May 21, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: May 17-21
While much of the conversation amongst the travel industry of late has focused on such crises as Icelands's hindering volcanic ash or the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, readers have had some positive, if not constructive, things to share with each other at TravelAgentCentral.com in recent weeks. Let's take a look.
Arizona's Air Travel Addition
While the immigration law in Arizona may have kept some suppliers wary of doing business in The Grand Canyon State, it appears JetBlue is not intimidated as the carrier launches service to Phoenix from Boston. It's great news for the state and anyone involved in selling tourism to the region. Clearly, one reader is excited. Diane wrote:
The state of Arizona welcomes you to our state!! Go Blue...
I know my cousin-in-law, who was a wide receive for the University of Arizona's varsity football team, may not appreciate this but isn't "go blue" also the mantra for the University of Michigan?
More Reasons to Tout Your Profession
You may have read Ruthanne Terrero's initial column which offered 10 reasons to choose a travel agent, and you may want some more. So she delivered with 10 MORE reasons to select a travel professional when planning a trip. Most of the readers were glad with the read, as one would expect. Yet two don't seem two enthused. Jane Ellis wrote:
With today's internet, you'd have to be an idiot to do any of the things described in the article. The article is an argument for common sense and minimal research, not for a travel agent.
Andy Jarosz agrees with Jane, commenting:
These are reasons why people with no commonsense should not travel at all. I seriously doubt any sensible people would make these mistakes, and the people who would do these actions would the type of nightmare customers that an agent would want to avoid! Made my laugh though :)
Before sharing some of the more postive feedback, I'm curious if any readers or agents out there agree with Andy and Jane. If so, why and what do you suggest as an alternative?
Meanwhile, readers like Jess Kalinowsky, clearly disagree with Jane and Andy, stating:
With the advent of the internet, digital photography, et al, everyone thinks they can do it better than a professional! If one believes what they read on the net, then, I am sorry, they deserve what they get, a hotel in the boonies, dirty at that! ANd no "life line" to help them! The Iceland volcano eruption solidified our clients forever! Not one penny was lost, and all were re-accommodated or fully refunded within hours!
More "honest" ammunition!
We don't want the conversation to end here. So keep the comments coming, please.
More Feedback on More Tips
Ruthanne's not the only one dishing out top 10 tips to our readers. Last week, we shared a guest column on how agents can build their revenue-generating e-mail lists for marketing purposes and John Frenaye, a frequent reader and commentator at TravelAgentCentral.com who has engaged readers as well as yours truly in conversations before, shared his two cents, saying:
You need to be very careful about putting names into your marketing database manually. Simply asking for an email address at the end of a phone call IS NOT implied consent to receive your email promotions. It is best to have an opt in(preferable to a double opt in) program to keep you out of trouble with the CanSPAM Act.
And putting your sign up form on your Facebook page is very simple and a good move.
Sounds like good advice to me. Anyone object?
More on Vacation Rentals
The dialogue on agents taking advantage of the niche markets that is vacation rentals continues this week, as Susan throws her hat into the right to solicit business from (and for) agents. She posts:
Vacation rental homes are the way to go. We have many guests who will be staying in a home for the first time vs staying in a Disney hotel, they never go back to hotels. We pay a 10% commission to travel agents and are happy to work with them. Our website is www.orlandovacationhomes.com
If any agents are getting new business through Susan's company, or others, please let us know. We want to spread the wealth (but not in Tea Party fear of Obama policies sense). Susan's offer comes on the heels of a new report on how real estate rentals benefits second homeonwers as well. We shared this story on our Facebook page and received feedback from Stephanie Shaw Gregory, who shared:
I have only had a few request for vacation homes here in the Pacific Northwest. One was a coastal home and one a cabin near Mt. Rainier. Neither places had dealt with a travel agent before but we worked it out and the clients loved the properties...
Seems to me like these opportunities are paying off for agents. Let's hope it continues to gain steam.
Susan J. Young is at it again. After writing about potential fuel surcharges on the rise and how they may affect agents, the cruise expert recently explored the notion of inclusive features on cruise ships for clients and what it means for travel professionals. Harold Hodges was the first to reply with some constructive feedback, stating:
While my cruise sales haven't diminished, All Inclusives have picked up even more. Some clients specifically mention that cruises cost more because of all the items NOT included. Since agents know at least some of their client's likes and dislikes, we could sell more cruises if certain items (perhaps even to just a certain limit) were included. $100 in bar credits, onboard credits etc. As the article points out, you must be careful as to what is included, to be sure that you don't exclude previous cruisers on a familiar itinerary. A general credit is probably the best, is of known cost and could be commissionable with hardly any extra effort on the part of the cruiseline.
For those of you agents who are note Mr. Hodges, what's your take? Have you already experienced cruise inclusivity's effects? Is it good or bad for your business? Let us know.
Targeting Traverus, NCL
It's been more than a years since George Dooley wrote his initial report on Traverus, and it's potential place as a multilevel-marketing company. No surprise to me, the comments keep coming in on the subject. There's been a bunch posted over the months, and here's the latest, submitted by Denyse H Turner:
Wow, you all are now defending TraVerus the way "we" had to defend YTB. Feels horrible, right? And since this article was written, some of you have even "seen the light".
I just want to know who has seen this magical light and what exactly is in this light that is so exciting.
But Traverus is not the only company under fire this week, so is Norwegian Cruise Line. In late 2008, Dave Eisen wrote a brief about Kevin Sheehan being named the new CEO of the cruise line and some readers aren't necessarily upset with Sheehan, but aren't too happy with his company. The latest is Gregory Guess who, when responding to another reader's comments, wrote the following:
Good luck getting a response from NCL. I did multiple contracts for NCL and when I needed to leave due to a family emergency they advised me that I could never work for them again if I did. They were correct they will no longer employee me and the worst part is that no one from the company expressed any sorrow for the death of my brother. Great company huh?
Considering the that cruise industry is the bread and butter for most travel agents, this is disappointing to read. I hope your relationships with the supplier improve, if they need to.
Goodbye, Mr. Whitley
As you may have heard, Bob Whitely, longtime president of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, passed away last week. In addition to the heavy loss for his friends and family, the travel industry clearly misses the leader. Here's what readers posted on our site to share their thoughts on the man.
I only met Bob and heard him once but remember his kind manner and I appreciated that he wanted to see Cuba opened up for tours which I was glad and surprised to hear him say but his travel experience and professional manner was an inspiration to me and sure to others - He will be missed by many - hope his family has great memories and stories for their comfort
I had the priviledge to know Bob for over 30 years. He was among the true gentlemen in the Travel Indusrty. I will miss my friend and colleague more than words can express but will keep his memory alive with many fond memories
Phil Sheldon, Hanns Ebensten Travel
I participated in the US-Cuba Travel Summit in Cancun last month where Bob was an active participant. He may have been in the industry for a long time, but he was forward-thinking to the end. He was instrumental in trying to bring the various players together to open up American tourism to Cuba in a responsible way. I am grateful for everything he contributed to our industry.
He was a giant. And one of the finest industry leaders ever, My heart goes out to Carol, Kelly, Scott and Shaun.
jack richards, pleasant holidays
Goodbye my friend. It was a privilege knowing you.
Bob Was A real Gentleman and very wise. My prayers go out to his family. Top shelf hall of famer.
Agents have shared their thoughts about Whitley on our Facebook page as well.
Kim Haring wrote:
Sad to know this dynamic man is not longer with us.
David Carnegie shared:
Another of the great Tourism Industry giants who will always be remembered for his Leadership exemplified by his giving spirit. May we all learn to use these attributes from his example. My condolences to Bob´s family and friends. May God Bless You Always.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bob's family, friends and colleagues. The industry will miss him, but it moves on. With that in mind, we hope you continue sharing your thoughts on any topic, whether by posting a comment here at the Weekly Wrap or at other articles. Don't forget to contact us at our Facebook page, or at our Twitter page. Of course, there's always AgentNation, where you can talk about any topic in real time. Until next week...
By: Kirk Cassels
October 16, 2008
Cancun and Spring Break, A Thing of the Past
A hurricane in 1988 was responsible for the birth of the Spring Break phenomenon in Cancun and it was a hurricane in 2005 that washed it away. Travel Agent sat down with Emilio Reyner Portes Gil, director of public relations for the Cancun Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, and got the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the Spring Break market in Cancun.
According to Gil, it was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 that devastated all of the hotels in Cancun and, in turn, scared away every possible market except one, the Spring Break travelers. “In many ways, they saved us,” Gil told us. “But as time went on, we also found that they were drawing all other markets away.”
That was of course until Hurricane Wilma again swept away most of Cancun’s hotel product in 2005. But this time, instead of simply rebuilding, the hotels stepped it up a notch and upgraded as well. Now, with most hotels leaning toward the luxury side of the market (about 80 percent of all Cancun hotels are now five-star in rating), the hotels were shutting out most of the Spring Break clients. And, as Gil told us, it was a great thing for the destination and for travel agents.
Whereas agents were booking packages for about $350-$400 for Spring Break clients, they were soon booking packages of at least $1,200 for families looking for a luxury experience. Now, the Spring Break market has shrunk so much that the market reached its lowest in 2007 than it had been since it first surfaced in 1998. According to Gil, Spring Break guests made up as much as eight percent of all of Cancun’s annual visitors from 1988 to about 2005.
And now? Of the roughly 3.2 million people who visited the destination in 2007, only a mere one percent were Spring Breakers. “The only problem is that not enough people know of this,” Gil told us. “They still think of Spring Break when they think of Cancun and the industry needs to be aware that it is not that way anymore. We still welcome [Spring Break clients] but now we are attracting markets that were scared away for some time. And that’s a good thing for Cancun and even a better thing for travel agents.”
By: Joe Pike