Life happens and Travel Agents Rock!


Dear Travel Agent,

The travel industry has been through different challenges throughout the years, and now, more than ever, I see a big reason to be united.

Just sixteen years ago, right after 09/11, it was hard to sell Europe. I discovered how much easier it was to sell South America at that time, and my tour company prospered and actually sold more than we expected.

Then came the search engines, which strongly tried to put all travel agents out of jobs. What we can now see is that search engines better assist the cheaper clients; taking the self-helpers to one side, and leaving the smart and savvy travelers looking for the expertise of travel agents.

Now, it seems that the world is upside down. There have been so many hurricanes and earthquakes, affecting so many places and hurting so many people. It hurts, it leaves us speechless, and somehow helpless.

How can we come together and do something? We can definitely do something to help!

  • Give a little portion of your sales to a cause to rebuild a country.
  • Pre-sell some of the affected destinations for travel as soon as they are ready (tourism always brings money and promotes the economy of a country).
  • Promote groups going to those countries to rebuild through church groups and other venues. (Contact churches, YMCA, Red Cross and other venues about how to bring in people to help.
  • Use any venue to collect money, such as a Telethon to raise money to send it to those countries.
  • Develop and promote your own ideas to help the affected countries.

Remember you don’t need to do it anonymously. Proudly connect what you are doing to the name of your company, or your name. Prospective clients can and should know how much you care. If we all care, we will build a better world. Catastrophes happen, life happens, travel agents care and they show it. I am sure that those who show more caring will end up getting more business, and they deserve to.

Do you have a plan on how you can help?

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Personal Versus Automated

volunteers-2654000_960_720Dear Travel Agent,

Do you still remember the way you felt when you patiently called your suppliers about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to learn what was canceled and what wasn’t? What did you tell your clients? I saw the posts of many travel agents who said that they waited no longer than 15 minutes for an answer, and that even though the vendor was overwhelmed by many calls, he/she was very polite and gave all the necessary answers and information.

Talking to a real person, and getting private, one-on-one attention is priceless. If you feel like that as a person who works in tourism, imagine how your prospective clients feel! They have a lot invested in their trip (many times it is their first one, or they have saved long and hard for the money). They deserve to feel special!

Online automation is great for paying for parking lots, trains, subways, etc. It is great when you don’t have any questions, and if you lose that little bit of money or time, it will not be a burden to you. Otherwise, we all need a human being who speaks good English, or whatever our native language is, who can explain all pros and cons of our trip; a person who will give us choices and suggestions. An actual human who will take the time to understand us better, and hold our hand until the end of the planning, and even be there to welcome us back to make sure we had a super time.

Working with people offers a great value that automation will never, ever be able to take over.

Think about this next time you promote yourself. You have so much more to give! Forget about online websites or search engines – your personal service is much more valuable and important to everyone!

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Travel Agents versus Search Engines


Dear Travel Agent,

We have been talking a lot about Travel Insurance, made even more timely with current events such as and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

From responses to my previous posts, I can see that most travel agents know the importance of travel insurance and have offered it to their clients, and had them sign a waiver when they declined to purchase it.

Do you think that search engines take the time to explain the pros of travel insurance, (even through a quiz) before a client purchases the trip? Will they ensure that clients obtain the travel insurance policy that suits them best, based on pre-existing conditions, or other situations that could affect their travel?

We all know the answer to that!

Search engines are great for what they are called: SEARCHING. But not for PURCHASING!

Travel Agents make sure clients are safe before, during, after their trips. If an itinerary is changed due to a hurricane, or for an unexpected life event, or for the recurrence of a pre-existing condition, travel agents will make sure that the client has insurance to cover them. They will also do all they can to reschedule, rebook, or cancel with as little inconvenience and cost to the traveler as possible.

As I always say, Travel Agents are like a comfortable pair of jeans – they change through the years, they get wrinkled, they shred at the knee or in other places, but they will never go out of style!

Unfortunately, the recent hurricanes have destroyed homes and lives. Many travelers have lost their dream vacations and their money because they purchased trips online without a knowledgeable travel agent to guide them.

Let all your prospective clients know how much you care, and that you will make sure they will be safe on their next vacation!

Travel Agents Rock!

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Handling TSA

Dear Travel Agent,    7417151634_e76998f46d_b

Welcome to TSA!
How I wish that they were more cordial and welcoming; after all we are traveling, and not getting booked into jail! We all can wish! I must confess that it definitely depends of the gateway you use, perhaps your luck be different. Not so much for me who uses LAX, famously non-friendly LAX.

I have Global Entry and that doesn’t work for most foreign travel, especially if you use Bradley International Terminal. I can tell you many stories – even from MIA! But let me limit myself to my last experience.

In July 2017, I went to Tanzania and Kenya. I am allergic to dairy products, so for my morning coffee I bring along Coffee Mate On-the-Go (dairy free). I purchase them at Walmart and they don’t need refrigeration, even after they are opened. Each container is 3 oz. I brought 5 containers to Kenya in my carry-on luggage. They checked my carry on and said nothing. I had a great time.

On August 18th, from Terminal 6, I traveled to Alaska on Canada Airlines. I again brought 5 Coffee Mate On-the-Go, and guess what? A nasty TSA employee gave me a hard time about my Coffee Mate – exactly the same amount as I took to Kenya and Tanzania from Bradley International, and only let me keep 2 – out of the kindness of her “heart.”

I explained to her that I was allergic to milk, and that just a month before I had taken the same amount to Kenya from Bradley. She was rude and kept me interrupting me, and threw my small perfume and deodorant on the counter. I asked her to please be more careful because they could break. She didn’t care. She was happy to be in charge, and to decide how I could travel and how much I could bring. Being in charge was much more important to her than being nice and kind, or following the rules. By the way, I was in the line for TSA pre-check and told her that I travel at least every other month.

What a shame! We don’t need to be treated like criminals when traveling.
What has your experience with TSA been like?

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