Page 1

Travel Agent Professional August 2018 Issue 60

By Cindy Bertram



Finding an Opportunity


Filling That Need Barking Up The Best Tree

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


Masterpiece,The Key To New UK Travel Experiences   By Paull Tickner Paull Tickner & Associates Ltd.

Ad Index

Cover Photo: Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea

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


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

TRAVELSTAVERS .........................................

Travel Agent Professional





Travel Agent Professional August 2018 Issue 60

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.

May 2018

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

Years ago, travel professionals did everything, from booking airline tickets, hotels, tours, and cruises. But as the industry began to change, so did the focus, along with the actual business model. Having a retail location was phasing down, but travel agent professionals did not go away. Instead, using a home based office, as well as the growth of consortiums and the host agencies brought new viable options for travel professionals. And with that? Focusing on a particular travel specialization and being an expert is now even more critical when it comes to success. It goes back to finding a particular

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

opportunity and filling that need.

What is the best way to find the “best tree” and fill that need? The term “barking up the wrong tree” was a phrase that came about in the 19th centur y when dogs were used to chase prey up a tree. Sometimes the prey escaped and leaped from one tree to another. The phase has evolved now meaning that if you bark up the wrong tree, you are pursuing the wrong course. And if you focus on finding the right, best tree, you’re on the right track to be successful. When I look at some ver y successful travel professionals I’ve been ver y for tunate to know over the years, they’ve found their par ticular niche, created that exper tise and are known for what they do best. One travel professional colleague specializes in groups and a par t of her niche is professional singles who have ver y successful careers. She customizes her groups, and one transition has been moving into river cruises. It’s now becoming the “best tree” for her business.

August 2018


Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea — Successfully filling a Specific Need Since beginning in 2007, Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea has successfully grown and has won special awards, along with becoming a valued resource for the traveling public. With the partnerships Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea has developed with cruise lines, peoples’ opportunities to travel have expanded in new ways, thanks to their streamlined process for the equipment delivery. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Andrew Garnett, President and CEO, and he shared more about the company he started along with how things came about.

Travel Agent Professional


How Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea started Although I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Andrew Garnett for several years, I had no idea how his company evolved. So first I asked Andrew if he could share a bit more on how the idea for Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea came about. Andrew explained, “It was all by accident. I had been downsized from a job and could not find work. There was a travel agent who was asking for help with this and asked if I would be interested. I figured since I couldn’t find work anyway, I would give it a shot. So, I literally started in my bedroom, making deliveries with my personal car, and learning everything the hard way.  As things progressed, I rented a storage unit and rented vans on busier days. Next, I rented a warehouse, purchased a van and started hiring some staff. In order to keep the momentum moving, I would wake up at 3:00 AM and drive from Miami to Port Canaveral to make deliveries. That same morning, I would then drive across the state and make deliveries in Tampa and then drive back home to Miami the same day.” As far as Andrew’s background and expertise prior to starting Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea, he mentioned, “I worked staffing AT&T call centers.  When AT&T went out of the call center business, I was downsized; thus the journey of searching for a new job began.”

August 2018

7 Seeing a need and demand for this type of Service Andrew and I then talked a bit about how this all evolved, focusing on his seeing a need and demand. Andrew explained, “Honestly, as I had stated earlier, it was all by accident. I needed to do something and there was a demand for this type of service. Once I saw the opportunity, I figured out ways to scale it internationally very quickly along with some new concepts that many travelers and travel agents now take for granted.” Then Andrew went on and said, “It can be challenging to be a trailblazer; however, being able to say that you have created a new industry/niche is very rewarding.  Additionally, we created our SNG Accessible Certified Accessible Travel Advocate® (CATA®) program out of the necessity of the travel professional community lacking the tools to speak intelligently to this space. Our certification is quickly closing in on 5000 Certified Accessible Travel Advocates since its launch in November of 2011.”

More on starting the business, challenges and overcoming them As far as starting Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea, Andrew shared a bit more about steps, dealing with challenges and overcoming them. He mentioned, “We started running once I decided to give it a shot. The timing was right for me as I did not have many responsibilities at the time. My rent was cheap, my car was paid off, and I didn’t have anyone to report to. So, I could devote 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year and did. Today, I have a mortgage, a wife, a son, car payments, etc., so starting this business now would be more challenging. The most challenging aspect of starting this business was having to create everything as we went along because no one had done this before. Therefore everything was trial and error. Thank goodness most of our decisions were good!”

How Andrew has managed to successfully grow the company Then Andrew and I talked more on how he’s been able to grow Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea. And he said, “The company has grown from making deliveries in only two ports to servicing 215 metropolitan areas in 68 countries over a span of 10 years. We have grown this quickly by standing by our mission of making travel not only possible but also enjoyable for anyone who wants to go. By reinvesting in ourselves, we ensure sustained and manageable growth.”

Travel Agent Professional


Special recognition and awards Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea has now been recognized with awards, and I asked Andrew if he could share more about this. He explained, “We have been recognized by many entities over the years. CLIA asked Special Needs Group to assist with creating content for courses that will empower travel professionals when speaking with clients who may require some special assistance.  To name a few other of note, Porthole Magazine, SeatradeInsider, American Business Awards, and Travel Weekly have all recognized our efforts with awards like the coveted Magellan Award.”

Successfully building relationships with cruise lines With the growth and expansion of Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea, another area that Andrew has focused on is building strong relationships with the cruise lines themselves. He explained, “I try to keep relevant in many different circles through creating, keeping, and growing a good reputation both as a company and personally. Because of our (my) good reputation for doing what we (I) say and doing the right thing, we are and I am recognized and referred to as the leader, and ‘the go to’ in our fields of special needs travel, medical equipment, and logistics. I also live by the motto ‘It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.’  So, those referrals keep coming.”

August 2018

9 Where Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea provides services Since first starting in 2007, Special Needs Group/ Special Needs at Sea has grown expansively. Andrew shared more and said, “We provide services in practically every corner of the globe with current services in 215 different metropolitan areas in 68 different countries.” Another advantage that Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea provides? People don’t have to rent equipment to be used for the same pick-up and drop off location. Andrew provided more details, and explained, “Additionally, going one way with our equipment is also not a problem. You can receive a mobility scooter in Miami and leave it behind in Barcelona. You can travel from Venice to Sydney. We make it happen.  The key is that we never outright say no. If the client is going to a place that is out of the ordinary and/or has the need for something out of the norm, we will offer, for a small fee, the opportunity to have us research how to make it happen. If the client moves forward with the order, the research fee is credited toward the service cost.”

Suggestions for Travel Agents – focus on a niche, being recognized as an expert Having found a particular niche and then developing a company to fill it along with being seen as an expert, is something Andrew has done well himself. Then we talked a bit more, and I asked him if he had any suggestions for travel professionals. First Andrew said, “I recommend three major things. First, every travel professional should become certified through our SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate®(CATA®) program. This will get them well on their way to speaking intelligently to travelers who have some sort of special need. Next, I recommend that an agent not suffer from paralysis by analysis. Reach out to Special Needs Group for help. Don’t look like a deer in headlights when a customer asks about a mobility scooter or oxygen equipment. We are here to make you successful.” Andrew went on a bit more and said, “Finally, don’t treat this as a niche. If you ask every customer ‘Does anyone in your party have difficulty walking long distances or standing for long periods of time?  Does anyone require oxygen?’

You will find that your groups will grow. That is because your customer has already assumed

that someone with a special need cannot go. ‘We told Aunt Betty that she was too slow, so she cannot go.’ You could say, ‘Well, if I give her a scooter, she would be faster than you.’ ‘Uncle Bob sleeps with oxygen so, we told him he could go.’ So your response can be, ‘What if I had oxygen equipment delivered to your stateroom?’ If Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob are now coming, their kids may be going too.  Additionally, remember that 20% of the US population has some sort of a special need. One in five is not a niche to me…”

Travel Agent Professional


What Andrew loves best about what he does What came up as seeing an opportunity and filling a need has evolved into something even more for Andrew. He explained, “I really love that fact that I can support many families through a successful business while also helping people and hopefully making my mark on mankind for the better. In my opinion, the world was meant to be seen in person not just on television or through the internet. Special Needs Group is making it not only possible but also enjoyable for people to explore the planet.”

Some great takeaways Seeing a need and then finding an opportunity to fill it really ties in well with Special Needs Group/Special Needs at Sea. Also when Andrew mentioned that the world is meant to be seen in person, and with his company he makes it possible for people to do that? It’s a true inspiration to what travel professionals do as well.

August 2018

You create. You take risks. You live your passion. You are an entrepreneur.


Today we celebrate YOU — the entrepreneur that continues to shape our industry. Thank you for your dedication, inspiration and passion. We proudly stand and applaud you.


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

I confess that perhaps like you, I’m a great fan of TV detective dramas like Sherlock, Inspector Morse, Grantchester and Foyle’s War. Over the weekend I watched a very good Poirot and enjoyed the Cotswolds scenery in a Father Brown.  When any of these shows appear on PBS, dozens of your customers stay at home, avidly following the twists and turns of the current plot. To








fanned every week by every episode, do three things? Firstly, compile a list of clients who are almost certain to be Masterpiece fans — it could cover a few pages! Secondly produce a (shorter) list of contacts you have with your local PBS, Friends of Libraries group, book-

By Paull Tickner

stores, readers circles and book fair organisers.

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

August 2018

13 Finally, show them the following mix ‘n’ match selection of ideas and invite them to list their favourite TV detective shows. E-mail it to me and stand by for a creative response for just 2 people or a small group of 12-15.  I’ve also been putting together some tour itineraries based around the literary events for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath and the Cheltenham Literature Festival. As you and your clients have spent Sunday evenings watching Masterpiece Theatre productions of Jane Austen’s novels, start planning a tour to the popular  Jane Austen Festival, which returns to Bath from Friday 14th–Sunday 23rd  September 2018. This year’s Festival will celebrate her novel Persuasion — much of which is set in the city — 200 years after its publication. The Cheltenham Literature Festival  has been building an international reputation for nearly 70 years and for lovers of fiction, culture and books, this literary celebration boasts one of the most remarkable line-ups of writing greats they are ever likely to see.  The Guildford Book Festival also runs concurrently making this combination almost irresistible for some of your clients. Remember, you’re an email away from turning popular fiction into profitable fact.

Travel Agent Professional


The Great Detectives

Murders. Filmed extensively in the otherwise peaceful

For clients who love Masterpiece Theatre Murder

county of Buckinghamshire, just north of London, we can

Mysteries, offer them a programme based on a pick ‘n’

add an On Location tour of some of the real-life towns,

mix selection of visits that might include a few quiet

villages and stately homes used in the show.

moments at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s grave, an Inspector Morse tour of Oxford, a day in and around various

The Sport of Queens

Midsomer villages, Agatha Raisin and Father Brown in the

Here’s an interesting Murder Mystery pre/post cruise idea

Cotswolds, a Sherlock Holmes day in London and a close

for Harwich arrivals/departures. Based near the university

encounter with Agatha Christie on the English Riviera.

city of Cambridge, it visits Grantchester, location for the eponymous and popular TV series and home of the

Endeavour, Lewis and Morse

inquisitive vicar Sydney Chambers. It also spends a day

With Oxford less than 90 minutes north of Southampton

discovering Newmarket, the birthplace and home of

and about the same from London, it makes a great hub

horse racing and inspiration for so many of Dick Francis’

for a customised pre/post cruise extension. It’s also

best-selling novels.

famous as the location for the filming of Morse, Lewis and Endeavour. With touches of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

Quiche of Death

Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders on the way, this idea

Agatha Raisin and Father Brown are two more popular

is well worth a closer consideration.

TV characters, and both are closely associated with the Cotswolds. Chipping Campden, Broadway and Stow on

Midsomer Murders

the Wold clearly feature in MC Beaton’s popular novels

The unflappable Inspector Barnaby is another notable

and Father Brown is filmed in the village where she

addition to my list of Great Detectives and he’s the star

lives. Let’s turn much loved fiction into on location reality


with visits to her favourite pubs, tea rooms and pubs.





series Midsomer

August 2018

15 Crusader, Monk, Detective A few years ago, Masterpiece Theatre successfully screened Ellis Peter’s medieval mysteries about Brother Cadfael, the crusader turned herbalist monk detective who lived in the Welsh border county of Shropshire. Untouched by progress, step back in time and explore the castles, abbeys and picturesque villages and towns that capture his life and times. Use the Manchester gateway for easy access.

The Cheltenham Literature Festival For lovers of fiction, culture and books, this literary celebration boasts one of the most remarkable line-ups of writing greats that you’re ever likely to see. Between 5th-14thOctober  over 500 events,  the Festival touches upon subjects as diverse as history, politics, sport, food and fashion and they bring together highly sought-after speakers creating stimulating, surprising, and entertaining events that ignite once-in-a-lifetime conversations.

Guildford Book Festival Taking place at the same time (7th-14th October), for nearly 30 years the cathedral city of Guildford has played host to one of the UK’s most vibrant literary festivals. Attracting some of the biggest names, bestselling authors and bright new talent from around the world it offers outstanding star-studded, entertaining conversation in historic locations like the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. 

Mozartfest If like me, Wolfgang Amadeus is your favourite classical composer, you’ll be pleased to know that the annual 16-concert Bath Mozartfest  will take place between 9th-17thNovember. Firmly established as one of Europe’s leading classical music festivals, they have spent the last 26 years building an impressive reputation for excellence, presenting the finest classical music performed by world-renowned artists. 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 or email him at

Travel Agent Professional


This is not a cruise. This is an all new way for your clients to adventure with the best and biggest ships in the world. Discover Allure of the Seas ® and Oasis of the Seas ® in the Caribbean, delivering a double dose of family thrills at an unbeatable value. Or experience Europe on a massive scale onboard the new Harmony of the Seas SM, debuting this May with all new activities, restaurants and gravity-defying slides like nothing ever seen at sea. Plus spacious accommodations ideal for big family adventures. No matter where your clients choose to go, there’s no better way to jumpstart a summer vacation than with our Oasis Class ships.




Fort Lauderdale | Through Fall 2016

Fort Lauderdale | Year Round

Barcelona | Spring & Summer 2016 Fort Lauderdale | Fall 2016

Port Canaveral | Winter 2016

For more information visit

Features vary by ship. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas. 16050747 • 5/4/16

Travel Agent Professional Aug 2018  
Travel Agent Professional Aug 2018