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Travel Agent Professional July 2017 Issue 52

Build Trust First — Then Sales Result By Cindy Bertram

Auto Europe Renews Maine Seafood Rewards Program for 17th Year Earn Live Maine Lobsters for Business Class Package or Prestige Car Rental Auto Europe, the industry’s first global car rental aggregator, has renewed the Maine Seafood Rewards program for Travel Agents for the 17th year. Qualified bookings include a 7-day luxury or prestige car rental or a business class airfare travel package to Europe that includes hotel and/or car. For each booking, travel agents may choose to enjoy three Maine lobsters or two pounds of salmon shipped fresh to their door.

“We’ve renewed this unique incentive for the 17th year at the request of our Agent partners. We’re proud to continue this one-of-a-kind program that not only supports our Agents but our local Maine businesses as well,” said Robert Ardino, Auto Europe’s Vice President of Sales.

Maine Seafood Rewards can be redeemed by the booking agent or by their client at the agent’s choice. In accordance with ASTA, Agency owners/managers may choose to exclude their agency or individual agents. The program is valid until December 31, 2017, for travel anytime in 2017 and is open to US residents only due to shipping requirements.

For more information or to claim your rewards call 800-223-5555 or email

About Auto Europe With over 60 years of experience in the rental car industry, Auto Europe specializes in helping travelers find the best car rental rates in Europe and other popular destinations around the world. Auto Europe’s deep understanding of the complexities of renting cars abroad paired with their knowledgeable team of rental specialists (available 24/7) allows Auto Europe to provide travelers with the highest quality service in the industry before, during and after their rental. To find the best rate on a car rental for your next trip abroad or to learn more about renting a car in Europe visit

July 2017




63 64

Joel & Lenore Abels Scholarship By Sue Shapiro, President Shapiro Travel Resources,

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

Maximize Your Brand Capital & Brand Charisma By Mitchell J. Schlesinger

16 22

MJS Consultants

Manchester, a Capital City of Culture By Paull Tickner

How I’m Spending My Summer By Les-Lee Roland Owner of The Package Deal

Showcase Auto Europe ...........................................................17 Dream Vacations, CruiseOne, & Cruises Inc. ....21

Ad Index

Cover Photo: MSC cruises

Auto Europe .................................IFC Amadeus .......................................25 Britain Greatdays...........................11

Travel Agent Professional

Host Travel ...............15 RCI...................................BC



Build Trust First — Then Sales Result


Travel Agent Professional July 2017 Issue 52

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.

July 2017


What made you decide that you wanted to go into the travel business?

For Joelene Fulmore, the winner of the 2017 Joel and Lenore Abels Scholarship at Temple University, it was a family reunion at the Crown Plaza in Atlanta that exposed her to the fun and excitement to be found in working in the travel industry. So when she attended the Visit Temple Day (l-R): Bill McCue, President, Travel Matters, Jolene Fulmore, 2017 Winner Abels Scholarship, Nick Rago, President, Consultants to Management, Sue Shapiro, President Shapiro Travel Resources, and (seated) Kathy Archibald, Assoc Director Development & Alumni Relations Temple University

at the Philadelphia Campus she was sold on their School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. Now, a few years later she’s an Honors student with a 3.53 GPA.

The Joel & Lenore Abels Scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the school of Tourism who has shown academic achievement, volunteer service, hard work and a can do attitude. The scholarship helps pay for tuition and/or an industry internship, which Temple requires prior to graduation. The Abels and Travel Trade Magazine would have been proud of the Temple students who were interns and many eventually became employees at American Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, and Entertainment Cruises as well as at Tour Operators, hotels and CVBs. Joelene’s goal after graduation is to work at finance department of a hotel where she can combine her knowledge of the travel industry with her love of math. However, she wants to experience every department at the hotel because her long-term ambition is to own a B & B in Nashville. With her drive (and the help of the Ables Scholarship and Temple) there’s no doubt she’ll do it. Contributions to the Joel and Lenore Abels Scholarship in any amount are welcome at

Travel Agent Professional

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

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

How many times have you gotten those unexpected phone calls that come out of nowhere from a company tr ying to sell you something? Even with the technology we have our mobile phones and devises, along with ways to block unrecognized

The Research Game – Mind-boggling at Times

calls, those types of calls can still some-

While thinking about making a purchase, doing

how sneak through occasionally. And hon-

some “homework” first, via research online, has

estly, I’ve become even more careful myself. I’m not going to make a purchase

become a standard. With so much out there, it can become mind-boggling. I really believe this is why we’re seeing an increase in people rely-

“sight unseen” nor from someone who is

ing on an expert when it comes to handling

“tr ying to sell me something off the

their travel plans and booking their vacations.

street.” A firm believer in building trust first, this is a key critical element in suc-

Several of my travel agent colleagues have mentioned they’ve experienced a spike and the year has been extremely busy for them.

cessfully selling travel today.

July 2017


The Trust Factor I recently spoke with a successful professional who has worked in sales for a few different companies over the years. In his case, the product he handles is a special technology and environmental one. He’s in the process of setting up his own new company to sell this product, and we chatted about his sales process. He mentioned, “Thanks to my working in this industry and doing high end sales, I know what my customers’ needs are. It goes back to building trust and doing what that customer wants. Once you build that trust, you will have that customer forever.”

Insights from Joe Jiffo, Senior VP of Sales, MSC Cruises USA Joe Jiffo recently became senior vice-president of sales for MSC Cruises USA early in April and brings more than 30 years of successful sales expertise in the cruise and travel industry to this role. We spoke about the need to build strong relationships as well as trust and he shared a bit more.

Travel Agent Professional

6 Joe mentioned, “In December we’ll be bringing the MSC Seaside to Miami to join the MSC Divina. We will then have two ships sailing from Miami and this is a terrific example. Building strong relationships within the travel agency community is a key strength MSC Cruises has been focusing on. How did this come about? MSC Cruises has always valued our travel agent partners as we recognize that they are critical to our success and our ability to grow and compete in the North American market. As you noted, the company has tremendous growth plans in the coming years as we go from 1.7 million to 5 million guests a year. That’s a lot of capacity to fill and we know we can’t do it alone!” Joe then explained, “Over the last few years we’ve worked hard to raise our brand awareness and increase demand for our product in this market. We are now at the point that there is a significant amount of buzz about MSC amongst trade and consumers – this is without a doubt thanks to the outstanding partnership we have with the trade community that has supported us to date and will help us continue to thrive in the future.”

Great Opportunities - MSC Voyager’s Club and Unique Loyalty Status Match Program In July 2015 MSC launched its new loyalty program called “MSC Voyagers Club” in order to provide increased benefit to their members. This program replaced their former loyalty program, MSC Club and Joe provided a bit more. He said, “The program is designed to reward MSC’s repeat customers and reinforce our commitment to offering guests an exceptional all-around experience before, during and after their cruise.” Joe then mentioned, “At the same time that we launched ‘MSC Voyager’s Club’ we also launched our ‘Loyalty Status Match Program.’ Recognizing that travelers have built up loyalty with other travel reward programs, our Status Match program allows frequent travelers with a rewards card from another travel brand (cruise lines

July 2017


and hotels) to receive instant status and perks with MSC. Instant benefits include 5% discount for all sailings and an extra 5-15% off select voyages. For our top-tier Black Card member, added benefits include parties, complimentary Spumante with chocolate-dipped fruit, and free one-hour thermal area sessions in the Spa.” “Regarding travel agents leveraging our Status Match program in their sales discussions,” Joe explained, “I think this is a great opportunity for travel agents to encourage their clients who are used to repeatedly booking with the same brand – but might be looking for a different experience – to give MSC Cruises a try without worrying about losing the loyalty or benefits they may have built up with a particular brand. It’s a win-win situation!”

Travel Agent Professional


Getting that Client Come Back and Book Again When it comes to successful sales and building trust, it’s not just the first sale. Agents need to ensure that a client doesn’t just book once, but comes back again and again. When I asked Joe about this, he mentioned, “In the qualifying stage of the conversation, always ask bucket list questions on where else do you want to go or have never been. When they come back from the vacation you just sold them on, make sure they are greeted by a welcome back note. If they are a client you see huge potential in, have a note saying something like, ‘Welcome back. I hope you had a memorable vacation and enjoy this token of appreciation (this can be something that relates to their bucket list vacation, i.e.   Hawaiian Coffee, if Hawaii was their bucket list). Let’s start talking about your next trip to Hawaii. Here are some suggestions that should fit into your budget.’ From there, consistently check in and remind them you are there for them.  And of course, with all of this, make sure you have a good CRM system to manage your database of customers.” 

July 2017

9 Guiding Potential Clients and Clients — Listening and Qualifying

When it comes to making decisions about a purchase, including vacations, people are getting blasted, dealing with information overload. This is where the value of a travel agent professional comes in. Guiding people through the purchase process, learning and then sharing what is the best fitting product really begins with building trust. I asked Joe to share a few tips, and he said, “When you listen to your clients’ past buying habits, you’ll learn about their needs – which is critical. This includes everything from budgets, types of accommodations (i.e. balcony vs. inside), destinations, and what’s on their bucket list. From listening and qualifying, you can then match your clients up with their ideal vacation on a product or brand that you have experienced and have trust in.”

Travel Agent Professional


Another Critical Need — Building Trust with Suppliers Joe and I talked a bit more about MSC Cruises, a privately held and family owned company and one that has a more personal touch. Joe mentioned, “MSC Cruises strives to be the easiest and most profitable brand for travel agents to work with and we’re constantly gathering feedback from our travel agent partners as we launch various programs. We’ve launched industry first commission opportunities including paying an additional 5% -10% commission on pre-paid shore excursions, beverage packages, specialty dining, spa and more.” Joe then explained, “In addition, a few months ago, based on direct feedback from the trade community, we launched a new and enhanced group program called EZ Groups. With

July 2017

11 the new program, travel agent partners can easily create customizable and valuable experiences for their group clients, while benefiting from discounted group rates, enhanced amenity points menu of offerings and greater earning potential – for instance, travel agents can earn 10% commission on pre-paid shore excursions with the new program.” Joe also mentioned, “MSC Cruises also offers military and civil service discounts. This is something else travel agents might be able to provide to their clients. The discount includes 10% off balcony, suite and MSC Yacht Club staterooms and 5% off interior and ocean view staterooms for all retired and active U.S. and Canadian Military personnel, spouses, parents, parents-in-law, and dependent personnel, as well as teachers and civil servants including police officers, firefighters, Federal Express, DHL Worldwide and UPS personnel. Specifically for the military, we offer a 100% full cruise credit if a member of the military can no longer travel due to redeployment or revocation of leave.”

Tools to assist and help in the selling process I then asked Joe,” What other efforts is MSC Cruises doing to support and create long term trust with travel agents?” Joe provided more and said, “Yes, we have tools to assist and help travel agents. Our MSC Academy is one. As MSC Cruises strategically expands its presence in North America, our goal is to work with every travel agent in the region for mutual success. Our new MSC Academy is one example of a tool we’ve launched to educate all travel agents on our product and teach them how to effectively sell us, while also demonstrating how travel agents who do business with us can significantly increase their earning potential.  In addition, we are listening to our travel agents and taking their valued feedback to make improvements. To date we have over 2500 graduates and our sales team is reaching out to them welcoming them to MSC and finding out how we can do business together.”  

Maintaining that needed Trust Factor Creates Success As kids, we are born with the need to trust. And that continues as we become adults. If someone breaks our trust it can hurt. When that comes up for me, I quietly walk away. It goes back to a key part of my working business style – “Do what you say you’re going to do.” As travel professionals? We build and continually maintain that needed trust factor with our clients so they know we’re the ones who have their best interests at heart. And this creates success.

Travel Agent Professional

12 M i t c h e l l J .

Maximize Your Brand Capital & Brand Charisma

S c h l e s i n g e r

The travel industr y, the cruise segment in particular, has extended to vir tually all corners of the globe. This presents the oppor tunity for professional travel selling organizations to promote and suppliers to provide extraordinar y experiences for their clients. This also presents the oppor tunity for travel sellers and suppliers to refor tify their brand capital. By Mitchell J. Schlesinger Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, MJS Consultants, Brand capital is the overall value of your brand. It is more than brick and mortar and steel for ships. It is the value your brand has in the minds of your clients, customers and targeted prospects. It is more than dollars and sense, and the logo on a website and in ads. It is the core of the relationship with clients and their loyalty to your brand. Important questions to ask:

• • •

How distinctive is my brand? Is my brand easily understood? Is my brand likable and well regarded?

No matter the economic scenario it is never a good idea to forgo brand marketing for promotional pricing and tactical actions. Brand marketing is like an investment that pays long term dividends. A Harvard business study written decades ago reported that businesses maintaining brand marketing during all business cycles were the most successful. There are also more opportunities to fortify your brand in the most creative ways:

July 2017

14 Be a compelling story teller Stories are memorable, promotions are not. Brand capital reinforced based on how you communicate with customers both external and internal. This is particularly critical for your own team members.

They are an

extension of your brand and it is vital that they fully understand why and how you are different from competitors, the key services provided and value offered. Team member “enculturation” is one of the most important marketing tools a company has to ensure brand clarity and build brand capital. The “story” of your brand must be told to both team members and customers and delivering the brand promise at EVERY customer touch point is achieved by insuring that you have a compelling brand story to tell.

Sell experiences

Delivering the Brand Promise

Like stories, experiences are dramatically more

Brand capital is strengthened when the brand

memorable than promotions. It is far more effective

promise is delivered consistently. Service is critical.

to market by experience than with pricing. Selling

If you want practical evidence google Stew

travel itineraries to destinations across the globe

Leonard’s, a small grocery chain in the northeast

provides the opportunity to “seduce” customers to

that has been listed on Fortunes top service compa-

see amazing sights, interact with cultures up close

ny list for years and top 100 companies to work.

and personal and participate directly in a litany of

Upwards of 70% of customers do not remain loyal

activities that previously were unavailable.

to business due to staff indifference.

And now, more than ever before, there are numer-

Travel is compelling, should be marketed that way

ous ways to promote these experiences as part of

and the goal is to create “brand charisma”, which in


In the past, this was restricted to web-

truth is challenging to achieve. Travel companies

sites and ads. Today there is an array of social

that recognize the importance of enhancing brand

media outlets that enable you to describe these

capital and delivering on their brand promise pro-

experiences in words, photographs, videos PLUS

tect the company from future volatility. So, make

you can also take advantage of customers describing

sure that there is a “brand champion” who can

their experiences using the same outlets.

share, promote, communicate and measure the progress of the brand. With so much opportunity to market so many extraordinary travel experiences, make sure you maximize your success by converting your brand capital into “brand charisma”.

July 2017


Manchester, a Capital

P a u l l John Rylands Library

T i c k n e r

As someone who lives in Manchester, the recent and appalling terrorism atrocity in my city has inspired me to redouble my efforts to promote this user-friendly airport by taking a closer look at how the city delivers exactly what your culturally-minded independent travellers are looking for. On closer inspection, you will see that Manchester offers some remarkable value added experiences that will resonate with Friends of visual and performing arts groups who are always on the look-out for high quality travel experiences they’ve never seen before. With non-stop flights from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Newark, New York JFK, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C, start talking to your theatre, museum and art gallery

By Paull Tickner

contacts about:

Paull Tickner & Associates Ltd. I’ve been customising UK tours for over 35 years and if you need help in putting these showcase items into a wellconstructed and sensibly priced itinerary, email me at For more bright ideas, check out my website at • Phone: 011 44 161 434 9324

July 2017

City of Culture


Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester for the Visual Arts The Manchester Art Gallery  has an unrivalled collection of Pre-Raphaelite works while at  The Lowry,  gallery interpreters lead tours of the world’s largest collection of paintings and drawings by L S Lowry, best known for his urban landscapes peopled with human figures often referred to as “matchstick men”.  There’s a renowned collection of drawings and watercolours by 18th century artists and a large collection of romantic landscapes by JMW Turner at the Whitworth Art Gallery a recent winner of the prestigious North West Building of the Year award.  A visit here might combine with an hour or two in an elegant Georgian house where you’ll find theGallery of Costume, one of the finest in the country showing clothes worn by men, women and children from the 17th century to the present day.

Manchester for the Performing Arts Looking like a space craft, the seven sided, three-tiered Royal Exchange Theatrestages some of the finest theatre performances in the round outside London while the  Palace Theatre  and its sister theatre the  Opera House host touring musicals, ballet and concerts.

Travel Agent Professional

18 Manchester for Music The Bridgewater Hall is Manchester’s international concert venue, built to give the best possible space for music. It stages over 250 performances a year including classical music, rock, pop, jazz, world music and is home to three resident orchestras: the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata.  You should also plan a lunchtime recital or evening concert at the  Royal Northern College of Music, a long-established and thriving international conservatoire that attracts gifted students, conductors and composers from all over the world.

Manchester’s Hidden Gems As you might expect in a city of this size, there are

Old Trafford, home to Manchester United FC

many to be discovered. Here are just 4 of them: 84, Plymouth Grove, the beautifully restored home of the  famous novelist Elizabeth Gaskellwho chronicled Manchester’s burgeoning industrial revolution when she lived there from 1850-1865. The Portico Library, Neo-Classical in style is where Peter Roget began to write his famous thesaurus.  It is now home to a remarkable collection of around 25,000 books. The John Rylands Library is a striking gothic building which houses one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts including the oldest known piece of the New Testament, the St John Fragment. Chethams is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.  Founded in 1653 it has a wonderful collection of rare books and is where, in the summer of 1845 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels studied together at the table in the alcove of the Reading Room.   Now part of the Chethams School of Music, their exceptionally talented students stage lunchtime recitals during term time.

July 2017

Travel Agents See Increased Profits by Leveraging Industry’s Only Local Sales Team Auto Europe Continues to Offer Exclusive Support to Agents Auto Europe, the industry’s first global car rental broker, is the only company in the industry to maintain a dedicated network of US & Canadian Sales Representatives to provide Travel Agents with local support. These seasoned representatives have a deep understanding of the industry as well as Auto Europe’s offerings and provide Agents with specialized assistance in order to meet the individual needs of their clients.

“We have been working with Auto Europe and our Sales Representative Joe Maniscalco for more than 10 years,” said Roy Twiste, Managing Director of Sales & Vendor Relations at Tzell Park Avenue/Travel Leaders a prestigious travel agency in New York City. “Both Joe & Auto Europe have been extremely efficient and very responsive to our needs.” This responsiveness amounts to quicker sales as agents can easily get the information they need to close business.

“Our Travel Agent partners work with a unique group of travelers that require exceptional care and attention. By leveraging our network of over 30 Sales Representatives in North America we are able to offer hands-on support to Travel Agents and in turn their clients,” said Robert Ardino, Auto Europe’s Vice President of Sales. “Travel Agents can easily contact their representative to get assistance with determining the best transportation solution for their client’s needs. We are the only company to continue to provide this service which speaks volumes of how dedicated Auto Europe is as a company in supporting our Travel Agent partners across the country.”

Working with our network of seasoned Sales Representatives is just one example of how Travel Agents can benefit by partnering with Auto Europe. Agents booking with Auto Europe will continue to receive the most competitive rates on car rentals along with the industry’s highest commission. Additionally, agents calling the 24-hour call center always receive priority queuing and are routed to our most seasoned rental specialists.

Book your vehicle now to secure the best rate by calling 800-223-5555 or visiting

Travel Agent Professional

20 Bridgewater Hall

Manchester’s Family Friendly Attractions There are quite a few to choose from but these have caught my eye: The Imperial War Museum North which focuses on human conflicts,  and depicts their history, aftermaths and impact on people’s life through a vast set of objects – mainly dating from the World War I to the present day. Sea Life Manchester  will transport you into an amazing underwater world where you’ll come nose to nose with sharks and have astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish and seahorses to graceful rays. To get any closer you’d have to get wet! A fascinating mix of science, industry and history makes  The Museum of Science and Industry  an exciting and educational day out for kids and adults alike!  Discover Manchester’s journey through the industrial revolution era right through to the present day, all brought to life through interactive exhibitions, lively shows and daily demonstrations.

Manchester, the Soccer City Take a behind the scenes tour of the Manchester United Museum  at Old Trafford, the world’s most iconic soccer stadium.  Discover the secrets of the Etihad Stadium, home to arch rivals  Manchester City,  the world’s fastest growing football club. Explore the finest collection of football artefacts and archives at the National Football Museum. Museum of Science and Industry

July 2017

CruiseOne®, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc.® Celebrate Anniversary Year with 2017 National Conference Aboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas Annual conference theme is ACHIEVE CruiseOne®, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc.®, which are part of World Travel Holdings — the world's largest cruise agency and award-winning leisure travel company, are celebrating their anniversary years with its National Conference aboard the largest cruise ship in the world – Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas. Each year’s theme revolves around supporting the network’s efforts and inspiring them to build their business. This year’s theme – ACHIEVE – was selected with input from agents on what Conference theme would be the most meaningful to them. “2017 is on pace to be a record-breaking year in land and cruise sales and we are confident National Conference will ignite our agents to achieve new heights,” said Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance for CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. “Our award-winning National Conference has a reputation for being the best in the industry and providing the most thorough travel agent training at sea. It is the perfect finale to our yearlong comprehensive training program which molds the best travel agents in the industry.” The 2017 National Conference will inspire attendees to evolve their business and set new goals for themselves. Together attendees will break through barriers with one goal in mind — to ACHIEVE greatness together by delivering memorable vacation experiences and dream vacations to all customers. Throughout the week, attendees will participate in motivational general sessions; engaging networking events; oneon-one meetings with cruise, resort and tour suppliers; interactive educational workshops; and peer-to-peer brainstorming sessions. They will learn about the most innovative technology advancements, new training programs and robust sales and marketing programs which will elevate their business. “National Conference is one of the best places to meet and get up-to-date information on the most important happenings in our industry. We get to meet industry leaders face-to-face, which is the most valuable way to grow our

Travel Agent Professional

circle of influence. It is essential that we build strong relationships with our key resources,” said Dream Vacations Franchise Owner Aggie Batista of Rockaway Park, N.Y. “I enjoy meeting new people and always walk away with the most effective tools to implement in my business. From personal experience, my sales goes up dramatically after these events. With time, I realize it's because I've implemented one to three new techniques that I never knew before, that contributed to this growth.” Use the #AchieveConference hashtag to follow the excitement leading up to the annual CruiseOne, Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. conference, as well as for updates during the week at sea. For more information on joining these award-winning agencies, please to learn more about owning a CruiseOne and Dream Vacations travel franchise, and visit to learn more about the Cruises Inc. host agency opportunity. About Dream Vacations, CruiseOne® and Cruises Inc.® Dream Vacations, CruiseOne® and Cruises Inc.® are part of World Travel Holdings, the world’s largest cruise agency and award-winning leisure travel company. The Dream Vacations and CruiseOne franchise opportunities give entrepreneurs a choice in how they want to brand their travel business, and Cruises Inc. is an independent business opportunity. Both business models provide a work-fromhome opportunity to those interested in selling all types of travel experiences whether it be a cruise, resort stay or land tour. With a mission of delivering a remarkable experience, travel agents with all three brands are given premium resources to plan and create a seamless vacation experience for the customer while offering the best value. For more information on Dream Vacations and CruiseOne,, like the Facebook and follow on Twitter at @Dream_Franchise. For more information on Cruises Inc., and become a fan on Facebook

22 How I’m Spending L e s - L e e

My Summer

R o l a n d By Les-Lee Roland Owner of The Package Deal

Boy, I take off a couple of months to recover from hip surgery. I didn’t even want to think about business or travel. First time in 25 years, I stayed away from my office, had limited use of my computer, and vegetated. HATED HATED HATED doing that. Now, I am back to work. Dealing with the problems that occurred. First on the list, is Cuba. After blocking space for one major cruise line’s very first scheduled cruises, I was hit with them changing their calendar around and adding dates before my original first sailing. So the ego of my clients to be on the first sailing has disappeared. Of course — they call to complain. I have been to Cuba, on the wonderful and now missed ship FATHOM. I wrote about it months ago. I don’t understand how FATHOM, owned by Carnival, literally missed the boat-their sailings were not sold out, there always was space, and ship was wonderful. First being a Renaissance ship, sister to Azamara, and even Oceania. Now when Cuba is so hot as a destination, no more Fathom. Methinks that their cost was something people could not grasp compared to $599 cruises to the Caribbean and they didn’t get that right in their marketing. But now they do grasp it, and the pickings are slim.

July 2017


We have Celestyal — but have to fly to Jamaica to

the orders are coming in. Yet, one couple who was

board the vessel. And many senior Floridians are past

on her list is phenomenal. She contacted her friends

their flying days. They want easy transportation to the

and relatives all over the U.S. She called them, she

port. But we have Pearl Seas. They are offering luxu-

sent out e-mails, she coddled them. And, within just a

ry, boarding in Florida, balconies for everyone, all

few days, she had 50 people. The only problem was

inclusive. But the people who wouldn’t pay $2,499

each couple had the same request. They wanted their

and up for Fathom, scoff at $7,000 for Pearl Seas.

cabin to be next to hers. And they got furious when I explained the deck plans and why everyone could not

Now some agents deal with luxury only and their

be her neighbor.

clientele are scooping up these cabins. But my group leader who is bringing me about 40 people doesn’t

And, as much as they love their neighbor, each cou-

fall into that category. So what do I do?

ple requested a better deal than what others were getting. I have never dealt with so many people who

First, I sit her down and tell her that she cannot see

each wanted to brag they got the best rate. I

into the pockets of her neighbors and friends. Once it

explained they each got a considerable savings since I

is explained to them about the beauty of Cuba, the

have group rates on all the categories.

unchanged architecture, the history, museums, friendliness, great buys in souvenirs and art and wood carv-

So, I have two group leaders which means two

ings, a throwback to their dating days in the 50’s and

groups on the same ship. Dining together is not their

riding in those cars again. She started to salivate. I

option, but easy enough to work out. Renting a bus

encouraged her to open her eyes and let’s experi-

to take them to the ship and back — now what

ment with the e-mail blast and fliers.

movies should I show onboard the four hour drive. Each has their own favorites.

Sure enough, her people were slow in booking, but

Travel Agent Professional

24 Next, the President gets involved. Not the President of the cruise line, but the President of the US. He makes a speech stating his demands to Cuba. Everyone one of my already booked clients stopped that afternoon to listen to the speech, and then called me, repeatedly. No, two people heard the same thing. Some demanded their money back — after all didn’t he say people couldn’t go to Cuba?? Immediately Royal Caribbean and NCL sent out E-mails stating that cruise ships could still go to Cuba. He never included cruise ships in his speech. Only Holland America didn’t send out anything. So my rehab after surgery was to hold the hands of this group, and assure them they were not breaking the law, they would not be arrested, they were going to have a memorable cruise, they were having a reunion together. That seemed to make most of them happy. Only 2 cabins were cancelled, and I quickly filled those. But now, each couple, one after the other, has called and asked what the last day would be when they could cancel and get their deposit back. I guess they don’t read the invoices I work so hard to send out to them. They are so fearful that political policies are going to hinder their travels. Thank goodness, I have it on each of my invoices, that once the deposit is made, penalties of $100 will be charged by my office for any cancellations. I have visions of everyone cancelling before the final payment is due. And, I worked so hard for each of these couples. And speaking of cancellations, do you know how long it takes to explain that the Cuban medical insurance is mandatory for U.S. passengers entering the country. And, how I still recommend additional insurance for cancellation and medical for the other destinations. And then the Cuban visa. It goes on and on. It’s not just Cuba. Every day I hear from clients or perspective clients who voice their concerns about leaving the country. Or airline problems. The reports on the news and twitter are scaring some seasoned travelers. Clients are so worried about being on long flights. They are trying to avoid being on certain airlines. But the travel insurance policies are booming. After my weeks of recouping, I need a vacation. My bucket list still has South Africa and India/Sri Lanka. I just asked my doctor if he feels I can handle the long flights. He suggested I go to Cuba instead. Don’t you just love being a travel agent.

July 2017


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Profile for Travel Agent Professional

Travel Agent Professional July 2017  

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...

Travel Agent Professional July 2017  

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...