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Travel Agent Professional April 2018 Issue 58

Building the Business Family By Cindy Bertram



Dinosaurs? How Big Is Your Digital Footprint? By Mitchell J. Schlesinger


MJS Consultants

Building the Business Family Insights & How to Grow By Cindy Bertram


Cindy's Inside Cruise & Travel Track, LLC

A Treasure Trove of Inspirational English Gardens By Paull Tickner Paull Tickner & Associates Ltd.

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Travel Agent Professional






Travel Agent Professional April 2018 Issue 58

Travel Agent Professional 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 Paull Tickner, Creator of Special Interest Britain Cindy Bertram, Cindy’s Inside Cruise & Travel Track, LLC Mitchell J. Schlesinger President, MJS Consultants Les-Lee Roland Owner of The Package Deal Sue Shapiro, President Shapiro Travel Resources Rusty Pickett, ECC Shellback Cruises Sherry Laskin, ACC Travel Writer/NACTA Webinar Moderator 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 2018




M i t c h e l l

For the best ways to take advantage of digital marketing, use the pillars of journalism:


J .

Start with a twitter account where you can build an

S c h l e s i n g e r

audience and send short messages about travel opportunities, and other interesting updates. Post photos on Instagram taken when you and clients travel to promote interesting itineraries and destinations. Use Facebook as a home base to promote your agency and encourage customers to post photos and comments about recent and upcoming trips.

By Mitchell J. Schlesinger Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, MJS Consultants,

Network on Linked In to follow organizations and share specific content.


We live in a world where virtually everything is

Content is the key to online marketing. Use the adage

available to be purchased online and the require-

that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery�. Read

ment to be digitally savvy is crucial. And this

content on online sites and use styles as a model for

applies to products and services of all kinds and

your own content.

critically, across all price spectrums. This provides travel professionals the opportunity to sell every-

Be engaging; online sites provide the space to be per-

thing from weekend getaways to world cruises.

sonal and persuasive about the types of travel your agency specializes in, destinations and preferred suppli-

Consumers now, by instinct, go online first to


research, find information, read comments on various social media sites and evaluate ratings

Be experiential; remember, you are not SELLING, you

before deciding what to purchase and where

are ENTICING. Use the medium to extoll different

and from whom to buy it. This requires that

aspects of the experiences including the destinations &

you need to be on the same sites where cus-

shore activities, accommodations (nothing beats a bal-

tomers and prospects are shopping. And a

cony!), dining options, onboard programs, etc.

strong online and digital presence is a great way to promote your agency’s brand, provide expe-

Be value-oriented; why promote inside cabins if outside,

riential content for key sales products and reach

balcony and suite staterooms enhance the experience;

large audiences, all at greatly reduced cost.

not to mention earn you additional commission? And promote the entire experience so expansively that the

April 2018

Big Is Your Digital Footprint? price becomes secondary. At the worldwide destination-based brands at which I have worked, the experience and value always super-ceded the price. The same approach can be employed selling mainstream destinations on fabulous ships with multiple restaurants, beautiful spas, large workout rooms, great entertainment. Be honest; provide content about you and your agency, product and/or destination specializations, special services and most of all, extol your expertise. You want to come across as authentic and someone who clients and prospects want to engage, which builds confidence and trust.

WHO Digital marketing provides the opportunity to communicate with different audiences; It is the ideal way to engage your existing customers and provide forums for them to promote you, your agency, trips taken, destinations visited, special experiences and share photos and videos. It also invites large audiences to visit your website, Facebook page, and follow your Instagram account all of which enables you to use your existing clients content as the best possible third-party endorsement, at virtually NO cost. Post affordable banner ads and videos on popular sites with large relevant audiences. There are travel sections on The Huffington Post, USA Today, CNN, travel magazines, etc. And talk to your local newspaper, most are owned by large conglomerates like McClatchy and Tribune newspapers. They have extensive digital reach across the country.

WHEN & WHY NOW!! If you are already have a digital footprint, start expanding. If you haven’t started, there is no time like the present. If you are not using digital marketing, you are going be left behind. I have always said; if clients, even your own, are not buying travel from you, they are buying it from someone else! Remember, dinosaurs may be extinct, but their large footprints and remains have been sought after by archaeologists for centuries. You don’t want to become extinct like a dinosaur, but you certainly want to have a footprint like one in the digital marketing arena!

Travel Agent Professional


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

By Cindy Bertram Cindy's Inside Cruise & Travel Track, LLC

What comes to mind when you think of the word “family.” The first thoughts of your personal family probably come to mind – parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Beyond the personal component, today we have communities in our business world, and they are part of a “family.” In the business world we create and belong to business communities. A few examples are meet-up groups, and networking business groups, where people come together to learn more about each other, grow that bond, and perhaps find ways to work together. When it comes to the travel industry, it’s important that we think of ourselves as part of a special business family where we can reach out to others to exchange ideas, learn and also partner together.

April 2018


More about the “family” When I first began working in the travel industry, I immediately jumped on training as well as attending travel and cruise conferences. While at those conferences I met terrific people, from other travel agent professionals to key suppliers as well as diverse industry leaders. And I made sure I kept in touch with them. Locally, I also began to build another part of the “family” including another agency owner whose expertise was in a different arena. We also did some partnering together and didn’t view each other as competitors. The growth of more genuine business networking events continues, and this is a way to also grow your business “family.” I’ve been fortunate to know JD Gershbein, one of the world’s top LinkedIn strategists, and a widely recognized thought leader in personal branding and social networking.

Travel Agent Professional


As a social business psychologist, keynote speaker, and broadcast media personality, he has gained widespread recognition as a thought leader in the areas of personal branding, social networking, and video storytelling. JD has been featured on FOX TV News, CBS News, WGN TV News, and WGN Radio, and is also a contributing





Post and  Forbes. On October 26, 2017, JD did his first The Big Banter, best described as a Social Business Variety Show at the Hard Rock Café in Chicago. It was a tremendous, fun, diverse event and I made some terrific new business contacts there as I continue to build my “business family.”

April 2018

9 Insights from Eva Jenner, Vice President, Sales at Holland America Line and Seabourn Eva Jenner has been working at Holland America Line and Seabourn since 2005, where she was Director and Assistant General Counsel, a role she had for 8 years. Prior to joining Holland America Line and Seabourn, Eva had worked in the legal industry after getting her JD from Syracuse University College of Law. Then in August 2013, Eva moved into her current role as Vice President, Sales and finds this so rewarding and exciting.

The Business Family Pulse When Eva and I talked, I mentioned that in the cruise industry we really see more of a “business family” pulse. While on different panels at cruise and travel conferences, the cruise industry management executives have a very genuine, very positive synergy. It doesn’t matter that they’re on a panel with “competitors” so to speak. I asked Eva, “Why do you thing this occurs?”  Eva explained, “The cruise industry is very close.  Most of us know each other well and have worked in this business for many years.  I’m especially close to my counterparts at the various Carnival Corp. brands, particularly my “sisters,” Adolfo Perez (Carnival Cruise Line) and John Chernesky (Princess Cruises) and you may have noticed the great relationship we have on some industry panels. That being said, all of us in the cruise industry know that building a positive environment for cruising benefits all of us – the cruise lines and the travel agents. There is amazing potential for new cruisers, which is the objective of every single cruise line in terms of cultivating new business.  But make no mistake, we are also very competitive for the business that is ours.  At Holland America Line, we know our guests and potential guests and we work very hard to help travel agents understand how to reach this group of cruisers for the mutual benefit of both.”

More on the “Brothers and Sisters” While at conferences herself, Eva has mentioned how she has the “best brothers and sisters” in her job. And this goes back to the different cruise lines under the Carnival Corporation & plc. From Costa, Carnival Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises, to Holland America Line, Cunard Line and Seabourn, these are wonderful, diverse options travel agent professionals can offer to their clients, and they complement each other.  I asked Eva, “What comes to your mind as far as a ‘business family’ and how that works?”   Eva said, “You are correct in that the Carnival Corp. family of cruise lines is the best family around.  Between the many brands under the Carnival umbrella, there are ultra-luxury to premium and mass to unique interna-

Travel Agent Professional


tional opportunities to cruise. And as one big happy family, we can also help travel agents find contacts at our sister lines.  At Holland America Line, our field sales representatives also represent Seabourn to travel agents so we are happy to cover the finest premium and ultra-luxury brands with them to build sales, reach potential clients and provide continuing education. We just launched the Holland America Line trade promise to reinforce our commitment to travel agents as well.  We are “committed to your success.™”

The need for travel agent professionals to build their “Business Family” When it comes to travel agents, they also need to build their “business family.” This can range from preferred suppliers that agents develop ongoing relationships with, along with other friendly competitors - other professionals in the travel agency community.  I asked Eva, “What are best ways to work with other travel professionals?  One that comes to mind is reaching out to another professional who might have expertise in area that travel agent might not have -   finding ways to work together.” 

April 2018

11 Eva provided more insights and said, “You alluded to one certainly. I think it’s a great start for a travel agent to know the thought leaders and the success stories.  There is a lot of great research, articles, publications and seminars or cruise shows to help them learn about the leaders and the consortia and groups that might best benefit them as an individual agency.  Travel agents should also bring into their family the local BDM so that they can work together to brainstorm and create a business plan.  Each travel agent is unique so there is no one solution, but there are plenty of opportunities that provide networking opportunities and continuing education to help agencies that are just starting out to build a “business family.”

Being on the same side of the desk Eva and I then talked a bit more about a phrase I’ve run across in business “Being on the same side of the desk.” When it comes to travel agent professionals and their clients, I mentioned to Eva that I felt this holds true. It’s about the client making the best decisions for what they want and desire as far as their cruise vacation with travel agent listening and guiding them through. Eva and I talked a bit more and I asked her if she had any suggestions on what travel agents can do best to make sure they are “on the same side of the desk” with their clients. Eva shared more, and said, “The best thing for a travel agent to do is get plenty of training and education in the selling process, how to qualify clients and how to close sales. Sometimes it seems simple, but it is a skill and it really boils down to putting your clients’ wishes first.  Being on the same side of the desk really means listening to your clients’ preferences and desires and understanding what they are looking for in a vacation.”

Travel Agent Professional


Eva then went on and mentioned, “For example, your clients may have really enjoyed a Holland America Line cruise to Alaska with their extended family last year, but this year they are looking for a vacation as a couple where they can get some sun in a more intimate, luxurious setting. While a Caribbean cruise on Holland America Line may be right for the couple, the travel agent should discuss the possibility of going on a Caribbean cruise on Seabourn.  In order to ensure that a travel agent’s clients enjoy their cruise vacation and trust the advice of their travel agent, we need to ensure that the clients are put on the right cruise line for their vacation.”

Personalization Personalization is also a key area that travel agent professionals do best and excel at. I asked Eva, “Do you have a suggestion or two that you’ve seen successful travel agents practice when it comes to personalization?”

April 2018

13 The need to keep connected in real time Eva and I then talked a bit about how in today’s digital world, people rely on their mobile devises. It’s a way to keep connected in real time. But what travel agents do best is to have and provide that much needed personal touch. They share their expertise, as well as insuring that their clients’ true desires with their trip are not going to just be met, but go beyond their expectations. I asked Eva, “Can you share any tips on what travel agents should also be doing?” Eva immediately said, “Social Media! Almost everyone I know is on at least one social media platform. Share your clients’ photographs and experiences from the vacations that you planned for them on social media. Have your existing clients write recommendations.  Your other clients (and potential clients) will see the wonderful vacations you created, and reach out to you when they are ready to plan their vacations.  Travel agents also have to understand that every client is different in the way they want to communicate with their travel agents.  Some enjoy talking over the phone, but others may only want to communicate via text or email.  Be flexible in the way you communicate.  So long as you continue to pay attention to the details and the little extras, you will have clients for life.  It’s all about the little extras and paying attention to the details. “ Eva said, “We have several travel agents that remember birthdates and anniversaries for their clients and


regularly send cards, but more importantly send notes

As travel agents work to grow their client base, build-

well in advance to suggest planning for that special

ing their own “business family” is also a needed com-

event in their life.” She then explained, “Additionally,

ponent. Bringing in and working with their local

I’ve seen agents who have personalized a package for

Business Development Manager (BDM) is one. Taking

their clients prior to a vacation with the necessary

advantage of networking opportunities, developing

travel documents and gifts that the clients can use on

strong genuine partnerships, learning about groups,

their trip (for example, sunscreen for a Caribbean

consortia and leaders that can help them are others.


And these are all great ideas to then put into action.

Travel Agent Professional

14 P a u l l T i c k n e r

As so many of your green-fingered clients are busy with their own gardens and horticultural events in April and May, you’ll be greatly encouraged and enthused by my imaginative look at other gardens shows and festivals that take place between June and September. Each of these ideas can be converted into a customised tour for independent travellers or small groups of 8-10 or more. Putting everything together for you is where my knowledge, experience and connections come in. Take a careful look and let’s talk about converting some of these ideas into a tailormade By Paull Tickner Paull Tickner & Associates Ltd.


Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is renowned for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at and E-mail him at

April 2018

15 Two Flower Shows, Herbs and an Edible Garden If your garden-loving clients can’t make it to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show in late May, talk to them about a unique, late June tour bringing together the annual Blenheim Palace Flower Show and the Woburn Abbey Garden Show. With a customized itinerary, you can then add a tasty visit to the National Herb Society’s growing beds at Sulgrave Manor, George Washington’s ancestral home, and a slice of rose petal cake at Kathy Brown’s Edible Garden near Bedford.

The Illumination Festival of Flowers The Winchester Cathedral Flower Festival takes place between 5th – 9th September with an exuberant array of flower arrangements inspired by the 12th century Winchester Bible, which you’ll also be able to see while you’re there. This great Norman building will be transformed by striking and floral displays evoking the Bible’s exquisitely illuminated initials and decorative schemes. Add a day at the RHS Garden Show at Wisley 4th – 9th September for an outstanding late summer stately homes and cathedrals tour.

A Quintessentially English Garden Sweeping herbaceous borders, elegant rose and historic walled gardens, artistic plantings framed by fine old trees, sculpture, fountains, ponds and enchanting woodland walks– welcome to the award-winning garden at Pashley Manor. At their best between April and September, fine tune your visit to coincide with their Special Rose Week (8th-16th June) or during their Dahlia Days Festival (5th-15th September) when a visit to Pashley Manor partners nicely with the RHS Wisley Flower Show and the Winchester Cathedral Flower Festival.

The “Kaleidoscope of Life” Flower Festival From Jun 21 to 24, 2018, the magnificent medieval cathedral in Ely will host its much-anticipated Flower Festival, which is expected to be one of the largest and most spectacular events in the East of England. More than 50,000 blooms will adorn the Cathedral in breath taking displays depicting the story of “Life.” The festival has been created by Roger Woolnough, whose designs have won medals at both the Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower Shows. Talk to the team that decorate your church every Sunday. I think they will love this idea.

Travel Agent Professional


The Rothschilds at Waddesdon Manor

grass mown, there are eco-friendly wallabies whose ances-

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild created his garden at

House Exhibition provides a magical world in miniature

Waddesdon Manor for the amusement of his guests, who

tors have been here since 1889. In addition, the Dolls

used to spend an entire morning on their tour of the

Winners Row

landscaped grounds, lined with beautiful blooms, tall trees,

There are few corners of England where you will find

and elegant sculptures and fountains. You can follow in

close together no fewer than five former winners of the

their footsteps and discover one of the most important

prestigious Historic Houses Association/Christies Garden

Victorian gardens with its fully restored Parterre and

of the Year Award. They include the Abbotsbury Sub-

working Aviary. They surround a magnificent house in the

Tropical Garden, the Rothschild’s rhododendron collec-

style of a 19th century French chateau filled with trea-

tion at Exbury and the former Cistercian monastery at

sures that will take your breath away.

Forde Abbey. Since you may have many green-fingered

A Renowned Landscape Garden Reopens After being closed since 2010, Leonardslee is one of

clients cruising in or out of Southampton, this concentration of horticultural excellence should have their name written all over it.

is reopening in the spring. Set in a tranquil valley, a series

Borde Hill Garden’s 125th Anniversary

of seven lakes provide a magnificent reflection of the fabu-

Botanical heritage and stunning landscapes at the award-

lous, colourful display of Rhododendrons, Azaleas,

winning Borde Hill Garden provide the foundations for a

Camellias and Magnolias that surround them. Keeping the

perfect visit for horticultural enthusiasts and those who

England’s largest and most spectacular woodland gardens,

April 2018


love beautiful countryside. The outdoor garden rooms include the delightful Azalea Ring and Rhododendron Gardens, the Rose Gardens and scenic Italian Garden, best seen, understood and enjoyed with a head gardener-led tour. Throughout the season, you can catch one of the many events celebrating the Stephenson Clarke family being at Borde Hill for over a century

Great Gardens to Visit Finally, this popular annual publication provides high quality images, editorial and group visit information on many of the U.K.’s finest gardens. Originally launched in 2003, it is now considered the essential guide for anyone wishing to organize group visits to U.K. gardens. The Great Gardens to Visit website not only details the gardens but provides upto-date information on special garden events and activities. Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at and email him at

Travel Agent Professional


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Travel Agent Professional April 2018  
Travel Agent Professional April 2018  

Travel Agent Professional is a new site devoted to meeting the needs of the Home Based Travel Agent – the heart and soul of today's industry...