that supplier and at the very least to keep the supplier top of
mind. Some crazy stuff has been handed out I must say – some of it still works, actually most
of it still works if you know how and when to use it. Let’s explore:
It’s a fact that many would be clients are
using computers in their day to day lives and
that computer is moving from a desktop to a
laptop, notebook, netbook and tablet in size.
The bells and whistles on these smaller units
are still there, less a DVD drive. Enter the
small and very useful 4GB flash drive.
DVDs: the flash drive with all your About Us
information will serve the laptop clients.
Those that still use a desktop will usually
have a built in DVD drive. That means you
can still send out promotional DVDs
featuring your preferred suppliers. Ask your
suppliers for 100 DVDs or CDs and complete
a direct mail. Include a one page overview
introducing the DVD and the product
featured on the DVD. If it is possible, add
your name and logo to the DVD and if you
have the capability, add your own video to
the beginning of the DVD.
Stuff: Also in my collection I had stress balls
and dice, kazoos, mouse pads, pens, rulers,
golf balls, sunglasses, ball caps, door
hangers, brochures, mini country guides,
breathe mints, mini staplers, water bottles,
coffee mugs… and on it goes.
I’ve seen so many TAs take these goodies
when offered and I always wonder that the
agent does with them. I have spoken to the
suppliers at the trade show booth to ask, if a
TA requested 100 DVDs or 100 of this gadget
or gizmo would you fulfill their request? And
the answer was a resounding YES if the agent
was going to use them in a promotion of
some kind. So the old media still works.
When you combine the old and the new
methods of marketing, the offline and the
online and you set one up via the other, you
will be creating what we call a blended
The blended concept is something to study.
It means you can use your social media
marketing skills to introduce a good old
fashioned come and get it, promotion.
You can use a Facebook, tell-your-friends-
about-this referral program to fill the room
of your next consumer night. The offer
includes a take away. That take away is a
gorgeous DVD featuring a glorious video of a
dream cruise, tour or destination.
Included in the DVD cover slip is an offer of
Book Now and get… the “get” can be an
upgrade or a discount or a… whatever your
supplier is offering at the time you promote.
The Pen is Mightier than the Email… and
that is true in many cases. A pen is still one
of the most used and most appreciated
specialty marketing give aways. There are
some snazzy pens out there too and your
suppliers have offered them in the past. Your
baby boomer clients love them. Your
younger generation clients might prefer a
Sharpie or something similar.
The YouTube Way to the Heart… video is all
things travel. Your supplier’s videos are one
of the top marketing tools you should look
for. Get the ‘okay’ to proceed and copy the
best videos to a DVD of your own making.
Use a DVD that allows you to print on the
surface using Lightscribe or your inkjet
printer if it has the DVD printing option.
Now you can create a YouTube video
offering the DVD. Yes I know it sounds
convoluted but it’s not. It’s all about that
special offer… GET YOUR DVD OF GLORIOUS
PLACES TO VISIT AND WATCH IT ON YOUR
BIG SCREEN TV!
The Paper Business Card is old media… the
mini CD business card is new media.
Start collecting old
media and work
on your blended
that includes your
social media skills.
Until your baby
boomer clients have left the mortal coil
there is always a place for old media
Direct mail, press releases, flyers,
newsletters, printed matter… they still work
and anything that is tactile is attractive and
increases the pass-along effect, currently
known as going viral. Not much is new. Just
a change in format and delivery!
To unzip something more, something special, you are going to need to dig deep
and where you dig is very close to home. It’s all there in your client files. In your
CRM. In your face-to-face interactions with your clients.
Times have changed as well you know and
the information that you drive through the
business dealings you have when selling
travel is called DATA.
DATA is information that leads to
OPPORTUNITY if you know how to read it
and interpret it correctly. That said, you’ll
want to make sure you have the right
information / data first time around. This
requires asking your clients for more than
their name, home address and email. Today,
your data must include your client’s social
media habits and websites where they
The Postal Code Map
If you have not yet completed this map, add
it to your to-do list. You may have reporting
software that will print a report at a click – if
not then it’s time to download a blank map
of your area or the entire world and or you
could approach your country’s post office
website and use their tools.
It’s amazing where your business comes
from. If you are local and stay local then
you’ll know where your clients live. If you are
online and deal worldwide then you’ll be
very surprised with the locations that pop
Here’s a terrific website to review – and if
you are stuck re a postal code – just type it
in and bingo! http://www.geopostcodes.com/
The Social Media Map
Most people in the world that are online are
connected to Facebook or similar. Bit of a no
brainer to think all your clients are on
Facebook. Then again, they might not be.
Your Facebook promotions then are missing
one or two major clients. Asking the “which
social network do you use?” question will
give you the answers you need.
The Product Map
Your CRM, accounting software, backroom
anything should be able to spit out a report
detailing the products your clients buy from
you. You will know in your head, however
when you see it onscreen or on paper as a
map or chart then the data makes more
You’ll want to count the type of product such
as cruise. You’ll want to list the cruise
supplier and the number of bookings made
with that company. Then you have the
sailings and itineraries. Also the month your
clients sailed. Can you see the imagery
building now? This map alone will deliver
enough data that will keep you engrossed. It
pays to complete a monthly review in this
manner and to make sure you do actually
understand your business. Many times,
through being busy, we think the number
was “this” when it was totally the opposite.
Stick to the mapping of your data and win.
The Location Map
Same as the product map. You need to know
where in the world your clients are travelling
too. Not in your head – mapped out.
The Vacation / Niche Type Map
This data set maps out the type of vacation
booked – cruise, tour, FIT… ITC… adventure…
you can set the rules to what you map.
Large travel firms have this type of data flow
happening all the time. Smaller agencies and
most agencies are small in terms of dollar
size. About 75% of all travel agencies are
writing $3-$5 million a year. Then of course
you have a small percentage of agencies in
the $10 - $20 - $50 million, others in the tens
of millions, but not many. So we focus on the
smaller agency as the big guys have got
everything they need and want and have had
it for a very long time. Smaller agencies can
copy to some degree some of what their
larger counterparts are doing.
The main thing is to get that data harnessed,
unzip it, think on it and then start to plan
your next marketing campaign. Naturally
your recording of the data you attract must
be correct. If not, you’ll be wasting a lot of
time going in the wrong direction.
Let the BIG guys chase the BIG DATA. You
stick with the basic, tried and true data that
comes from your primary sources and you’ll
unzip new biz!
Alright! Saddle up and hold on. The latest news
on and about the adventure travel market is
here and between the pages of this report it
suggests that four out of ten of your clients want
an adventure vacation.
That statement jives with other reports and
especially when it comes to your baby boomer
clients. They are nearing or already reached
their 60 something birthday and it seems at that
stage of life, many people need to recharge their
batteries and add some zip to their travels.
Not so much wishing to stand in front of a herd
of charging musk ox or wrestle a b’ar – however
something soft to medium as in white water or
walking trails or scaling one or two easy to reach
peaks would do nicely.
After you have read this report you can then start to look at your own client base and I would
suggest you survey them, or call them to a consumer event to review and discuss the adventure
that an adventure trip can offer them. Gain their insight. Ask “Where shall we go?” and then sit
back and take down the information. Next step is to create your Adventure of a Lifetime or
Adventures of YOUR Lifetime tour series.
You should know that some of your clients desire hard to extreme adventures, others prefer soft
adventure and then there’s the deluxe adventurer who would like to sip wine as lions attack their
prey a few feet away. Glamping that’s called. Leave that with you. Adventure travel is big - $263
billion big. I’m sure there’s some moola in there for you too.
CClliicckk hheerree ttoo ttrryy aa mmeemmbbeerrsshhiipp ffoorr 3300 DDaayyss!!
IN THE TRAVEL
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