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Lead Your VIPs Past the Velvet RopeJune 11, 2007 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent
Watching the Oscars earlier this year spurred me to consider the overall concept of the "velvet rope" and who is admitted into this inner circle of privilege and access, while others simply get to hang on the sidelines and observe.
In show business, it's easy enough to determine who walks
the red carpet from one year to the next. You're either hot or you're not. Your
movie is a hit or a flop. You know the right people or you don't. Hmmmm, maybe
it's not as simple as I once thought.
Traveling Like a VIP
Either way, the "velvet rope" concept applies to
the travel agent model as well. Nearly everyone travels these days, but only a
few are able to venture out in the type of style that affords them access to
events and experiences that will permit them to truly savor their destination.
An experienced travel agent who enjoys a strong relationship
with the general manager of a hotel and has built up a reliable network of
"on-sites" on the ground can create an itinerary for a client that
will make their less-privileged neighbor's vacation pale by comparison. They'll
likely receive better service overall and—most importantly—they'll be
recognized as a valuable customer.
Keep in mind, however, that you personally should have a
place behind the velvet rope when it comes to working with suppliers. You can
do this by endeavoring to ensure that the top executives of the hotels that you
do business with know you and understand the value of the business that you are
sending their way.
You can also enhance these relationships by becoming a top
producer for the suppliers that you work with. Some luxury travel advisors are
excellent at this practice; they select a handful of providers and direct the
lion's share of their business to them. As a result, these agents typically
receive higher commission rates than those who sell less of the product, and
they're also recognized in other ways with various benefits. Some agents work
differently, however, spreading their business out among a wide range of
suppliers as they carefully consider who will best serve their customers.
Regardless of the model that suits your method of selling, I
suggest you take a look at your business to determine if there is a way you can
upgrade your status with the suppliers with whom you currently do business.
A good way to get started is to contact the local sales
representatives from the hotel companies, cruise lines and tour operators you
sell to determine what you need to do to get behind their velvet rope. Ask them
for examples of other agents who have risen in the ranks to become top producers
for them—they'll be happy that you asked!
Ruthanne Terrero, CTC
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR [email protected]