Why charge a fee?

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

In my last blog, I mentioned charging fees for creating or helping to create an itinerary for your clients. In this blog, I want to focus on why you should (if you are not doing so yet) and how to do it.

Allow me to disclose that I have read many posts in different groups discouraging travel agents/advisors from putting together itineraries for RVs lovers and clients who prefer to drive to enjoy their vacation because the commission from the hotels would not justify the load of work being done by the agent.

It does require tremendous work and knowledge to put together the best itinerary for a family who wants to drive from one place to eventually arrive someplace else. Where do they stop for bathroom breaks? Which gas stations can they feel safe stopping at, and at the same time, find a place to eat? Which hotels along the route offer the best and safest amenities? What are the safest places to visit including parks, hiking places, and other activities based on interest and age of the clients?

That is a lot of work, and I am sure a smart client or prospective one would be thrilled to pay someone who knows what he/she is doing to put all that together. The same thing goes when a client comes with a budget of let’s say $5,000 and wants to go to 4 countries in Europe and wants a complete itinerary. Why should you work for free?

Don’t put your knowledge, time, and effort into creating an itinerary for a client, expecting to make commission only IF the client/prospective doesn’t change their minds or cancels to do something else. Who likes to work for free?

I have compared the work of a travel agent/advisor to that of a doctor or an attorney many times. For those who don’t believe I should use that comparison, let me give you another example so maybe you will feel better about charging for your work. Now that many schools around the country will be closed because of Covid, who will you trust to be home with your children?  ANY adult or teenager, or a person who is better qualified to guide your kids with home schooling? I am sure that many young adults or adults with experience in math, English and teaching will be in great demand to watch kids and parents will pay for that – because it is worth it.

The same idea goes for a safe and fun vacation.

Don’t be afraid to charge for your time and knowledge. When you value yourself, clients and prospective ones will follow you!

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Cabin Fever

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

People who haven’t traveled at all this year are getting antsy, impatient, and irritated. Am I the only one who is noticing that?

August is starting, and those who have had their travel canceled, their dreams shattered, are stuck with Zoom meetings for most of their social interaction.

Actually, Zoom is a great tool to bring people together, and if you are careful enough, you can wear a nice top with pajama bottoms and nobody will know. Nicely comb your hair, do a little grooming and add some makeup (for women) and you are ready to go. Very convenient! But after 5 months of Zoom meetings, people seem to be getting less careful, or maybe they’re just tired of it. My last Zoom was very distracting, there were all kind of noises in the background, 2  people fell asleep (seriously, one was sitting down on a sofa), and 2 were doing Zoom laying down in bed. It was really hard to concentrate on the discussion. FYI – it was not a Happy Hour Zoom! LOL!

People are so ready for some type of vacation. They really need an expert to help them to do it safely. Think about promoting and charging for your expertise (if you haven’t done so yet). Putting an itinerary together takes time, even if it is a self-drive trip. Maybe you are not getting a commission, but you certainly deserve to charge upfront for your knowledge.

I believe in you! Your clients trust you. Do for yourself what is right: help your clients travel safe – and like a doctor or an attorney, charge them for your expertise.

I’ll have more about this topic – don’t miss my blog next week!

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The Experience of 2020

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I truly believe that in life you win or you learn. I do not believe in defeat and I avoid negative thoughts and negative people – PERIOD! The only negative people I like are the Covid-negative ones!

We don’t need a blog to tell us what a difficult year we are having. I leave memes about 2020 for the incredible people out there to create. My intention here is to bring some light to the end of the tunnel for those who are having a hard time seeing it. I admire those who are using every skill they possess to improve themselves, and who are taking this year as a gift as much as they can.

I for example, love to read books, mostly whodunnits and novels – this helps me escape reality, and it brings me happiness when I build my bucket list of places to visit based on those books.

My bucket list is not dead, kicked down the road, in the toilet, or being used in the garden; it is very much alive in my head and in my daydreams, and ready for when it is safe to go ahead stronger and with more purpose than before. We have ALL somehow been touched by the COVID experience, and now more than ever, understand how life is precious and fragile. The only thing that we know for sure in life is that one day we will be dead – in the meantime, it is our obligation to make the best of it.

For most of us, I can say for sure, the best of life involves travel. Travel when you feel safe but until then, be strong and build your bucket lists. Read books, watch movies, eat ethnic foods, experience the world with all of your senses, and believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than your fear tells you it is.

Find your blessings and keep your bucket list ready to go. I am your cheerleader!

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Reinvent 2020

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Pack your suitcases, we are traveling!

For those who are not ready to do it physically, let’s do it emotionally. Feeling sorry about your travel business is not what your clients and prospective ones are looking for in an expert and professional consultant ready to take care of their needs.

We all know that selling travel is selling dreams. Not all the places our clients are interested in going are our favorite ones, not all their wishes would be our wishes, not all their bucket lists match ours…do you follow what am I saying?

What the best travel agents sell is themselves – and their positivity in making dreams a reality.

I have been watching cruise lines and other great companies selling different types of travel. They continue to sell dreams. People are buying too, because these companies are painting and designing such beautiful images – so colorful that even those who are colorblind can see the picture.

If clients give a deposit before the end of July, they can guarantee the price of a package –  land, cruise or whatever it is that they are selling, for any date in 2021.

Well, that is a nice way to build your client base, an awesome way to network, and  keeps you occupied instead of preoccupied with the news.

Reinvent 2020 as the year that you pre-sell all of 2021 with solid deposits. While other people are posting bad news and hatred, you can post beautiful pictures of nature, places to visit and cultures to be exposed to. Show how your positivity and smile can be contagious and show more of your best self. This time will pass, and next year you can collect all the fruits from a year well planted.

Cheers!

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Blogs @ www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Stories of AirBnB

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Allow me share some stories about AirBnB (more like nightmares) during Covid. Feel free to share them with friends, clients, and prospective friends and clients, LOL!

First, let me confirm that all brand-name hotels, from the most economical to the most expensive, have to follow a protocol of hygiene for Covid-19 in order to stay in business. They are constantly monitored.

Now I can begin to tell my stories.

One of them happened to a friend of mine who is a full-time attorney. She booked a big house in the winery county of Sonoma for 3 nights (Friday through Monday). The house had 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a BBQ and swimming pool. She has 2 young kids, and was taking her in laws as well. On Friday morning (the same Friday she was supposed to leave) she got a phone called from the rental company in charge of that property, apologizing for double booking. They were refunding all the money she had paid, plus they would give her a night in any other property they own for free for a future booking. My friend told them she didn’t want to do business with them again, and how disappointed her family was, and so forth.

Airbnb got them another property which had 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, but for 2 nights only (Saturday through Monday). It was last minute and the cost was $500 more than the previous rental (despite being minus one night, and less 1 bedroom, and bathroom) but in an even better location. My friend accepted that rental, but she wanted Airbnb to at least pay the $500 difference in price. She spent all weekend on the phone with Airbnb trying to get in touch with their attorney, since she is one. Six weeks later, she is still fighting about it. Sure, she is an attorney herself, so she is not being charged for the time she is “wasting” trying to get what would be considered fair.

Another story happened to a friend’s neighbor. She went through Airbnb to get a place for her family in Oxnard (beach area in California). Apparently Airbnb is supposed to have rules on hygiene and cleaning for Covid. As they arrived at the premises, the cleaning crew was still cleaning. She saw that the place was not completely cleaned by the time they finished. She complained to the crew and to the rental place. After a couple of hours, outside on the sun, back and forth, she decided to buy some cleaning products and clean the place herself so she wouldn’t disappoint her family. Unfortunately, she is not an attorney herself. LOL!

To both people, my neighbor and my friend, I said the same thing: lesson learned, next time get yourself a travel agent who will find you a great place!

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Choices – Who is in charge?

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I have a secret to confess, I love to watch people’s reactions to my blogs and posts. The reactions confirm my beliefs that not all of my readers are proactive, some always see the glass as half empty, and a few like to find the negative in every possible positive suggestion. It is OK. Honestly, my goal is to give travel agents and advisors food for thought, ideas, and also show them that we are in charge of all things we can change in ourselves and around us.

My reward is positive feedback, from those who share my blogs and posts, and especially the ones who appreciate them.

I love to share my knowledge in this industry. My tour operator company had to be recreated after 9/11. Now we are in the midst of an even tougher time, but people who love travel have always had a bug (let’s not use the word virus in this case) but a nice and healthy bug, that screams “I need a vacation, somehow, somewhere!” and a creative travel agent can deliver it.

Yes, I’ve heard some doctors telling people to stay home but by the same token, I believe in safe travel. I believe that many good hotels are doing a great job in cleaning the rooms and making sure they have enough staff to keep all common areas safe. They are responsible enough to close the use of pools and gyms.

I believe in respecting everyone’s level of comfort about Covid. I am not saying that travel agents should work as therapists and try to convince clients who are afraid to travel to go places – but be creative and offer opportunities to those who are looking for choices.

Be a positive force in your client’s life, for you and for them. Build relationships now during this difficult time, and your clients will always remember that.

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

 

 

RV Travel and Commission

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Dear Travel Agents and Advisors,

I strongly believe that the ones who succeed in the travel business are the creative ones. (Actually, that’s true in any kind of business, but our niche is travel, isn’t it?)

Say you approach a prospective client and offer a trip to a nice resort in the US and find that the person is still not ready to sleep in a bed that someone else has cleaned, or eat from a restaurant, or share public areas with strangers. So what do you do? Cross that prospective out for 2020…or offer an RV?

Did you know that RV rental companies pay commission?

Yes, they do!

The rental of RVs has increased 600% thanks to Covid-19. As in the case of any travel business, there are travelers who will try to deal directly with the RV rental company. It seems that they don’t value their own time, and many don’t know that by using a travel agent/advisor they will save themselves time and headaches, get all the information they need and the benefit of tips from an expert.

RVs come in all sizes, from the most simple and least expensive, to the most luxurious. Overall, they are a well priced vacation rental and combine the best of both worlds. Travelers pack and unpack only ONCE. Their accommodations travel together with them while they explore each and every place they decide to stay.

At the time of the rental, the group can designate how many drivers they need from their group, and plan how far and how many days they will travel. Together with a travel agent, they can find places that the group can explore, and still feel safe in every way.

Along the route, they can stop at Walmarts and gas stations, or Costco or Sams to purchase a variety of food. They don’t need to go to any restaurants if they don’t want to. They can feel safer being completely self contained for their entire vacation.

So what is the excuse not to sell travel this year?

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New information, keep it coming!

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

We all know that now more than ever, travelers need travel experts to help them with their vacations and making decisions for future trips, otherwise they will be throwing away money like there is no tomorrow.

So, let’s see what is new in the cruise world (and I am already apologizing for any “old” information, since it changes almost every day!)

All eyes have been on the Caribbean as a likely source for an early return to cruise service, one reason being that the islands rely heavily on tourism for their economy. Yet far away in the Pacific, the island paradise of Tahiti fits the bill as well: heavily reliant upon tourism, and mercifully with few cases of Covid to date (60 cases and zero deaths), and no CDC regulations.

That said, the first major cruise line to return to service following the Corona Virus travel suspension, Paul Gauguin Cruises announced that it would resume offering cruises for international passengers to Tahiti on July 29, 2020.

Meanwhile, changing what I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the use of masks on airlines, on June 16th, United Airlines announced that it is doubling down on its mandatory mask policy. Starting on June 18th: “any passenger who refuses to comply with its mask requirement will be placed on an “internal travel restriction list” and will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.”

That is the same “mandate” as for Spirit, Delta and JetBlue. Southwest will provide masks if passengers “forget” theirs. Allegiant Air will begin providing passengers a kit that includes a single-use face mask (even though they encourage passengers to wear a face mask but will not require it!)

American Airlines had tension over wearing face masks which led to a passenger’s removal from a flight on June 17th as the airline enforces stricter safety measures.

While US aviation officials have not mandated face coverings for air travelers, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration said in congressional testimony that passengers are expected to wear masks when directed by flight attendants.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in his testimony that air travelers should wear face coverings “for their own protection and the protection of those around them. Face coverings are especially important in situations where social distancing is not feasible.”

I know that when we discuss the use of masks especially during flights, people have strong opinions. I just think it is not fair to give the flight attendant one more responsibility and enforce the use of masks.

Travel Agents/Advisors have a lot to keep updated on. Use that information and show your prospective clients and regular clients how much they can benefit from your knowledge.

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Cruises vs. Resorts

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

A few weeks ago, we talked about river and ocean cruises. Now, I want to focus on cruises vs. resorts, as travelers are getting more and more antsy to get going on their well-deserved vacations.

As we can see, other countries like Europe and the Caribbean will be open for the tourism before the US. We don’t see US ports being open to the cruise lines yet because they need to follow CDC guidelines.

But, in order to get to the river or ocean cruises in Europe, a traveler will have to fly to Europe.

I am wondering how soon and how many travelers are comfortable taking a long flight overseas, when we talk about keeping social distance, wearing masks, and especially with food, and sharing a bathroom.

Another choice is flying to the Caribbean (still overseas but not such a long flight from many US gateways). Cruises would have to start from a Caribbean island and would not need to follow the CDC’s guidance. Keep in mind that the Caribbean survives mostly from tourism generated from the cruise lines.

Another choice for those who are not comfortable with the social distancing rules of the cruise lines or the long flights overseas to catch a river cruise in Europe, is to relax in a resort.

Resorts offer the experience of the vacation one needs, while at the same time, allows guests to be socially distant from strangers.

Ultimately, resorts can be the place to go for many people who still want to have a vacation in 2020.

Many resorts offer day excursions to different areas around them, so the traveler doesn’t need to feel confined with just one place to visit. Another idea is to combine a couple of resorts and enjoy a broader area to visit.

The more options you can offer to your client, the more inclined he/she will be to find a reason and an opportunity to travel, despite the circumstances.

You, the travel agent/advisor, have the tools to make any vacation a great experience for your clients.

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Blogs@www.travelwithrosana.com

Building clientele and their bucket lists

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Now is the perfect time to build your clientele and their bucket lists!

How?

Virtual Tours by Zoom!

Yes, you can, and this is one of the way to do it:

  • Get a list of your clients and prospective client’s emails (ask for recommendations once you tell them what you are doing, no strings attached!)
  • Contact your tour operators and get materials the you’ll need for different countries and different subjects (culinary, museums, beaches, etc.)
  • If you don’t know much about a destination, try to get a local(s) to talk to your audience.
  • Remember that pictures talk louder than any expert in any subject.
  • Keep it short, a 30/40 minute presentation, and allow time for questions.
  • Many tour operators will be ready to help you with a presentation.
  • Give ideas for tours but mostly let clients build their own bucket lists.
  • Be creative in ways to get more prospective clients to watch your virtual tours.

Tour companies and even river and ocean cruise representatives are ready to help hard working travel agents/advisors. This is the perfect time for great partnerships and creativity. Travelers are still dreaming about places to go, and with a little help from creative travel agents, they can “visit” some places and build a stronger bucket list.

Travelers have more time to dream now. Take this as your opportunity to build your business. You could sit and feel sorry for yourself, but instead, spend this downtime working on a fun and adventurous virtual tour.

Change CAN’T to CAN and just do it!

I am your cheerleader, keep me posted!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com