Colombia, not Columbia!

Dear Travel Agents/ Advisors,

Welcome to Colombia, not Columbia!

Colombia has been on my bucket list since before the pandemic and finally, in October 2022, I realized my dream of visiting this country by being a leader on a FAM Trip. We spent 8 days visiting Bogota, Medellín and Cartagena. Along with me and my husband (the only man on the trip) were 9 awesome travel agents. 

I personally love to visit a country on a FAM Trip, I enjoy the fast pace and crave the energy of the group. Actually, I could live on FAM trips, but I know that not all trips are created equally, LOL!

I did not care for Bogota, there was not much to see or do there. Honestly, I don’t think that Colombia’s capital is a “must-visit” destination. I recommend flying into Medellín and starting from there. Another fact about Bogota is that the city is at a high altitude, some people can feel it and get sick. 

Medellin is the highlight of Colombia, in my opinion. From lemons, they have made delicious margaritas!  I highly recommend watching or reading about Pablo Escobar BEFORE going to Colombia. From that, you will have a better understanding of how one person was almost able to destroy a city, a country, so many lives, and was such a negative influence. 

Now it is a beautiful city, celebrated with the beautiful sculptures of famous Fernando Botero and enriched by the Comuna 13 neighborhood, with its series of urban escalators. Medellín’s policy of social urbanism is aimed at integrating previously alienated citizens into the city and investing heavily in progressive architecture and education. 

From Medellín we went to Cartagena. What a beautiful port city on the Caribbean Sea. The beaches and the history made the visit a must, especially the Palenque de San Basílio, a village almost 2 hours away. Here you’ll learn the real story of around 3,500 people descended from West-African slaves who escaped Cartagena and the surrounding areas in the 17th Century. The people in Palenque originated from the Congo and were brought to Colombia during the colonization of the Americas by the Spanish. Many fled Cartagena and other cities due to the harsh conditions and the poor treatment they were subjected to.

Colombia is rich in food, delicious coffee, chocolate, beaches and incredible history. I highly recommend adding Colombia to your bucket list. 

Cheers!

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Have You Hugged a Porcupine?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

We have talked before about how NOT to send proposals or deal with a client or prospective one over email or text, but to do so over the phone and in person if possible. This is because we don’t want a “Prize,” but instead a client who will stay with you and recommend you to others. For those who are LUCKY enough to send a proposal and “get” a sale, know that you got a one-time deal, and next time it could be another lucky TA!

Now that I have made my point about the difference between a one-timer and a client, let’s talk about complaints and endless questions from clients over emails and texts. This is one of the cases I call “embrace or hug a porcupine.”

Example: Client is on her/his vacation and sends text messages about the poor service she is getting at the restaurant in the all-inclusive resort where they are staying. Well, you don’t really know if the service is poor, or if she is having a bad day, or is upset because of personal reasons. So, don’t engage over text messages or emails. You can ignore them the first day, or reply with, “I am sorry to hear that.”

If this continues, ask your client to contact you by WhatsApp at a time that is convenient for you so you can give them all the attention they need

Once she/he calls, ask about the weather, about her husband or family or friend (whoever is traveling with her), ask about the pool, the ocean. I mean, take the driver’s seat and “drive” around the all-inclusive – everywhere BUT the restaurant (the problem). Let her tell you about everything she is enjoying. Or you might hear that she is a complainer and sees the glass so empty that it is almost broken. Write down everything she says and repeat it back to her.  Then, and ONLY then ask her about of the restaurant. One of two things will happen: She will see for herself that everything else is wonderful and she herself will find an excuse for the poor service, OR she will realize that she complains about everything, and that this is an awful all-inclusive (it is your fault, of course, so you will deal of her when she comes back!) but in any case – she feels heard. This is one example of how to EMBRACE OR HUG A PORCUPINE!

Can you give me an example of when you’ve hugged a porcupine?

Cheers!

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Trusting Apps

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

As I was planning my FAM trip to Colombia, I added Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena to the weather app already installed in my iPhone.  As the trip dates began to approach, so did my anxiety: thunderstorms were predicted practically all day long in all the 3 cities. I can deal with little rain during the day, but all-day thunderstorms were really making me think about changing my mind about going on this trip.

My husband decided to call his friend/client in Medellin while I was worrying about the prediction of another dark, thunderstorm-awful day on my phone. His friend told my husband that he was enjoying a beautiful sunny day and that there was rain during the night but nothing too bad!!!

During the whole trip we enjoyed great weather, and we talked about almost canceling because of seeing thunderstorms on the Weather App. Well, this is not the first time this has happened! While we were in Italy in August, we had the same experience. While we watched showers in one town on our phone app, our friends there told us the sun was out!

If your clients are watching the weather on their cellular phone and getting ready to cancel their trip, let them know about my blog. This seems to happen all the time. It might be that whoever is in charge of the weather app on the phone hates to travel and tries to convince people to be miserable before they travel or keep them from going someplace. It only seems to please people who like to travel in the rain! Not nice.

Now we all know!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Getting To “Plenty-Nine”

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Travel is a true gift that we give to ourselves. The price depends on how much we can afford, but also how much we believe we deserve it.

Why? Some people are more generous to themselves and pay in installments towards a more expensive trip, while others don’t believe in spending more than they can afford at the time of booking. In both cases, the traveler gives themselves the pleasure of traveling. They celebrate life and are living without regrets.

I just came back from a trip to my 87th country, and tomorrow I will be celebrating my big 6-0, or as I say: my 39th with 21 years of experience!

I am writing this blog with tears streaming down my face. As much as I enjoy life, I am the first one in my family who will surpass the age of 59. My mom died at 52 from colon cancer, her mom (my maternal grandmother) died at 54 with same cancer. Honestly, I don’t know about my mother’s grandmother who was lost in Poland before WWII.

My goal is to continue enjoying life, to get to 120 countries at least once (some countries like Italy I have been 13 times, but I count only once, Israel 9 times, India and Peru twice, Spain 4 times and France 5). I am so happy to be breaking this curse of dying young by getting to “plenty-nine.” I have had colonoscopies since I turned 35, and even a virtual colonoscopy. Mentoring Travel Agents/ Advisors is something I love to do, especially knowing that some of them are doing awesomely in their businesses. I plan to keep doing so for many years to come!

Cheers to life!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Loving your client

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a first client consultation and find that all parties are on the same page about pricing and expectations? But we all know that chances are, this will not happen, and that the first consultation will turn into two, three, and perhaps many more. Sometimes it will even come to a point that an email, message, or even his/her phone number on your caller ID triggers a bad taste in your mouth. So – how do we deal with this?

My best advice is to be honest and candid with your prospective clients, starting with the first communication.  In my opinion, it is best to NOT start any conversations through email or message. This can provide an opening to misunderstandings. Just tell your prospective clients: LET’S TALK!

If you speak over the phone, you and the other party will have better communication. If you get the feeling that the other party believes you can perform miracles, explain to them your knowledge and expertise. Most importantly, tell them that your commission is small and already included in the price of the cruise or package, and that you will receive it ONLY and IF the client takes the vacation, and it will be paid to you AFTER they are back. That means that until then, you are working for FREE.

It is important to explain this. Many prospective clients have a misconception that TAs have access to huge discounts on trips, plus that they make a lot of money with every payment on a client’s trip. It doesn’t matter how clearly you express this in writing, or how many times you share this blog with them, you have no control over their interpretation. You do have more control during a conversation over the phone with no distractions or interruptions. Even if they can’t afford the vacation, they will remember how kind and honest you were, and how you took the time to explain this to them.

If you want to, tell them that some TAs charge a service fee for this reason. You can either state your fee, or tell them that you don’t believe in fees, or don’t want to charge them. Whatever you feel is better for you and your business.

Building bridges and getting people on your side is the best way to make a business grow!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Do you want more?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Have you ever wished that you started your business years ago? Or wished for more friends? More followers? More money……

How easy is to visit the land of “How I Wish”!

People do it all the time. These thoughts happen to everyone. It also happens to people who you believe have everything, because truly, no one has everything! But, these thoughts can cause frustration and anxiety.

I love reading the posts of new travel agents celebrating their first booking. I still remember mine, and all the emotions I felt. My feeling of accomplishment was gigantic, as if it couldn’t fit it all inside myself.

I also remember how I felt on my first trip to Europe… my first time in an airplane… my first cruise (I brought so many medications because I was sure I was going to be seasick!) …

I love the feeling of arriving in a new country and being amazed by a different culture, all the colors, the smells, etc. I also love posts from people thanking God for another day and celebrating having another opportunity to start again.

What happens to the memories of these wonderful feelings when people spend their time thinking, “How I wish I had …?”

How can we guide our thoughts to think about our blessings instead of “How I Wish?” How many of us imagine that others wish to be just like us? Life is not always fair, and I am writing all of this not only to remind you, but also to remind myself to be less critical of myself, to treat myself with more kindness, and to be my own best friend.

Life is too short, especially when we spend our time frowning and wishing we had, or we were, or we did.

To all the beauty in the world that only those who really love themselves can see and celebrate. Raise your head high and smile. You deserve to see the beauty and feel happy! 

Cheers to you!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

How Much Do You Value Yourself?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

We keep reading posts on social media about standing up for ourselves, being proud of who we are, and all those other important ideas about self-esteem and self-respect. This is all good until I hear complaints from some people I mentor or comments in response to my postings (more like venting) from many travel agents.

TAs sell a service – not a product or merchandise. The commission comes AT THE END of the trip IF it is not canceled for any reason. That means a TA works “for free” for a long time to get a percentage of the total sale, maybe 6 months or a year from the date of purchase.

Many TAs complain that they get phone calls all the time for questions like: “What is the temperature of the swimming pool at the resort?” or, “Can you call the 85 people in my group to remind them about their passports because they don’t read your emails.”

Well, if you don’t value your time, why should your client?

My advice is to charge a service fee. You can’t work for free until your commission comes!

Be more selective of your clients. If they don’t want to pay your service fee, they don’t deserve your service! (Now, you are setting your real value!)

Think about it: You need a beautiful and perfect haircut for a special event. Who will you choose to go to, the very inexpensive one? Or do you believe that the stylist who charges more has more clients and experience?

Cheers!

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In a Perfect World

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Imagine if you can that this entire world is an enormous airplane, where different people sit together with no regard for their background, race, political views, culture, finance or anything that divides us. Somehow, we would all sit together and try to communicate with each other, making the long journey a very pleasant one.

Thinking like this and believing that travel makes people humble and capable of learning more about each other and oneself, I wonder if schools should teach more about other cultures, about other countries, and more about tolerance, acceptance, kindness, the importance of travel and even how to travel with only a carry-on. In my humble opinion, those classes should be mandatory (maybe not the part about the carry-on LOL!)

We need to value our lives and enjoy every minute of them. The only certainty in life is that our days our numbered (and we don’t know how many!) We owe it to ourselves to live our best lives. And we owe the future generations to leave this world a much kinder and better place!

Book as much travel as you possibly can, pay for it in payments if you need to. Time doesn’t ever come back, regrets are painful. Be sure to use all of your five senses when you travel so your memories are even more intense!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Real Travel Revenge!

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I wanted to start this blog by asking if you can guess whether the number of people traveling is less, more, or the same as it was of pre-pandemic.

When I was searching for some data, I found the term “Travel Revenge” and that made me think about my personal travel to Europe, more specifically, to Italy.

This was our 13th trip to Italy, and I can assure you that it was definitely our “Travel Revenge.” We never paid so little for food in great restaurants, transportation was really cheap (taxi, Ubers, and trains), and shopping was so much fun (between name brands and no brand!) By planning far ahead we got good deals on airfare and beautiful hotels!

Our “Travel Revenge” experience was so great, we have already purchased a trip to Spain for May 2023!

If Europe was such a great deal for us, imagine travel to other countries that were already very affordable before! Well, Colombia here we come at the end of October!

Now, let’s go back to your guess of the number of travelers I asked you before. With all these deals, can you estimate how are we doing in travel as compared to 2019?

From the US TRAVEL ASSOCIATION from September 1st, 2022:

Key August Highlights:

Travel spending was roughly at 2019 levels in July, which marked the fourth consecutive month that spending, was at, or above, 2019 levels.

According to Morning Consult’s recently released State of Travel and Hospitality, as of July, 36% of Americans plan to travel in the next three months, down from 39% in April.

The return of business travel continues to be uneven.”

Now, based on “Travel Revenge,” and following these trends, with affordable prices to eat, enjoy and even shop in countries that used to be more expensive to us, how can you or your clients let such a great opportunity pass by?

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

How to be More Assertive

Dear Travel Agents/ Advisors,

People seem to be admired and respected when they are assertive. We all know there is a big difference between being assertive and being rude. I am sure we’ve all experienced both, and also that many of us have admired assertive people.

How can we be assertive, while not being rude, especially with our clients and prospective ones?

My advice, and also something I mentor travel agents/advisors about, is how to set boundaries. Imagine if you will, that everyone is in their terrible twos. People (like two-year-olds) will want to take from you as much as possible; not because they are bad people, but because they want to “see” if you will allow them to. So, like you would with a little 2-year-old, you will have to set boundaries without being rude (or spanking, LOL!)

For example, a client called while doing errands. For sure, she is distracted and I can hear all the noises in the background. I told her to please call me when it was a better time. She told me that it was a good time for her. I told her how much I valued OUR time (not mine, nor hers) and would appreciate her calling me back when she could be fully there for the call. Always – with a smile in my voice.

Another example: a client called asking if my price was better than she could get with another company. I asked her who referred her to my company, and she told me. I asked her if she trusted that person and she said she did. I asked her that if she needed someone to build a house for her whether she would line up people by price or by recommendation. I told her a good and reliable vacation was the same – it is not who is cheaper, but the best you can afford, especially through a good recommendation.

The most important thing is to speak assertively with a smile in your voice. Don’t be rude, don’t be demeaning, don’t be arrogant, don’t get into arguments. If the other person becomes defensive and raises their voice, lower yours. Speak with care and passion. Just be your true self. 

People will be attracted to you by your caring assertiveness, which definitely gives you more power than all the knowledge in any subject.

Assertiveness is not a gene all people are born with. Most need practice. I love to roleplay certain scenarios and practice with travel agents as a mentor. Feel free to ask me.

Cheers!

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