Who is to Blame?

Uncategorized Oct 29, 2018

I was perusing one of the many travel agent forums on Facebook, when I came across a post (since deleted) by a woman who had joined the industry six months earlier and was blaming her marketing and host agency because she has yet to make a sale. 

It quickly garnered over a hundred comments, many from other “host bashers” who took similar time to make their first sale.  While this is unfathomable to me, I understand where they are coming from – sort of. 

It’s no secret, most join our industry because they like to travel, and they like to take care of others.  I haven’t met too many people who actually got into the business to sell something. 

But that’s what we do.  Like it or not, we get paid when and only when we sell something, so doesn’t it make sense to focus on the skills and activities that will produce these repeatable results?  If not, you are probably in the wrong business.

Understand, Sales and...


Think and Grow Rich - The Timeless Lesson of Specialization!

Uncategorized Sep 24, 2018

Think and Grow Rich -Timeless Advice

I was in the second grade when our old black and white television broke.  It stayed that way for over three years.  My parents told us we were watching too much tv (sound familiar), however, the reality was we were too poor to have it fixed or replaced.  As a result, I became a voracious reader – a habit that continues to this day.

It was around this same time my grandfather gave me a book that would influence the rest of my life. It was an original, well-read, 1937 copy of the now classic Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.  If you are not familiar with it, look it up.

I was not a good student by any stretch of the imagination, I bored easily and dropped out college to follow my passion – scuba diving. I was hired as a diver on a cruise ship.  A couple of years later, I moved into the Pursers office.  It was a decision that would change my life forever.

It was here that I soon discovered many of the...


Cash (Flow) is King!

Uncategorized Sep 12, 2018

I tend to be a little old school. I don’t believe every new app dreamed up by some kid in his basement, who has never sold anything in his life, is going to revolutionize how we sell in this or any other business. 

Because travel is such a huge industry world-wide, it attracts all sorts of people trying to capitalize on the “get rich quick with little or no effort” movement so prevalent online.  As a professional travel business advisor, I will just say to you, “buyer beware”. 

So, you can imagine how annoyed I get when people ask me about my latest “hack” or how to “disrupt” the market.  Don’t even get me started on “unicorns.”

Want to do something revolutionary?  Try forgetting about hitting gross sales goals and concentrate on producing maximum net revenue – the money you get to keep.  Many of us (myself included) tend to get caught up in the pursuit of recognition and...


What's YOUR Story?

Uncategorized Aug 07, 2018

Take five or ten minutes and write down your memories of your all-time favorite vacation. Now do the same thing for the local merchant you most love to patronize – even though there’s a big box retailer or online company that sells the same thing(s).

Now read your notes. Did you write sentences, bullet points? Did you scratch the surface, or did you take the time to go deeper about your fondest vacation, your most treasured local shopkeeper?

I have interviewed hundreds of travel agents and entrepreneurs in the 30-plus years I have been a public relations professional, writer, and editor. While each and every one of these individuals has been different, there has been one common thread that linked them all.

They all had a compelling personal narrative that made them who they are.

Now mind you, finding that narrative wasn’t always easy. In fact, I would tell you it was downright difficult. That’s why I get paid to uncover these incredible stories. Very simply,...


My Top Five Attributes of a Professional Travel Agent

Uncategorized Aug 01, 2018

Professionalism, we hear about it every day.   For some reason the subject comes up more & more often in discussion. The majority of travel agents I observe do exhibit a high degree of professionalism.  They are the first to point out there is no place in this business for those who behave otherwise.  However, some agents, particularly new ones, will sometimes let their passion get in the way of good business and common sense. 

What does it mean to be or act “professionally”?  Here are a five things I believe epitomize what it means to be a travel professional.

  1. Have a plan  Be prepared and that means having a plan.  This will set you apart from the majority of travel agents.   This should be a specific plan for building a business with a preferred vendor.  You should include realistic sales projections, target prospects, marketing program, and financial commitments from both parties.  Ideally, you...

What Football and Sales Have in Common...

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2018

With football season just around the corner, I am reminded of the beautiful, yet brutal game I played in my youth.  I loved the game and while my career ended after high school. I can’t wait for each new season and my beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs to take the field.  It is a sight to see. Every play, be it offensive or defensive, is carefully orchestrated, choreographed, and practiced to perfection. 

Sales is similar and probably why it is so common to find sports analogies intertwined with business lessons.  In both environments a team is executing strategies that have been thought out and rehearsed.  Above all – they are both contact sports, each in their own way.

In business “contact” can mean three things.  The first “contacts” can be your team, your support network.   Very few achieve a high level of success without help from others.  Even with individual sports such as boxing, swimming,...


“Freedom isn’t Free!”

Uncategorized Jul 02, 2018

We often hear this expression around patriotic holidays about the sacrifices made by our service men and women.  Many have given life and limb, so we can continue to enjoy the personal freedoms we have and is something that should never be taken for granted.

Personal Freedom is not free, and neither is financial freedom.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort and personal sacrifice to be successful in any field- especially one as competitive as travel sales.

When I speak around the world, it is common for agents especially new ones, to ask what it takes to get up on stage and pick up awards.  Many of them, equate sales achievements to financial success.  Unfortunately, it’s just not true.

Suppliers reward those who sell in large volumes.  It’s not only in travel, but in virtually every industry and with every product, there are volume discounts.  Some, in our business, rely on the low margin / high volume model.   With high...


The Rebating Beast is Back! (again)

Uncategorized Jun 07, 2018

 Most luxury product designers control their pricing by controlling distribution.  They sell exclusively through their own branded stores or high-end retailers such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.  

In her book “Let Them Eat Cake” author and luxury goods researcher Pam Danziger states, “The business of experiential luxuries remains largely one based on consumers paying full list price.  Travel is the only widely discounted experiential luxury where 64% of buyers got a “deal” - otherwise they expect to pay full price for luxury goods & services.” Unfortunately, this observation can be applied to all segments of travel, not just to luxury purchases.

Retail travel distribution is a highly fragmented channel.  Virtually anyone can put up a website and be a “travel agent”, so the competition for the sale can be intense.

“Rebating” or “Discounting” as we know it, is perhaps the single most...


What is "Marketing"?

Uncategorized May 17, 2018

Marketing is a big, esoteric term that is thrown around like the holy grail. But what is it really? In my experience most people in the retail channel do not know what marketing is – they just know they must have it.

To most business professionals, marketing and advertising are the same thing and while there are many similarities – like sales and marketing, they are different. The easiest way to understand is to imagine it as a pie: pumpkin, pecan, it doesn’t really matter. We will call it the marketing pie, and each slice represents a subset of the overall pie.  Each slice represents: market analysis, pricing, customer service, advertising, public relations, and community involvement.

When we dig deep, we find that most are not investing their money in marketing, what they are really buying is just one slice of the pie - advertising.

The real estate industry does marketing just about better than any other, they embrace each slice of the marketing pie. The...


The Secret Formula to Keeping Your Hard-Earned Clients.

Uncategorized Apr 24, 2018

If you have been following me for any length of time, you have probably noticed I only use a few quotes to reinforce my messages. One of my favorites is from a management guru, the late Peter Drucker, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers.” 

The cost of getting a new customer is astronomically high in terms of both money and time. In fact, it is not unusual to lose money or barely break even on their first transaction. That’s right, run the numbers and I think you may be in for a shock once you factor in real costs, time and overhead – not just the marketing expenditures.

We usually spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on new customer acquisition, then tend to fail at giving customer retention the respect it deserves.

I always ask my audiences, “What percentage of your business is from repeat customers?” The response is typically 60, 70, or even 80%. Sometimes I get 40- 50%, but not often. It might surprise...