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

The Magic Mirror!

Dear TA’s,

During the time that I had my tour company, I placed a small mirror next to each salesperson’s phone that said: “What you see is what they hear!”  It was a reminder to each one of them to smile and keep a positive attitude, so the client would hear it, feel their excitement, and buy the tour package.

I believe this is still true, but I want to add some important factors to this same mirror. Something I strongly believe is a great tool – both now and then, especially for hard working travel agents/advisors. I honestly call it the Magic Mirror!

Place a good-sized mirror next to where you answer the phone and use your computer/laptop. While working on a booking or in contact with a client or prospective one, check your facial expression (like a selfie!) If you notice you are frowning, or if your guts are bothering you and you can see it on your face, STOP!

If you are on a call, tell your client that a phone call is coming through and you need to call him/her back. If you’re writing an email, just stop. Take few deep breaths and walk around a bit. First, check where in your body you are feeling uncomfortable (most of the time it is in your guts or your heart is pounding too fast.) Think about what was said that made you uncomfortable, and then ask yourself why.

Many times, a client can get under your skin for one reason or another or push a button that you never expected.

Remember that always, you are the expert, you are in control.

Like a doctor, you can give the right “medication” to the patient, but not the other way around. Many times, the client (patient) wants to take charge and show the TA (doctor) what a control freak they can be. DON’T ALLOW THEM TO!

Most importantly, don’t ever let them make you doubt yourself, or all your knowledge and experience.

Use that Magic Mirror and keep yourself in check!

Cheering for you!

Follow me at:

Facebook @travelwithrosana
Instagram @travelwithrosana
Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Can you hear me?

Dear TA’s,

A prospective client comes in or calls for information about a trip. During the interview, a lot of information is exchanged. From the answers given by this prospective client, a sketch of the itinerary begins to form in the TA’s mind. My question to you, which is a very important point, what kind of itinerary is being formed? Something that looks more like the TA’s idea, or the prospective client’s dream? Or is it a mixture of both?

Let’s think about that. The TA’s mind begins to form all the details for this itinerary using the requests and budget of the client. So, the location, hotel, excursions and all other details “belong” in the TA’s mind. But what if the client’s budget and requests are different from TA’s personal preferences and beliefs? What will this itinerary look like? How much influence should the TA have over the client’s wishes? Is the TA’s job to give their advice or their own experiences when creating this itinerary?

I have some examples to clarify this example. A prospective client wants to go to Venice, Italy and would love to stay at the JW Marriott. As a TA, should you create this itinerary using the client’s choice of hotel, or inform the client that the hotel is across the island and every time they want to go to Venice Island they will need to get the ferry?

Another example is a prospective client who wants to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu in December. There’s a big chance that they’ll be there during the rainy season, and not be able to enjoy one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Is it the TA’s job/obligation to disclose that possibility?

Another point to consider is how much of this type of information will the TA be aware of if he/she is not an expert on those destinations.

I guess I’ve brought up some interesting questions: is the client always right in his/her wishes? How much information is the responsibility of the TA to share?

Cheers to all knowledgeable TA’s!

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

Givers and Takers in Travel

Dear TA’s,

Since 2020, when people began to travel again, we have seen an increase in the number of travelers who are choosing to book through travel agents/advisors rather than shopping for their trips solely online.

That is great news for our industry, when before, some professionals were even thinking that travel agents might become obsolete.

But unfortunately, in general, most people don’t change their behavior. Those who like to “shop around” will continue to do so. This time, they will go from travel agent to travel agent, making agents work hard to plan an itinerary or get pricing from a vendor, while continuing to consult other agents until “the price is right!” How can you distinguish the “good” shoppers or prospective clients from the “bad” ones?

For those who don’t know me very well, I don’t work as a travel agent, but I am glad to refer friends, family and even not-so-great friends to travel agents who I mentor, and to those who I know the way they work. Until now, I have had no problems doing this. But I, like anyone else, can guarantee that every once in a while, I am totally surprised that I have sent along a “shopper” instead a real prospective client. I must confess that I am not only surprised but embarrassed as well.

My strong advice to all TA’s is to charge a service fee! Many agents have already been doing this for years, but others are still unsure about it. To those who are afraid of losing business by charging a fee, I suggest that you:

A) Create a service fee and if/when a trip is booked, reduce or waive it at your own discretion

B)  Create some “pre-packaged itineraries” where there isn’t as much customization, so the actual time you’re “giving” is less. That way, you won’t feel taken advantage of if you get a shopper instead of a booking.

The travel industry is changing to make things even better for TA’s who know how to manage their time and business. Don’t get caught giving too much to the ones who are takers. You are a professional and deserve to be rewarded as one!

Always cheering for you!



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

Another Kind of Luxury Cruise

Luxury cruises are changing and are catering to more cruisers who want to travel in a more purposeful way.  These days, luxury cruise passengers are just as interested in getting access to unique and transformational experiences as they are about being pampered.

Travelers now want to travel far away, but they want travel with intent and purpose. They want to return home changed in some way.  They want to enjoy a deep connection with the destinations that they visit.

There has been significant growth in the demand for upscale “expedition” type cruises that travel to more remote parts of the world such as Antarctica and the Arctic.  Cruise lines are adding more ships that offer passengers meaningful exploration opportunities in addition to an upscale cruise experience.

Luxury cruises have now become a journey of exploration and discovery.  By participating in these meaningful experiences, passengers get to know themselves and those around them even more. Cruisers now have the opportunity to see their chosen destinations more slowly and deeply than in the past.

Over the past 10 years or so, cruise lines have changing their itineraries to cater to these types of passengers. Rather than focusing on panoramic sightseeing tours, they are developing experiences that enable passengers to mix and mingle with locals and do things that locals do. Such experiences might include a food tour through a destination that involves tasting local foods, wine and beer with a local chef. These types of opportunities offer passengers memorable experiences that they can go back home and share with their friends and family.

With that said, luxury travelers still want and expect the creature comforts for which luxury travel has become known. Luxury cruise passengers can now expect meaningful and moving experiences combined with all the amenities that they have come to expect, such as outstanding food, service and accommodation.

Bon Voyage!

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

The New Normal

Dear TA’s and Friends,

For quite some time, we have been talking about living in the “new normal.” Exactly what is the “New Normal” and why is it different for every person? That is what I struggle with.

When we talk about individuals who lost a child even before Covid, what is the “New Normal” for that person/family? After 09/11 killed so many? When the Holocaust destroyed so much?

People are resilient. Many believe that we are being tested, and because of that we need to put in all our efforts and positive energy to survive. Many get even closer to religion and pray more. Whatever it takes to make them stronger and help them embrace the “New Normal” even sooner.

I am not a preacher, nor do I intend to tell how people how to deal with their personal demons. Covid affected and is affecting the whole world. Some believe in the vaccine, others don’t – their “New Normals” are different.

What I strongly believe is that we have only one life to live, and that we need to live our best life.

Travel, create memories, see the beautiful world out there before it is too late. Go, explore the beauty before your eyes aren’t able to see anymore. Walk to places before your legs can’t take you there anymore. Smell the sweet perfume of the roses carefully, without grabbing the thorns. Be safe because there is always a “New Normal” out there waiting for us.

Cheers to life!

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

Making Yourself a Priority

Dear TA’s,

By now, you probably know that I avoid talking about myself and my personal life. I prefer to focus on my love of, and expertise in travel. I believe that you have more to gain from what I share about those topics.

Once in a while, like today, I take the time to talk about some personal experience because I truly believe that if I can make you aware of something, or help you learn from my mistakes, I could be helping you tremendously.

It is easier for me to care about and advocate for others than I do for myself. Let me share with you that in addition to being a travel lover, I am a power walker. I walk fast (not run!) 8-10 miles a day, 7 days a week.  This is my mental relief; I just enjoy so much.

For the last 3 months I have been having shooting pains in both of my heels. Right away, I knew that I had plantar fasciitis. After a month of pain, I mentioned it to a friend who recommended a great acupuncturist to me. I like acupuncture, so it seemed like an easy fix.

Seven weeks later, the pain continued. Sure, I hadn’t listened to the acupuncturist when he told me to reduce my walking to 3 miles a day. Why? I “needed” my mental fix.

Like the red light in a car asking for maintenance, I ignored and postponed – until I stopped. I couldn’t put my feet on the ground; the pain was excruciating.

Luckily, a very well-respected podiatrist could see me the same day.

I’m now off my feet until I am better. I have physical therapy 2 times a week, special shoes to wear at home, splints to wear while I sleep, special orthotics casted especially for me, special tennis shoes, exercises to do at home 3 times a day, and if I want cardio (I definitely need it!) I can do stationary biking for now.

At first, I felt very sorry for myself.  But once I had a one on one talk with myself, I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will continue with my plan to power walk a half marathon on November 7th. And the best news, my physical therapist believes I can do it, and so do I!

Thank you for letting share my story. Please don’t ignore your pain! Get it checked out right away even if you think it might go away!

To life, and to health!

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