Laugh, it is part of the experience!


Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

As I promised in last week’s blog, this one is about my personal memories from “disaster” trip experiences.

They don’t appear in order of importance, date, or anything like that, just experiences that have become unforgettable memories.

Here they are:

In Quito, Ecuador, I was having great breakfast at the hotel. Personally, I don’t enjoy those ready-made buffet omelettes, I prefer to order an egg white omelette with veggies. It didn’t cost any extra from the prepaid buffet, even though there was no proper note at the table to let Americans know that they could order custom made eggs with no extra charges. On the third day at the hotel, I had a meeting at breakfast time with the hotel manager and some VIPs of the hotel chain. I didn’t want to spend time ordering my special egg white omelette, nor did I want to eat the pre-made buffet omelette, so I made a huge plate of dragon fruit (such a new, delicious fruit for me!) Well, no one told me that eating lots of dragon fruit would give me a bad stomachache. During the walking tour, I ended up visiting a bathroom every 2 blocks for $0.50 each time. I could give tips about almost all the bathrooms in Quito, LOL!

During our first trip to Israel, we hired a transfer to and from the airport to the hotel. On our second visit, we decided to get a taxicab for 5 people (our 2 young kids, my mother in law, my husband and myself). The trip was during December and it was cold. We all got into this big cab while my husband was getting 5 big pieces of luggage into the trunk. This was before we began traveling with carry-ons. Well, it was Friday and the taxi driver had the trunk full of fruit and vegetables for Sabbath, and there was no space for our luggage. They were placing the luggage on the roof of the cab. From inside the cab, we watched as the luggage fell to the ground a couple of times before they could get them all tied securely on top. We were laughing our hearts out. We still talk about that memorable experience, and it still brings a big smile to our faces.

Another memory was made during the winter in Switzerland. Once again, in a cab, and again the 5 of us – over 20 years ago. We left the hotel on a very snowy night. We realized that we forgotten our wallets at the hotel, so we went back in the same cab to the hotel. While waiting for the wallet to be retrieved, we opened both doors in the back of the cab for some fresh air.  In a split second, a huge San Bernard dog jumped into the cab and sat on top of us. After the scared surprise, we were laughing very hard.

There are so many more memorable experiences that could easily be considered bad events, scary or negative in some way, but my family and I always prefer to think things like this give some flavor and add fun and unexpected surprises to a great trip.

I hope you can view your trips in the same way, looking for the positive in every experience.

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

How can you deliver the PERFECT trip? And, exactly what is a PERFECT trip?

In any sized group, even just a couple, or a family of four, and especially in a big group, people have different expectations. Some find the positive in every challenge, and others find the challenge in every opportunity. But that is just how human beings are, and we can’t change that.

So how can a travel expert deliver a PERFECT trip?

It is definitely by being available to the clients over the trip. Being the “middleman” and communicating with the client and the tour operator during the trip to ensure that every single little problem is solved during the trip.

It is important to inform the client that you will be doing this, and even more important to let them know not to wait a few days to report an issue because it is easier to solve any inconvenience while it is happening, and not a few days after. Communication ensures a great trip.

I can tell you many personal stories of things that have gone wrong on my trips that end up being funny memories. Please read my next blog and I will share some of them. I still treasure these memories as being both funny and learning experiences.

Be transparent and tell your clients or prospective clients that there is no “perfect” trip, but there is a travel expert who will make sure that every single memory will be an unforgettable experience.

And by the way, don’t try to find this service on the internet, they cannot deliver it!

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Times change…


Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Last week I blogged about honeymoon trips and budgets. That reminded me of my own honeymoon almost 35 years ago.

Then, living in Brazil with not 2 pennies to rub together, my husband-to-be wanted to give us a nice honeymoon. He went to a travel agent, and told her how much money we didn’t have. We were very young: Edward was 25 and I was 22. He needed to leave the country of Brazil to renew his visa (he was Argentinian then) as well book a honeymoon – and wanted a trip that with little money would accomplish both. She was awesome! She got us a group tour (yes, group was cheaper!) to see Iguaçu Falls on both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. Our hotel’s name was the Colonial Hotel (maybe then, 3 stars?) The price included a flight to Iguaçu on the Brazilian side, visited both sides of the falls, and my husband was able to cross the border and renew his visa.

I do remember that I was a little disappointed about the hotel’s furniture, it was old and dark, but my husband reminded me that the name of the hotel was Colonial so the furniture matched both the name and the decor. I also remember also that some older folks from the group taught me how to dry my undies behind the mini refrigerator in the room. Members of the group were very nice to us because we were the only honeymooners.

It was funny when the hotel checked us into a room with 2 beds. My husband went back to the front desk and told them that we were in our honeymoon and we needed a double bed (there were no queen or king beds then and there!) and they changed our reservation. Brazilians are friendly and funny, so someone from the front desk brought us porno magazine and my husband took the joke well, and said that because it was our honeymoon, that wouldn’t be necessary.

Ten years ago, on our 25th anniversary, we decided to do our honeymoon again and go back to Iguaçu Falls. My husband suggested that we go to the same hotel. I told him no, that we could now could afford Hotel das Cataratas, a much nicer hotel. He told me that the reason he wanted to go back to the same hotel was because of the magazines, LOL!

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“Pampering” a client

man-2382314_960_720Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

We all agree that no search engine or even the best internet program can substitute a travel agent/advisor’s ability to deal with a client or prospective client. Feelings and emotions cannot be connected through the internet, and all people want to feel listened to, heard, understood and even “pampered.”

To listen and understand a client we need to be 100% present. There is no need to be a therapist, but empathy goes a long way. The way a prospective client explains how they have dreamed about their honeymoon trip may not necessarily coincide with their budget, and that is when creativity and the right words (empathy) come into play. With caring words and your help to make their dreams reality, a beautiful white sand beach (sometimes much closer to home) in a resort (sometimes not as fancy as 5 deluxe stars) will become the best honeymoon trip they could have imagined.

I believe in problem solving (such as in the example above) and providing some “pampering” (for example, giving them a lot of information about the destination, TSA, and other knowledge I can offer to them).

Unfortunately, as in any field, some clients take the “pampering” a little too far – and then it is time to set limits. I have had clients ask me if it will rain on the days they will be there (2 months ahead). Some do not read the information I have given them, and then ask the same questions over and over even though they were addressed in previous emails. I think these are my biggest pet peeves from clients, especially when they think they have the right to ask that of me. First of all, I have no connection with God to be able to know the weather ahead of time, and second, please, read the emails I send, ask questions if you don’t understand, and if you don’t get the email, tell me so I can send it again – but don’t ignore them and then think you can “abuse” the person who is doing you a service.

What is your biggest pet peeve in this industry?

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