The Chicken or the Egg

Dear TA’s,

How many travel agents does it take to make the best vacation? A great ONE!

I hope that GREAT ONE is YOU!

So, let’s do some math here. Your client or prospective one calls you because he/she believes you are THE ONE.  YOU and I believe you are the ONE.  Are you adding that up? That’s 3 against NO ONE! So, why should you work for free?

Why are you feeling uncertain about charging a service fee? And my last question for you to consider: what should your service fee be?

I definitely do not believe in increasing service fees for no reason. I actually I think that it sounds better to have a set service fee and offer a discount if a person comes recommended by someone else, if the group is bigger than… (you name it!), or any other reason you can find to justify it – IF, and only IF you wish!

Those who have read my previous blogs will find it easier to understand my reasons for this recommendation. For those who are reading this blog for the first time, in the past I have explained that once you have the experience (that you already have) you can set your fees high enough so there is no reason to increase them just because you’ve gotten “busier” or “better.”  You should charge your fees based on your experience, and the number of clients that you already have.  Believe in yourself and create your own reality – (use the “which came first – the chicken or the egg theory!”)

Remember the important word I mentioned before: BELIEVE.

You need to believe in yourself, in your experience and your capabilities of delivering the best trip to your clients.

I believe in YOU. Your clients or prospective ones believe in YOU.

Do you believe YOU are the ONE?

Cheering for you! Send a message my way with any questions!

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

Cruises: Safer than Ever

What is it like to go on a cruise now? Here is how COVID has changed the experience for cruises.

Cruising is back!  There are more cruises scheduled to depart from the port of Los Angeles in 2022 than in 2019. Carnival has announced that their bookings for the second half of 2022 are already higher than the total for 2019.  Royal Caribbean is seeing the same trend.

Recovering from the huge financial toll placed on the industry from the global pandemic, positive signs of future business growth include orders for new cruise chips that will be in the waters by 2027.

Cruisers just want to cruise.  However, there are some questions about how things have changed, and what passengers can expect.

Vaccination:  The CDC recommends that all passengers be fully vaccinated before boarding a cruise ship. The largest cruise lines require passengers leaving U.S. ports to be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required at the terminal before boarding. Some cruise lines will also require all passengers, vaccinated or not, to show proof of a COVID-19 test taken within two days of boarding a vessel.

Masks:   Masks are strongly encouraged in public spaces and are required in such indoor areas such as elevators, stores, casinos and dining halls, except when eating or drinking. Masks are not required around the pool and hot tubs. To maintain social distancing, deck chairs are spaced farther apart.

Shore Excursions:  Each country the ships visit have their own Covid-19 protocols, so it is advised to know before you go.  For example, the Bahamas, requires all cruise visitors to be fully vaccinated, except travelers under age 12 and those with medical exemptions.  On some ships, unvaccinated passengers are not allowed to go onshore except with a pre-booked “bubble tour,” where passengers travel only with friends and family in a controlled environment. On other cruise lines encourage passengers to take only shore excursions managed by the ship.

Capacity: To encourage social distancing, most ships are sailing at less than full capacity. The Majestic Princess left on its maiden voyage from the Port of Los Angeles at about 60% capacity. Most cruise lines will be increasing capacity over the next few months.

Onboard Activities: On many ships, indoor dancing, karaoke and nightclubs are not allowed for now.  The Majestic Princess converted its karaoke area into extra room for spa treatments. Passengers might now be allowed to try on clothing for sale in shops.

Dining:  Most self-serve buffets have been modified so employees are serving passengers which will avoid crowding. Many restaurants onboard recommend reservations and will limit groups at dining tables to eight. Some cruise lines have an app to make reservations.

More Info: Safety drills will now be presented on stateroom televisions or a cruise ship app. Spas and gyms are open, but some lines limit access to only vaccinated guests. Hand sanitizer is widely available.

What are you waiting for? Spread the word and let your clients know cruising is back! 

Always cheering for you!

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

Don’t Spoil My Sales

Dear TA’s,

Last week I wrote about how I categorize the different types of prospective clients that call travel agents/advisors seeking help with their vacations.

I got many questions regarding each and every one. Some of the questions had to do with how soon a client can be categorized. There were also questions about prospective clients who come up with lots of questions and promises and then disappear. (As Scott Walters cleverly named them, “The Illusionists.”)

Since this is a Blog and not a “Dear Rosana” column, I will explain most of the questions but again, but feel free to reach out to me to discuss them even further.

First and foremost, to avoid “The Illusionists,” once a prospective client starts asking questions, I recommend answering only a few, and then send them a contract with your service fee. Travel agents/advisors are very busy now. More people are traveling than before, and they want a TA’s help. They are choosing not to venture out by themselves and make a mistake by booking their trips online. TA’s cannot waste time with prospective clients who can’t decide between taking a vacation or a trip to the zoo. Once a prospective client invests in your service fee, both parties are invested in the same purpose, which is to create a nice vacation.

In terms of the “controller,” who asks a lot of questions, some of TA’s prefer not to work with them at all, and others felt like they were dealing with a bully. My recommendation to TA’s is to first recognize that the prospective client is a controller by their tone of voice, their demands, and even their actions. For example, asking the same question by different methods, such as emails, texts and phone calls in a short time. Asking for an explanation of every bit of minutiae. Telling you that “others” in their party feel badly, or something else (hearsay). All of these are the red flags of a controller.

If you are using a mirror next to your phone or computer, you can see that the controller is affecting your gut and making you feel uncomfortable and pressured. If you are using the phone, tell this client that another call is coming in and you need to call him/her back. In the case that you are reading an email: STOP! Drink some water, take a deep breath and go for a walk if you can. With a controller, you have to turn the tables and use the skills I explained in my past blog. Set limits, tell them when YOU are going to contact them. Limit your time on the phone with them and use more emails. Do not explain every detail of what you do (doctors don’t explain every procedure – they deliver results!)  You will deliver them a great trip. In the case of hearsay, don’t miss a beat – if someone has a problem with you, that person should reach out DIRECTLY to you. By acting this way, you’ll feel like you have control.In 95% of these cases, the client comes back happily and will recommend you to many of their friends.

Keep in mind though, when you follow up with ALL your clients after the vacation (client retention) wait a couple of weeks. For a couple of reasons:

1. Once they come back, they are overloaded by junk emails. You don’t want them to mistake your email as junk.

2. Even if your trip was perfect, sometimes the little kid sitting in the seat behind you on the last flight kept kicking your seat, or the last flight was delayed, or the Uber driver on the way home didn’t speak a word of English. These types of things will be in their minds for few days, until jet lag is gone, and all the great memories of the trip come back. THEN is the perfect time to hear a WELCOME BACK from you!

Always cheering from you!

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

Making Every Call Count

Dear TA’s,

First let me explain that I use the letters TA instead of saying Travel Agents or Travel Advisors. When I started in this business, life was a little less complicated and we were all Travel Agents. Since ASTA has changed the title they use to Travel Advisors, I want to be politically correct and not offend anyone, so using the letters TA (in our industry) makes my life a little easier.

Now that I have explained myself and that we are all hopefully in agreement on that; let me ask you what your perfect kind of client or prospective one is, and if you always get that kind?

For all the years that I have dealt with clients and travel agents in my business as a Tour Operator, I always enjoyed a challenge. I believe that my best clients were the “difficult” ones, the ones that I had already pre-categorized as: “cheap-o,” “controlling,” “dramatic,” “multi-tasker,” or “dreamer.”

I had a formula that I used to deal with each of these category types, and I was very successful.

Let me share with you:

  • “Cheap-o” were the clients who wanted me to match prices from another vendor or the internet. I spoke to them in a voice that indicated that I was in a hurry (to get rid of him/her), explained very briefly why the other product (vendor or internet) was not reliable, or would bring them a big headache in the end. Then in a softer voice, I would ask for their name again, and tell them that I had another client to take care of. If they were still interested, I gave them two options of specific times to talk to me (a few days later). Ninety percent of the time, they called back and bought.
  • “Controllers” – are people who want to tell you how and what to do. Usually they take too much of your time because they ask you to explain every step of what you are doing. Most of the time you end up exhausted, and sometimes doubting your experience. Remind them that you are the expert and that is why they are dealing with you. Tell them when you can talk to them, on your schedule. Set limits to the hours they can contact you, and the method at which you prefer to be contacted. Use a strong voice and be short.
  • “Dramatic” clients are the ones who become your friend and want to vent and tell you all his/her life stories. Then, they need extra time to pay because of something that happens to them. Suddenly you find yourself too involved in their personal life. When you see that this kind of client is coming, the best way to avoid them is to get busy with other clients waiting on the line. You can definitely use a soft voice as if you would love to hear all their stories and show empathy, but unfortunately you are so busy because you are so good!
  • The “Multi-tasker” is easy to spot! You can hear pots and pans banging in the background or they call while shopping or with their kids.  There are often many things going on all at the same time. This is the client that will not remember a thing about your conversation. I used to ask that all information be exchanged by emails. Even though these clients promised me that they were the best multi-tasker, I would say that I was sensitive to noise, and to give them the best service and pricing I could only do it by emails.
  • “Dreamers” – I’ve worked with two kinds – the beer budget with champagne taste, and the ones who were in another dreamland while talking to me. The first kind I treat like the “Cheap-o” and the second kind like the “Multi-tasker.”

If you have had other categories of clients and want to share, please feel free to! Psychology goes a long way with people. Don’t get upset with them, get even! LOL!

Always cheering for you!

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