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Travel Agent Professional April 2014 Issue 29

Manchester By Paull Tickner





Manchester: Making the Going a Great Deal Easier


By Cindy Bertram


The Worst Nightmare For Travel Agents By Les-Lee Roland Owner of The Package Deal


To Be or Not to Be... A Great Travel Agent By Scott Koepf Vice President of Sales Avoya Travel/American Express

Showcase April 2014 Issue 29

Auto Europe ..................................................17 Expedia CruiseShipCenters .......................11

Manchester By Paull Tickner

Auto Europe .................................IFC .................15

Avoya Travel/American Express.......9

Royal Caribbean Line....................BC

Britain Greatdays.............................3

Travel Agent Professional


Be A “Happy” Creator For You Clients Cindy's Inside Cruise & Travel Track, LLC

Ad Index


By Paull Tickner

Travel Agent Professional March 2014 Issue 28

Travel Agent Professional P.O. Box 120198 Staten Island, NY 10312 E-mail: Phone: 718.360.3153

Joel M. Abels

Legend In the Travel Industry April 1927 to January 2007

Ann M. Hoek Publisher/Creative Design Bonnie Walling Editor Alan Cohen Vice President Marketing

Meet Our Editorial Board Rusty Pickett, ECC Shellback Cruises Les-Lee Roland Owner of The Package Deal Scott Koepf Vice President of Sales Avoya Travel/ America’s Vacation Center Sherry Laskin, ACC Travel Writer/NACTA Webinar Moderator Paull Tickner, Creator of Special Interest Britain Cindy Bertram, Cindy’s Inside Cruise & Travel Track, LLC Sue Shapiro, President Shapiro Travel Resources This online magazine is dedicated to the memory of Joel Abels, Travel Trade's editor and publisher. Joel and his life's work may be gone, but with your help it can live on.

Travel Agent Professional has its roots in Home Based Trade, the first magazine of its kind, started by Joel Abels in 2004. Joel and Lenore Abels ran Travel Trade for nearly half a century – it was started by her grandfather, John S. Lewis, and her father, Sidney Lewis, in 1929, and they took the publication over after her grandfather’s passing. Under Joel’s direction, the company grew to be one of the travel agent industry’s leading publications, reaching more than 45,000 agents throughout North America. It spawned a famous series of trade shows and three monthly magazines – Cruise Trade, Tour Trade and Home Based Trade. The Abels also garnered enormous respect – Joel received the Neal Award, called “the Pulitzer Prize of the business press,” for his hard-hitting editorials. On a personal note, after working with Joel for over a decade and staying with him until the end, I grew to truly care for and respect the man. He was like a second father to me. Joel was old school, he stood by his word and believed in his work. There will never be another. While nobody can replace this industry legend, we’re hoping that this new publication, which reunites the original Home Based Trade editorial board, will be able to carry on his passion for travel and those who sell it.

Ann M. Hoek The opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Travel Agent Professional.

April 2014

Issue No. 8 | February 12th 2014


elcome to a slightly different perspective on your old friend Britain. Since 1980, I’ve been helping travel counsellors to identify, develop and convert untapped sources of new business into imaginative, high yield, customised groups, both large and small. I’m now applying this to tailor made tours for individuals and families who are flying or cruising in and out of the UK.

Over the period, I’ve gained a great deal of experience, knowledge and many grass root connections who add the bubble, fizz and pleasant surprises to each tailor made tour. Take a leisurely look at the ‘magnificent seven’ listed below and arm yourself with a pen and a piece of paper so that you can note down the contacts you’ll have for most of the niche markets mentioned. Prioritise them and then email me your thoughts on how you might like to proceed.

Paull Tickner Paull Tickner and Associates Ltd

Girls Getaways London only, London and Batthh, London and tthhe Cotswolds are three options for you to consider. For Quilters, there are programmes for tthhe tthhree major Quilt Shows in England and ttw wo more in Scotland. If Embroidery and Needlework is your niche, my Liverpool (yes Liverpool) and London tour ticks all the boxes. For lady golfers, I can also supply an interesting Cotswold-based Golf, Gardens and Antiques tour that finishes with an international match against a UK team.

Pre and Post Cruise Extensions Let’s talk about London based customised pre and post crruuise extensions that meet your clients time frame, interests and budget. For customers tthhat have been there many times before, find out where they’d really like to go before or after their crruuise and tthhen put my knowledge through its paces.

Family Travel Speed boat rides up tthhe River Thames, side trips to see tthhe making of Harry Potter, living history experiences at our historic castles and palaces, entertaining actor led tours of tthhe Theatre Royal and a performance of Mathilda, family cycle rides through the Royal Parks, a Doctor Who Experience and a ffllight on the London Eye. With tthheir accommodation included, I can customise these and other exciting interactive encounters into a memorable family trip to London.

Up an English Garden Path For Orchid, Herb, Rose and otthher specialist societies, Master Gardeners, Friends of Botanic Gardens/Arboreta and even Flower Arrangers, I can provide a FebrruuarySeptember collection of memorable, value added tours. With demand always outstripping tthhe hotel supply, now is tthhe time to be considering a 2015 Chelsea Flower Show tour (19tthh-23rd May).

4 B y P a u l l T i c k n e r


Making the Going a Great Deal Easier I know you can justify all sorts of arguments with a clever use of statistics but I spotted one

recently in a James Ruggia column for the Travel Pulse which confirmed that 60% of North American U.K. visitors are returnees.

Given that 3,560,000 of you visited our shores last year, it’s no wonder that for many of us on this side of the pond, you and your clients are a top priority. As travel agents play a very big role in helping to achieve this level of success, many thanks for all you do to drive business our way. It also means that we want to give you the best possible experience when you visit us. For many, the start is not a good one with long lines at Immigration and Customs, slow moving traffic for the journey into London and rooms not ready until 2 p.m.

Paull Tickner has been designing and operating niche travel programmes for the UK and Ireland for over 30 years. For more information E-mail Paull at

April 2014

5 For first-, second- and third-time visitors with London very much in their sights, this goes with the territory.

whisk them speedily:

However, for more savvy returnees, it’s down to you and me to suggest an easier way of doing things -

Down Memory Lane to Penny Lane and a close

which is where using the northern gateway of

encounter with the Fab Four in Liverpool;

Manchester makes such sound sense. These frequent U.K. travellers have formed their love affair with

To Stoke on Trent, Britain’s ceramics capital, for a

Britain and are keen to learn about life in England

shop and ship trip to Wedgwood and other shops;

beyond London. Many of you cannot use the argument that Manchester is inaccessible because there are nonstop flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. If you can boot some of the Brits off the returning flights, Virgin Atlantic also has direct flights from Las Vegas and Orlando. Guests are airside to curbside in less than 45 minutes and it then takes just over 30 minutes to get to their hotels. If you take a closer look at, you’ll begin to catch the vision of just what’s here. It’s one of Britain’s most diverse and cosmopolitan cities and the third most visited destination in the U.K. The hotel stock is impressive, the menu of restaurants is long and very tasty and the shopping never fails to impress. With over 60 museums and art galleries across Greater Manchester, there’s no shortage of fascinating places to see and things to do. For years, I’ve been a great believer in hub and spoke travel. If you look at Manchester’s location and the quality of its accommodations, it makes a very good base for these more experienced travellers. Those who are uneasy about driving on the wrong side of the road can either use a knowledgeable and entertaining local driver guide or hop on trains that will

Benjamin Bunny at World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, Windermere (continued on page 6)

Travel Agent Professional

6 To Chester for a guided walking tour of the ancient walled city, perhaps led by a guide costumed as a Roman Centurion. Your clients can then consider other options, like two or three nights in North Wales. Here, they can enjoy visits to 12th century Caernarfon castle and the Italianate village of Portmeirion, a ride on one of the Great Little Trains and a wander around the internationally famous gardens at Bodnant. They can get to the Lake District easily by rail, where the Mountain Goat offer a wide selection of full and half day tours to well known and inaccessible corners of the region. If they fancy it, they can do their own thing using an electric bike. The Viking city of York is a 2-hour train ride to the east, and with so much to see and do, they really don’t need a car there. At this point, they can then turn south for the 2-hour run to London and the rest of their U.K. visit. Pause for a moment and look at Manchester’s location. It’s easy to fly to and it works brilliantly for anglophile, culturally minded customers who will relish the unique travel experiences on offer. These are clients who want to travel less and see a great deal more and that’s what the hub city of Manchester can deliver. If you’ve caught the vision, take the online course at and impress your customers with your in-depth knowledge of the area and how you can make their travelling a great deal easier. Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester Photographer, Joel Fildes

April 2014

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Be A “Happy” Creator

C i n d y B e r t r a m

I admit it. I love Pharrell William’s song, “Happy.” Confession time — ever y time I hear it, I sing along, and it does make me “Happy.” It’s also been fun to see how it’s being incorporated into YouTube videos, with people lip-synching to the words, including ones done recently by a few cruise lines. Yes, we sell exper iences and memor ies but another thing to think about is the happiness for By Cindy Bertram Cindy's Inside Cruise & Travel Track, LLC

our clients that occurs when they travel and return. Yes, we are “Happy” creators.

What makes people happy? Will Marre, founder and chief executive officer of ThoughtRocket, is an Emmy Award winning writer, tremendous leader, trainer, and speaker, as well as the co-founder and former president of the Covey Leadership Center. I first had a chance to meet Will when he came into Chicago to speaker at a Graduate Club event, and I’m an avid follower of his “Wednesdays with Will.” Tying in Thanksgiving Day, Will’s November 23, 2012 article was titled “Happy is a Verb!” Will mentioned that we need to pursue happiness, rather than to just wait for it to happen. According to science, there are three top ways we can feel happy. The first is “thanksgiving or gratitude.” We need to feel grateful for the good things that we have in our lives. It’s good to focus on one thing, whether it’s the taste of chocolate, or a loving friend, or your children. Then think what your life would be without out that. This deepens your appreciation of that good thing that you’re grateful for. Then tell someone what you’re grateful for and explain why. A second way to feel happy involves giving, going back to that mindset that we get more happiness from being the giver than the receiver. The third is growth. As people, when we select goals that are meaningful and then achieve them, this positive course of triggering optimism, confidence and being a more capable person all help build happiness.

April 2014


For You Clients

A Happy Story

you wouldn’t realize she’s wearing a prosthetic right

My parents, Del and Ruth, have had a chance to trav-

leg. Yes, Ruth can practically outrun my dad, Del, but

el extensively throughout the world. When my dad


was growing up, he told everyone he was going to be a bus driver so he could “drive around the world.”

Cruising is now an easier way for them to travel. So

Well, my dad ultimately chose a different career, but

how did my parents choose to celebrate their 65th

he still loves to travel and my mom “goes along for

wedding anniversary last year? They sailed on a cruise

the ride.”

throughout the Tahitian islands, where they also renewed their marriage vows on Valentine’s Day

Tahiti is one of their favorite places to visit and return

while onboard their ship. And earlier this year to cel-

to. The first time they went was to celebrate their

ebrate their 66th wedding anniversary, where did

25th wedding anniversary, and they’re returned sever-

they go? Tahiti, of course, once again on a cruise.

al times.

They love the extra attention and service they receive while cruising, but it’s also the “happy” emo-

What makes this a bit more special? In 2003, my

tional experience that they love.

mom finally retired from a second career as owner of our family owned retail travel agency. The following

My dad is a people person, and always takes extra

year, she lost her right leg to heel cancer. My mom

things with him — special baseball caps, bags and

didn’t let it stop her — if you saw her wearing pants,

other mall gifts — to give to the people he and my (continued on page 10)

Travel Agent Professional

10 mom meet while touring and exploring the different

And their happy experience carries over when they

Tahitian islands. While there, he buys bracelets, neck-

return. When they give a necklace or bracelet or

laces and Tahitian items to bring back home and give

token to a friend, colleague or someone my dad

as gifts.

works with (yes, my dad still works), they are sharing their “happy.”

My dad loves talking to people, enjoys the laid back culture and history and on occasion has also run into

Earlier this week, my mom and dad gave a Tahitian

some of the Tahitians that he’s met over the years.

necklace to one of their favorite waitresses at one of

He and my mom embrace the culture and this makes

the restaurants they frequent. She was so excited, she

them both happy, along with sharing these experi-

put the necklace on, ran over and gave them hugs.

ences together.

Yes, it was small gift on my mom and dad’s part, but it generated happiness, and the smiles were priceless.

Happy Varies from Client to Client As Will Marre explains, happiness occurs in different ways. And when it comes to traveling , we see that occurring in numerous ways as well. For instance, “voluntourism” has been growing, as is multi-generational travel and trips to commemorate special occasions. One of the best trips I was able to arrange was for a couple who decided to forego their 50th wedding anniversary party, and instead took their children and grandchildren on a 7-night cruise. Plus, the cruises I’ve booked for my mom and dad to return to Tahiti are always fun to arrange. I’ve still not had the pleasure of cruising around the Tahitian islands, but the happy stories my share when they return bring a smile to my face and yes, I want to go!

Ask – What Makes You Happy? When talking to our clients, it’s good to keep a pulse on their preferences, what they like to do, and how they like to do it, along with what’s important to them when travelling. To build strong, genuine client relationships, it’s important to know their touch points. Perhaps one of our regular questions should be, “What makes you happy?”

April 2014


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Travel Agent Professional

12 The Worst Nightmare B y L e s - L e e R o l a n d

Talk about a mixed bag of emotions. Suppose you

have a competitor in your area

who has put together a group package and successfully sold it, and you missed the boat by not promoting it your self. Les-Lee Roland Owner of The Package Deal

Suppose you hear that some of your clients

Well that did happen. And as much as feel bad

have signed up for it. Suppose you then see a

for the people who doled out their money,

national TV program doing a segment on this infinity

should I have compassion for the person who put

group and giving a plug for their trip to China.

it together?

Suppose you then hear, about 10 days before depar-

This article is not to berate the group leader/agent.

ture, that the trip was totally cancelled.

This is to enlighten all agents on what their obligations should be when planning a trip like this.

Suppose you then call the supplier to try to check it out, and find they only have an answering machine

The China tour was customized in some areas for

and do not return phone calls.

their common interest. But it also included some of the basic sites on China tours. I know time was spent

What are your emotions? To use an old expression

in planning the trip of a lifetime and I applaud the

— sort of like seeing your mother-in- law drive off

effort spent on that.

the top of a cliff… your Mercedes. There are many suppliers out there who could have You are upset that you didn’t come up with this kind

designed this. And there are many suppliers out

of itinerary for your clients first. Especially since 53

there who won’t deviate from their standard itiner-

people signed up — for a dollar amount in excess of

aries. But possibly the lure of 50 plus people would

$5000- $6000 per person.

be tempting.

April 2014


For Travel Agents

Let’s estimate how this happened. The person in

unreturned, I asked one of the booked passengers to

charge contracted with a company, whose website

find out what happened.

says they have offices in Massachusetts and in London. They accept credit cards but offer a $250

She said supplier default. And she had paid in full, by

discount if paid by check. I have no knowledge of the

check. Airfare, tour, visas. And she did not know if

specifics concerning tour conductors or commissions,

the insurance was provided by the tour operator for

but I can only imagine there was a profit to be made.

a fee, or if it was a company separate from the tour



The person in charge does large events on cruise

She said that everything is now in the hands of a

ships as well as meetings in various cities in the US,

mediator. And the Attorney General’s office is inves-

so she is experienced in how to put together and


service her groups. When I mentioned that the leader should have So all the funds are sent to the supplier, and then the

checked out the supplier in advance. Were they

announcement goes out to the passengers in a short

members of ASTA or PATA, or any other organiza-

e-mail just a few days prior to departure, the trip has

tion. Bonded or not, etc. The passenger, AKA victim,

been cancelled. I checked the US State Dept of advi-

only said the group leader (remember, she is also a

sories to see if China was on a do not travel to desti-

travel agent) was taken like everyone else and she

nation. It is not. Since my calls to the supplier went

lost her money. (continued on page 14)

Travel Agent Professional

14 I could see that she couldn’t disclose any other info.

one involved, it’s easy to include everyone from day one, and omit them as necessary.

This is a good reminder that what looks good on the surface, we agents still have to do our homework to

To better explain that last sentence, I will relate the

protect not only our clients, but our own liability.

following documented instance. A travel agent booked a cruise and sent a complimentary bottle of

Yes, we all know Globus, Insight, Collette, Wendy

wine to the client’s cabin. The client became inebri-

Wu, and others. Yes, we have confidence in working

ated and while walking down the corridor, he fell,

with them But when finding a company like Marco

and had some physical injury. He sued the cruise line

Polo & Company, as an example, then you have

as well as the travel agent. The reason for the agent

some homework to do. You should check out their

involved with the suit. He stated that the agent knew

affiliations, Contact the Consumer Department of

he might be unsteady while drinking, and provided

their State. Check to see if any complaints are listed.

alcohol on a moving vessel.

What insurance is offered, and does it include protection in case of supplier default. What are the pre-

The travel agent was insured and they did pay off

mium rates and compare them to your own pre-

the client. Interesting! I wonder if the agent had sent

ferred insurance provider. Is the money held in

a jar of jelly beans, and if the passenger got a


toothache, would the agent be sued??? And we wonder why insurance premiums are so high!

You can go further and get the confirmations of the local suppliers in China, for example, to reconfirm

At the beginning I mentioned a mixed bag of emo-

directly that everything is in place before departure.

tions. This was not a malicious comment. I feel bad for the passengers, but I think the group leader/agent

If any of the above info is tainted or not forthcom-

is partially responsible. The buck stops here, literally,

ing, do not proceed until you have 100% security.

in this case. And if she helped design this package, and got the info out to her clients, the damage is

Are you, the booking agent, insured? In this case, the

twofold. Will her clients have confidence to book

group leader/agent had everyone contact a designat-

with her in the future?

ed person at the supplier. Even though she promoted it, via Facebook, internet, and supplied flyers,

Now, I wonder what the mediator can do. If the

someone from the supplier accepted the orders and

company defaulted, where is the money? Does the


mediator get a portion?

With an estimated default of over $300,000 (again

Having a problem like this is horrendous for any

this is an example) who bears the responsibility? I

agent. When I contacted a very well known China

was once told by a lawyer, that he would recom-

supplier, I was told that they had received many calls

mend that the passengers sue the group leader/trav-

about this situation. They might be able to design a

el agent as well as the supplier. He said to sue every-

similar tour. Still waiting for their quote.

April 2014

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To Be or Not to Be...

By Scott

A Great Travel Agent


In this column I normally reference musical theatre as the metaphor for business lessons. This time I will take a more classical reference as we consider the extraordinary works of William Shakespeare for motivation. The Bard’s literary contributions are timeless works of art and they also provide three specific lessons that I would like to share. First of all, I love the fact that a compilation of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets are normally referred to as the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I have no doubt that the creation and fine-tuning of each and every manuscript required a tremendous amount of work. While there are many theories as to the authenticity of his penmanship, it cannot be disputed that the finished product was the result of hard labor. We need to take the same approach with our businesses and devote our-

Scott Koepf VP of Sales Avoya Travel/American Express

selves to our craft at an extremely high level. Using the title of this article (and what may be Shakespeare’s most famous line) as an example, we

much more effective approach to finding customers and closing sales with a well thought-out message.

might be tempted to think that he just drafted that line

The third and final lesson is found in how the

on a whim. Even if it did come to him as a spark of reve-

script is interpreted and performed. For example,

lation, after he wrote it down he most likely spent a

“To Be or Not To Be” has been delivered by thou-

tremendous amount of time crafting the surrounding

sands of actors, each with their own interpretation.

context and placement of the text.

However, some are more believable than others.

This leads me to the second lesson: the power of scripts

Successful, memorable, and impactful delivery is a

for your interactions with clients. It is a common miscon-

combination of a brilliant script with the rehearsed

ception that scripting greetings and responses will be a less

communication of the words. If you think about

personalized connection to our customers. I suggest that it

watching any great play or movie you rarely reflect

is the opposite that will bring exceptional success.

upon how much you loved the actual script, but

Every script penned by Shakespeare, and all other

instead you find yourself caught up in the story —

famous playwrights, no doubt went through numerous

in the compelling performance. Obviously this takes

revisions and adjustments to ensure the right message

rehearsing beforehand!

and emotional content was in place when delivered. I

In summary, with constant devotion to your busi-

highly recommend that travel agents do the same for in-

ness, well-crafted scripts, and multiple rehearsals to

person, phone, and E-mail communication. You may not

perfect your delivery, To Be or Not to Be…a Great

create the next Macbeth or Hamlet, but you will have a

Travel Agent will no longer be debated.

April 2014

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Travel Agent Professional April 2014  

TAP is one of the only magazine for the Home Based Trade Agent.... With stories written by industry leaders like Rusty Pickett, ECC, Shellba...

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