November 09, 2010
World Travel Market in London: Day Three (Part Two--Hotels)
With regrets, I left the Egerton House Hotel this morning. I'll miss the place--it has a wonderfully homey vibe (probably helps that it's built from two converted townhouses) that makes it very comfortable and a nice retreat from business meetings. (I'll especially miss those fireplaces, and the amazingly multi-lingual staff. I couldn't keep track of all the languages I heard going back and forth.)
I caught a taxi over to Mayfair (and got taken for a ride in more ways than one by the cabbie...be sure to check the meter before setting off on a trip and make sure it's not already pre-set to some ridiculous rate) and dropped off my bags at the Athenaeum, which I've always wanted to see. The hotel has a green wall of living plants designed by Patrick Blanc, a French botanist, and it makes for a very striking facade. At the door, I was met by Jim Burns, the hotel's wonderfully outgoing and informative doorman and greeter, who remembered my name when I returned in the evening and offered a very friendly "Welcome home!" Sweet.
I'm staying in one of the hotel's suites on the top floor, which has views over Green Park (the sun was setting when I got in, so no pictures yet), and a four-poster bed with post-modern plastic posts. The room is very spacious (lots of chairs--good for casual entertaining), and has nice perks like free drinks (of the non-alcoholic variety, alas) from the mini-bar and a walk-in closet that can double as a changing room. The bathroom is very large and has two sinks (great for couples getting ready in a rush).
Even better: The hotel's spa has just reopened after some renovations. On the downside, I won't have time to use it. Woe.
Tomorrow: Puttin' on The Ritz!
By: Jena Tesse Fox
November 08, 2010
Richard Nahem's Paris Tea Salons
Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
Tea salons are an old and wonderful Paris tradition and a steaming pot of tea accompanied by a pastry is luxurious respite from hectic city life. Here are some of our favorites.
Newly opened last year, Carette Salon de Thé has a glorious location smack in the middle of the picturesque first square of Paris, the Place des Vosges. Not only do they have a fine selection of herbal teas served in individual pots, but also they offer a full food menu, available in English and in French, the size of a mini-encyclopedia. It lists tempting salads, creamy quiches, classic Croque Monsieur’s, sumptuous pastries and breads, and if tea isn’t your thing, their thick as mud hot chocolate is grand replacement. The outdoor café part has heat lamps so you can enjoy the splendid view all year round and the inside has an elegant setting with marble floors. If you want their sweet treats to go, there is a pastry bar in the front of the salon. There is another location on Place Trocadero.
25 Place des Vosges, 3d. arr.
Tel. 01 48 87 94 07
Open 8 a.m.-11:30 p.m., seven days
4 place du Trocadero, 16th arr.
Tel 01 47 27 98 85
Open 8 a.m. –12 p.m., seven days
Most famous for its luscious macarons, Ladurée has one of the most decadent tearooms in town. The original location on rue Royale has an interesting history. It was opened as an upscale patisserie in 1871 and painter Jules Cheret, inspired by the Sistine Chapel, painted the interior with cherubs and gold paint. At the turn of the century, Ernest Ladurée’s wife Jeanne, came up with the clever idea of one of the first tea salons in Paris so her lady friends would be free to meet in public during the day without men escorting them. Macarons are not the only delicious order of dessert business, there are over 40 kinds of tantalizing sweets including fruit tarts in fig & honey, passion fruit, and roasted pineapple, ice cream dishes like Café Liégois with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and espresso, and Religieuse Chocolat, a cream puff with chocolate custard cream, which promises to be a “religious” experience. A full food menu is also available.
16 rue Royale, 8th arr.
Tel. 01 42 60 21 79
Open Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mariage Freres, the oldest teashop in Paris, dates back to 1854. The thriving shop still stands in the Marais district of Paris and looks much like it did in 1854 with creaky wood plank floors and large black canisters containing their much loved teas. In the back of the charming shop is a sunny tea salon with lemon yellow walls and glass skylight, and is for serious tea connoisseurs. Over 30 kinds of tea blends are traditionally steeped using purified water and prepared on an antique wood bar, then served in a large white porcelain and silver pot. Tea is use artfully used to flavor dishes on their food menu and pastry menu. When you are done you can visit the fascinating tea museum upstairs.
30 rue Bourg –Tibourg, 4th arr.
Tel. 01 42 72 28 11
Open 12 p.m.-7 p.m., seven days
By: Richard Nahem
November 07, 2010
Arriving in London for World Travel Market
You know that wonderful new-car smell that car fans love to talk about? Turns out, planes have that, too. I got to ride in one of Continental's new 777 jets from Newark to Heathrow, and yes, it smelled like a new car. Also? Wide-screen TVs with lots of on-demand programming on the back of every seat. Nice way to start a trip to London!
A quick and very convenient ride on the Heathrow Express got me right into the heart of London in fifteen minutes and, at Paddington, I learned firsthand how difficult it is to navigate the Tube with luggage. Most New York City subway stations have at least one elevator or ramps for people in wheelchairs (or people with luggage), but on the Underground, one must carry one's luggage up and down numerous flights of stairs. That's annoying enough, but how do people in wheelchairs get around London?
I finally arrived at the Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge, a lovely boutique property that really conjures old-fashioned glamor. The bed in my room is a four-poster, and the housekeeping ladies wear black dresses and white aprons. The keys are the old-fashioned heavy metal things you see in period dramas, and the lounges have fireplaces. It's so Jeeves & Wooster that I keep waiting for PG Wodehouse himself to pop out and offer me a martini.
Which is not to say that the hotel is completely old-fashioned, of course--there's complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs in both the bedrooms and the bathrooms. But the vibe is very classic, and I'm looking forward to exploring more of the hotel after I've shaken off the jet lag.
By: Jena Tesse Fox
November 05, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: November 1-5
Yearning for a fresh scare or controversy in the wake of Halloween and the 2010 midterm elections? We've got you want right here in the Weekly Wrap. If you ask me, a scary costume agents could have worn during the recent holiday would have been a NCL cruise ship, or website. Why? Keep reading to find out about why NCL may be a tad scary, among other things.
When NCL announced that 27 percent of its revenue came from direct bookings last week, our own Susan J Young followed up on the story by asking agents and executives what their take on the matter was. Needless to say, several of our reading agents chimed in as well.
Considering that it's NCL I'm not surprised one bit. I don't book them unless the client insists. Too mant past issues with them.
Is anyone surprised at this? All the cruise lines are doing this. Carnival is worse than any in my opinion.
The question isn't what are our "partners" doing to negatively impact our industry, it is in fact, how are we becoming less dependent on them? There are many outlets available besides mass market, let them have their cake.
Not being an agent, I do think major has a point in that this may be a sign for agents to begin bringing their cruise clients elsewhere. Still, it's a shame to see such a major cruise line taking this route.
So Maybe Try This Cruise Line
On the note of bringing your clients to a different cruise supplier, Celebration Cruise Lines, which touts cheap cruises to the Bahamas from Florida, got an endorsement from a reader this week. shawna commented:
I've been on several cruises before with Royal Caribbean, So I do know what to expect! We just recently traveled on this Celebration ship and EVERYTHING was Wonderful! I just don't understand where all these negative reviews are coming from? Obviously from people with UNREALISTIC expectations. The ship was in comparable shape as the other ships we've been on, Service was great-In which the pre-paid gratuities where very well earned. I expect that the pre-paids are a result of low-class individuals that don't offer tips. The food was wonderful, entertainment was Great, Spa service was good. I have no complaints at all .. check in/out was smooth. My advice is to experience it for yourself, I would recommend it to others and I would go again. This was a really neat ship! Don't pay attention to the negative nellies out there, they are the one's that would never be happy if given a million bucks!
Anyone else out there have experience to share about this cruise line?
Google Good for Agents?
While there's been much trepidation about Google's potential entry into the travel industry, one reader is amused by the controversy. Commenting on a story about a new video attacking the potential acquisiton of ITA by Google, Sweet Justice (interesting name) shared:
It is indeed ironic that the online travel providers, the very companies which skewed the marketplace with their own proprietary, preferred airline, non-transparent air fare "deals", are now lamenting the very same fate from Google. Clearly lacking the full content and total picture offering provided by traditional travel agencies, these online travel megasites are crying in their collective beer because someone more mega has found a way to oust their influence in selling air travel. Sounds like sweet justice to me. Consumers are not stupid; they're wise enough to know that their local travel agent is their best resource for booking travel ... and always has been.
Interesting point. But is this a bittersweet victory for agents, if a victory at all?
Angry at AVC
While technology and cruise issues may be frightening some readers this week, a travel company is apparently even more terrifying to one reader. After reading a piece by George Dooley that analyzed the pros and cons of using third parties to generate sales leads or not, Kay took a direct shot at America's Vacation Center, lamenting:
AVC IS A RIPOFF!! Beware. They skimped on the leads and most are not buyers but rather lookie loos. They wont hire agents with no exsperience or recent experience. My friend has a large book of clients but she was out of the industry for a little while. They wouldnt take her or her money.She went with other HB job and she is selling like 650K a month and slipped right back with no problem! WISE AVC your a downright idiots! Glad I left as well the others that left too and went to a competitor to work with!~
Wow on two things: 1. If true, that's a shame of a situation. 2. Kay may want to cut back on the caffeine. As I always say, I am not travel professional but from what I have read AVC has been useful to several agents. Can anyone else here chime in to agree with or politely disagree with Kay?
A Break from Travel
While we don't cover music much here at TravelAgentCentral.com, a recent comment about Australia promoting its YouTube Symphony Orchestra inspired a musician to share his audition tape. I am as much of a classical music expert as I am a travel professional (my studies of guitar, piano and percussion where all rock based), so I can't say if the performance is truly great or not, but I figured it'd be nice to share with our readers. Guillermo commented:
Here it is my audition!!!??http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuAxQXoXUNU??Thank you very much!!
Not bad right?
While the music strings tug at your heart, don't forget to keep those comments coming. Post a new or responding comment below or at any of the original articles. Write us at our Facebook page. Send a tweet to our Twitter page. You can also start or join in on real time conversations at AgentNation, the only social community online for all types of travel agents.
Until next week.
November 01, 2010
On AgentNation: Sports, Security, Host Agencies and More
With two months left in the 2010 calendar, we're taking a look at what agents are talking about at AgentNation, the only social community online for all kinds of travel agents. Whether it's finding the right host agency or sports travel supplier, or chatting about airport security and group dining options on cruises, agents are asking and answering questions to better their businesses.
Selling Sports Events
The World Series may almost be over, but NFL and NCAA football are in full swing as the NBA and NHL seasons are in their nascent stage. There's also college basketball, among other athletic events and seasons, on the horizon as well. On that note, we're highlight a query from user antybo57 who is seeking feedback on how to better sell this niche. She asks:
Can anyone tell me where do you go or what sites do you use to book for sporting events. Air, room and tickets? i've seen some sites but i am not sure. Can anyone help me?
About a year ago, Travel Agent published a cover story about proftting from sports travel. But we know times change quickly, so we'd like to hear from other agents about their reccommendations for ideal sports travel suppliers.
How Safe is Airport Security?
We've all heard about adjustments that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is making to ensure safety while traveling. A few months ago, we published a story about a Travel Leaders survey reporting that most travelers were okay with airport security. But several agents have expressed concerns, some of which have been shared in Kirk Cassels's Weekly Wrap. We're finding this concerns at AgentNation as well, most recently from travelbabie. She wrote:
Is anyone else confused by conflicting messages about Airport Scanners? I've read that they absolutely do emit radiation (and frankly don't see how they wouldn't) but when going thru security, I asked the TSA agent. Radiation? She said no, none. Any input out there? Tks.
What have you, as travelers, experienced with new security procedures and what have you, as agents, heard from your clients and peers on the matter?
How to Pick A Host Agency
In this economy, agents can use all the help that they can get. But that doesn't mean they'll just partner up with anyone. Perhaps that's why sikoratravel is asking fellow agents for feedback on what host agency she should select of her business. She asks:
Hello, My name is Kathy. I am looking for a Host Agency. I reviewed the black book list from the Agent@Home magazine. Narrowing it down from 55 to 1 is quite a task. I am looking for feedback from travel agents that have a host agency and would be willing to give info either good or bad on their host agency. Thank you.
Fortunately, rekuehn responded quickly, writing:
I have been affiliated with Travel Planners International for the past 5 years and have been very satisfied. They have all the programs I need to work at home, are very responsive to questions and requests for help and the commissions are paid twice a month by direct deposit. It is family owned, and they only host, do not compete with their agents.
Before I joined I made a very long ist of questions I wanted answered and arranged for a phone conversation. Kim Sherrit who is the Agent Liason among other things, was very patient and answered all my questions. They are located in Maitland Florida. Happy to answer any questions that you have, email me at email@example.com
We've heard good things about Travel Planners International. However, what's right for one is not always best for all. Hence, we hope other agents take the opportunity to share their feedback about which host agencies are the best to join, for themselves or for others.
As well all know, cruise vacations can be an easy sell for agents to pitch to their clients. But there are so many factors to keep track of in order to ensure a pleasant experience for the traveler. For instance, there's group dining options. Recently, bsholland shared a recent experience involving a Carnival cruise for her clients and is asking for agents' opinion on the matter. She writes:
I have just booked my first group on Carnival. I have learned that over half of my group is waitlisted for the 6pm dining. How could they not have groups dining together? We are about 5 months out, I am just going to hold my breath that this is going to work out. I don't want to tell my group we may not all be dining together. I'll wait and see what happens. Anyone out there with a Carnival group.... does it usually work out to be OK?
Two agents have already chimed in. CherylAdamo answered:
Have you tried calling Carnival, ask for Groups Dept. and ask them to link the booking number together for the dining room?
I've done three group cruises with Carnival and they have all worked out. It was the last minute passengers
Whether it's group dining on Carnival or amenities and rates at other cruise lines, we hope to continue seeing agents reach out to each other in the interest of making the process of selling cruise vacations more efficiently.
Don't let the conversation die here. Keep communication with your peers at AgentNation, at our Facebook page, at our Twitter page and at our continuous coverage of everything travel here at TravelAgentCentral.com.
October 29, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: October 25-29
I just came back from the IHG Americas Investors & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas and, while there, was enthused to hear hotel industry leaders discuss online travel agencies (OTAs) as a thorn in their side. In the upcoming print issue of Travel Agent, I cite this "thorn" as an opportunity for agents to build their relationship with hotel companies, particularly as hotels are looking for the best ways to build their brand and business as the recession, albeit gradually, begins to fade. Checking out the variety of comments left upon my return only reiterated, to me, the benefit that agents bring to the table in this technological age. So let's take a look.
TripAdvisor may not be an OTA, but it is a part of the new age of the Internet that is irking suppliers across the industry as well. For the most part, suppliers are not fond of the idea that anonymous or non-certifable/non-accredited individuals can potentially mar the reputation of a company or product becuase of their subjective or, perhaps, deviously motivated commentary. On that note, it's a little surprising to read that one agent is taking TripAdvisor seriously enough to affect how she does business. Lorraine Kawoczka did so after reading Joe Pike's personal take on the Verandah Resort & Spa in Antigua, stating:
can not sell the Verandah to a family because of negative comments on Trip Advisor
So, basically, it appears as if a travel agent is letting TripAdvisor control the conversation about the property. Doesn't that go against what being a travel agent is all about? Lorraine, if you are reading this, I'd like to know if you did any research besides TripAdvisor or if you let your potential pitches abotu the property end there? It'd be a shame to let anonymous comments trump your expertise in pitching the property to your clients.
Pike responded to Lorraine's comment, writing:
Are you seriously going by Trip Advisor's advice without visiting the property yourself? That's like Roger Ebert not reviewing a movie because another movie critic panned it. By the way, Trip Advisor is not the most reliable of sites since you never truly know who is really 'reviewing' the property or if they have a hidden agenda.
As you hopefully know, Pike is our Caribbean expert, so I would hope agents take his work seriously. I hope Lorraine's instance is not a common practice among agents.
An Agent's Take Receives Our Respect
On the subject of anonymous comments about selling travel, I'd like to follow up by noting a recent blog post we shared after receiving an e-mail from an agent. After reading up on Travel Agent's exclusive roundtable with cruise industry executives, reader and travel agent Karen Dawson of Southlake Travel contacted us to share scenarios she believes are missed opportunities in training. A reader, named Charlene, commented on Dawson's post, writing:
Interesting. Does this mean I can get my stuff published on Travel Agents Central if I email you?
Charlene poses an interesting question. My initial response is, "Yes, if what you share can be considered of use to agents, particularly if it is based on your experiences which features an analysis that can drive the conversation further."
For instance, we won't just publish anything because it is sent to us. It's not like I'd share a 500-word rant by an agent about a property he or she toured. However, I would share the agent's take if he/she discussed what agents need to better sell said property or what he/she believes the property can do to make it easier for agents to pitch said property to their clients. Make sense?
Agents Follow Up on TSA
In early August, George Dooley penned a piece about a Travel Leaders survey regarding airport security and one reader made a noteworthy comment that I cited in a previous Weekly Wrap. For those too lazy to quick through and read the comment for themselves, here it is again, Mike wrote:
Next month full body scanners are going to be installed at the three New York airports. TSA better put up signs informing the people of the possible health hazard. Most people don't know about the radiation these machines zap you with. Pregnant women are at the greatest risk. The American people have the right to know, and it should be their decision if they want to go through those scanners, they need to be informed though. If signs aren't posted, my crew will be at all 3 airports handing out flyers and interviewing people, letting them know how their government is deceiving them again.
I wonder how it went, and so does reader Kathryn, who posted:
@mike, Did you hand out fliers? How did it go? I want to do this in my area...
Mike, if you're reading this, please share how it went. Kathryn, I'd love to hear how it goes with you in your area. I've traveled to several parts of the country within the last six months (from a trip to Las Vegas in April in addition to my latest stint there, as well as some time in Phoenix), as well as two trips to Mexico. During that time, I haven't run in to any devious situations with airport security. But then again I don't check luggage and, being a blond-haired, blue-eyed WASP who gets a shave and a haircut before every business trip I take, probably don't raise many eyebrows when passing through security. Still, since 9/11, airport security has, and forever will be, changed. If new security measures make the travel process more frustrating or uncomfortable, that's not good for anyone. Hence, it's great to read that people like Kathryn and Mike are keeping a sharp eye on the process. I encourage other agents to do the same, particularly through conversations with their clients.
The TSA was also cited in a recent comment by a reader, this time on our recent cover story about Roger Dow and the U.S. Travel Association. Rick Long provides some inciteful thoughts when posting:
The inbound travel business, like most service business, must rely on repeat and referral business to truly succeed. The acquisition is much lower than marketing to first time visitors. Without significantly improving the arrival experience for inbound visitors, it's of little consequence how much money we spend to promote tourism. Initial dollars should be spent improving a broken system in order for later promotional dollars to be spent more efficiently. It's not rocket science. It's a genuine and sincere welcome to the USA and an efficient arrival experience. Custome and immigrations and TSA must view our inbound visitors and guests and not passengers and treat them accordingly.
I concur, Rick. Well put.
NCL Gets Praise & Criticism
Norwegian Cruise Line has been in the news a fair amount lately, primarily due to the recent CruiseOne and Cruises Inc conference aboard the NCL Epic, in addition to reports of the cruise line releasing new ships in 2013 and 2014. On the topic of NCL's new ships, reader Martin, citing the NCL Epic shared:
The lack of an atrium of any sort made it feel like a suburban shopping mall. The upcharge to even use a suana was a bit much and the pool areas entertainment spots were almost impossible to see from most angles. Entire front of ship cut - off for the "ordinary" pasenger. Only accesible to the upgraded ones. Awful design.
I'll just say that I'm glad Martin is using his own experience, and not comments on TripAdvisor like Lorraine, to deliver his criticism.
Meanwhile, another agent clearly has a different take on the NCL Epic. Commenting on the wrap up of the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc conference, oscarcruises wrote:
Andy Stuart, NCL, and the EPIC ROCK!!!!
That's nice to read, oscarcruises, but could you explain why you feel that way? Just asking.
Join an MLM, Gain a Lover?
It's been awhile since the Weekly Wrap shared somments regarding multilevel marketing firms in the travel industry and, for the most part, I am glad. Most of the time in which MLMs are cited, there's vitriole and more emotional-based comments instead of logical conversation. But this week, there's an adorable combination of both as Nick N notes on Travel Agent piece that asks if you should join an MLM or not:
I enjoyed reading all the comments on the site. To me, MLM is very good.The times and effords you had spent will be fully repaid….ONLY IF you are single. LOL. Let me explain….. About 4 years ago, a girl that I really liked, asked me to join. And I did join…because of her. We went meeting together, had lunch together and finally she became my girlfriend. I told that to my single buddies and they listen to me. One of my buddy got married with a girl he meet at a MLM meeting…. So, if you are single, have problem finding girlfriend, please join MLM. Wear nice clothes, talk professionally, show your interested in there stories, never said a bad thing about MLM at the meeting, you will find your soulmate in no time. Just my two cents, MLM’s members, please dont hate me.
Sounds like MLMs may have a new pitching incentive for people to join. My only question is, what happens if/when your relationship ends? Does your membership in the MLM go with it?
As always, don't let the conversation end here. Keep sharing your comments by posting one below or at any of the original articles. Don't forget to write us at our Facebook page or send a tweet to our Twitter page. You can also join in on or start travel industry discussions in real time at AgentNation, the only social community online for all kinds of travel agents.
Until next week.....
October 22, 2010
Better Product Training for 2011
After reading up on Travel Agent's exclusive roundtable with cruise industry executives, reader and travel agent Karen Dawson of Southlake Travel contacted us to shares scenarios she believes are missed opportunities in training.
I read with great interest your article with several cruise line executives regarding the agency community…. however, it made me crazy. I think they are missing a huge opportunity because, in my opinion, their focus is solely on the PRODUCT, PRODUCT, PRODUCT. And when the sales don’t materialize as expected, then the big push is on for “Sales Training.” Surely we need to teach the agents “how to close the sale.”
The missing factor that I see in every webinar, presentation, workshop is that the cruise lines fail to teach “how do I find the customers to buy this product?” As a result, the agents walk out of those presentations as, as Bob Dickinson used to say, “good order takers.” So if a customer calls wanting to go that destination or sail on that cruise line, by gosh the agent can sell it. But they are not given the simple tools of how to recognize a great client for that product. And it’s not a case of marketing here, with more e-mails and more direct mail, etc.
It’s more to teach the agents how to recognize the potential client for those one-on-one conversations they will have… at their next Chamber of Commerce luncheon, their next networking event, their next wine-tasting event, etc. From there, they start formulating groups of people that might be interested in that destination or product, too. Let’s give the agents the confidence of matching these great products with great prospects.
How simple would it be to take five minutes at the end of a training session and say “Let’s brainstorm here…who would be a good client or group to sail on this ship, or destination?” And have the agents write down at least five people they think might be a good prospect. This is not rocket science.
I can tell you the agents are hungry to sell the cruise lines products, but all they hear about is more balconies, butler service and new duvets; they all start sounding alike after awhile.
October 22, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: October 18-22
Sometimes, the Weekly Wrap is filled to the brim with a seemingly countless amount of comments made by readers and agents. The same can't be said for this week, as only four articles since last Friday have received comments. But I'm not complaining. After all, as the saying goes, it's all about quality and not quantity. So let's take a look.
Someone Sticks Up (Sort of) for Sheehan
Kevin Sheehan, the CEO for Norwegian Cruise Line, has come under fire at times here at TravelAgentCentral.com. In fact, as far back as July 2009, there have been four instances in which readers have posted comments either directed at the CEO or his company (see for yourself: July 2, 2009; May 21, 2010; July 9, 2010; October 1, 2010). But this week is different, as a reader named iimmie notes that how he/she handled her dilemma with the cruise line may have initiated a response others may have sought. Commenting on the announcement of Sheehan becoming the cruise line's CEO, hHe/she wrote:
I had an issue on a cruise and sent off a letter to everyone on the mission statement in January, By February I had a $200 credit for an upcoming cruise and a very nice apology. Use some ingenuity and you can reach people at the top.
Nice to see that nice words bring results. Hopefully, readers with similar problems with the line will take a lesson from this.
When it was announced that Rio de Janeiro would be the host city for the 2016 summer olympics, Travel Agent immediately profiled the destination for our readers. As interest in the city continues to rise among agents, some shared their praise of the location as others are seeking some feedback.
For starters, Thomas Johnson shared a resource to agents that has apparently been valuable to him. He posted:
Good, informative article! I just thought I would add that in addition to the hotel scene, a lot of clients have been interested in luxury apartment rentals.I've used www.HolidaysInRio.com many times because there is no other agency offering the level of luxury these guys can offer. Check out the Ipanema penthouse with private infinity pool, featured in AD magazine, for example. Perfect for entertaining in olympic porportions!
Meanwhile, Mae Young is ready to start selling the destination, but is looking for some help, writing:
good story. I am a travel agent interested in selling Brazil, who can I contact? I plan on visiting Brazil in January or February 2011.
Hopefully, some fellow agents will share their contacts with Mae by posting a comment below or at the original article. But until then, I suggest she visit Brazil's tourism portal at www.embratur.gov.br/site/en/home/index.php.
St. Kitts: Agent-Friendly?
A highly-read story at TravelAgentCentral.com as of late was Joe Pike's coverage of the island of St. Kitts seeking to get agents more involved in selling the destination. Sounds exciting, right? One agent thinks otherwise, as P Jones states:
Not seeing a travel agent friendly website when linked onto address referenced in article. No where on site did I find the words travel agent or travel partners. Possibly the reason for 80% of the booking being made online is that St. Kitts makes no reference to the travel agent community which has tried to promote travel to this island through CTO chapters, etc. Also, I saw no reference in Minister Skerritt's suggested outreach to travel agents on how the islands plans to make this happen.
Hopefully, there's no specific language or content about agents just yet because the island's push to engage agents is relatively new. But St. Kitts isn't alone when it comes to coming under fire for its lack-thereof leveraging of agents. In fact, back in the August 27, 2010 Weekly Wrap, one agent commented on how St. Lucia appears to be working more with online travel agencies instead of traditional agents (check out the original story here). Can anyone else share their take on whether either or both of these islands are making a significant effort to involve travel agents?
Agents Win with Awesome Websites
We're always keeping in touch with technology companies to learn about what agents can do to keep their business strong among the heavy competition brought on by online travel sites. So, when George Dooley penned an exclusive interview with Brian Tan, CEO and founder of Zicasso.com, we were happy to see so many readers chime in so quickly. Not only were agents excited, but so was Tan himself, commenting:
Stay tuned, folks...there'll be a Part 2 to this story in which I'll be sharing some practical steps and nuts and bolts on how to get a great travel agent website built, affordably.
Meanwhile, here's what fellow agents had to say about the article and its content:
Dora Theiss wrote:
Great article on website advice for travel consultants. Blogging and other social media are other elements to provide relevant information to your clients linked to your website. Consistency is the key when using twitter, blogging, and facebook.
James Wang shared:
This article is just fantastic! I have learned a lot from it. I am looking forward to read your second part of it. Thank you!
Janet Engel added:
thank you so much for this article-- Great information and agree 100%. There are no shortcuts anymore. Retail agents that want to remain viable and relevant MUST strengthen their online identity, starting with their website, and then expanding out and embracing all of the amazing social media tools that, yes their clients are already using! Agents must also demonstrate not only familiarity, but expertise in these arenas also!
You all have me highly anticipating part two now, as well. Let's just hope it doesn't follow the traditional Hollywood path of the sequels never matching the quality of the first film.
That's it for this week. Of course, I wish there was more to share but that depends on you, fellow readers. So keep the comments coming. Post one below or at any of the original articles. Don't forget to share your thoughts with us elsewhere, whether it's by writing us at our Facebook page or sending a tweet to our Twitter page. You can also join in real time discussions, and start your own, at AgentNation, the only social community online for all kinds of travel agents.
October 19, 2010
Richard Nahem's Tale of Two Luxury Hotels: Royal Monceau and Le Pavillon des Lettres
Le Pavillon des Lettres
Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
Luxury comes in many forms and in Paris it can be over the top glitz or restrained and refined. Here are two hotels, one brand-new and one newly refurbished that are the epitome of Paris luxe.
Le Royal Monceau
Opened in 1928, Le Royal Monceau Hotel immediately established itself as a magnet for the rich and powerful. It has not been a stranger to presidents, politicians, and celebrities and is steeped in history with former guests including President Eisenhower, Ho-Chi Minh— who stayed in the hotel for five months in 1947 forging the relationship between France and Vietnam— and David Ben Gourion and Golda Meier (who negotiated the Declaration of Independence for the new state of Israel).
Closed in 2008, the Raffles Hotel Group took it over and refurbished for it for two years to the tune of over $100,000,000. Designed by Philipe Starck, the hotel has chic trendy look to it, as one would expect with Starck at the design helm. It now has 150 rooms, 54 suites, and 10 apartments in a separate building. The My Blend spa by Clarins will open in 2011 and the hotel has the largest indoor pool in Paris. Restaurants include La Cuisine Palace Bistro run by Laurent Andre, formerly working for Alain Ducasse, and Il Carpaccio, with Sicilian cuisine. A unique service called Art Concierge provides guests with advice on top art auctions and contemporary art exhibits.
Le Royal Monceau
37 Avenue Hoche, 75008
1 42 99 88 00?
Le Pavillon des Lettres
C is for clever, as the new hotel Le Pavillon des Lettres uses the letters of the alphabet to name its 26 rooms. Each letter represents a famous writer - A for Hans Christian Andersen, B for Charles Baudelaire, H for Victor Hugo, P for Marcel Proust, and S, for Shakespeare, of course!
Located near the prestigious shopping street Faubourg St. Honoré, the hotel is run by the Chevalier family that also runs the fabulous Pavillon de la Reine on the Place des Vosges square. They have stayed with the theme of quiet, unpretentious luxury with lots of comfort. Designed by Didier Benderli, each room is unique, and has lines from the author’s work transcribed above the bed. To give them a modern touch and an effort to become green, each room has an iPad, doing away with all printed material in the rooms. The iPads will also have access to international newspapers and playlists – from jazz to classical and more. The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant but serves a full breakfast and has an honor system bar only open to guests.
Le Royal Monceau
Opening around November 15
Le Pavillon des Lettres
12 rue de Saussaies, 75008
Tel. + 33 (0) 4 49 24 26 26
So whether you want the hottest, trendiest hotel to be spotted at or prefer a quiet, literary inspired understated suite, you can have both at these new hotels.
By: Richard Nahem
October 18, 2010
What's Your Favorite Fall Travel Package?
With summer vacations now in the rearview mirror as holiday travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's is on the horizon, we know there's little time to rest for the travel professional. Whether they are based on high-profile sports events such as playoff baseball, NFL or NCAA Football or NASCAR, or traditional journeys such as foliage tours and more, there are plentiful options for agents to pitch to their clients this autumn season. We asked fans of our Facebook page what they have been planning for their clients this fall, and here's what they had to say:
Steve Cousino says he already enjoyed a fantastic time at Oktoberfest in New Glarus, WI, and is already back working similar pitches to his clients. Meanwhile, Heather Christopher has clients in Munich enjoying Oktoberfest as well.
Domestically, Terri King is thinking about the "breathtaking" Blue Ridge Mountains Asheville and the Grand Bohemian Hotel for some hiking and shopping, or horseback riding in Taos, New Mexico on the Pueblo Land Sangre de Cristo Mountains, one of her very favorite U.S. destinations.
For autumn's top holiday, Halloween, Bonnie Marsh Clark is getting pumped for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney World.
Finally, Phyllis R Chambers is planning a few brewing vacations herself.
But that's just a few travel professionals, and we'd like to hear more. So post a comment below. Write us at our Facebook page. Send a tweet to our Twitter page. You can also engage in the conversation in real time at AgentNation, the only social community online for all types of travel agents. We want to hear from you, and will share your feedback with our readers.