Have Your Cake And Eat It Too Times 2

Have Your Cake And Eat It Too Times 2

Dear Travel Agents/ Advisors,

Or, we could rephrase that to say ”How to have a great time with your clients.” Throughout my career, I have been very lucky. I have traveled with many travel agents who became my dear friends, and I hope to continue doing so. I believe that some of the greatest gifts in life are travel and friends. What a joy to meet new people with one thing in common – travel.

I would never have met these wonderful people if I hadn’t organized tours for them. I met these newfound friends on FAM Trips and Tours for Women. They were travel agents and their companions from all over the USA and Canada. All of us were from different backgrounds, ages, with differing views of the world, but all sharing a love of travel and traveling together. This is the cherry on top for me, the part of my work that I look forward to the most!

To ensure a smooth and wonderful group tour, you need to make sure that you will be the Travel Leader. (Organizers of  a group become the Travel Leader.)

Important responsibilities of the leader include:

  • Deciding who will pair the roommates: you, or will you let the travelers interview one another? If you decide that you will be doing it, ask the important questions, such as o you snore? What do you expect from your roommate? Also, ask other questions pertinent to your specific trip.
  • Deciding if you will all travel together from one gateway, or meet at the destination.
  • Deciding how much “free” time and/or optional tours you will offer to your group.
  • Decide the number of people that will be included on your trip. Keep it small for your first group to make it more manageable.
  • Deciding if tips to drivers and tour guides are included, and if not, if you will collect from the group and present to each professional, or let each traveler give individually. (Please advise your travelers ahead of time to avoid surprises!)
  • Set ground rules before the trip, or as soon as you arrive to avoid future problems. (Problems will happen, and I could write a book about them!) Ask travelers to let you know that if they have a problem “today” to tell you “today,” and not “tomorrow.” It is hard to solve problems from “yesterday.”
  • Medication – People seem to believe that once they are on vacation, it means “I will not take my medication.”  This is a big mistake, and can jeopardize a great trip for everyone.
  • Respect: Personal views on politics, race and religion are very sensitive.  Decide how you want to handle them if they come up!
  • Make sure that you will be the only one communicating to the tour guide and tour organizer. This way, you avoid too many tour leaders and everyone knows who is who.
  • HAVE FUN, MAKE FRIENDS, AND PLAN ANOTHER TRIP!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Do I need a PhD in Sales?

Dear Travel Agents/ Advisors,

For many years, I have debated with people in the travel industry as to whether or not a good travel agent also needs to be a good sales person.

I have had the opportunity to interview and hire many travel agents for positions within my tour companies. I have hired sales people with great experience in “sales.” Because I was very hands-on during their training period, I watched them relate to our clients, most of whom were travel agents themselves!

I saw a difference between the new sales people and the travel agents already working  in my office. The sales people were interested in one thing: to make the quota and reach their target. The travel agents were more focused on service; making sure clients would remember their names, putting forth a distinct effort towards client retention and referral.

The sales people would transfer calls to me or another manager when they felt the client’s needs went beyond their “duty” of selling. If a client had questions, it was time to transfer the call. “Time is money” was like the air sales people breathe, and “next call” was stamped on their foreheads. If we had changed our business the next day to selling books, or shoes, or clothes I am confident they would have done an excellent job.

I made the decision to only hire travel agents to work for me, even those who had just left school. Yes, training was sometimes hard. Some were shy or not very confident, but they all had one thing in common: a passion for travel. That definitely came across on every call, as well as how much they cared for and about our clients.

I used to place a small mirror on each desk that said, “What you see is what they hear!” I asked them to smile and to be present in their conversations, to show how much they cared.They always ended up closing sales over their quotas, with the advantage of having repeat clients. I know that Travel Agents Rock” because they really care!

Cheers!

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Instagram @travelwithrosana
Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!

Dear TAs,

I have a theory. People feel more comfortable selling what they themselves like better than selling what they don’t. Let me explain this more clearly. Travel agents who enjoy cruises have an easier time selling cruises than selling land packages, and vice versa.

I have spoken to many travel agents who have only experienced cruises to the Caribbean and feel very comfortable selling them to their clients. I don’t blame them. After all, they know the product and can personally recommend it. But what if their prospective client wants to experience a safari? Or to discover The UAE? Or even to start experiencing the Seven Wonders of the World? Chances are, as a travel agent, you would have to refer your prospective client to another expert, OR get out of your comfort zone and learn more about land packages.

My question to those who are experienced with cruises in the Caribbean – should you be proactive and start learning more about other destinations and other kinds of packages, or should you choose to specialize in cruises?

I ask the same question to those agents who avoid selling cruises and feel more comfortable selling land packages. Should you start learning about cruises for your prospective clients in case they request one, or specialize in land packages, or specific destinations and types of activities?

My honest opinion is that you can choose to do either one! You can specialize in some areas or destinations and become the best you can be. Another option is to learn as you go. For this you will need to rely on Tour Operators who are travel agent friendly, that take their time guiding and teaching, who have a great reputation, and most importantly, will help you look good to your clients.

There really isn’t a better way; it all depends on the direction you want to take your business.

Remember, travel is a business where the clients are seeking fun, and they are looking for a reliable and caring travel agent. You, the travel agent, should enjoy what you do, show clients how much fun travel is, keep smiling and make it easy for the traveler. Don’t stress over it. Do what makes YOU happy and your clients will feel rewarded!

Cheers!  

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Instagram @travelwithrosana
Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Here for you

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

As we start 2023 I want to remind you that I am here for you, and some of the reasons why. 

I am often asked by agents to be their mentor. What I do is free, and done with all my pleasure. I get many questions from agents asking for advice.  Again, I am here for all of you!

I have met many agents who are eager to get experience in a short time.  Let’s analyze those two concepts: experience, and in a short time.

How long does it take to gain experience in something, in our case, travel? Well, it depends on  how much we want to know, how much interest we have in specializing in different areas, and how much of a perfectionist some of us are.

How much time should we invest in learning? Again it depends on several factors. How we learn, how much we are able to learn, and how much of a “workaholic” we are willing to be.

So, as a travel agent, you approach your “mentor” (me) and get a bunch of ” it depends” answers. What kind of mentor am I?

Let me give you my honest opinion about the issue of gaining experience in a short time. I feel that if you show your client or prospective client how much you really care, experience moves down in importance to second place.  People are looking for a professional who has real feelings and a big heart, and who will stand with them for the entire journey. Experience alone is not enough. Experience PLUS caring will put the world at your feet!

I am cheering for you! Show how much you care, and learn at your own pace.

Feel free to contact me at:  Rosanatravel@aol.com

Cheers!

Follow me at:
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Instagram @travelwithrosana
Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com



And How Was Your Flight?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Even after an ideal vacation on a cruise on the sensational Celebrity Beyond, with incredible weather in the Caribbean, a few days prior and afterward in Florida, it was proven to me once again that we have no control over everything.

We didn’t want to rush from the cruise to our flight back home, so we spent an extra night in a beautiful boutique hotel in Miami, only 15 minutes away from the airport. It was the perfect plan to end our vacation. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and dinner and the view from our room on the 38th floor.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to enjoy the Delta Sky Club, then board the plane and sit in the “old” first class where the seats don’t recline, and it is a bit more comfortable than in an economy seat. I was happy to leave MIA at 8:55am EST and arrive in LAX at 11:45am PST.  Enough time for a nice lunch at home and a rest.

The plane left the gate and less than 3 minutes later the Captain announced that because of the weather in the middle of the country on the way to LAX, there would be problems and he was checking with the tower to get another route. Between that first announcement and the actual  time we left again, 5 hours went by with all of us still inside the plane. There was also a caveat: we needed to stop in Salt Lake City to change crew because it was going to be overtime for them.

Shouldn’t a nonstop flight cost more than a flight with a stopover? Well, that day it didn’t.

And what about food? I have had enough potato chips, pistachios and almonds to last me for over a year. That was my “lunch” and “dinner” because after stopping in SLC  for over 45 minutes we finally flew to LAX. By the time I got my suitcase (this is the last time I will ever take a real suitcase instead of only carry-ons on a cruise!!!!) we arrived home at 9:27pm PST (instead of noon-ish!) 

I was tired, irritated and jet lagged because of this extra long flight that had absolutely nothing to do with our beautiful vacation. Luckily I didn’t have a Travel Agent calling me to follow up with me, because at that time I was not in my best mood. This is why I always recommend waiting at least a week to follow up, so a hiccup like this will not point a finger at the wrong person!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Creating Lifelong Clients

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I am writing this blog from the incredible Celebrity Beyond. It cost over $1 billion to build and you can see what a beauty she is. I highly recommend that you experience this ship, and/or book your clients on her. Every detail is so well thought out, even on the at-sea days you don’t feel crowded.

Well, I am impressed indeed, but I am also a cruise lover and enjoy a good cruise when I take one – just like a wine aficionado, you need one to know the other!

Now, how can you turn a person who has never been on a cruise into a cruise lover? Or how can you make a non-traveler into a travel addict?

These people have always been my biggest challenges and my favorite future clients.

To sell a cruise to a cruiseaholic is easy, they are already shopping and the travel agent/advisor who shows them that they care the most gets the client (notice that I didn’t say best price!)

Now, how can you convert a traveler into a cruiser? Show them a cruise where the food is awesome, the nightlife has a bit of everything and is high quality, where they don’t feel crowded, they experience great service, and the price justifies the expense. Don’t base prices on YOUR budget, give them a product that they will love, and you will have a client for life. Not only that, they might just book their next cruises while on that cruise!

How do you convert a “stay at home, can’t afford it, and don’t enjoy travel” into a travel addict?

These are the forgotten clients, and honestly they are the best once you get them, and you can, for life, just hold their hands!

Fear is their middle name: fear of the unknown, fear of how to, fear of what can possibly go wrong, and fear of changes. They need someone with special powers to make them feel comfortable and explain every detail – even how to pay for the trip, how to get to the airport, what comes next, and after that. Many need help even with how to pay monthly, because for them, money is like water and it is so hard to save enough to pay all at once.

I know that not everyone was born to be a teacher and a bank teller at the same time, but after a couple of times it becomes like teaching a little kid to ride a bike and then, they will ride every time with YOU!

Finding the clients who were not available and making them your best clients is the best advice I can give for the new year! Happy 2023!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

 

Making Travel a Priority

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

We all know that most people enjoy traveling. I like to believe that ALL people do, but somehow, beyond my comprehension (LOL!), that is not true. We also know that many believe they can NOT afford to travel.

This is what I want to talk about, and no, I am not going to talk about teaching them to become travel agents!

I want to talk to those travel agents who are willing to go after the huge number of people who believe that they cannot afford to travel, and show them how to prioritize their wishes and make their travel dreams come true.

If you are the one of those agents, keep reading, because I can help you with many ideas!

First, we need to convince these types of people that everything is possible IF they wish and plan for it. People can see themselves doing things in the very short future; planning something for 2024 or 2025 seems too away. But, once we turn that thought around, it is already 2023, and those future dates will happen whether we plan for them or not. So, why not plan for something beautiful in their future, and give them something wonderful to look forward to.

Then we can offer some of the solutions for how to make it happen. I have heard many incredible stories from travel agents and/or clients. They have quit a bad habit and saved that money. Or tried eating healthier meals at home instead of eating out and putting the saved money aside. Drinking coffee at home or making it in a coffeemaker in the office instead of paying for the expensive Starbucks, and putting aside that money. Walking places instead of using the car …… Do you get the idea?

When you give travelers these examples of ways to save, and then multiply them by the days until the planned trip, you get a nice amount of money to fund a wish that they turned into a priority.

To that, you can add ideas to a bucket list with your prospective client and get them more engaged with you and what you can offer them.

There is a huge segment of the population who would love to have a travel agent guiding them and holding their hands as they plan to travel. Once you find them and show them what you can offer, they will trust you, recommend you to others, and keep you on file for their next trip.

Cheers

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Facebook @travelwithrosana

Blog @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Picture Perfect

Dear Travel Agents Advisors,

Have you been following my last 2 blogs? I hope so!

For those who have, we talked about seeing a “picture” from the client’s point of view, and last week I told you my “picture perfect” from the personal taste of a Travel Expert (per se).

Now, how can you put the two together? First, I know I love cruises so I can easily say that I would want to specialize in cruises and land tours (remember that I mentioned this in my last blog?) I also described my personal experience with cruising, so I know a bit. Also, I know that I don’t know enough about other cruises, so right away I know I should sign up to learn more about them. 

I could also prepare a spreadsheet with points that are important to most people comparing cruise details, including:

  • restaurants
  • dress code
  • room service
  • entertainment
  • kid friendly
  • kid’s clubs
  • smoking areas
  • cabin size
  • handicap rooms
  • swimming pools

I know some people are very good with spreadsheets, and you can see from my blog that this is not my forte (thank God I have 2 awesome sons, LOL!)

My point is, the more specific comparison your spreadsheet shows in terms of cruise amenities, the better you can assist your client in making their “cruise picture” a total reality, because YOU are the expert and YOU have the tools to do it!  When they ask you why you are recommending this cruise instead of another, you can tell them it is because the only phone call you want to get from them AFTER or even during the cruise, is to book another one! Or you can go over every point, and every pro and con of the cruise you feel is best for them. The choice is yours!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Working on your Picture Perfect

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Last week we talked about hair, haircuts and hairdressers, and even compared them to travel experts!

I hope you had the opportunity to think about this while talking to a client or prospective one, trying to see the “picture” they had in their mind, and not just listening to their requests.

As many of you know, I travel quite often (but not as often as I’d like to.) I love cruises and land tours (FAM TRIPS included).

I love to cruise with Celebrity and Azamara. Here are some of the reasons why: I like their itineraries a lot. Before dinner we enjoy a great show in the beautiful theater. Dinner seating every night is at the same table, and the maître d’ shows me the menu for the next night so we can modify it for my allergies. Once I get to our table where others are savoring the delicious bread and butter, I have warm gluten free bread and olive oil waiting for me.

After dinner we go dancing, and once we get back to the room, we prepare our request for a room service breakfast (we like our breakfast in the room for many reasons: portion control, my allergies, and less noise than in the buffet room) all at no extra charge.

It is very important to us that these cruises are not-so kid friendly (trust me on this!) IF they say they have a kid’s program, they probably do a superb job because I never hear kids screaming or crying anywhere. I have nothing against kids, but having adult sons and no grandchildren yet, I like to live my vacations scream free!

I honestly have tried cheaper cruises, but I don’t appreciate being nickel and dimed for extra money to send a sparkling water to my room, or paying extra money for room service, beyond what I have already paid for a package. Some other cruise lines like Celebrity unfortunately don’t fulfill some of our important requirements like a dining room or great shows.

There are some other more expensive cruise lines that we want to try, but they will definitely need to justify the upgrade in pricing for us to go for it.

Do you really know what you like?

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Travel Expert or Hair Expert?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Who cuts your hair?

Seriously! This question is for everyone, including men and even the boldest of my followers. We all know that sometimes we make a mistake and get a bad haircut. But, it is just hair and we can wear a cap or even a nice wig and eventually it grows back. But for a while, we need to face the mirror and remember this bad choice we made, if we cut our own hair, or went to someone not well trained.

Now, I will be the devil’s advocate. How many times have you sat at a hair salon with a picture from a magazine, or snapshot you show to the hairdresser wanting the same cut? Yes, you really want your hair to look like that one on the picture.

First, a good hairdresser needs to understand clearly what you want and second, if it is will work for your hair type with the amount of time you want to spend styling it to know if what you want is even possible.

When we explain this using hair as an example, it sounds much simpler than when we explain the same type of considerations about a trip, right?

A travel expert has to know the exact expectations of the prospective client to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. As an expert YOU know the best cruises, tours, all-inclusives, and what the client wants EVEN when they bring you a picture (especially since usually this picture is inside the client’s head!)

Think about this the next time you are talking to your client. Try to get “the picture” and sell what your client REALLY wants!

Cheers!
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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com