Why I Don't Believe in Five Year Sales Plans and You Shouldn't Either.

Uncategorized Jul 31, 2020

Authors note:  I wrote this article four years ago for Travel Research Online.  In light of today's business environment, it is more relevant now than when it was first published. - Dan


It has been a year since I left my Vice President of Sales role with a vision of helping travel professionals realize they really can earn a sizable income in the travel sales business by selling to affluent travelers, and 6 months since we launched WealthyTravelAgent.com.  Like many of you, I started with a business plan. Nothing fancy, just something to define the purpose and direction of the company. Mine is probably different from most, in that I tend to plan for one year at a time. You may say this is contrary to what is considered a “standard business practice” and you would be correct. Long term planning works for large, established businesses that tend to move at a much slower pace and have years of data...


Is Business Coaching Really Worth It?

Uncategorized Jun 15, 2020

Growing up, we had coaches for all sorts of things - sports, debate, and 4-H livestock judging teams, so why as adults do, we tend to be resistant when it comes to coaching for our businesses?  

Did we stop learning?  After all, “Coach” is just another word for “Teacher” and a great teacher can make all the difference in the world in our lives.

According to a recent Forbes article “The Institute of Coaching cites that over 70% of individuals who receive coaching benefited from improved work performance, relationships and more effective communication skills.”

They also reported that a huge 86% of companies feel that they recouped the investment they made into coaching plus more on top.”

Why?  Coaches teach skills and accountability that are not typically taught in colleges or universities.

I have had personal coaches at almost every step in my career.  Most I paid for out of my own pocket because I believe in the...


Don’t Be a Victim of Circumstance!

Uncategorized Feb 28, 2020

 “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” Rudyard Kipling


This first verse from Kipling’s poem “If” is indicative of the role you must, we must embrace to help curb the panic that many travelers are facing.

 You can cite the facts as we know them from the CDC, Johns Hopkins, WHO, and many other health organizations who are more knowledgeable than the news media all day long - but no one will hear you.

As humans, our learned instinct is to focus on the negative and let fear dictate our outcomes.  Right now, your clients are not thinking rationally, they are acting out of emotion.  They are focused on the 99% of “what ifs” that most likely will never happen.

Personally, we have a big family European cruise vacation scheduled for early June sailing from Venice with several ports stops in Italy and Greece.  Barring a complete travel ban to these areas, we have every intention of...


Is Branding Your Travel Business Really THAT Important?

Uncategorized Dec 18, 2019

Recently I was speaking to a group of independent contractors and was asked about the importance of branding their business.  My answer will probably come as a surprise to many (it certainly was to them) that, in my opinion individually branding their own business will have little to no effect on their success.

Yes, you heard me correctly and it goes against most of what we as an industry teach ICs.

Let me explain.

Prior to 1995, if you owned a travel agency, you basically owned a license to print money.  In fact, like blank checks, ticket stock (remember paper tickets) was numbered, counted and kept secure in a safe on premise.  Commissions while typically ten to fifteen percent, could go as high as forty-five percent with some carriers.

Practically overnight, all of that changed with two events.  Airlines largely stopped paying commission and the introduction of Online Travel Agencies. Thousands of travel agencies closed, and many more agents were out of...


Why You Should Listen to Tor Hagen!

Uncategorized Aug 20, 2019

Torstein Hagen, founder, and chairman of Viking Cruises said in a recent interview about the success of his company, “We are focused clearly on what we are and the number of things we are not.”

As a travel professional, the message is clear. In order to stand out among the plethora of booking options, get clear on who you are and who you are not. Ask yourself, “What makes me special?” and “What do I want to be known for?”

These are powerful questions I often ask of my students and audiences. Usually, the response is an awkward silence.

If a company as large and complex as Viking Cruises knows exactly who they are, why is it so hard for retail travel professionals to gain this clarity?

I am an avid hiker. As anyone who has served in the infantry will tell you, the most important piece of hiking equipment is a good pair of boots.

I buy my boots from REI. I can get them cheaper online, but like others serious about the sport, I seek out Pete Smith,...


Can You Master the Mindset of a US Navy SEAL?

Uncategorized Jul 25, 2019

Yes, you can! 

A few years back, the self-help book genre was dominated by athletes and coaches, today, former US Navy SEALs are currently the rage.  From Jocko Willink and David Goggins to retired Admiral William McRaven – their lessons of courage, leadership, and perseverance are real and truly inspiring.

While all include mission tales of their military exploits, to which we owe a debt of gratitude, they each have a common theme from their elite SEAL training that we can carry over into our own lives.

SEAL training is physically tough, but according to the authors, the mental challenge is much more demanding.  

David Goggins went from a 300-pound pest exterminator to the only person to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller.  

Now an elite endurance athlete, he shares in his book, “Can’t Hurt Me” that when our mind tells us we are done, we have only tapped into about 40% of our...


What Business Are You Really In?

Uncategorized Jul 09, 2019

Depends on who you ask.  Think about where you spend most of your time and money.  My bet is you spend a significant amount of effort figuring out how and where to market – not to mention how much it will cost.

In fact, most industry experts, coaches, and executives will be the first to say that you are in the marketing business.  Why else would virtually all of the industry learning and promotional programs be based on building out marketing plans and advertising budgets?

 I’ll tell you why.  Marketing is sexy.  How many television shows have been made about sales, not many?  But we all know about Don Draper and the hit series Mad Men.  What most people don’t realize is that marketing executives tend to be salaried employees – even those with your suppliers and consortia.

The answer is simple.  It doesn’t matter if you are a business owner, independent contractor, or employed as an agent or manager. ...


How Paul Gauguin Cruises Changed My Mind About Tahiti Pt. 1

I don’t normally share my travels with you as this is a newsletter about the business of selling travel, but I would be doing you an injustice not sharing this experience.

I have been fortunate to visit many places, but never had the overwhelming desire to go to Tahiti.  So, when our good friend Sandy Stevens, vice president of sales for Paul Gauguin Cruises, invited my wife and me to join her and other travel advisers on a cruise this past January, I was less than enthusiastic at first.

Then I remembered that Tahiti receives roughly the same number of visitors in a year that Hawaii gets in a week! 

We flew into Papeete a few days early and took the 45 min ferry ride to Moorea.  We had booked the Intercontinental, however, there was a worker strike, so they moved us to the Sofitel at no extra cost.

Wow, what a first impression!  Moorea was beautiful, to say the least.  But even more so were the people.  They were the warmest, most generous people...


What's Your Story?

Uncategorized Jun 05, 2019

The business world is not immune to fads, but there are a few that have stood the test of time. The principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People and Think and Grow Rich had been guiding businesspeople to success since the 1930s.

One recent “fad” is storytelling. The number of people who list “storyteller” as their occupation (I didn’t realize it existed outside the kids’ section in Barnes and Noble) on LinkedIn is incredible. Yet, everyone from StoryBrands Donald Miller, a former screenwriter, to the travel industry’s own Richard D ’Ambrosio are singing the virtues of applying the practice to your own business narrative.

Is it a fad? I don’t think so. According to Miller, business stories typically follow the same predictable framework as a successful screenplay. His Story Script, “A character has a problem and meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action that ends in success or helps to avoid...

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