Are you taking advantage of Zoom?

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I admire creativity, especially new ideas that come from necessity during difficult times. These are the ideas that last longer and are more impressive to the community.

Zoom is a great tool for Travel Agents/Advisors to promote destinations and afterward use the venue for questions and answers. It can also be used to organize groups and even to promote single clients looking for potential roommates. It is more effective than a webinar because people can communicate between themselves and at the same time, the presenter. The Travel Agent will have the opportunity to show what a fun and knowledgeable person she/he is.

Using videos of destinations, and maybe having local tour guides to show some great places to visit, now is the perfect time to invite clients and prospective ones to come and “virtually travel” to a place before paying the deposit.

A great idea is to record the Zoom meeting live, and later promote it through social media and YouTube, and on your website. Advise your crowd before recording that you will be doing so, so if someone has an issue with having their face shown they can turn off their camera. They can also use their initials instead of their name if they prefer.

Practice ahead of time with this platform. Avoid reading from a text; be natural and speak from your heart. So the presenter does not have to multitask, have someone else in charge of authorizing people into the Zoom and mute everyone but the speaker. Once you open for Q&A let your assistant open each individual microphone and close after the question to prevent background noises that can be very annoying.

Remember that your audience will be engaged if you are fun, knowledgeable and show yourself to be an expert on the subject and with Zoom. There are more travelers now than before looking for more information from a real person instead of search engine. Make sure you grab them before someone else does.

You can do it!

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Have you noticed an increase in bookings for 2021 and 2022? If you haven’t yet, you should get ready! Statistics show that 80% of people who traveled in 2019 will be traveling again in 2021. Most of them at least 2 times this year.

The number of people renewing or getting a new passport has increased. Check it out – and be aware that they don’t want any pictures showing glasses, in case you need them for reading.

As a Travel Advisor make sure your client’s passport is ready in time for their trip. Check the requirements and type of Covid tests accepted by CDC and the destination. Unfortunately, many airlines will not verify that everything is in order, and once the client arrives in the destination, she/he might find out they haven’t had the “right” test for Covid, and they may have to quarantine or get back on the next plane.

If you are using a Tour Operator, make sure all information is updated and that you trust this company. If you are the one putting the package together, make sure you have all information updated. Now, more than ever before, clients who have done their own travel arrangements in the past will be trusting travel advisors – even the most skeptical.

Many will be traveling for the first time and will need more TLC. They may have never been in a foreign country, or maybe never been on a plane before (can you remember your first time?)

Give 100% of your attention, and you will definitely have those clients for life!

Cheers!

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Ready or not, here we come!

The Best Kind of Clients

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

If you ask me where the best place to spend your money to attract the best kind of clients is, I will always answer:

1. in specializing your company in something you are good at

2. investing in attracting repeat clients and getting referrals.

By now, you have seen how I like to compare Travel Agents/Advisors with doctors. If you think I am stretching the truth too much, maybe you are not thinking about it carefully enough, or maybe you are not valuing your services enough. People coming back from a bad vacation are in a horrible mood –  even on the airplane coming home.

Travelers, like everyone else, prefer to be referred to a specialist, just as they would for a doctor. A travel advisor who sells everything could miss important information that may be very specific to some destinations. A travel advisor who specializes in the Caribbean for example, knows more about the possible direct flights to each island than someone who doesn’t specialize in that destination. They would know better which island caters to families and which ones are wedding destinations and so forth.

The same happens with client satisfaction. Like with doctors, clients will remember the name of their favorite Travel Agent. They love to brag and will make recommendations about how they got the best vacation. Repeat customer are essential to any business. They create the strong base of your business and their recommendations are your success –  the reason the business’ worth keeps growing. New clients coming to you from other venues are the icing on the cake (and now we’ll need to compare travel agencies with bakeries!)

Cheers!

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Travel Agent Concierge

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

OK, call me crazy or perhaps a visionary – but I believe that like a great, special and brave doctors, Travel Agents/Advisors with great experience, specialization, and an impeccable reputation will end up charging a yearly fee for providing concierge services.

Travel Agents are basically on call 24/7 and travelers now know how important a Travel Agent/Advisor is to making or breaking a great vacation. Unfortunately, we have had to go through a horrible pandemic in order for travelers to truly understand how important a travel advisor is to their well-deserved vacation. Now, who can “afford” to make ANY mistakes booking a vacation? It could be “deadly” if a traveler gets stuck in the wrong place. Booking travel themselves or through the internet is the same as using Google as their doctor.

But how do you, a travel advisor, build your business to a higher level like that? First, think about specializing. Secondly, your time is money. Don’t work for free – even if you just charge a consultation fee that will be deducted once the traveler purchases the tour. Third, recommendations from previous clients and repeat clients are your goal. Fourth, keep updated and learning, no one knows it all.

Remember always – we create our destiny! Don’t daydream about what could, should, would have been, if only…. You can do it. If you need to, reach out to others who can help. There are always good people ready to help hard workers.

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Good Bye 2020

Dear All,

We have all seen the memes depicting the year 2020 in a big, smelly trash bag being dumped into the garbage by avatars. I wish it was that easy to get rid of a bad year.

I want to focus on the personal growth we have all gone through, intentional or not, during 2020. Smart were the people who took that growth and did something with it. Most of the time, learning is a difficult experience, and growing takes us to another level – but many times leaves us with painful bruises.

Oh my, so many bruises! Sometimes the pain that comes with learning and growing is so deep that we cry in front of others because we can’t hide it anymore. I know I have! But afterwards, once we look around and know we’ve survived and grown, we can even smile again.

I love to read mystery books, especially whodunnits. I truly enjoy them. Most of the time I read the reviews of the book after I have read it to see how many people agree with my opinion. Sometimes, I do the opposite and I read the reviews first. But, once in a while, I’ll even read the spoiler alerts first, and will then read the book only IF I like who did it.

Honestly, I like that foresight. I wish we could live like that. I wish I could somehow read the spoilers about my life, not too often, but especially when the pain of growing is so intense. I would like to know how the following years will end up. The bruises will probably still be there, but my heart will feel stronger and I would know to take care of myself during those harder steps.

Wishing you all a safe 2021 full of safe travels and celebrations.

Cheers!

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Preview of 2021

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

This blog is a small preview of what will happen in 2021, and no, I don’t have a crystal ball to see the future. I am basing my opinion on my experience, common sense, and a lot of what we all experienced in 2020.

Let’s start:

  • For all of those who did not use 2020 to promote yourself as a Travel Expert, now is time to use all your tools, and no excuses. Make yourself and travel talking points EVERYWHERE you go. Nickname yourself as Travel, Trip, Caribbean, Europe, Safari Expert – or an expert in whatever you specialize in.  Everyone who can afford to, and also those who can’t, will be wanting to book tours with REAL TRAVEL AGENTS/ADVISORS and you cannot miss this party!
  • Learn as much as you can about Travel Insurance (the good and more inclusive policies) because of 3 major possible issues:

    1. People giving a down payment on a trip and realizing they cannot afford to go and wanting their money back.
    2. Countries that decide to welcome ONLY people who’ve had a COVID vaccine, and certain people may be against the vaccination and have already partially or fully paid for a trip.
    3. In case someone gets COVID and needs treatment in a foreign country, learn what the travel insurance covers.
    Get all the information from the best Travel Insurance policy money can buy and explain to your clients that is better to laugh at the end of the trip than to cry before, during or after!
  • Spend New Year’s Day reviewing your company’s Terms and Conditions (if you haven’t done that yet). After Covid, many things should be reviewed. If your Terms and Conditions do not include the word “Covid” in relation to a major unseen catastrophe in certain paragraphs, it is for sure in need of update.
  • Another piece of advice I give to those who want to have a great 2021 but feel like they need a guiding hand, find a mentor who can give you some guidance for a successful year.

God bless you and cheers!

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Vaccine and Cruises

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

As you know, through all of 2020 I dreamed of being on a cruise. The three cruises we had booked were all cancelled.

The Biden administration, which will begin on January 20, 2021, has set a goal of providing 100 million vaccines to Americans within the first 100 days of its presidency.

Travel agents and travelers alike wonder if the cruise industry is going to make vaccination mandatory to sail. There has been no official word about this, and a few weeks ago, one cruise line executive said that he did not foresee vaccination becoming a requirement to sail.

However, the vaccine has now been approved, and distribution will likely begin as soon as this week.  Every industry that relies on international travel is now having the same discussion and making the decision whether or not to require vaccination as a condition of travel.

Qantas Airline has decided to make vaccination mandatory to fly once the vaccines become widely available. As a country, Australia is also considering making it mandatory to have the vaccine to enter.

Several travel organizations and companies are considering the creation of a “vaccine passport.”  Vaccination is sure to be a big discussion, and what happens in the cruise industry will be a very interesting debate.  The result will more than likely depend on what happens in other countries and businesses in the travel industry.

If vaccination is required by destinations and airlines for travel, more people are likely to get vaccinated. At that point, the cruise industry may be better able to require it. It is surely going to be quite a topic of interest and discussion in the very near future!

What is your opinion?

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Transparency

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

There is a lot to be said about transparency. And no, I am not going to talk about politics. I will be talking about travel and the business of a travel agent/advisor.

Let’s start by talking specifically about this year, 2020.

In my opinion, the fact that you might post on social media or somehow share with your clients that you are feeling vulnerable about COVID, feeling sad about so many deaths, or that you are not comfortable traveling right now  doesn’t make you a bad professional, it makes you a real person. It makes you transparent. It doesn’t mean that you cannot put together the best trip for someone who is ready to travel now (when you personally, for your own reasons, are not).

Honestly, I felt the same way when I was putting together a trip to a country I had no interest in going to, or beach vacations when I don’t enjoy bathing in the sun.

What makes you a great travel agent/advisor is your capability in putting together a safe trip for a person, within their budget, and fulfilling their priorities, not your own.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your reasons not to travel during COVID. You don’t have to justify why you might feel anxious, depressed or sad during this time. It doesn’t make you less professional, or a bad travel agent.

It makes you human. It makes you honest and transparent. It does not take away any knowledge you have as a good professional. By being yourself and being transparent, it shows how cautiously you work and how much you care!

To a great 2021 full of new bookings and more transparency.

Cheers!

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Imagine…

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

It is December! How many of you have not traveled since the pandemic began? I missed my cruises, the excitement of being on the ship, the excursions, the shows, the elegant dinners, walking around and meeting new and fun people, the pool, the gym, going dancing, taking some interesting “classes,” waking up in a new port, shopping, breakfast in the room, (I avoided the buffet, so I wouldn’t overeat 😜). I even miss the casino, the massages and mani-pedis, why not?

I can see myself getting onboard again and enjoying every bit of the cruise once we get the vaccine. I have so many more countries on my bucket list to explore. Thirty-four at least to be exact! My goal is to get to 120 – so you do the math of how many countries I have already been to. I couldn’t add any on my list this year from the 3 cruises we missed. Right now, exactly now, we were supposed to be taking one starting in Singapore and ending in Dubai.

Hopefully next year!

Travel will come back even better and stronger than before. People need to get away so badly. I hope all Travel Agents/Advisors are ready to take care of all those bookings. Smart travelers will not make the arrangements themselves. They need a good and experienced advisor to hold their hand. There will also be so many first-time travelers going places, especially to Mexico and The Caribbean. Watch my prediction!

This is the reaction of a human being, to celebrate life after a pandemic, after a difficult year. The world is a big party and we all need to celebrate by embracing new cultures, old cultures, speaking HELLO in other languages, and feeling alive again!

Cheers!

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Can you hear me?

Dear All,

It’s almost Thanksgiving, can you believe it? We’re supposed to go around our smaller tables and say something we are thankful for – and I would add, something we’ve learned to cope with during such a difficult year.

In my case I am thankful for my family’s health (so far 🙏) and I am learning to be patient. I truly thought that patience was a gene I was born without.

I have had to learn to let so many things go this year. Sure, I cried when almost no one was watching, but I would wear a happy face and tell everyone that only God knew why He was doing certain things. Inside, I sometimes felt as though my heart was smashed into little pieces.

As I am writing this blog, I am sitting outside in my car. We don’t have electricity in the house today or tomorrow because they are changing the electrical power on our block. I am currently waiting for the results from a COVID test I had yesterday. Results are supposed to come in 24 hours, but who is counting, right? Almost 25 hours and the clock is ticking, but I have gotten no email or text message.

I got my iPhone upgraded from 8 to the new 12! Awesome right? NOPE! WhatsApp doesn’t work well, and I have friends, family and “partners in the travel business” all over the world, and that is the best way to communicate with them. The way WhatsApp is behaving is very strange. It seems to pick and choose certain messages, senders, and receivers. Otherwise it says: “Waiting for this message. This may take a while.” That means NEVER!

Rosana, take a deep breath, pretend to enjoy the gene you were born without.  Pretend you have PATIENCE- and remember that 2021 is coming soon. And no, don’t let your depression and anxiety tell you that next year could be the same or worse! Be your own best friend, be kind to yourself, and think that the worst is almost over.

If you needed to hear that, good! If you didn’t, thank you for your kindness to me!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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