Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: October 26-31

Happy Halloween to all! The best part about this Saturday's holiday is the extra hour we get for celebrating. But before we get our costumes on, let's take a look at what some of Travel Agent readers had to say this week.

Permitting Plugs for Progress

Every week, some submitted comments are nothing but attempts to leverage traffic to a website or shamelessly promote a brand. Usually, I click "disapprove" and move on to the next comment, hoping it's not another one that evokes YTB and God's judgment all in one sentence. But this week, I received one that may or may not be of use to agents, and I'd like to share it.

Before I regurgitate the quote, however, I should say (as I have before) that I am not a certified travel professional or agent. I do my best to keep my ear open to the buzz I hear around my office as well as what I find online. So when one reader commented on a piece about how vacation rentals may benefit agents' sales, I felt it was worth sharing. Sylvia Guarino commented:

A new tool now exists for property/rental managers. The innovative Facebook application, Second Porch, now allows PM's to list. The Porchlight on Second Porch listing gives property managers the ability to list 10 homes...and if they want more they can contact Second Porch for special prices to list more. Also an owner can direct their home listing inquiries to a PM and be cc'd. In this economy, vacation rental owners and vacation rental managers need all the help that they can get in obtaining bookings!

Though it seems this Second Porch thing-a-ma-bob is not directed toward agents, perhaps it can still be of use for them. It may be an intial platform through which agents can connect with property managers who are looking to fill their establishments with guests— guests that could very well be your clients. If vacation rentals are a relatively new or alternative means for agents to obtain more sales, can it hurt to check this one out? Just asking.

Le Sommeil est Bon

While some of you may take advantage of the "fall back" hour of time this week to party with ghosts, some may rather get some extra shut eye, and who can blame them? After all, a recent Westin survey stated that some travelers would rather get an incredible night's sleep instead of some great sex. I bet Bob Smith, who commented on our story about new boutique hotels in Paris, is one of those travelers. He wrote:

Thank you Mary for this great review. Always amazed by the mix of novelty & chic that Paris upscale hotels can offer. Also very intrigued by the NightCove 'Sleep Support System' you mention. If hotels can help me sleep better with an excellent mattress + a light & sound sleep system, this is a win!

Now I'm not saying that I think Bob can't get any nooky, I'm just saying he must really really like sleep. So enjoy that extra hour this weekend, sir.

A Tad on Twitter

Last week, I enjoyed sharing a conversation-via-comments here on the site that was based on Ruthanne Terrero's piece on how to best utilize Twitter for your business. One of Ruthanne's tips was on using tiny URLs to save character space while getting your message across with more information. It seems that Bruno Ribeiro has an alternative suggestion for a tiny URL, writing:

Excellent article. I would just change the reference from tinyurl for not only shortens the url (and has less characters then tinyurl) has it allows you to see click trough stats, which can be useful to see if you're indeed reaching your followers.
I think sharing (tweets or links) is one of the best things you can do on Twitter (insight being the best one). In our company's Twitter profile (@DouroAzul) we try to share info and articles on the Douro Valley region as well as to engage with actual or prospective customers, or travelers who are or plan to come to Porto and the Douro.

Anyone out there tried both methods and prefer one to the other? Let us know, please.

Come Together

JoyStar has not been the most popular topic of conversation here at Travel Agent and, for those who are aware of the history, that's quite understandable. So although I do not know exactly what it is like to be an agent that has been screwed over by the host agency, I still sympathize with the frustration shared by one reader, who goes by the name R. He/she shared:

I worked for Joystar at their 'headquarters' for a number of years not because I liked the job BUT because it was better than no job at the time. They not only stiffed the agents, but they robbed the employees as well. I was unaware of the bankruptcy until August of this year and wish I had known of it. I have some knowledge that possibly could have helped the agents get their money back.
I left joystar because both Kathy and Bill are cheats and liars who spent more time partying and playing than trying to run a business. I witnessed this first-hand!
For those of you still in the industry, be advised this is NOT the first time Bill Alverson has pulled this scam on the travel industry at large - He has the big million dollar home in Newport Beach, house in Park City, Utah and other toys to prove it.
My question is: Why has not anyone hired a top notch PI to get the goods on them, The trail is there is someone would just look!
I would be great to have a forum where all of us could talk directly versus individual posts. If such a place exists, I would like to go there and possibly get answers...
If anyone is willing to engage in this please let me know and I can provide contact info. Thanks!

R, I feel for you. At my last job (which will remain nameless), I was there because I didn't want to not have a job. Although I didn't have anything stolen from me, I do know that one of my managers would read employee e-mails while my other manager would tell me not he "preferred" I didn't use vacation days during summers, and then he would go take a two-week trip in July.

Fortunately, I had many friends and peers to network with to help get me out of there while also improving my skills (which for reasons that will remain unmentioned were certainly not going to develop at that place). R, there are people here for you too. They are here reading the message boards and they are also at AgentNation, the only social community online for all kinds of travel agents. In fact, there is even a specific group for JoyStar agents to connect and come together on what the next best step is to take. Hopefully, you can find what you are looking for there. I know I mention it every week, but if you sign up or log in today you'll be able to communicate with fellow agents in real-time, 24/7.

Enjoy your tricks and treats!