IC TRAVEL AGENT December 2013


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The How-To Magazine for ICs, OSRs & Home-Based Travel Agents

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IC TRAVEL AGENT December 2013

  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS – IC DECEMBER 2013 4 EDITORIAL: Planning 2014 6 THE TRAVEL AGENT’S STORE 7 2014 BIZ PLAN: Getting Prepared 13 THE ONE-PAGER AT-A-GLANCE PLANNING SHEET 14 YOUR 2014 BIZ PLAN TABLE OF CONTENTS 15 TRAINING PAGE: Expecting the Unexpected 16 2014 REFERRAL PLAN 17 ADD TO YOUR AD 18 BIZ BLOGGING PLAN 20 MILLENIAL MARKETING 22 YOU OUGHTA BE IN VIDEO! 26 MAKING THAT MOVIE 28 AUDIO CLIP MARKETING 30 NICHE: GREEN TRAVEL 33 PACKAGING YOU! 34 E-BOOKS: YOUR STORY 37 SELLING WITH STEVE 38 START THE NEW YEAR WITH A GIFT TO YOURSELF 40 SELLING SPECIAL PLACES 42 IC MEETING PLANNER 43 TOOL: TRANSLATORS 44 THE TRAVEL INSTITUTE: Well Being Travel Course 45 LET’S TALK ABOUT TRAINING! Advertising in IC-TravelAgent reaches the serious business-minded travel agent. Promote your products and services via video, audio or generic text and images. IC TravelAgent is marketed direct to over 4,000 travel agents plus thousands more via social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, trade contacts, partners and educational institutions. Your ad includes a BONUS Howto-Sell article. Full page rates start at: $425 per one insertion. If it’s not yet 5pm where you live, you still have time to make one more call, close one more sale or send one more promotion! Selling travel from home does not have to be a puzzle when you read IC! Find the host agency that best suits your needs. Share your money making ideas in IC and help your IC colleagues. CONTACT Steve Crowhurst steve@ic-travelagent.com 250-738-0064 www.ic-travelagent.com Publisher: SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com Contributors Steve Crowhurst IC TRAVEL AGENT is owned and published by Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. Protected by International Copyright Law. IC TRAVEL AGENT can be shared, forwarded, cut and pasted but not sold, resold or in anyway monetized. Using any images or content from IC TRAVEL AGENT must be sourced as follows: “Copyright SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com” SMP Training Co. 568 Country Club Drive, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada, V9K-1G1 Note: Steve Crowhurst is not responsible for outcomes based on how you interpret or use the ideas in IC TRAVEL AGENT. T: 250-738-0064.
  3. 3. TRUE SUPPORT FOR TRUE PROFESSIONALS At Nexion Canada, we know that you are passionate about your travel business. So we provide you with the professional support and industry relationships you need to be more profitable and efficient, giving you the freedom to run your travel business the best way: your way. A full-service host agency combining decades of experience, Nexion Canada provides independent, Canadian-based travel professionals of all experience levels with: • • • • • • • • • Your choice of up to 80% of commissions Top commissions with leading air, cruise and land suppliers Technology tools to better manage your business Access to our exclusive point-and-click booking engine or through the Amadeus, Sabre or Galileo GDS systems Training, coaching and networking opportunities Innovative marketing programs to grow your business Exclusive cruise block space and supplier offers Lead generation for qualified agents Vacation.com membership included at no additional charge! It’s time to join a family of professionals that truly supports your independent business dreams. It’s time to join Nexion Canada. Contact us today to learn more about our growing family of travel professionals. Visit www.Join.NexionCanada.com Email sales@nexioncanada.com Call 866-399-9989 MENTION THAT YOU SAW US IN IC AGENT MAGAZINE AND RECEIVE YOUR FIRST MONTH FREE! 10131503-Nexion_Ad.indd 1 10/29/13 2:18 PM
  4. 4. Steve Crowhurst, CTC, Publisher Planning 2014 I’ll refrain from using any of those old, tired, tried but true clichés about failing to plan and simply advise that ya just gotta do it! I hear it all the time in my workshops: “I work from home… why do I need a plan?” and “I’m a one-man / woman show… what’s to plan?” All true – however with a short, sharp well written plan – you can enter 2014 knowing exactly what you’ll be doing on any given day. Make that during any given week if you wish. The outcome will be a very relaxed you, plus you will be ready for any unplanned opportunities. Planning for 2014 means researching what the projected travel plans are of your clients, your suppliers and adding to that information any research that has meaning to your niche market. For instance you’ll want to know what destinations are trending with companies such as Lonely Planet, Conde Naste, Travel & Lesiure and National Geographic. They lead the way in consumer travel magazines and guide books and usually published a planning guide for the coming year. Next, to help with your planning and more so your marketing we’ll explore using video as your main marketing tool as in 2014 you’ll be seeing much more usage of this technology and you should get your share. I have started to embed videos in the very pages of IC Travel Agent – you can do the same for your own digital newsletters. Remember, whatever I create here for you, you can create for yourself to attract your existing clients. Videos make for referrals and new leads, too. Put yourself in the director’s chair and once your script (plan) is written start the cameras. With you playing the lead role. Be the star you are and create those award winning videos that will capture the hearts and minds of your clients, and make better use of your supplier’s videos, too. See you inside… Here’s to your continued success! Best regards. Steve Crowhurst, CTC steve@ic-travelagent.com www.ic-travelagent.com Page 4
  5. 5. Peace to all. Courtesy of www.designbolt.com It’s that time of year once more when we celebrate our own religious events, and delight at others being able to celebrate theirs. May your 2014 be the best year ever for you personally and professionally. Keep the faith – whichever one you follow. Page 5
  6. 6. Be sure to click on the above image and subscribe to the mailing list and that way you’ll be notified when the store is open, when new arrivals are on the shelves and when special events are scheduled. The majority of workbooks, manuals and PowerPoint presentations will be e-books and available for instant download after purchase. Some eBooks will have hard-copy options and all e-books will have a bulk purchase price subject to the number of downloads required. If you have published an eBook that you would like to sell via The Travel Agent’s Store please contact us here and let us know the title, review of the content and your pricing structure. Page 6
  7. 7. 2014 BIZ PLAN From a one-pager to a full blown 150 page tome every business needs a plan. If you’ve not written a business plan before don’t worry, there’s plenty of local help at your host agency HQ, government small business offices, plus you can select from many business plan planning software programs – just Google that search term. A home-based business plan shouldn’t be that dramatic, however it should contain enough information to keep you focused and driving forward. To do that we start with your expenses. You need to earn at least that amount. Next we add on what you need to profit by followed by planning how you intend to generate that income. Are you ready? Let’s go. events such as storms, political change to strikes and so on. These are events you can plan for and those you can’t as many are unforeseen. So in essence, you are planning each year based on what you want to earn, and the expenses you have to pay. Your next step is to decide how you will generate those sales. Expenses How much does it cost to run your home based travel agency? I’ll go with a figure of $5,000 which for this exercise will include the room you use, office equipment, use of your car, gas, parking, accounting systems, host agency fees, other fees, FAMs, conference costs and so on. Marketing is NOT included yet. To generate the sales you need you’ll be thinking hard about which destinations and suppliers to sell and how to market yourself and your services effectively. How Much Do You Want To Earn? Next you’ll need to decide how much you wish to earn in 2014. A recent trade survey advised that on average home based agents are selling close to $350,000 a year. Using a figure of 10% for easy calculation the earned commission revenue would be $35,000 from which you would pay your $5,000 expenses. If you are on a commission split with your host then you’ll factor in that percentage. Recap: At this point we have $5,000 in annual expenses to pay off and we have decided “we” want to earn $50,000 before taxes. If we gross up the $50,000 we have a sales figure of $500,000. That’s your sales target and that’s the figure your sales & marketing plan must generate. Now you plot and plan your marketing activity based on your niche market, your client’s needs and other business opportunities such as discounted airfares or cruises. For the purpose of this article let’s go for $50,000 in your jeans before taxes. Where Does This $50,000 Come From? If you are new to selling travel there is one thing you must come to understand and it is this: each year you are starting out with a clean slate, with zero sales. Last year’s business rarely repeats which means it’s a brand new ball game each year. You hope that the clients who travelled last year travel this year – but that’s not how it works. Each year there are many things that effect the selling of travel and they range from some of your clients just taking a rest, to world Marketing Plan - First Things First The first thing you do now is make a list of all the scheduled dates in 2014 based on the marketing activities planned by your host / head office. You do this to make sure you participate and to ensure your local promotions do not clash with HQ promotions and vice-versa. Page 7
  8. 8. Next: List all the important dates related to your private / family life. After that you’ll list dates related to FAMs and vacations. Finally: List all official government holidays. When you have those key and core dates listed, plot them on an Excel spreadsheet. Type both the dates and your action items or tasks into your CRM program or use MS Outlook: (You can print the plan found in this article to save time.) Other Calendar Planning Resources Outlook Monthly Planner Google Docs / Templates also offers a selection of calendar templates as does Microsoft Templates. There are online business calendars available to you, also APPS for your smartphone that can help with your one-page planning. Recap: All the dates you need to record are now listed and recorded into your chosen calendar format. The next step is to plan around these dates listing what it is you intend to sell. Outlook Task Scheduler Expecting The Unexpected It’s not a topic many travel agents are trained in yet the unexpected is a constant threat or opportunity to anyone running a travel business. From experience many travel agents will know when something is amiss. They’ll stand back and review what’s going on. Experience teaches you to always call a supplier or go direct to a trusted source and find out what the truth might be. As you know mass media likes to exaggerate the news – sometimes however they are correct. The Page at a Glance I tend to work from both an onscreen digital calendar using Outlook – then to my immediate left is a hard copy At a Glance One Pager for the year with weekends, stat holidays shaded in. Events you can expect and plan for would be related to weather and there are plenty of weather-based websites where you can open an account or create a Google Alert so that you are fed the news as it happens. I use this one pager to make pencil and ink changes. It’s very quick to do so and when you have time you can update your digital version – or if your schedule is onscreen, just make the changes there and then. Your choice. Note: The one-pager at-a-glance hard copy has been reported faster to use than a smartphone! Kazam! Other than getting a heads-up on the weather pretty much everything else happens by chance. Think terrorism to sinkholes, to some poor person tipped over the edge through personal stress. You’ll never know when it will happen. Page 8
  9. 9. Expecting the unexpected then is to be fully aware of what can and will happen and having a Plan B in place. You may be called upon to extract 20 of your on-tour clients. You may have to contact someone in a consulate. You just have to know how to put Plan B into action when required. For now the assumption is that 2014 will work its magic, everyone in the world will play nice and life will go on as it was intended. We hope. intention is to use social media then costs are almost zero – however you still require the hard data related to consumer booking activity. How’s this going for you? Does it make sense? If you need to chat with me just email and we can Skype about it. Planning Quarter by Quarter Seasonality In real time and depending upon where you live (I’ll use my own location) Q1 weather can be rainy, windy and a dump of snow can come anytime depending on which way the winds are blowing. Your plan will also take into consideration the seasonality of your products and destinations. There will be highs and lows and shoulder seasons and those seasons are usually directed by the weather at the destination you are selling. If it is winter where you are and summer where you are selling, that’s prime season and expensive. Your mission then is to know not only the weather based seasonality, but also the booking seasonality. When do people book to that destination you want to sell? How far out from the departure date do they plan? This is information you MUST know. Your marketing spend and ROI depend on it. You do not want to be investing your marketing money at the wrong time such as after the spike. Q1 covers wintery months to the beginning of Spring. My Q1 plan suggests I sell sun, sand and sea destinations and be ready to promote Cherry Blossom Tours to Japan. The local season is driving the beach vacation promotion and the season in Japan is driving the tour to view the cherry blossoms. Seasonality here and seasonality there – both need to be factored into your plan. Planning in December means my push to market beach vacations is probably late in the day – although I could promote ‘Last Minute Bookings” for those customers who live last minute. Action: Your supplier BDMs have the booking information you need. Call your preferred suppliers and use this script: “Hi (name), I’m putting together my 2014 marketing plan and need an idea of when you normally start to take bookings for (country/resort/tour)… also are there any typical seasonal spikes I should know about – I’d like to invest my marketing money just before that spike in bookings.” Better that I have more time between now and then when I sell something, which makes Japan an ideal sale. I can also promote spring time in Europe and spring cruises too as well as any destination throughout the year to come. Q2 has its own seasonal destinations and products. Cruising to Alaska for instance. Marketing in December to sell those early Alaskan cruises would again be short notice. You may not get a return on your marketing dollar – however, if you are using social media and email then costs are low, and delivery speed instant. Practice that script and change it / reword it to suite your own style and personality. The concept is there. What you want to know is related to the bell curve for the destination or product you intend to promote. When do the Early Adopters usually book and when do bookings surge? With this information you can plot your marketing dates and how much to invest if you are NOT using social media and email to promote your products. If your Your marketing plan should be created over time and in effect never stop. Each promotion you deliver should tail off as another takes off. Your Page 9
  10. 10. timing is important. Too many promotions can confuse your clients therefore you must plan who receives what promotion. By targeting your clients based on their travel passions you can work your plan to include many ongoing, same time promotions. If you video some WOW! footage, post it and ask your clients to share it with their friends. Encourage your clients to go viral with your video. Ask them to share it. Plan your ‘go viral’ push in advance. Bell Curves Each promotion you launch will have a booking starting and end point. Bookings will peak and then decline. As mentioned earlier, you’ll want your promotions to start up as one fades out. Some of your promotions will be short-lived and others will be ongoing. Planning By Fact and Intention Always, and without fail, plan to conduct an annual survey of your clients as to where they want to go next year. If you have already completed this survey you would be able to plot those potential bookings on your 2014 plan. This data helps you plan your commission budget. Sample Script: “Hi Mr. Dawson… Steve here of ABC Travel… a quick question for you as I am preparing my product plan for 2014. Would you have any idea at this time, if you intend to travel in 2014, and if so where are you planning to go and when?” Promo durations depend on how well the clients take to your promotion and how well your promotion encourages your clients to book. The word ‘encouragement’ would be related to the offer, the pricing, the features and the value for money as perceived by the client. Most clients are happy to help out and tell you what you want to know. Others may probe further and ask “Why do you need to know now?” – your response is always related to pricing and features and value. Recap: At this stage your 2014 plan has all the Your reply is: “Good question Mr. Dawson. The information you give me will help me look for the best dates and pricing related to the vacation you might take and if there’s more than one couple going in the same direction then there are group rate opportunities…” Once again you can play with the script to suit your own style. important dates listed. You have plotted dates for when certain products or destinations start to book, and now you plan your marketing & promotional activities and record them on your 2014 at-a-glance one-pager. One thing to remember is this: each marketing activity requires advance planning which means scheduling your creative time on your plan. Post FAM & Vacation Promotions Creative Time You may need to invite in other people to help you which means planning around their accessibility. Your creative time might happen at 3 a.m. in morning, during lunch, when visiting friends – only you know when your creative happens. Best you plan your creative time, stick to the schedule and factor in the creative surges when they happen. Turn you own travel experiences into consumer presentations. You should promote the fact that you are travelling and at the same time promote a consumer event to be held upon return. You can stoke this promotion using social media as you travel. A post to your Facebook business page can work wonders. Boosting that post by paying $5 can add a thousand views. Page 10
  11. 11. you on your Facebook business page, or watch a video on your YouTube channel? What are they supposed to do? Lead the reader to you and encourage the booking through the use of slogans: “Book before the 25th to save…” That’s good advice and not pushy. “Don’t be left in the cold… call today and book your place in the sun!” This call to action is a “just sayin’!” type of push towards making the call. It nudges the reader to think about the cold weather that’s coming. Building Your Image Bank Open a folder and label it Image Bank or a name of your choice. This folder is where you save your own images, videos, audio clips, scripts and text that you intend to use one day in your travel promotions. Creating this folder saves time when you are searching for a specific image, audio track, layout and more. Think, Act, Do, Check This age old process still works. Think and create your promotion, Act by sticking to your launch date, Do means to click that mouse, or mail that newsletter, Check means to follow up, check your stats, check for viralization of your promotion and be ready to take bookings, referrals and general questions. It’s important that your plan includes engaging the reader and closing the reader. It’s important you plan for both. In some cases you’ll need to sell yourself, sell your services, sell the destination and then at some point you’ll need to start asking the hard questions and move your reader towards buying travel from you. Study the slogans that other companies use and also study every promotion you receive online or in your mail box. Most plans tend to fail through lack of implementation. Doing is critical to your promotional success. Marketing and Promotional Activities You may have a challenge deciding which media, medium, message, format, outlet, style and colour to use, not to mention the eye-capturing slogan. Whichever combination you use there is only one focus and that is to generate a sale. That sale might happen immediately, or it might happen 18 months from now. The timing of a booking is decided by the recipient of your promotion and what’s happening in their life. Recap: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Using social media is one of the fastest avenues to publishing your promotion. Once you click, your promotion is out there. All social media promotions need to be checked and double checked for errors before you click and send. Make sure your plan includes time to review before sending. Your dates are listed Your niche destination seasonality is known Your creative is done Your message is complete Your call to action/s are done Your follow up actions are decided Your media / mediums are selected Your promotions are scheduled The question now is: how many bookings do you need to generate to cover costs and profit? How Many Bookings? The Target: $50,000 in commission or $500,000 in sales. The number of bookings depends on the product and per person price level you sell at. Guide Your Audience to Their Next Step Not every promotion is clear to the reader. Some people need to know what to do next. Don’t leave this to chance. Make sure your promotional plan delivers the action your reader should take once they have read your ad. Are they to call, email, walk in, come to see you, Skype with you, fill out a form, go online, LIKE     Page 11 2 world cruises at $250,000 = $500,000 166 bookings valued at $3,000 = $500,000 83 wedding packages at $6,000 = $500,000 4 groups of 30 people at $4,500 = $500,000
  12. 12. Once you calculate how many bookings you need to solve the profit problem, divide your total by 52 weeks. Tracking your weekly sales success will ensure you remain on plan. 166 bookings calculates as three bookings per week. Your wedding sales equate to 1.5 bookings per week. The four groups could be scheduled as one group per quarter, and the 2 world cruise bookings at some point within the year. http://www.sba.gov/tools/business-plan/1 On Line Business Plan Planning It’s worth exploring this website. As you look around the products you will find dedicated travel agency business plans, social media plans, marketing plans and so on. You also have the option of creating your own plan for a fee. World Cruise Caution: Selling a world cruise sounds wonderful doesn’t it? The fact is, you could starve by the time such a sale concludes if that’s all you focus on. World cruises tend to sell out one to three years in advance, they tend to sail in the winter months – which means you could be investing in your world cruise promotion for years before getting an inquiry. http://www.bplans.com/travel_agency_business_plan/exe cutive_summary_fc.php#.UoZkDLmA0dn The best way to sell into such high level travel is to include a mention of a world cruise in every promotion you send out. For instance your plan calls for the promotion of mid-year European tours. You can always add a one or two liner to pitch the world cruise or a global land tour. About The Competition As a home-based travel agent you don’t really need to worry about ‘the competition’. You might if you were a multi-million dollar travel company trying to win more market share from another multi-million dollar travel firm. As your business is all about YOU and YOUR experience you actually have no competition and that holds true for all ICs, OSRs and HBAs. You are a oneoff individual and you compete with other individuals not brands. Time to Plan the Plan Follow the steps in this article. Ask your BDMs at your host head office to work with you, and check locally for assistance too. You can always check in with me as and when you need advice. When you write your business plan you must consider the competition however you should be led by where you are going and not where they are going. Let your head office work on the competitive front. They will make the call, create the right promotion and that’s what you support by adding it into your marketing plan schedule. In this way you get to focus on selling you and your niche in your local community. Good luck with your planning for 2014 – once again, if you need help, let me know what you need.  Local Assistance Check locally for government assistance related to business planning advice and also software. You’ll be surprised what is available to you at no charge. Services range from advice to actual software to a small business consultant who will sit with you and help you work your plan. Here’s one such department in the USA. Canada, Australia and the UK offer similar programs. Page 12
  14. 14. Your 2014 Biz Plan TOC Listed below are the typical headings that relate to the construction of a travel agency business plan. Some are redundant for a home-based agency however each is worth reviewing just in case there is a place for this component in your specific plan. Nothing is written in stone and that means you can, must and should write your plan to suit your own style of business, your chosen niche and your marketing personality. 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 17. MARKET DESCRIPTION & DEFINITION 2. DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPANY 18. TARGET CUSTOMERS COMPANY HISTORY 36. BREAK-EVEN 19. MARKET OPPORTUNITIES 37. FUNDING OPTIONS 38. BUSINESS CONTROLS 3. 39. ACCOUNTING SYSTEM 4. YOUR MISSION, VISION, CUSTOMER SERVICE STATEMENTS 20. BUSINESS STRATEGY 5. PRODUCTS AND SERVICES 6. FINANCIAL FORECAST 22. ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION, SOCIAL MEDIA 7. FINANCING REQUIREMENTS 40. QUALITY CONTROL 21. CUSTOMER INCENTIVES 41. PREFERRED SUPPLIERS 42. YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS 43. GROWTH AND RISKS 23. SALES AND MARKETING 44. EXIT STRATEGY 24. COMMISSION 8. 9. MANAGEMENT TEAM AND KEY ADVISORS 25. OPERATIONS SERVICES 26. LOCATION AND PREMISES 10. TRANSPORTATION 27. HOURS OF OPERATION 11. GUARANTEES AND WARRANTIES 28. COMPUTER EQUIPMENT 29. STAFFING 12. MARKET RESEARCH 30. FORECASTING TRENDS 13. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL FACTORS 14. COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT Writing a business plan takes time - at least a full week. Write your plan to cover 18 24 months. Five year plans are now obsolete. The world of travel changes too fast and you need to be able to react instantly when required. The current concept is to be: focused but not blind. 31. SALES FORECAST 32. CASH FLOW PROJECTIONS 33. INCOME STATEMENT 15. LONG-TERM OPPORTUNITIES 34. BALANCE SHEET 16. GEOGRAPHIC AREA 35. PERFORMANCE RATIOS Page 14 BUSINESS PLAN WORKSHOPS ARE AVAILABLE Inquire here
  15. 15. Training Page This month’s Training Page discusses how you could and should Expect the Unexpected and suggests that you complete the one pager at-a-glance planning sheet. First making note of all the events that are known and expected and then plotting the dates and durations of those known events. Having done that, you are now prepared for anything that arrives UNEXPECTEDLY. The unexpected in life as in business is something you can train for and be ready for should it happen. The only challenge to your surviving the event is that the unexpected has the element of surprise on its side. Here’s the chart that goes with Expecting the Unexpected. The central explosion representing the unexpected event that could happen at any time during the process. In the world of selling travel, you’ll think about the events that could adversely affect your business, decide how you would handle the situation if it arose and commit your response to paper, file it and practice it. Too often people forget the protocol – so knowing where to find it is key to your survival as is reminding yourself of the action to be taken. Think fire drill or life boat drill. To know is to overt. Page 15
  16. 16. 2014 Referral Plan Using social media to build referral traffic is one of the fastest routes to do that very thing. The chart below from Shareaholic ( www.shareaholic.com ) clearly shows Facebook to be the leader as a source of referrals. No matter how many friends or likes you have, now is the time to start planning your referral plan for 2014. Shareaholic offers you free tools such as Share Buttons that might just help you build those much needed referrals. posting that same request on your website, social media and in your ads. The Fastest Route to Profits It doesn’t take long for anyone selling travel to realize that referrals are simply the best way to grow your travel agency sales. Referrals are also the cheapest and less time consuming route to expanding your customer base. Years of trying to capture one couple at a time teaches you to look for the quickest route to more clients. Of course you’ll need a decent client list in order to effect a referral plan. That said, once you have a client, even one client – if you service them well you’ll have the opportunity to ask them to refer and recommend your services. To Be Referred You Must Be Referable When you do a fantastic job for your clients they will usually tell their friends. They will be your ambassadors and enjoy doing it. You can help this activity by promoting the fact that “We grow through your referrals.” Statements such as “Thank you for your referrals we appreciate them very much.” help build rapport. Ask yourself after each interaction with a client: Did I deliver 100%? Did I do my best? If you can answer yes to both then chances are you are good to go when asking your clients to mention your name, agency and services to their friends. Some travel agents do say they are shy of asking for referrals when face-to-face with a client. If that’s your situation you can use the less stressed technique of emailing your request and Page 16
  17. 17. Add To Your Ad It was mentioned in the Business Plan article that you should always be adding a luxury item to your generic promotions. Here’s a sample ad with an added luxury push. Use it as a base and make changes to suit your own style and personality. Note: BOV Travel is fictitious. Choose a photograph, an illustration or actual artwork that represents your niche. If your image is slightly different from the norm’ then it will be noticed. Promote what you do, what you are good at – and here BOV Travel is the BEST at finding their clients the BEST OCEAN VIEW rooms around the globe. That includes ocean view staterooms, suites and cabins on world cruises Here’s where you add in your world cruise push. BOV can tap into their niche of Best Ocean View Rooms. You don’t always need a direct connect. Just add the world cruise mention. There are times when even a simple one liner like this - Ask us about World Cruises - is all you need to generate a response. Trial and error is going to be the learning curve. Try it and try something other than a world cruise. Any luxury trip can be mentioned. The idea is to boost your commission income by selling upscale, luxury, expensive tours, cruises, adventures and even hotel, resort and spa rooms.  Page 17
  18. 18. Biz Blogging Plan Some travel agents are doing very well turning their writing skills into blogging skills and adding to their written word more than the usual candid photo. Depending on the blogging platform you use or intend to use there are many more tools to explore such as video. First things first though and one of the first things to ponder is time - how much can you devote to your blog? the best tools. Google’s Blogger might be a quick study whereas Wordpress requires more time. Clocking In Chances are you’ve watched many movies where the main character or their buddy is a blogger. What do you remember? It might be the scene where writer’s block has struck and the creative well is dry. Could be the sleepy eyes with dark circles that suggest no blog, no sleep. Finding and setting aside time to write is very important and that’s quite easy to arrange. Just hang out a shingle that says “Go Away… Blogger at Work!” Tell family and friends you need space and time. Set your time and keep the ritual. Resources So you’ve blocked your time to write. Excellent. Now you need sources of information and content unless you are the source. Having a flow of information that supports what you sell is mandatory, not to mention questioning the content before using it. There are still plenty of hoaxes going around. Research Two more links for you to explore. Female travel bloggers should find the Adventurous Kate link of interest. Be sure to read her About info. Publishing Schedule You’ll need to decide on the publishing schedule for your blog. Can you manage a daily dose of travel information? Too much? How about a weekly or monthly blog? One that works for me is what I call the As & When which means you write only as and when you have something worthwhile to share. In this way your clients will look forward to reading your blog as and when it arrives, versus being inundated with content that becomes boring. On The Clock Once More When you have the time (pun intended) get back to your at-a-glance one page planner and block off your blogging time. Select a time period that you know you can have all to yourself or when you are with family, friends, kids, pets and others that inspire you to write. Now it’s all down to generating bookings! Try a blog layout like the one here on the next page. Change to suit.  Choosing Your Blogging Platform Here are two images with links to information on what bloggers would say are platforms offering Page 18
  19. 19. Think about changing your header image to suit your post. Your header image should be enticing and good enough to eat, which in this case works just fine. If you have a sunset pictured there, make sure it’s a winner and one that you shot. This adds credibility to your blog and says simply, “this blogger was actually there!” Now, if you have it, how about adding in a short 60-second clip to support your blog post and the tour you want to sell? Again, something you videoed is preferable. A video or another image can work here. Also an audio clip or a bold heading / slogan. YOUR CALL TO ACTION GOES RIGHT ABOUT HERE! Many of the blogs you’ll research will present what is known as a wall of text. Line after line of text with no break for an image, a video, an audio clip or even a call to action (CTA). Your CTA could be as simple as: Call me soon and let’s talk about the treats you enjoy when travelling. Here’s my contact information. You’ve set a topic, you’ve instructed the reader what to do, made it easy for them to contact you and intimated you’ll be talking to them soon about joining your tour. “Don’t be eating humble pie when your friends are treating themselves to Verden Besta Kake!” Page 19
  20. 20. Millennial Marketing How much more can you take about the right way to market travel to a younger generation versus the good old Baby Boomers? Let me add to your folder on marketing to this fantastic group of young and younger people that society has labeled Millennials. One thing you must be very careful of is the lumping of younger generations into one box and assume they all react the same, want the same travel experience and use social media the same way. It’s just not true and remember we’re not talking kids here – these are people in their mid-20’s and 30’s who hold down responsible jobs and earn more than what Baby Boomers did at the same age. sense except for the anti-selling statements and rhetoric. Statements such as “they don’t want to be sold…” well the truth is - yes they do. They do want to be sold, only they want to be sold and they want to buy on their terms – just like everyone else regardless of age. The key then is to know per individual client, how they want you to interact with them from both the sales and marketing aspect of selling travel. We use these marketing labels to pinpoint a client profile and that can become dangerous at some point in time. Better to identify your clients by their travel passions and desires. There you have it. Every client regardless of age is unique and we are ALL swayed by what our friends do. It’s not a millennial thing, it’s just the way we as human beings are wired at this point in our evolution. If you do have a younger client base which means an age range of 20 to 40 years old then simply ask them how they prefer to buy their travel and how they prefer to receive your information. Reasons For Travelling Remain The Same The world is still where it was so many years ago. New countries have been born. Mountains still there, rivers too. Ancient temples still there. The sun still rises over the Himalayas and sets across a small pond somewhere in the flatlands. The average person young or old still gasps at scenes they are looking on for the first time and that hasn’t changed since mankind looked over one more horizon to witness something new and inviting. Survey Says Be careful how much validity you give the various trade surveys that are conducted and shared. The truth of most surveys is this: total number of people surveyed is roughly 1,000 or less. Personally I’m not sure if 1,000 people can speak for or represent 350,000,000 North Americans. The numbers just don’t add up. Travel and exploration is in our genes although not everyone triggers the emotion and that’s okay – someone has to stay home and run the farm. For the rest of us, we just have to travel and we do so for our own reasons as well as those inherited survival instincts to explore. Survey results are important to review however it is always best to survey your own 50 – 500 clients for a 100% return and gather that information which should allow you to make the right business decisions for your agency and your clients. The thrill of travelling and seeing new sites is not lost on any generation. The real change, as you well know, is in the use of technology to share what you are looking at in real time.  The Anti-Selling Approach Much of what is being written about marketing to the 20 and 30 something aged client makes Page 20
  21. 21. Everybody says it. No matter age, race, creed, or marketing label… WOW! Sell the WOW! WOW! (Meisha aged 23) WOW! (Freddy age 9) WOW! (Rev. Smith age 79) WOW! (Fingal age 45) Page 21
  22. 22. You oughta be in It’s time to focus! Time to get on camera, or behind the camera and shoot the footage that can help you sell more travel. Start here and find the various video options and how to use them to grow more sales. Page 22
  23. 23. you never know. You might find a viewership that just loves the short and sharp. Video Devices No need to look too far… what you need is right there in your hand, your purse, laptop case, or pocket. One but to add, and it’s this – you should be able to shoot 1080 HD video with your smart phone if that’s the preferred video capture tool. Video Tools The basic editing tools are found in your computer whether you are using a PC or MAC. As I use a PC I’ll focus on the tools within – and using Windows 7 on one PC and Windows 8 on another I have access to Windows Live Movie Maker. Moving up a notch: look for a DSLR digital camera that shoots video as so many now do. A well-priced dedicated video camera works if you intend to go pro. There are so many brands on the market it’s impossible to make a recommendation. At a certain price range 99% of the cameras are very good to excellent for the purpose of videoing the level of content you need. Like all such programs to get the best out of WLMM you need to invest a few hours to find out how it works and what each click here or there will do or create. Keep in mind we’re not striving for a full length Hollywood epic here. All we want is a 1 to 3 minute video clip that will grab your client’s attention and prompt them to inquire directly. Keypoint: Small cameras are light and hard to control when videoing exciting moments. Your reaction to the event will transfer through your body to your arms, hands and the camera. Which translates into a shaky video. Counter this by purchasing a small tripod. How They Work Let’s say you have videoed some decent footage. Next step is to edit that footage, add a title and a credit that includes your Contact Us information. You’ll edit your video footage using your hand held device or you’ll download it to your computer of choice and edit it on your big screen. Video Outlets You will be familiar with YouTube, perhaps Vimeo and a dozen other video outlets that the general public can access. You may also want to us a private link accessible by your clients only. Once downloaded you can right click on the file to see your options and the one you are looking for is Open With. You can post your video on your own website and as you well know you can post your video to your social media accounts too. In fact many of the video conversion software programs offer you a one-click upload to YouTube for instance. If you have opened your own YouTube account – that’s where it will be saved and displayed. New Video Outlets You can set your default program and or flip between the programs listed and select the one that’s best for the project you have in mind. As the months and years roll along you can only imagine the technology to come. At the moment there is Vine – an outlet for short 6-second video clips. Not sure it works for marketing travel, but Page 23
  24. 24. Editing Your Projects MY VIDEO MARKETING PLAN There are, as we continually state, so many options when it comes to technology and software that you may already have your own preferences. If not, let me suggest you look at the AVS4YOU suite. With one payment of $59 when on sale you can have unlimited access to some sixteen different tools. Shown below is the AVS4YOU Convertor interface where you can convert your video format to Flash, WMV, AVI and more plus you can post it to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with one click. In a nutshell it’s easy to use, quick and efficient. It works. This plan should dovetail with all your other marketing activities including the engagement programs your host head office is enabling throughout the year. You Video Marketing Plan (VMP) can be created using your own content, content from your suppliers and also from your clients. The main thing to keep in mind is this: you are not meant to be investing time into editing your client’s videos. Make sure when you put a call out for UGC – User Generated Content that you set the rules regarding a ‘finished product’. The video your suppliers can offer you would be the type of finished product you can post with full confidence. FAMs and Vacation Video Footage Here is your opportunity to video excellent footage and then edit to suit. There will be two types of video you film, the one you can show your clients and post on line and the video footage you should keep as personal. Editing does the job. Just make sure you come across as the business person you are and the travel agent of record for your community that promotes you as the travel guru of choice. Editing The Upside Down iPhone Video When you shoot video using an iPhone and then download it and then click to play it, it might be playing upside down. You can prevent this by choosing QUICKTIME player which will play your video right side up. After that, it will play right side up on Windows Media Player etc. Planning The Plan Let’s move ahead and assume you have your collection of video content now it’s time to decide how and where and when to showcase it. Windows Live Movie Maker offers you a Rotate button when you are editing – so if your iPhone video uploads to WLMM upside down, just rotate it to the correct view. Your choices for showcasing would be: 1. Your regular agency website 2. Email marketing campaigns 3. Social media accounts 4. Your travel blog and vlog 5. Video sharing sites – YouTube etc., 6. Digital newsletters 7. Digital e-Magazines 8. EBooks 9. Mobile websites Recap: You have the right video camera for the type of video you intend to shoot. You have opened an account with YouTube or Vimeo or both. You have reviewed and selected the best editing tool for your use. Time to create your VIDEO MARKETING PLAN… The next step is to decide on the video outlet/s, date to upload and the content to run. Page 24
  25. 25. The One Pager Plan Animoto – Make it a Favourite If you printed off the One Pager At-a-Glance plan and added in your host head office’s marketing plan and projects, you can now work around that schedule to include your video promotions. This is truly one of the best marketing tools for travel agents. I use it all the time. Once you learn how to use it and that’s not difficult, you can create and wrap up a video in less than 30 minutes. After that you can edit it, save and view time and time again. The video clips can only be 10 seconds long per clip. So you learn to get your message out in that time span. Here’s a test run using Animoto that has been converted to a YouTube format. The 7-second clip of me would be YOU telling your story. Your video can tell your travel story in full multimedia. So what’s coming up on the marketing horizon that you can support with a video of your own? The Face-To-Face Video If no travel footage is available you may have to video yourself chatting to your viewership and encouraging them to book the trip that’s being promoted. This is where you must live up to the title of this article – YOU OUGHTA BE IN VIDEO! If you have a blank wall that is well lit, and or a place where you can sit and chat without too much background noise then that’s the spot. You’ll need to be comfortable, surrounded by travel things, books etc., so probably at your desk where you can use your webcam. When it comes to your VMP you must plan around your video time, your editing time and your uploading time. After that, you may detect something that needs updating right now, so it’s back to editing the video and tweaking it here and there. Generally this would mean a complete revision and a new video. Minimum planning time then, to be safe, would be two weeks prior to the promotional launch. Practice makes perfect: This is the art of video. Just like the movies, you’ll be doing a number of “takes” before you are happy with the video. Stick with it. Do not give up. With time comes the right way to video yourself easily and quickly. Dress code: Make sure your on-camera attire suits the video, the story, the destination, the supplier and so on. Camtasia 8 This recording and editing program offers you a green screen tool which amounts to removing the background of your video and then placing ‘you’ in front of another video or scene. It’s using the green screen effect that Hollywood films use so much these days. There you are filmed sitting in your office and suddenly now you are sitting and talking with the Taj Mahal behind you. Worthwhile purchasing this program if the above excites you.  Scripted or not: Always script yourself and then practice it many, many times. Try it on-camera, make corrections and video once again. Finally, when you are confident – just switch on the camera and go for it. When you make a mistake… keep going after a short pause. The pause is where you will clip and edit the footage. Hold that SMILE: As you get to the end of your planned recording, hold a great smile, facial expression for a few seconds. The reason you do this is so prevent the last image of you being a blurry looking person with mouth open and eyes closed. Not the best LAST impression to leave. Page 25
  26. 26. Making That Movie You’re in luck! You are working in an industry that now thrives on video as a promotional tool. If you cannot manage to create your own video content, or produce your own movie then you can always ask your suppliers if you can use their videos. Let’s not go there just yet. Let’s see if you can create your own movie using some of the tools explained below and also explore what other travel firms are doing with their video content. Are you ready? Action! If you are shooting video using your smartphone then chances are you can access an app (Vine, Instagram, iMovie, ReelDirector, Cute CUT, Montaj, Magisto, HighlightCam, Lapse It, YouTubeCapture) that will edit your video without the need for any other software. Setting Up Your Video Outlets If you did shoot excellent video footage where would you show it? Yes for your website and yes for YouTube and or Vimeo and any of your social sites, too. Sure enough, today’s technology and marketing channels are begging you to use them and showcase your travels to the world. Other Conversion / Editing Tools Step one: set up your video outlets and you can do this very easily by opening a YouTube account. YouTube is owned by Google which means you can use your Google ID and password to create a YouTube account. My favourite is AVS4YOU and for the simple fact that for a low fee of $99 or $59 when on sale you can have access to over 16 programs that range from video conversion, to audio editing, to ringtone creation and more. Step two: check how you can upload and embed your videos into your website. If your website does not allow for this you may wish to upgrade your site or look for add-ons and options. They might be free or they might cost a few dollars. It’s a worthwhile upgrade if you intend to use more video in your marketing. The editing of your video is as important as the content you’ve taken. Your video should have titles, captions and credits. You may wish to add an introduction which would be a separate video that you splice into the main footage and you can do this with most video editing software. The last impression, the last image, frame and message is what will stay with your client, so it’s important to create a fantastic ending or simply advise your viewership what to do next. Book NOW! comes to mind. You might even appear on screen and ask your audience to call you. Converting Your Video Content How would you convert your videos to play on your website, YouTube or Facebook? Not all video formats are the same and not all formats instantly upload without being converted first. Video With The End in Mind Your camera may be advanced enough to upload your video with one click. The challenge in doing this is your video would be posted without being edited. That’s never a good thing to do, so you’ll need to edit your footage first and that means downloading your video to your desktop computer and opening your video with a conversion program. It’s always a good thing to get into the habit of planning your video and deciding on how you would like to sign off. You can do this as you video the last sunset for instance and just using your voice behind the camera, ask your clients to call you, email you or to turn up at a certain venue to attend your presentation. Page 26
  27. 27. Learn From Your Suppliers Keeping It Energized Chances are your supplier’s have deeper pockets than you do and if you pay attention to their new video productions you’ll quickly pick up on their ideas and techniques. They may be using high quality video cameras which means the quality of their imagery will be better than your smartphone video. Here’s a video from Air New Zealand. It’s been around for a short while now, and still one of the best ever with over 2,267,538 views. I’ll let the video do the talking. Your take away is to think about how you too could create something similar to this snappy, clever and humourous video based on your own personality and travel preferences. The Recent British Airways Video In this most recent video from BA, they have employed the split-screen editing technique. We can’t go into the how-to here on this page however search the HELP files of your editing software and you’ll find the instructions. The split screen technique allows you to play two videos at the same time. Click on the video below after you read this intro from Tnooz: The style of video is in first-person, emphasizing the “Yourope” so the viewer feels more connected to the experience at hand. The videos are also done in bursts, bringing in short clips in a montage of travel experience. This delves into the Vine-style short video clip experience, while also reflecting the indelible, episodic memories that travel delivers. After selecting the destination, viewers are brought to the destination via plane and taxi. After arriving at the destination, viewers must then choose an experience. The street is split down the middle, and a wipe clears out the other side of the street once the selection has been made. For Something Completely Different The My MUVEE software might be right there in your list of computer programs. Check to see if it is. If so then you have another fantastic video tool to use. Here’s a quick test video with Muvee using their old style format. Imaging using this style to promote train travel adventures. I’m using the Dylanesque format with cue cards. What could you do different to tell your story, or push market your niche products and niche destinations? Tourism Offices Video Content Make sure you carry your video device with you at all times and don’t be shy to put yourself on camera and have a conversation with the lens. After a few attempts you’ll love being on camera and that’s a plus. Almost every office of tourism has its own professionally shot collection of videos that you are allowed to use subject to certain rules and regulations requested by the Tourism HQ. If you sell into a niche destination, ask for their videos. Page 27
  28. 28. Audio Clip Marketing Do you like the sound of your own voice? Well if you do, here’s a way to chat and sell. You can use the Sound Recorder tool which is found under Programs, Accessories. Once you locate Sound Recorder, click on it and the recorder will pop up. Arrange your microphone a few inches from your mouth, click the Start Recording button and start chatting. Stop chatting and stop the recording. When you have stopped the recording the Save As box will appear. Save your test files to your desktop – then when you are well scripted and confident, go for it and save your professional audio clips to a specific folder. Here’s one of the better audio recorders. It is called Audacity and just happens to be a free download. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ As you can tell comparing the interfaces of Sound Recorder and Audacity, you’ll have more of a learning curve using Audacity. It is more for professional recordings and that means you can use it for blog posting and podcasts. Page 28
  29. 29. Types of Audio Clips The more you investigate sound, travel sounds and the various things you can do with an audio clip the more your creative juices will excite! You are allowed to use the sounds on our website free of charge and royalty free in your projects but you are NOT allowed to post the sounds on any web site for others to download, link directly to individual audio files, or sell the sounds to anyone else. Remember to read Terms of Use before downloading and using the sound effects or music tracks. Audio clips can be embedded in emails, websites, blogs and used as ringtones too. You’ll be wanting to factor audio clips into your 2014 Business Plan / Marketing Plan to decide how and when to use them. Typical audio clips in the travel industry are a ships horn and the sound of a train. Then there’s you and your voice. The human voice telling a short story of delivering a simple call to action can work wonders. Mind you, the voice cannot be too loud, too sharp, too low… it has to be natural, clear and if you have an accent of any kind you’ll need to have someone else listen to it and decide whether or not your accent helps or hinders the listener to understand. If your audio clip is being sent to clients who share your accent then you’ll be fine. This bundle sells for $37 USD and you can find it on the Sound Jay website. If Rick Steves Can Do It… Well known TV traveller Rick Steves has his own set of travel podcasts and that means you can too. You’ll not be competing with Rick Steves because you’ll target your existing clients and using your social network/s to promote your podcasts, audio books and your snappy, short and sharp and highly creative promo clips. Remember the ships horn, the lion’s roar – here’s where they fit in so nicely. It’s ALL in the Mic’ That honkin’ great microphone is called the Yeti (!) from Blue Microphones. Wonderful! Sound Bytes Once you know what you are marketing – let’s go for an African Safari – you can select your sound bytes and if you’re thinking the Big 5 and out of that five you narrow it down to the roar of a lion… I’d say you are focused and good to go. That clip of the lion’s roar is then played or embedded into your audio recording. CHECK OUT the Sound Jay clips by clicking on the logo. You can purchase it at one of the big brand computer stores and online. Your audio should be crystal clear. Some webcam mic’s can do the job too. All it takes now is practice.  Page 29
  30. 30. Niche: Green Travel Green has become the colour of tourism throughout the world and it’s also the colour of money – which makes for a terrific selling combination. Most of what you sell day-to-day is already green which means the supplier or hotel chain have responded to areas in the running of their business that were in some way causing damage to the local / global atmosphere. By studying green travel opportunities you can develop a niche that most travellers support, especially the younger generation of travellers. Our planet needs all the help it can get and that’s nothing new – most travellers know it, have heard about it, read about it and in their heartof-hearts would like to help. The challenge for many travellers however is the hype that comes with political grandstanding and the use of green, eco, sustainable wording in their vote for me campaigns. Here then is the green niche opportunity for you and it doesn’t include ramming carbon offsets down the throats of your clients. Better to stay clear of such offers. Let your clients decide on that issue for themselves. Your role in keeping the green machine rolling is to advise and assist your clients to purchase the best travel plan for them and their planet. As you know the majority of green sensitive suppliers – from hotels and resorts to cruise lines – have made efforts towards greening their premises, products and modes of transport. Chances are, we are as green as we can get at the moment. More work to be done as always. Getting There Until another form of transport is invented, your clients will generally be flying to their green vacation. Once they land, greener transportation can take over. We can take comfort however that airlines are flying as green as they can be. Page 30
  31. 31. Green Adventures Rail Travel This just in! My cousin Jo’ back in the UK just returned from Kanana Camp, located in Okavango Delta, Botswana. Up close and personal with the wildlife and what a marvellous time she had. Here’s three images of her green lodgings – one of which had an elephant come visit! Travelling by rail is a green way to go. This form of transport is one of the oldest and most used worldwide and as long as it’s not burning coal or wood for instance, it’s travelling green. If you have a love of the clackety-clack then don’t look back – investigate this rail journey niche for yourself. Below is a selection of railway books found on the Barnes & Noble website and also at your local bookstore. Many of these books offer you the one thing you need most - the route. Your next step is to search online for the company that books the trip you wish to promote. Cycling Tours Person power is another green way to travel and cycling, like train travel, is a world favourite, too. There are numerous opportunities for you explore and more so if you happen to ride a bike. Marketing Green Green travel comes in all shapes and sizes and as many words such as green, eco, sustainable, environmentally friendly and these are words to be used in your promotional activity. There are green images available now like the ones below that you can find in Microsoft Clip Art. Investigate the green side of your suppliers and ask to use and mention their green initiatives in your advertising and promotion. Here’s a sample layout you can change to suit. Use your own images too.  Page 31
  32. 32. ©2013 Joanna Pitty Get off that beach. Leave the luxury cruise behind. Do the wine tour next year. This year come face to face with your planet in the wilds of Africa, atop a mountain peak in New Zealand, trek old routes and walk in the footsteps of long lost nomadic tribes. Keeping it green opens up so many travel choices… Page 32
  33. 33. Packaging YOU! You know how to package travel, but how are you doing packaging YOU! Are you making good use of everything about YOU? For sure you can fill in the About-Us tab on your website and even create a webpage on About.Me. Your social media sites will have a special page for you to edit your profile. So what’s missing? The Missing Ingredient Taking YOU to Market: The missing ingredient is usually the paper version of all things digital. At some point in time all that’s mentioned about you online has to make it into print. Not all the time, but sometimes. Hard copy printed business cards are still required just as much as your digital signature. And then there’s what we call Old Style Marketing that has come from what used to be limited options to turning Old Style Marketing elements into glorious pieces of design using digital tools. Take a hard look at all those paper-based promotional elements you use and determine where your face, name, agency name and logo could be printed along with your email address and phone number. Here’s the thing: people like your clients still pass things along to their pals. One of those ‘things’ would be brochures. Every brochure you hand out should have a sticker on it featuring your agency logo, contact information and an image of YOU. Show The Company You Keep: Your Image: You could and should also picture the logos of your preferred suppliers. They can be printed on the ticket jacket alongside your information. It’s good marketing to identify yourself with major travel firms. You can have the tour guide’s picture printed on the ticket jacket too – then the tour group can spot their guide quickly in a crowd (says Scott barker of Big Bark Graphics). We’re talking your best side here. Where is it featured? On your business card? On your letterhead? Envelopes? Website? Ticket jackets? Where would a client or prospect find your lovely face? If the answer is nowhere – then you need to rethink how you are packaging YOU. Special Vidvertorial from Big Bark Graphics serving travel agents across North America Marketing YOU is a specialty of Big Bark Graphics and a personal mission for the big barker ‘imself, the chief woofer of the company, Scott Barker. Take six minutes of your time to watch and listen to Scott’s take on his eStores and how you can benefit from taking YOU to market. Page 33
  34. 34. E-Books: Your Story As I’m about to launch my new eStore (www.thetravelagentsstore.com) I can’t help thinking that you probably have a book or two in you and that means you need to know how to create your own eBook, use it as a marketing tool and sell it online. If that’s something you would like to do, then let me share the following with you. E-Books are an excellent promotional tool and once published you are in fact an author and with that illustrious title, life can change for you in so many ways. Not promising large yachts and invitations to gala events – however, you can build a joint career alongside selling travel. got to support your writing. And that’s one book done and dusted. Now you need an outlet to sell through. Your Own Online Book Store You can follow my lead and open an online store and you can do this though many website offerings and perhaps your own website host has such an option for you. I am using Weebly and they have just upgraded their store functionality to include digital downloads and that’s the key feature you are looking for as you review other online selling tools and sites. Writing Your eBook E-Books cover all topics. The most purchased are in the how-to category. To you as a travel agent that means you would write content related to How To Cruise, How To Travel South America and titles like that. You don’t need the words “how to” in the title – however you could add something exciting at the end such as: “How To Travel South America on Zero Dollars!” Not sure if that’s possible, but if you’ve done it on the cheap then you know how to do it. The Process You write, you save to PDF, you combine the pages into one – and hey presto your eBook is almost done. You need what is known as an eCover and that means using an eCover software to create what looks like a 3D image of a hardcover book. You upload your images, price it, and publish the page. You are now selling online. You’ll need a PayPal account to collect and process the shopping cart. Amazon offers you a place to post and sell your eBook too. You need content. That content is either all about you, your travels or something you have a passion for and have investigated. Target Audience You can write as many eBooks as you can pump out. It’s your call and no editor to tell you otherwise. You are the author, editor and the publisher all in one. Each title can target a specific audience and this is where and how you use your eBook to boost your sales. Writing For All Devices The most favoured format for an eBook is PDF. There are eBook readers that are purpose built to read only in their specific format. So you’ll need to think about the outlet that’s best for your book. Think about what it is you want to sell, or promote and make that a topic. Luxury cruising might be a topic. Adventure also. Perhaps a list of specialty coffee shops around the world or a specific country, or city. Add in a couple of recipes from the area. Use your own photography and add in the best images you’ve Sell off your own website. Use your social media connections to boost the viral word. Promote like you want to sell a million copies and generate ten grand in travel commissions. WOW! Page 34
  35. 35. Here’s two more e-cover angles and concepts with one showing a CD if you were planning to offer that medium. E-Covers Here’s an e-cover that I created for my new eBook that’s due out as soon as I finish it! Yes time is always the challenge. You have to set a time to write say one or two pages a day and then you’ll finish on time. Almost. Back to the ecover: the first step is to design the front cover, then the back cover and finally the spine. For Something Different Your topic might be something that could use an unusual image such as this canned idea. From flat to round to angled, to 3D and various layouts like this pop can – your e-cover program can do it all for you. Shown below are the two elements you’ll need to create the typical e-cover: the front cover image and the spine. Both can be created in MS Word or PPT and then using Print-Screen, SnipIt or SnagIt – capture the image and crop to suit. The Photographic EBook Nothing sells travel like glorious images and chances are you have just what you need sitting in an image file in your computer. Now you have a few choices. You can create a photo eBook on one country, one city, one type of travel, or you can go wild and include everything. As we are focused on sales here – best to focus on your niche destination and use that collection of WOW photos. Call it a ‘collection’ or a ‘suite’ or simply ‘My Album…’ – add in your captions that help to sell the viewer / reader to book with you. Also be sure to have the opening image featuring you doing what you are selling. Add in a sidebar of text that profiles your travels. Sign off with a contact me now to book statement. Once you have those three elements created you can open your e-cover software and upload each image as directed. The e-cover software does what it does and creates a 3D image like the one you see here. Once all the images are in place you have the tools to add a shadow, or reflection and produce a JPEG or transparent PNG file. Once you become an author your clients will look upon you somewhat differently. Prestige seems to happen. Referrals too. Then sales. It’s good. It works. So start writing and go for it.  Click on the text below for information about publishing your eBook to Kindle. You may wish to change the colours, change the title and this you can do by make your changes to your imagery and then repeat the uploading to the e-cover software. And that’s how it’s done. Not too difficult – just needs time. Page 35
  36. 36. Page 36
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  38. 38. Start the New Year If you have ever considered the idea of running your own company, of being your own boss, then maybe the best gift that you can give yourself at the start of a new year is a new business. Your own business; one in which you can reach your full potential. While there can be no disputing that there are pros and co ns in running your own business, if you go into this with your eyes wide open and w ith realistic expectations, you too can join the hundreds of travel consultants that make up the gro wing ranks of independent co ntractors. based on your skill set, experience, and passio n. You are also free to decide if you wish to work with other consultants, and on what terms. That may mean aligning with like-minded consultants, or perhaps hiring your own staff to help you reach your goals. You will also learn that there are no shortcuts to building a successful business, but take comfort in knowing that it is, in the end, up to you. With a solid business plan, and the stamina for dealing w ith the inevitable challenges – anyone who has an entrepreneurial spirit can build a successful business, no matter how you describe “success”. It isn’t easy. It can sometimes be stressful, but the rewards to those who make the leap can be many and satisfy ing enough to make any bumps in the road worth the ride! 2. For Bal ance and Flexi bility: Take control of your time: One of the greatest benefits of owning your own business is the flexibility that comes with it. Work from wherever you want, setting your own hours, wearing a nightgown or even sitting next to your pet while you work. Perhaps just as important, you are free to set priorities; set your own schedule, and allow for time to spend with the most important people in your life. While there are no short-cuts to success in building a business, as the business owner, you can better manage the time you put into your business. How Do You Define Success? Goal-setting is a v ery powerful in business, and it begins at the outset. Know what you are looking for from your business. There are as many reasons for getting into business for yourself as there are people, but they generally fall into a combinatio n of a handful of categories: 3. To Sell What You Want To Sell: No matter how hard you try, it is simply not possible to be all things to all people. In fact, by being a generalist, you are less likely to be as good as you need to be in any one area of the industry . Become an expert, focus your attention and your sales will have far greater impact. 1. For Independence: Control Your Own Destiny: One of the greatest benefits to starting your own business is the simple fact that you are in charge. You decide what you will sell, to whom, and how. Decide on the suppliers you wish to work with, the mark-up and margins on the work you do. Free to choose your own niche(s) Page 38 Guest article by Mike Foster with a gift to yourself - Your Own Business!
  39. 39. To find your ideal niche, you must consider the following: Is the niche something that you enjoy and would be good at? Is it unique and not served by too many? Is it a marketable niche? Is it a profitable niche? When spending your working time doing something that you are passionate about, and for yourself – it won’t feel like work! To Get Things Done Faster: Have you ever found that your ideas and energy were stifled or ignored? Businesses – particularly large ones – can have processes, policies and procedures that can slow down business effectiveness and innovation. By being your own boss, you make the decisions – good or bad – in a timely way, and for yourself. 4. For More Ear ning Potenti al: Tie your income to your efforts: Not every travel consultant is looking to strike it rich, but as an entrepreneur, you have far more control over your personal income. There may be longer hours, or even fewer hours, but the effort you put into yo ur business is up to you as are the rewards. It is also true that owning your own business is a risky proposition. But, with risk comes reward, and the better you are at managing risk, the m ore rewards you can reap. 7. To Connect With Your Clients: As an entrepreneur, there are few things more satisfying and exciting as when you interact w ith your clients. You control your accessibility, and even who you deal with - yo u have the luxury to “fire” those clients you never want to serve again! 5. To Enjoy Your Career: Enjoy it to the fullest and challenge yourself! Some people excel in routine, finding comfort in having a scheduled job description to follow each day. But as an entrepreneur, y ou will be able to seek out new opportunities, to challenge yourself, to be creative and learn something new. There will be challenges from time to time, but there is nothing more satisfying than meeting each challenge head-o n and handling it for yourself. 8. Building Your Own Business There is nothing quite like the pride you establish in building something of your own; nothing like feeling the success through your own effort, abilities and ideas. Are You Sold On The Idea Yet? 6. For Focus – Follow Your Passion: The typical day of a travel agency employee is filled with interruptions and distractions, and not all of them are productive ones. Focus your attention and energy on doing the things you want to do, like building your business. Give yourself the gift of travel in 2014 and start your ow n home -based travel agency. Sell the w orld the w ay you w ant to sell it. For more advice contact: Steve Crow hurst Page 39
  40. 40. Selling Special Places So many places so little time. How can you get to visit all the special places there are and return home safely to sell them? Not an easy task, however the places that are special to you could be money makers if you start to use the Special Places theme. We all have our list of places special to us. I know some people who physically change when they get ‘there’ to their special place. Here’s one way to generate response – simply showcase the special place and offer to help your clients relive those memories. You will know from your own experiences that at times you feel this place is “talking to you” it’s connecting to you and you to it. You might not even speak the language, but you feel ‘at home’. When these feelings happen to you then this is indeed a special place. LET US SEND YOU BACK THERE TO YOUR SPECIAL PLACE These same feelings and insight happen to your clients and knowing this, you can tap into their special places, too. Once you know the places and locations special to your clients you can start to merge the list and promote a series of group departures to the places that top that list. Relive those special moments with new friends and tour companions… A special place is not the same as a dream trip. The dream trip has yet to be done, the special place is usually a place to return to. Social media can play a role here too. By engaging your clients through a special places Facebook page you can initiate a viral campaign so that your Special Place clients invite their friends along on the tour you are planning. You could start by inviting your clients to journey with you to your own Special Places. So where would that be? Which would be the first place on your list to take your clients to? Do you sense the makings of niche called Special Places Yours and Mine? I think so. Some years ago I was contracted by USAid to train travel & tourism managers in Cairo. Part of the program included visiting several sites, many of which became special places to me that I plan to return to as and when. Start your list now and also gather, from your clients, their list too. Count the top three places your clients believe are special and plan your plan for Selling Special Places in 2014.  Your clients experience the same feelings as travel trade people do – so how could you tap into those feelings? Page 40
  41. 41. Page 41 Photograph by Steve Crowhurst
  42. 42. IC Meeting Planner Not every travel agent is cut out to be selling sun, sand and sea vacations. There are plenty of other options that many times come under the heading of niche, other segments of the trade are standalone business options and one of those would be to plan meetings. If you have a mind for detail and process and perhaps have worked as an engineer, project manager, accountant or just have a history of planning one helluva party… this niche could work for you. One thing to know and understand if you feel this could be a business you would like to get into: there would be a certain level of proven expertise required as and when you go for the big time. That would translate as moving 300 people to 3,000 people from 99 gateways to a destination such as Las Vegas. Certification will help you win the business you intend to chase. Your role as an independent meeting planner is to add your own take on the business of location, theme and activities. You could build a name for yourself if you chose to go with a niche within the meeting planning segment. Perhaps you only handle adventure meetings. Or outdoor meetings. Spa meetings. There are so many options. Like the generic world of selling travel it might be tough to be a generalist and try to handle every possible meeting. On a smaller scale of let’s say planning for 20 to 100 people to meet somewhere in the world you may come up against the certified competition however if your prospects are local then you should have an edge. Review the business of meeting planning by reading such magazines as Smart Meetings and also explore Meeting Professionals International (MPI) – there should be a local chapter near you. One of the keys to planning meetings is to be able to generate excitement. In many cases there’s plenty of leeway for the creative to take hold and generally the client would be looking for your input related to destination, the meeting place itself, the theme of the meeting and pre and post meeting activities. Today the planning of meetings includes knowing about virtual meetings so that those who cannot attend the physical event – can still join in and participate online. Most clients have an idea of what they want to achieve from their meeting and these same clients are well versed in dealing with a meeting planner. There is also the chance that they have stuck to the tried and true and just might be looking for something new and exciting in the destination. One more option would be that you set yourself up to handle the meeting business of your colleagues hosted by the same host agency as you. If you have 500 fellow home based agents under the same brand as you, they could become your sales team and you their meeting planning department. You can split commissions as you see fit so that everyone profits.  Today, we can meet pretty much anywhere. On a train, on a cruise ship, in the jungle, close to the North Pole, at a resort, at an adventure course in the forest and even at a world renowned wonder or place of spirituality. Page 42
  43. 43. Tool: Translators Good ole Google, Bing, Yahoo and other translator programs such as imTranslator shown below. What would we do without them? What can we do with them? Now there’s the question that needs answering and if you have not yet found a use for these online translators other than for your own use, here’s how you can turn these wonderful tools into a niche. First things first, it’s best you do your own due diligence and test out all available translators and the additional tools that come with them. For instance, if you look at the Google Translate image below you can see that it’s very easy to use – you type in your sentence on the left, select the language you want your sentence to be translated to on the right and click the blue Translate button. To hear the audio clip on how this sentence is pronounced in French you click on the speaker icon at Arrow #1. To save the translation into a Google Phrasebook, click on Arrow #2 and follow the steps. How to Make Use of Instant Translation There’s a belief and an assumption that everyone is aware of certain things in life and one of those is how to search and surf the Internet. With this assumption it might be the case that you miss certain opportunities to WOW your client with YOUR knowledge. You can always do “it”, whatever “it” is, for your clients, or show them how. It’s your choice as is whether or not to charge a fee for the information / training. The real value of translators can be found when you use them to support your travel niche. One specific use would be to support the niche of Ancestry Travel. The Ancestry – Genealogy niche is catching on thanks to all the TV shows and the average 60 year old wondering about their ancestors and where they came from. Many clients seeking their ancestors will be travelling overseas and to foreign lands and areas where English is not 100% spoken or understood. Working with your clients, you can uncover what they would be searching for when they visit. You create the sentence in English, translate the sentence to the language of choice and print. Or, you can help your client save their translated questions to their Google Phrasebook.  Page 43
  44. 44. The Travel Institute’s Well-Being Travel Course Enroll in The Travel Institute's Well-Being Travel Specialist course and receive a complimentary, one-year membership in Well-Being Travel. The online course is designed to show you how to boost sales by selling health, wellness and medical travel. By enrolling in this course, you'll:       Gain an understanding of the health and wellness travel market. Discover the different types of spas and wellness products. Learn key health and wellness terminology. Discover what procedures are most common with patient travelers. Understand related insurance issues. Learn how to find and market to health and wellness and medical travel clients. The course includes interactive exercises, images, audio and graphics. A final test is available allowing you to earn the Well-Being Travel Specialist designation. CTAs, CTCs and CTIEs who complete this course will also earn 10 CEUs. Thanks to our course sponsors: Well-Being Travel, Companion Global Healthcare, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Healing Hotels of the World, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and Greater Fort Lauderdale. Enroll today to receive your complimentary, one-year membership in Well-Being Travel. Page 44
  45. 45. LET’S TALK ABOUT TRAINING! Steve Crowhurst, CTC Speaker & Trainer to the Global Travel & Tourism Industry Page 45
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