The road trip is quintessential Americana, just like baseball and Fourth of July fireworks. The charm of the great American road trip, which was praised by authors like Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac, seemed locked in the distant memory of their words. But with more couples looking to travel domestically these days, the road trip has returned — just look at the recent boom in RV rentals. So fire up the perfect playlist and hit the open road; the following destinations are among the many possibilities.
Roadtrip down the California Coast
Vineyard in Shenandoah Valley Wine Country
Virginia Wine Country
The state’s slogan says it all — Virginia Is for Lovers. Embrace the romantic challenge to take your photo with the 200+ LOVEworks signs scattered across the state.
For couples who live in mid-Atlantic cities like Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, Virginia wine country makes for an easy, rejuvenating minimoon that’s a little closer to home than Napa Valley. You’ll find more than 300 wineries and several wine trails, all surrounded by stunning scenery and plenty of historic small towns to visit along the way.
The largest concentration of wineries in Virginia is on the Monticello Wine Trail, with the charming city of Charlottesville at its center and the home of Thomas Jefferson nearby. Must-visits include Barboursville, a stately winery run by the Zonin family from Veneto, Italy and Blenheim Vineyards, owned by rocker Dave Matthews.
On the Shenandoah Valley Wine Country Trail, you’ll roll past orchards, horse farms, historic sites and breathtaking mountains on your winery-hopping route. History buffs may want to stop at the numerous Civil War battlefields along the way.
Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona in the evening light
Sedona to Las Vegas
Get in touch with your spiritual side in Sedona, Arizona, a prime destination for hiking enthusiasts and one that’s particularly scenic in the fall, with its temperate weather and verdurous foliage. Watch the sun set on beautiful sites like red-rocked Oak Creek Canyon, often described as “the Grand Canyon’s smaller cousin.” Go horseback riding, fishing, mountain climbing or on a sunset hot-air balloon ride.
Why not stop by the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, while you’re at it? A road trip from Sedona to Las Vegas is both relaxing and thrilling — after camping out at the Grand Canyon, drive to Zion National Park for wildlife spotting and land in the City of Lights for a glitzy end to your nature-filled honeymoon. Dine at world-renowned restaurants, luxuriate by rooftop pools and witness the Fountains of Bellagio’s dramatic nighttime water show.
Bridge into Key West from Islamorada
Miami to the Florida Keys
It’s easy to spend a long weekend or a full week exploring the gems along the Florida Keys. Technically the trip only takes four hours but with all the roadside attractions from Miami to Key West, you’ll want to take your time to savor this journey. Attractions include street-side eateries, national parks and movie memorabilia.
Dine on conch fritters and smoked fish at Alabama Jack’s, stop at MM88 tiki bar for a cocktail on the sand and meet colorful locals at Turtle Club in Key Largo. Give yourselves time to visit Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S., and go boating among manatees and crocodiles.
In Key Largo, play like Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn and take a scenic canal ride on the ship featured in their 1951 film, “The African Queen.” The Seven Mile Bridge, or the Overseas Highway, that connects the Keys was the longest bridge in the world when it was constructed in 1912 and it’s still a sight to be seen.
Old Mission Church in Santa Barbara, California
San Francisco to Los Angeles
Easily the most quintessential American road trip after Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway is too beautiful to skip. Begin in San Francisco instead of Los Angeles, so you’ll be driving closer to the ocean. Stop in quaint seaside towns like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pismo Beach that feel more local and laid-back than touristy.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best in the country, boasting more than 35,000 animals including humpback whales. Wildlife can also be experienced in its natural habitat: get up close to 15,000 elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Beach. Outdoorsy travelers must stop at Big Sur for hiking, bird watching or camping over magnificent ocean vistas.
There are plenty of cultural attractions as well as natural ones. Gaze at 17th century art and artifacts and colorful gardens at the still-operating church, Old Mission Santa Barbara. Nestled in the hills of San Simeon village, Hearst Castle, the famed home of late newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, is a study in opulence. You may get inspiration for your new home together!
For cruise lovers who set sail every year, you have a tough choice to make. Do you stick with a cruise in 2021, unsure when your favorite cruise line will sail again or wondering if your preferred voyage will fill up too quickly due to limited capacity? Or do you opt for another, similar option? Here are six reasons why an all-inclusive resort vacation should be your next choice.
Why cruisers also love resorts
BENEFITS OF ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS
Sponsored by Le Blanc Spa Resorts
Some people are cruisers — we get that. There’s a lot to love about cruising, from the ease of seeing multiple locations while only unpacking once, to having everything you could need or want right on board. However, as the COVID epidemic continues to cause waves across the cruising industry, many annual cruisers are turning their vacation eyes more and more to all-inclusive resorts.
But how do they stack up? Cruising and land-based vacations are inherently different, yet not without similarities. In fact, there are numerous ways that all-inclusive resorts are actually preferred over cruising. For comparison’s sake, we’ll focus on Le Blanc Spa Resorts, two adults-only, all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and Los Cabos, showing here six ways that they surpass any cruising experience.
Your favorite wines and beers are all included.
All Inclusive is Key
Many cruise lines expect you to pay more for their drink package and specialty restaurants, as well as some onboard activities. Most resorts do not. In fact, at Le Blanc Spa Resorts, they believe you can never have too much of a good thing, so they surround their guests with lavish accommodations, 24-hour room service, world-class dining, wireless Internet, even bottles of top-shelf spirits in your room — all included in the price of your stay.
Relax in your spacious Royal Deluxe Suite
Rooms are Larger, More Luxurious
Cruise lines have come a long way in recent years as modern ships include two-story mega-suites. But most cruisers find themselves in ocean view rooms or balcony suites that measure south of 300 square feet. Rooms at Le Blanc Spa Resorts are all over 400 square feet, with some exceeding 1,000, complete with BVLGARI® bath amenities, a fully-stocked minibar, a welcome bottle of tequila and red wine, personalized butler service, pedestal tubs and more. Oh, and each resort room has its own iron and ironing board — something you just don’t find on a cruise ship.
Spend a blissful hour in the hydrotherapy room
As cruise ships become more like floating amusement parks, for better or worse, they place a premium on the number of activities you can enjoy while on board as well as shore excursions at each port. Since luxury all-inclusive resorts like Le Blanc Spa Resorts are peaceful havens, they don’t have a go-cart track or gargantuan waterslides. But they do include a fitness center and exercise classes, as well as off-site tours that will have you marveling at Maya monuments, snorkeling in turquoise waters and swimming with dolphins.
Adults-only means no kids and plenty of space
Adults-Only is the Only Way
We go on vacations mainly to relax and reconnect with an inner sense of wellness. That is much easier to do at an adults-only resort, like Le Blanc Spa Resorts, than on cruise ships that range from floating playgrounds packed with kids to upscale ships complete with board kids. Not that there is anything wrong with kids on cruise ships — for many families, that’s the reason they choose to cruise. But for those who seek a serene oasis by the sea, the less loud voices the better.
Mimosas at the beach
The Motion of the Ocean
No matter how technologically advanced the cruise ships’ stabilizers are, you’re going to feel the ship rocking throughout your voyage. Many people become accustomed to this within the first few hours on board, but not everyone. Le Blanc Spa Resorts sit solidly by the ocean, not on it, allowing you to listen to the peaceful waves break upon the sandy shore. The only time you feel the waves is when you go swimming in the warm ocean waters.
Never over-crowded, your resort gives you all the space you need
Peace of Mind
In the open air and beneath the warm tropical sun, resorts have an easier time keeping their properties clean and safe. In fact, Le Blanc Spa Resorts’ brand-new program, Purely Le Blanc, goes beyond the already stringent quality controls and health measures in place. It includes the implementation of more than 140 preventative actions to assure everyone’s health and safety, including a Purely Le Blanc health certification in every room on arrival, guaranteeing its complete disinfection.
Plus, Le Blanc Spa Resorts’ flexible booking program offers you the freedom to modify the dates of all existing and new reservations at any of their properties at the same rate and under the same conditions as the original reservation.
Cancun has been open to tourists longer than most destinations and has successfully kept both visitors and locals safe. This is great news since visitors are loving their time here in the sun, mostly thanks to enforced capacity rates keeping hotels and resorts comfortably uncrowded, ideal temperatures all year long and plenty of attractions to keep everyone happy. Check out the stats and information below to get a quick glimpse at the current state of traveling to Mexico.
Travel at a glance
Temperate weather and reduced capacity means a travel experience like no other
Hotels and resorts in Cancun can only operate at 60% of their capacity.
More and more reports are coming out confirming how safe it is to fly during COVID. Thanks to each airline instituting its own level of safety protocols, passengers wearing masks, enhanced air filtration systems and more, travelers are arriving safely to their destinations, ready to begin their much-needed vacation.
To give you a detailed look at how one airline is providing an effective solution, let’s look at Delta’s CareStandardSM. From the moment you check in to when you reach baggage claim, the Delta CareStandardSM is designed to keep all surfaces and high-traffic areas clean and disinfected, giving you more space and offering safer service and personal care at every point in your journey.
Check-in & Bag Drop – All customers must wear a mask or face covering, travelers must confirm they are healthy, and kiosks, counters and baggage stations are being wiped down and sanitized frequently.
Security Checkpoints – Antimicrobial bins are being used at select airports to prevent growth of a broad spectrum of bacteria, and alternate lanes and floor decals keep guests properly distanced.
At the Gate & Boarding – Gate areas and jet bridges are sanitized using electrostatic sprays, guests can use the app for touchless boarding, and boarding occurs back to front.
On the Plane – Antimicrobial LED lights are being installed to reduce bacteria on high-touch surfaces, middle seats have been blocked to create space, and aircraft are ventilated with fresh, outside air or air that is recirculated through high-grade HEPA filters.
At Your Seat – Care kits are provided, tables and screens are thoroughly wiped down, and touchpoints have been reduced.
Baggage Claim – Electrostatic spraying, floor decals and hand sanitizer stations create a safer environment.
Safety is Delta's top priority
To learn about the Delta CareStandardSM, please watch this short video.
Anew year brings new hope to explorers everywhere! Make up for lost time by traveling to those destinations you’ve been dreaming about for so long. Since traveling today is more complex, our knowledgeable Travel Advisors are standing by to help you travel confidently, responsibly and safely. Check out the information below and then contact your preferred Travel Advisor to customize your vacation exactly how you like it.
As travel professionals, we get insider information from colleagues and travel partners daily. We know which countries are currently welcoming visitors, which resorts provide you with exceptional experiences while properly addressing health and safety concerns, and how to take advantage of flexible deposits and cancellation policies.
That’s our job — to be your go-to, trusted resource about everything travel. Whether you are ready to go next week, next month or next year, we can guide you through the new state of travel today. Check out the information below and then contact your preferred Travel Advisor to plan your much-needed escape.
While many destinations around the globe or currently welcoming travelers — providing the highest level of health and safety measures to ensure an unforgettable vacation experience — here are some of our favorite destinations that we personally know and trust. Click below to learn more and check back often as we add new destinations to our list.
Facebook Live is one of the most relevant and meaningful social media tools available for you to use as travel business owners. For starters, Facebook itself is considered to be the largest aggregator of marketing intelligence on the planet. What does that mean for you as a small business owner? It means that you have access to your target market/ideal client in ways that was never previously available to you at such a low “pay to play” option. In my opinion, Facebook is the best social media platform to invest your time, energy, and money in to right now because of the marketing data insights and exposure for your travel business.
Speaking of exposure, Facebook favors accounts that are delivering their content via video and/or the live format. Facebook predicts that most content will be via video format in the coming years and is building and adapting their platform to mirror and shape this trend. So the more you do Facebook Live, the more Facebook will show your content to your network and prospects.
So knowing that is a powerful trend, let’s break down the top 5 ways to leverage this platform:
1. Use your Business Fan Page vs your Personal Profile. If you haven’t already set up a business fan page for your travel business aka a page that visitors must “like,” then please take inspired action on that today. Facebook doesn’t want you to do business on your personal profile. In fact, they have been known to shut down or freeze accounts that are using their personal profile for promoting their business. Your personal profile must be your true name and not your business name. On your Fan Page, this is where you can access all the marketing gold that I was referring to. You can boost your Facebook Live posts to make them more targeted and you can download your video from your Fan Page and re-purpose your content. There are endless ways to tap in to the power of Facebook for your videos but the only way to access all this marketing goodness is by going live on your Fan Page.
2. Share tips on how to use a travel professional. As a profession, we are still largely invisible. We could really make a dent in shifting that perception if all travel professionals took to their Fan Page and had an open conversation with their own network about what a travel professional does for their client, what are the benefits of using a travel professional, and share stories of how travel professionals help their clients. This is an important topic that needs to be discussed from travel professionals UP and not from executives DOWN. You can help shift this awareness and leveraging Facebook Live is a great way to advocate for your amazing profession.
3. Paint a picture of an amazing journey. Use Facebook Live to walk though a trip from start to finish. Be as detailed as you can. Really dive deep in to all the nuances of the adventure. If you put together a complicated FIT trip to Italy, bring that itinerary to life by sharing all the wonderful details. Tell the story about the charming hotel you found and the extra amenities the client will get. Talk about the cooking class you set up and the private guide your arranged. Talk about restaurants you will recommend and why and all the traveling tips you suggest. This is your brilliance! Let that shine and share information about the trip via live.
4. Invite an expert guest on your live. Did you know you can invite someone on to your live? Yes! It is true and super exciting! If you have a nice rapport with someone at a hotel, for example, that you love using then why not invite your contact to join you on your live from their location to share all the details and specifics about their property to your listeners. This helps paint a picture for your prospects and you don’t have to know the details! You can also invite your BDM to a live to talk about their product/experience as well. There are endless ways to use this feature!
5. Create a schedule for many of your lives. Although using the live feature is often associated with more spontaneous broadcasts – as a small business owner just using this platform for the first time, I highly recommend telling your network via posts and email that you will be going live at a specific time and date so you can maximize your exposure.
One tip that I will leave you with as well is to ensure that you wait a few moments when you first hit the “live” button. Don’t dive right in to the content because you want to give Facebook a little bit of time to tell people you are live. Lastly, you want to go live for longer than 15 minutes. You want Facebook to keep “telling” people you are live and especially when you first start doing it you want to ensure you maximize the longevity of the post and content.
Today’s travel agents are no longer mere booking intermediaries. They have become trusted advisors — akin to financial planners and CPAs — who make the overall travel experience better and provide both leisure and business travelers maximum value for their travel dollar. The term “advisor” not only more accurately describes the value our members provide to consumers but also serves as a distinct declaration of who we work for: the traveling public.
The message shared with journalists was about the vibrancy of the agency industry and the tremendous value that travel advisors bring to travelers, our supplier partners and to the industry at large. We have entered a Golden Age of Travel and the professional travel advisor plays a vital role in fueling that growth and cutting through the complexity.
Also, at a recent New York Times Travel Show, several of executives and advisors did an outstanding job representing unique travel brands and making a strong case for the value of the travel advisor in today’s marketplace.
The holiday season is already upon us. Is it just us, or did this year go by really fast? The winter holidays are an incredibly popular time for travel. A lot of people are of course headed to see family, but others are looking forward to hitting the slopes or escaping the cold to hit tropical beaches. Everyone has their reasons and destinations, but with children out of school and most companies already giving at least a couple days off, this is a great time to take a decent vacation without having to use a lot of vacation days.
There are a few drawbacks to holiday travel. Rates go up on nearly everything from airfare to hotels. Roads, airports, resorts, and popular destinations are usually quite crowded. These challenges may be holding some of your potential clients back from making the leap. Here are a few tips you can offer them to help them feel more excited to book a trip with you. Be sure to emphasize how you can help ease many of these stresses.
Be ready. Hiccups are almost inevitable with holiday travel. Psychologically preparing yourself for some sort of mishap will make it much easier to roll with. We are not exactly suggesting pessimism, but rather acceptance. If you acknowledge this is a busy and hectic season and feel ready to roll with the punches, you are less likely to get all stressed out if it happens. This is a great time to remind your clients they can count on you to fix their problems.
Be prepared. A lot of stress can be avoided by being properly prepared. Make lists of all the things that need to be accomplished before traveling, and work on marking things off each day. Ensure gifts are bought and shipped well ahead of time. Make arrangements for house or pet sitters. The night before leaving put a morning checklist in a place you are sure to see it. Nothing like getting five miles down the road only to realize you forgot your passport or trying to check your flight status only to discover you forgot to charge your phone. Be sure the phone is charged and that you have all the travel apps you need installed and ready to go. Put the charger in an easily accessible location. Print your boarding pass before you leave. Have all you need for an overnight in your carry-on in case you get stuck. If you are traveling with children, be sure you have tablets charged, favorite toys, books, and art supplies. No one likes hassles and delays, but you can minimize the suffering by being prepared.
Be early. Bad traffic, bad weather, and long lines are all likely during holiday travel. One of the easiest ways to avoid stress is to give yourself plenty of time. If you luck out and avoid all three, you have a little time at the airport to read a book or have a drink.
Be flexible. Sometimes it is not possible, but avoiding heavy travel days will help with both costs and traffic. If you are willing to travel on Christmas Day, you can often save a lot of money and have whole chunks of the airport to yourself. Traveling early in the morning or late at night will also help.
Be smart. There are a lot of ways to save time and money on holiday travel. Of course, as an independent agent, you know that, but your clients may not. Show off your knowledge and let them know you can help them find package deals for the holidays, check alternate airports for better deals or shorter lines, and help them get awesome sightseeing passes that will save money, as well as time in lines. With a substantially higher chance of weather delays and cancellations, direct flights are often worth the extra cost. When they are not possible, longer layovers are a good way to ease the stress of delays. Taking a Lyft or Uber to the airport is an easy way to save time since parking garages and lots are regularly overflowing during the holidays.
Share the tips in a way that really highlights how you can be of assistance to others in planning their travel. People are extra busy right now, so showing them how you can save them time and hassle is invaluable. Showing off what you know and can offer regarding some of the hottest holiday travel destinations is also enticing. Here are ten popular holiday destinations for a variety of different tastes.
Puerto Rico. Sun, sand, culture, warmth, and no passport.
Panama. Gorgeous weather, beaches, and really inexpensive
New York, New York. Incredibly festive and fun for those who like cold.
Park City, Utah. Several really fantastic ski resorts as well as Sundance.
Cartagena, Colombia. December begins summer in this beautiful beach town with gorgeous architecture.
Chiang Mai, Thailand. Beautiful weather and scenery and also incredibly inexpensive.
Breckenridge, Colorado. Really nice skiing along with a charming town and even hot springs close by.
Tromso, Norway. For those who really like cold. Picturesque winter far in the arctic circle with a good chance of seeing the northern lights.
Rome, Italy. See Rome with fewer tourists and less heat.
Tulum, Mexico. Warm, beaches, ancient temples, and fabulous people.
Entice people with fantastic escapes and family time then seal the deal by sharing all the ways you can help them save money and avoid the hassle. Happy Holidays!
A host agency isn't a travel agency, nor is it a supplier. A host agency is an organization of travel agents. They provide the proper resources for the price of a monthly fee or commission split. Host agencies offer travel agents guidance, tools, and training to keep up with the ever-changing multi-billion dollar travel industry.
What to Look For in a Host Agency
A host agency is sort of like your compass, giving you a sense of direction. When deciding on a host agency, it really comes down to the support and resources the company offers. It's also important to assess what your needs are as a travel agent. If you're new to the industry, you may need an agency that offers more training and support options. If you are a more seasoned travel agent, perhaps you are simply seeking access to proper commission overrides.
Training. The agency you join should have a training program. Even if you have prior experience, going through training will ensure you are up to date with the latest standards and practices.
Support. Your host agency should be there for you every step of the way. If you have any questions or concerns, our team at Outside Agent Link is there for you seven days a week. We also have a private Facebook page where other agents are encouraged to ask questions and share their experiences.
Resources. This couldn't be any more important. The resources available can make or break your work as a travel agent. No matter how wonderful your customer service is or how reputable you may be, without the proper deals and booking tools you're incapable of keeping up with competitors. A successful travel agent will have the latest booking technology and marketing solutions. Outside Agent Link provides comprehensive online booking systems, custom flyers, promotional material, as well as access to Travel Leaders Network Promotions and Agent Incentives.
Networking. One of the benefits of working with a host agency is the marketing and networking opportunities. It's not uncommon for agencies to have forum boards or Facebook pages to connect other travel agents to each other. Outside Agent Link matches agents with leads through the Travel Leaders Network's national website.
Experience. Not only should your host agency be able to provide you support from first-hand experiences, their pre-establishment should open the floodgates for access to various travel offers and promotions independent agents aren't offered. The host agency's partnership with airlines and other services will also allow you to take advantage of lower start-up costs.
Coverage. It's always better to be safe than sorry. The agency should have an insurance policy that covers any possible issues.
A host agency isn't a travel agent or travel supplier, it's more like your partner. Working with a host agency is the easiest way to get your travel business off the ground or expand your pre-existing practice. They will provide you support, training, marketing solutions, networking, coverage, and access to the latest technology.
Outside Agent Link has been proud to offer our services to travel agents for over 20 years. We are a subsidiary of Thomas Hogan Travel, which is associated with one of the largest travel franchise companies globally, Travel Leaders Network. Our staff is made up of well-rounded industry experts with first hand travel experience. Outside Agent Link is there for our travel agents every step of the way, happily supporting you and your growing business.
Stay up to date on the latest travel industry trends, professional insights, and more over on our blog. To learn more information about Outside Agent Link, our services, programs and more, please contact us.
Working from home is truly wonderful in so many ways. You get to set your own hours, take breaks for important events, and work during your most productive times of day in whatever clothing is most comfortable for you. Being an independent travel agent is even better. You get to spend your time and make money helping others set up once in a lifetime, amazing adventures and experiences.
There are challenges, though. Without a boss to direct you or coworkers looking on and helping to motivate you, it can be hard to get yourself going, and without anyone to notice, it can be easier to let chaos reign in your home office. This is a dangerous path to go on. A chaotic desk with no system for keeping up with your contacts and information will inevitably lead to lost sales, as well as stress.
If organization is not really your biggest strength, we are here to help. We will share 5 tips to keep you organized so you can maximize performance, sales, time, and peace of mind.
Organize your time.
When you work from home, it can be so easy to merge home life and work life. You have to avoid this temptation. Otherwise, you end up feeling you work all the time but never get enough done. Avoid getting distracted by a mess in the kitchen when you are working. Likewise, do not get pulled into work while spending time with your kids. Set down specific work times that coordinate with your life and also take advantage of your most productive hours. If mornings are not a productive time for you, do not try to start working early. Schedule regular breaks to eat a snack, check in with friends, children, and your significant other. It is also beneficial to schedule your work time for the different tasks that need to be done. For example, set aside specific times for marketing, accounting, research, and client contacts.
Organize the papers.
Can you see your desk? Are you surrounded by piles? It is time to put an end to the madness. Clear away all the piles. Organize your file cabinet. Put up shelves for books, magazines, and even equipment like your printer. The less you have on your desk, the better. If you can keep it to your computer and a lamp, that is perfect. It is nice to have everything close and accessible but not on your desk. Reducing external clutter will free up mental space. It is also wise to do this with computer files. Separate everything into folders for individual suppliers and clients. Add notes about which clients are pleasant to work with and which suppliers really shine with clients. Make master lists for any list you make frequently. For example, if you have an office supply store master list, you can just check off the things you need before you head to the store. Finally, within each client, organize what your commissions will be as you book so that if something seems off when you get paid, you can go back and easily double check.
Organize the influx.
Now that you have it organized, stay in the habit. You may need to set aside the last 15 minutes of your day to organize computer files, your desk, and your emails. Emails can get way out of hand very quickly. Make a habit of deleting the junk and handling the others as quickly as possible. For communications in progress or emails you may want to access later, put them in folders as well. Likewise, handle your snail mail right away. Sort the junk, and file the bills and important information.
Organize contacts, appointments, and travel information.
You have to find a system that really works for you. If you really love paper calendars, do not try to make yourself switch to a digital one. One way or another, though, you have to find a way to organize meetings, phone calls, follow ups, etc. It is also critical that you have all travel information for all clients currently traveling accessible at any time. Whether this is a folder with a paper print out that you keep in your car or a google doc you can access from your phone, be prepared when a client calls with a crisis. Taking excellent care of clients will do more for sales than anything. Add time for thank you notes into your calendar. Sending thank you notes to both clients and particularly helpful providers is another great way to strengthen relationships and boost sales.
Organize sales and marketing information.
Keep all marketing materials in an organized folder that you can access from your laptop. You never know when you will come upon a new, potential client. Likewise, keep a folder in your browser favorites with links to agency accounts and prices. Having everything available at a moment's notice will often be the difference in someone booking with you or not.
Getting organized has a number of benefits. Yes, you will almost certainly make more sales, but you will also be more efficient and likely feel more relaxed.
As an independent travel agent, finding ways to increase your income probably crosses your mind pretty frequently. You put a lot of energy into marketing and networking. You work hard to ensure your clients have a fabulous vacation and tell all their friends about what a wonderful magician you are. You have your pitch down to a science, and you have counterpoints for every single question or concern a potential client could possibly have. You are on your game. What if you could increase your commissions by simply adding another item to your bag of tricks?
The vast majority of outside agents do not do group travel, and it is a bit mystifying why that would be the case. Agents who do book groups earn nearly 10% more. Perhaps some are afraid of the learning curve or do not want to take the time to uncover the tips and tricks that make booking group travel easier. If you are thirsty for more, we are here to help you give yourself a raise.
Why group travel is lucrative
Quite simply every industry partner loves a group. Large blocks of hotel rooms and airline seats getting booked light up the eyes of travel industry executives. Many groups will also spend a lot on extras. Weddings, for example, spend a lot on a variety of services a hotel may offer. Many groups will want to do tours and adventures together. Some will light up a bar tab at the hotel. For this, your industry partners will happily pay you a higher commission.
The main reason, though, is they need you more. Many individuals, as you know, are content to book their own vacations online, even though we all know they would have more fun if you did it. Very few people want to book 40 or 50 flights and 20 room reservations from different locations with different schedules. Group travel almost necessitates an agent. It is a far easier sell.
Types of groups and how to find them
There are two basic types of groups for our purposes, affinity groups, and speculative groups. For example, a book club that just finished every Jane Austen book may want a tour of English manors. A group of girlfriends who like to get away together once a year may be looking to go to the Bahamas. A young couple may want to plan a destination wedding. Those are affinity groups. A speculative group is when you book a block of rooms and then fill them with people who may or may not know each other. When you are first getting started with groups, it is best to stick with affinity groups.
Start out by putting together lists of groups. Think about groups you are involved in. Your fantasy football league may enjoy a trip to the Super Bowl. These should not be limited just to groups that meet regularly. Your family may be ready for a reunion. If you have a big alumni reunion coming up, a fun trip is a great way to celebrate the old times. Consider service groups that periodically have local, regional, and national gatherings. Rejoin any groups you were once a part of that you have since left. Look in your local weekly paper or community Facebook groups for interest groups that get together. Reach out to interest groups at colleges and universities for educational trips. Look to large corporations for business meetings. Be creative! Of course, you need to share the word with anyone you know that you are ready and willing to help put together fantastic group trips. If there is someone who has been burdened with planning the last ten family reunions even though they are not a travel agent, your message will be a tremendous gift.
Tips for getting started
That person we just mentioned there, the one for whom you are a gift from Heaven? That person is also a gift to you. In the industry, we call them the Pied Piper. This person will be your go-between to help you get everyone's schedules, preferences, and payments. Every group has leaders, and you may have to get a feel for the group before figuring out who the point person is, but it is extremely beneficial to find one.
If you have already carved out a niche for yourself, that does not preclude you from expanding into group travel. Simply focus on groups who may be interested in your niche. If you have any questions, please reach out to us, and if you are already booking groups and have other great tips, please share!
When 'Travel Agent' first became a profession, planning a complete round-trip vacation was incredibly difficult. Airlines, hotels, and entertainment venues had to be called personally and reservations made one at a time. The value of having a professional who could put together a coherent and enjoyable trip was undeniable. Needless to say, times have changed. With the rise of online booking sites both for trip-planning and individual venues, most people plan their travel with a few clicks of the mouse.
So why, then, are travel agents still a thriving profession? And why do your clients choose to hire a human travel agent when they could simply plan their vacations and business trips through an online platform? The answer is simple: The value of human creativity, personalization, and problem-solving.
Why Clients Value Human Travel Agents
As a travel agent, you are more than just a time-saver for your clients. Quickly booking a room and a flight now takes less time than talking to a travel agent, describing the trip they want to take, and collaborating through the planning process. This means that your clients are looking for more than just the convenience of not planning trips for themselves. They are looking for the value of having a real human mind behind their travel plans, someone who has the time and dedication to not just book a room, but to make sure they have a great time from the beginning to the end of their trip.
Personalized Trip Crafting
The most important thing a travel agent can offer is personalization, the ability to understand your client's idea of a perfect trip and to see the big picture when planning their travel experiences. Automated services can't understand how to help clients reduce jetlag symptoms with careful scheduling, the needs of their small children, or the importance of having a working desk and wifi connection at every point during the trip. You can.
Modern travelers seek the help of travel agents when they care more about the quality and details of their trip than quick and easy booking. They would rather spend half an hour describing their priorities and what an ideal trip is like for them so you can make it happen than get a mediocre trip for a 'few clicks'. Only you can make sure their trip, including restaurant reservations, theme park tickets, and transportation, are all perfectly booked to suit their needs.
Travel agents are also wizards at finding opportunities that automated booking sites would never consider or offer. Because you put your creative mind to the task of creating the ideal vacation or business trip, you know how to look for fun activities or convenient opportunities your clients will love. Perhaps there is a local fair in town when your clients are vacationing with their kids and you arrange for them to have two hundred tickets waiting for them at the entry stand. Or there is a charming local trolley between their office building and hotel that is both more enjoyable and affordable than hiring a car.
Your creativity and opportunism on behalf of your clients are one of the reasons people in the know have relied on travel agents for decades to plan a better vacation than they ever could.
Another great benefit of working with travel agents is access to insider discounts. Unlike your clients who travel rarely, you are constantly in touch with airlines, car services, hotel lines, and local attractions. Not only can you connect your clients with the best dates, rooms, and services for their needs, you may also be able to get them reduced prices because of the number of airline tickets or reserved dinners you book in a year.
You may have contacts who get in touch with you about discount opportunities because you talk so often or be in the loop on travel communities that share timely discounts with each other on a regular basis. And your clients love when you pass savings onto them that they never could have found on their own.
Emergency Travel Support
Finally, there is your irreplaceable value in the event of a travel emergency. Let's say your client's flight is canceled, their hotel denies their reservation, or their driver never arrives. What could be a terribly stressful disaster for someone planning their own travel turns into a quick reassuring phone call to you?
From the comfort of your travel office, you can book them a new flight, sort out the confusion with the hotel, or track down the missing driver while allowing your client to sit for a few minutes and relax as problems are taken care of for them. No desperately seeking a wifi signal or worrying about having to sleep in an airport with small children in tow. As their travel agent, you can make sure your clients are never stranded or left in the lurch because, in a worst case scenario, you can always book them a new hotel and a driver to get them there.
Your value as a travel agent is what you can offer that goes far above and beyond anything an automated booking service can do. It is your personal understanding of your clients, your ability to see the big picture and to respond to unexpected circumstances. Not to mention your ability to find hidden opportunities your clients will love. Remember this when dealing with clients and marketing your services and you will quickly build a following of delighted and devoted clients who can't imagine traveling without your expert human assistance.
How can thinking like a travel agent transform your getaways into unforgettable adventures? We have some tips that may change your outlook on travel forever, all thanks to adopting an agent state-of-mind.
Whether you are currently living the dream as a travel agent or it has long been your dream gig in retirement, it's just a fact that travel agents see creative possibilities in travel that might be missed or overlooked by others on the very same trip. To a travel agent, all corners of the world are open, just waiting to be explored. To be in an agent state-of-mind is to think outside the box, whether this means thinking beyond a cruise-line itinerary or off the beaten path entirely. Is this way of thinking all new to you? If so, read on for four steps on the journey to developing a new and refreshing view of travel.
Step One: Recognize the Benefits of Stretching Your Comfort Zone
Whether in business or life, research has shown that stepping outside of your comfort zone can bring untold growth and development as a person. The key, according to a Harvard Business Review article, is finding a reliable (and not too scary) path from where you currently feel comfortable doing things that will help you grow. Travel is the perfect avenue for this: you are already, by design, leaving behind what is familiar and everyday to you, but you know it is a temporary condition and you aren't committing to the unknown forever. Experiencing new food, new people, different living conditions, and maybe even a new language expand your brain's ability to apply creative problem-solving, according to a University of Southern California Annenberg School professor.
Once you have recognized the rich benefits of pushing beyond your zone of comfort, you will have a new resolve to make it happen. If you already have an appetite for travel, this may be the final push you need to really dig deep on your next trip to find the experiences you've always wanted to try. Read on for the second step of putting this into action while you travel.
Step Two: Look for the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
You can plan and plan for an amazing trip (which is great and certainly a key role of any competent and professional travel agent), but, ultimately, spontaneity is where the true magic lies. While you're on your trip, be willing to set aside carefully laid plans for something even more extraordinary.
Look for unexpected and memorable experiences that only a trained eye may be able to see:
Where do the locals go for a good time or to really experience the character of their home?
What are some overlooked places that actually have fascinating histories?
What can I experience here that others may overlook because of a packed itinerary or something that seems a little too "real" for a tourist?
Step Three: Value Cultural Connection Over Tourism
Another critical part of thinking like an agent during your travels is to look beyond the pre-packaged and marketed idea of a place and value something a little deeper than that as you experience somewhere new. Tourism, although technically an experience, can very easily start to slip into what feels like a purchase of something rather than an authentic snapshot of what life is like in a new destination.
To avoid this trap, think like a travel agent and value authentic experiences over a souvenir mentality. Spend more time outside on the streets of a historic city than inside a museum gift shop; strike up conversations with local store-owners, cab drivers, and restaurant waitstaff to understand what makes the people of this place tick. Ultimately, you will enrich yourself and others much more by valuing cultural connection, conversation, and observation over overwrought tours of must-see and greatest hits in the area.
Step Four: Spread the Word
Don't keep your newfound sense of wonder and travel bliss to yourself! Spread the word to friends and family. Not only will this benefit them (trust us, they will be thanking you later for family trips that have suddenly become exciting and fun instead of monotonous and drama-filled), it will also help you savor the experience of travel all over again. You may even find yourself building a new clientele as people recognize you as an expert in seeing travel with fresh eyes--your dream of working as a footloose travel agent may be closer than you think!
Here are some great ideas to get started sharing your travel:
Host a travel-themed game night: The great thing about this idea is it can include all ages. There are many board games to choose from that include maps, travel strategy, or worldwide trivia that would be a perfect fit for this. You can share highlights of your trip in between rounds of game-playing, and demonstrate just how fun jumping into the world of limitless travel can be.
Host a Taste of Your Travels Dinner with Pictures: Gone are the days of boring slide shows on a projector for what seems like hours of listening to someone else's ho-hum trip to Europe. Ditch the narrated slide deck and let pictures run in the background as your friends enjoy samples of food from wherever you just visited. A conversation will naturally flow about the trip and what new, exciting things you discovered without making your guests feel like a captive audience. Don't be surprised if you hear later that many of your friends are now planning their very own trips like yours (and remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!).
Need more help and resources? You can always turn to Outside Agent Link for resources, support, and ideas to maximize your approach to travel and ability to inspire and engage others in their own travel adventures.
It's a sad and stress-riddled fact that Americans are not using enough of their vacation days. Many leave more than ten vacation days 'on the table' even when there is no year-end payout or roll over into the next year. The problem isn't that people don't want to vacation, they do. Instead, there are a number of other factors that push people toward working harder, for longer hours, and taking as few days off per year as possible. Maybe they want to cash out their days at the end of the year, or maybe their boss has simply pressured everyone to 'show dedication' by not taking any time off.
But as a travel agent, dedication to your job means reminding people why we need vacations in the first place. In order to earn a living and follow your dream of bringing happiness to travelers, it's important to understand why fewer Americans are taking their vacation days and how to change their minds for their own health and happiness. Here are four approaches to help you remind your clients that they have earned those vacation days and have every right to enjoy them.
1) Promote Luxurious Weekend Vacations
Much of the resistance to taking vacation days is associated with a fear of losing income, showing a lack of work dedication, or leaving teammates in the lurch back at work. This has led both to fewer vacation days spent and, when the days are used, vacations that tend to be very short in duration. Usually, a professional will take a Friday or Monday off to get a long weekend and you can use this as your foot in the door.
Even if your clients are only willing to take short vacations, they still have the option to really luxuriate during those days off. Encourage your clients to book a luxury hotel, take a few tours, or do something exciting and unusual any time they have some time off. In fact, they don't even need vacation days to enjoy a well-timed weekend getaway. And as a travel agent, you can promise they'll be rested and back in time for work.
2) Join the Staycation Trend
Another reason people are vacationing less is a concern about expense or travel hassle. They don't want to spend three hours of their precious vacation time on a plane or a large portion of their 'fun' budget on travel. But that doesn't mean they can't still enjoy all the delights of a fully booked vacation.
The staycation trend celebrates enjoying your own home city, seeing the sights and finding activities that normally only visiting tourists enjoy. Embrace this and sell the idea to your clients that they don't have to travel to enjoy their weekends and vacation days. There are luxury hotels, attractions, museums, and seasonal events close to home that don't require a plane trip, car rental, or hours spent in transit.
3) Remind Clients of "Use it or Lose It"
Some people don't take their vacation days even when there's no financial benefit or roll over because they're afraid to leave work for long periods of time or seem undedicated to their job. But these professionals aren't being fair to themselves. Their PTO (paid time off) is part of their employment package, like health care and retirement contributions.
Your clients have every right to use their vacation, especially if they have more to lose than to gain by leaving it unused. Remind your clients that if they have time off that is going to expire, they might as well start taking long weekends or plan for an extravagant winter holiday just before it times out.
4) What You and Your Family Deserve
Finally, you can appeal to a reluctant client's sense of responsibility. While they may not want to take vacations for themselves, their romantic partners and children will wind up bearing the burden. When one person in the family refuses to take their vacation days, the entire family misses out. Whether it's date nights with their spouse or summer theme park trips for the little ones, remind your clients that their vacation days aren't just for them. They're to be spent with the ones they love. If they won't vacation on their own, they may be motivated to plan a vacation for their girlfriend, wife, husband, or little ones instead. And vacationing for a family is a great way to help a client justify spending a little time relaxing for their own benefit as well.
For more great travel agent tips, contact us today!
‘Tis the season for holiday love and cheer, but nothing can put a damper on that seasonal joy like holiday travel. If your clients are flying or driving to your holiday destination, stress and delays are always a concern. Share these holiday travel tips with your clients to help them maintain the holiday cheer while traveling this season:
Stick to a carry-on bag if possible
Checking a bag at the airport means more lines, a longer time waiting at baggage claim and sometimes lost bags. If you can, stick to only one carry-on bag for holiday travel. Be sure your bag fits into the carry-on guidelines for each airline so you don’t get saddled with excess or oversize fees. If traveling with young kids, give them a backpack for their carry-on as opposed to a roller bag, which could slow everyone down between flights.
Don’t forget these carry-on essentials
With all the people flying during the holiday season, lost or delayed luggage will be a possibility. If you are checking bags, be sure to also bring a carry-on bag full of essentials in the case your luggage arrives at your destination after you. Pack these important items in a carry-on before your flight: a toothbrush and toothpaste, travel pillow, snacks, a portable battery to charge your phone, a change of clothes and any medications.
Ship your gifts
Gift boxes and presents are cumbersome to carry around in the airport and take up a lot of valuable space in luggage. With the high costs of checking a bag on most airlines and the possibility of damage, you’d be better off shipping gifts beforehand. Here’s a helpful list of shipping deadlines during the holidays. If you aren’t able to ship your presents, don’t wrap them before you arrive at your destination. Airport security will likely need to see inside boxes and bags and will remove the wrapping.
Get a ride to the airport
This time of the year, airport parking is even more of a headache than normal. Not only do you have to pay the high price to leave your car while you’re away, finding a parking spot and waiting for the transport bus could make you late for your flight. Save money and time by finding a friend that can drive you to the airport, or use Uber or a local taxi service. Schedule the pick up at least two or three hours before your flight is set to board; better safe than sorry.
Go over new TSA rules before the airport
Few things can put a damper on holiday cheer like a bad experience in the TSA line. This holiday season, TSA is rolling forward a new rule about electronics in carry-on bags. Browse the list of items that can and can’t be brought through the security checkpoint. While you’re on the site, consider signing up for TSA PreCheck, so you can get in shorter lines at security.
Bring an extra empty bag for your return trip
Undoubtedly, over the course of your trip, you’ll collect gifts and other items to bring back home from family and friends. Don’t run into a space problem on your return flight. Throw an empty, compressible bag in your luggage to hold your new goodies for the trip home. If you receive any large items or an item that isn’t allowed on an airplane, have it shipped!
Consider travel by train
While this might not be an option for everyone traveling this holiday season, traveling by train is a cheaper and less stressful option for some. You can find if Amtrak can take you to your destinations on their website here. Not only will you avoid clogged roadways and busy airports, your family will get to experience the beauty of traveling by train. Extra bonus, you can check two 50 lb bags for free with Amtrak in addition to your two carry-on items.
Drive later in the day
If part of your holiday travel involves a road trip, plan to leave later in the day. Many families think heading out in the morning will help them avoid traffic and congested roadways. However, the roads will be much less crowded at night during the holiday season.Try to avoid leaving on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, if possible, as these will be some of the busiest travel days of the year.
Don’t forget to contact your bank
Credit card fraud is rampant during the holiday season, and many banks will be keeping an extra eye out for unusual charges. To avoid having your card frozen while traveling, call your bank or inform them through their mobile app of the dates you’ll be traveling on and your destination. They’ll put a travel flag on your account so you won’t run into any problems with your card during your trip.
The travel industry is an ever-changing industry. The popular destinations clients asked for last year are old news. From the screens of their smartphones, everyone has access to a plethora of information online about new, exciting destinations and a multitude of travel options. It’s more important now than ever for travel agents to stay abreast of the changing travel market and how it affects their clientele. Below are three travel and tourism trends that have affected the industry recently and how they could impact travel agents:
Focus on smaller, more authentic local destinations for couples as opposed to top tourist destinations.
How it affects your business:
It’s time to brush up on those off-the-radar destinations around the world as opposed to the large “tourist traps.” Destinations that offer a taste of the local culture are in higher demand. Couples are looking for a trip that allows for a more organic travel experience. You’ll see an increased amount of clients looking for a travel agent who can help them plan a niche vacation.
Increase in people mixing business travel with personal vacations. This trend has been coined “bleisure” travel.
How it affects your business:
Travel agents should research the profile of the typical bleisure traveler. Many individuals who are interested in this trend will be younger professionals with a family or spouse. Look into more luxurious or family-friendly hotels in popular business travel destinations. Professionals may focus on their work responsibilities for the first part of their trip, but want to plan more vacation-like activities for the remainder of their stay. It’s also a great way to upsell a current business travel client. Tell her, “why not have your family meet you out in San Diego and tack on a few days to visit the zoo or Disneyland?” She’ll appreciate your attention to detail.
Sustainability and eco-friendliness have become more important to tourists.
How it affects your business:
You may notice an increase in questions about the social and economic principals of different destinations and the resort and hotel sustainability practices. Travelers want may be less likely to rent a car when they travel and instead opt to stay at a destination that allows for walking as the primary means of transport. This ecotourism trend also focuses on supporting the local economy as well as a heightened consciousness of traveler’s carbon footprint. Brush up on the best destinations for pedestrian and bicycle travel like Amsterdam, New York City, D.C., Copenhagen and Boston.
We’ve written before about the importance of blogging as a marketing tool for independent travel agents. However, between communicating with clients, calling airlines and hotels and your many other responsibilities, it’s easy for your blog to fall to the wayside. While the weather begins to cool down and the pumpkin spice flavors begin to appear, take the time this fall to refocus (or get started) on your travel blog. Here are some autumn-themed topics to get your creativity flowing:
Best Places in the U.S. to See Fall Leaves
America offers many examples of the beauty of fall. Write a blog sharing some of the best cities in the country where a family could fly or drive to see the autumn foliage. Don’t forget to include pictures!
How Halloween is Celebrated Around the World
Halloween is one of the oldest holidays still celebrated in many countries around the world. We all know about the trick or treating and pumpkin carving traditions in the United States, but how do other people celebrate this October holiday around the globe?
Tips for Planning Thanksgiving Family Travel
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s never too early to encourage your clients to book holiday travel. Put the thought in their mind with some tips for planning travel for their families this Thanksgiving.
Best Dishes From Around the World to Warm You Up This Fall
As the weather cools off this fall, share some delicious autumn recipes from around the world. What hearty stews are popular in Northern Europe this time of year? Are there any unique ingredients one country only uses during the fall?
Benefits of Traveling During the Fall
While fall isn’t the busiest season for traveling, there are still many benefits to taking a trip during this time of year. Encourage your clients to book a vacation or getaway this fall by listing some advantages they might not have considered before.
History of Germany’s Oktoberfest
One of the first thoughts in many people’s minds when they think of fall is Oktoberfest. Started hundreds of years ago in Germany, this festival is now celebrated around the world during late September or early October. Write a blog discussing the history behind Oktoberfest and how it came to be the popular event it is today. Bonus: you can also write about seasonal beers that are offered around the country and around the world for beer lovers.
If you search for “travel agent” online, you’ll come up with almost 60 million results. How can you, as one independent travel agent, stand out in this mass of information? The answer is simple: find a specialized travel niche. It may seem counterintuitive, but narrowing the scope of travel services you market can actually increase your sales and get you more clients. Follow our tips for choosing your travel niche and get started on a career as a successful independent travel agent.
Research the Potential Market
The niche market you choose will only be successful if your potential audience is interested in that particular type of travel. For example, if you live in a community full of older, retired couples, you’ll probably have better luck specializing in cruise or destination travel as opposed to adventure or business travel. Consider demographics such as age group, income bracket and employment in the area where you’ll be setting up. Make sure the market for your niche is strong enough to support your business.
Pick Something You Have Unique Knowledge About
Being interested in an aspect of travel is not enough to make you an expert in that niche. While this interest may lead your decision in choosing your area of specialization, you must offer plentiful, unique knowledge about it in order to be a successful niche travel agent. Read books about the subject, keep up on related news, and, most importantly, go experience it for yourself! First hand experience will give you confidence and authority when discussing travel planning with a client.
Be Passionate About What Niche You Choose
Don’t pick a niche you are ambivalent about just because you think it will make you the most money. You must be passionate about your niche. Passion is contagious, and your clients will pick up on your excitement and dedication when you’re planning their trip. Whichever travel specialty you pursue, make sure it’s a subject you look forward to learning about and working on every day. This passion will be evident in the vacations and trips you plan for clients and will lead to new and return business.
Build Your Image Around the Niche
Once you’ve determined an area of specialization, set up your image to fit it. Your image as a travel agent ranges from the marketing materials you give out to the way you set up your office. If you’re focusing on family vacations, make your office kid-friendly. If you’re selling luxury travel, use language that’s focused on elegant details. Think of your image as the first impression potential clients will experience when seeking out your services. Clients won’t give you a chance to show your excellent travel planning skills or expert knowledge if they get the wrong first impression.
No matter which niche you choose, your passion and knowledge on the subject are sure to set you apart and lead to a fulfilling career as an independent travel agent. And with Outside Agent Link, you’ll have access to all the additional support you may need, whenever you need it.
With approximately 15,000 airports in the United States alone, there’s a broad spectrum between the best and worst airports to travel through. It’s important to know which offer the best transportation, amenities and layover-killing entertainment options (and avoid the ones that don’t have much of either). From on-time departures to restaurant selections, here are our favorite and least favorite U.S. airports:
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
While this is one of the busier airports in the country, it’s still not a bad place to travel through. The Charlotte airport has a flight cancellation rate of only 1%. Although the airport is growing in traffic, it has done an excellent job of increasing the number of runways and expanding concourses to accommodate more flights. Also, travelers find that CLT is easy to get to and get around. If you find yourself with a longer layover here, you’ll have easy access to free wi-fi, multiple dining and shopping options, and some delightful rocking chairs to relax in (which has become the calling card of this Southern hub).
Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
There are good reasons why this newer, medium-sized airport has been consistently ranked near the top for the last five years. Unlike many others, the Indianapolis airport was designed in a way that allows for optimized flow through TSA checkpoints and baggage checks. Additionally, travelers love the selection of stores and dining available inside the two spacious concourses. Indianapolis International takes pride in its local culture, as well, and visitors will get a good taste of Indy cuisine and history while they’re there.
LaGuardia International Airport (LGA)
This New York airport gets a lot of hate from travelers due to its reputation for long delays and flight cancellations. On average, passengers spend 24 minutes in the plane waiting for take off, one of the worst wait times in the country. Wi-fi is difficult to access and many travelers rank LaGuardia low on the cleanliness scale. In addition, those driving to pick up a friend or family member from this airport should plan to leave early and get stuck in traffic. If you want to leave your car at the LaGuardia airport while traveling, expect to pay a pretty penny, as well. Daily parking rates start off at $29. JFK is a better option when flying into and out of New York City.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
LA may be a city associated with luxury and excitement, but its airport is consistently ranked near the worst in the country. Visitors to this airport should expect long security lines, not enough seating, expensive food and dirty bathrooms. According to many, traffic to the airport is a nightmare and the lack of signage leads to confusion and frustration. However, there are some multi-billion dollar renovations on the table for LAX that will hopefully improve travelers’ future experiences in the airport.
To some travel agents, working with a large group of people to plan a single trip may sound challenging, but there are tons of benefits to booking group travel, from working with new potential clients to earning more money. From new to seasoned travel agents, here are four crucial tips for planning a harmonious and successful group trip:
Determine a group leader who will be your main point of communication
Almost every group will have one individual or couple that takes charge in the planning process. Discuss with the members of the group to determine who will be your main point of contact throughout the entire process. This way, you won’t be calling 12 different people every time you confirm a reservation. Also, meetings between you and the client will be far more productive if not every member of the group needs to be there to make a decision.
Nail down a budget that everyone agrees on
You’ll find that money will be one of the largest points of dissension among the group if a budget is not agreed upon right off the bat. Some individuals in the group may be fine with paying an extra $100 a night to stay in one hotel, while others would rather save that money to spend on new experiences during the trip. It’s essential that one of your first steps in planning be getting every member to agree on a certain price range for the entire trip to stay within. This will allow you to book lodging, transportation and other activities that every group member will feel comfortable participating in.
Make reservations for every restaurant at which the group will eat
As a travel agent, you undoubtedly know the importance of booking a few restaurant reservations for your clients before their trips. However, when the size of the reservation goes from a family of four to a group of 12 adults, unplanned restaurant outings turn from an exciting night out into long waits and hungry, grumpy travelers. Some restaurants may be unable to accommodate such a large party, while others may give you a heads up about an extra charge for serving large groups. If you’re going overseas, keep in mind that some establishments will be cash-only, too.
Plan a good amount of down time for the group
When traveling in a large group, it will be impossible for everyone to see and do everything they hoped to during their trip. One couple may be more adventurous and want to spend the afternoon hiking in nearby mountains. Another may be hoping to spend hours shopping their way through the city. As you plan the group’s trip, make sure you’re allowing for a large chunk of free time almost every day. That way each member of the group will be able to plan his or her own outings for the day before coming back together in the evening.
Any travel agent knows that no two travelers are exactly alike. Every client that comes to them has their own personality and set of preferences that carry over into their vacation planning. So how does a travel agent become an expert at pairing their clients with their perfect trip? The trick is asking the right questions in order to get to know the unique wants and needs of each traveler. Here are six open-ended questions to ask when planning a trip for your clients:
Why do you want to go on this trip?
This is perhaps the most important and obvious question to ask your client, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. The motivation behind a trip will vary from person to person. Some people may be after a getaway from routine. Others may need a quick trip to refresh and rejuvenate them. From family bonding to self-discovery, every client will have a different motivation for traveling, even if they’re heading to the same destination.
What type of travel experience are you wanting?
Does your client love nature and outdoor adventure? Do they want to party all night with new people? Is exploring the history and culture around them important? You want to make sure the trip you plan them fits the kind of experience they’re after. A hike through the jungle might sound like the perfect afternoon to an adventure-loving client, but not to someone wanting a relaxing beach vacation. This question will give you an idea of what destinations and activities are the best fit for each client.
What level of physical activity are they comfortable with?
Don’t think you can judge this answer based on appearance. You never know if your elderly clients might want to go parasailing or skydiving. Even the most physically fit clients may not be looking for a trip where they have to exert themselves. You might have the perfect activity in mind for a client, but find out that they aren’t able to walk up the many sets of stairs that activity requires. Asking this question shows your clients you’re planning their trip with their physical comfort in mind.
How comfortable are you with trying out new things?
From rare, exotic foods to exciting, foreign cultures, travel offers your clients many new experiences. While some may be up for a trip outside their comfort zones, others may be less thrilled by the prospect. This question not only helps you determine the best destination for your client, but also dining and daily activities.
How important is it to you to have a schedule?
Some clients go to a travel agent so they can have a detailed itinerary for their entire trip. It’s important for some to stick to a structured schedule for each day of their travels. On the other hand, some clients may not want their days jam-packed with events and instead want the freedom to change their plans when presented with unexpected opportunities. Asking this question lets you know if your client needs a full schedule of daily activities or a simple list of suggestions.
Do you have any past negative travel experiences?
Has your client had a bad experience when traveling in the past? Perhaps a sudden illness that struck overseas or a missed flight that led to an unexpected overnight layover? While it’s impossible to predict most of these unpleasant occurrences, you can do your best to help your client prepare for them in the event they do happen. Find out what your client may be wary about when traveling and work out a plan beforehand. Let them know you’ll be available to help them find a solution if their trip takes an unexpected turn.
Traveling to a new country is an exciting opportunity that you’ll look forward to for months ahead of time. However, before your international adventures can get started, you must first board a long flight across the world. Being unprepared for these long-haul flights can negatively impact your entire vacation. Start your trip off right by following these five tips to survive your next international flight like a pro:
Pack a change of clothes.
After nine hours in a stuffy airplane, you’ll find that changing clothes can do wonders to refresh your mind and body. Even if you’re flying in the dog days of summer, make sure to pack at least one pair of socks and a sweater. Airplanes will be cold, even if your overhead vent is turned off. For your in-flight outfit, compression gear is a good choice to keep your blood flowing and also keep you warm. About an hour before landing, change into your destination outfit so you’re fresh and energized once the plane lands.
Water is the key to a successful long flight. It’s essential to drink plenty of water the day before, the day of and after your international flight. Staying hydrated while flying also means avoiding alcohol. In fact, drinking on a long flight will only serve to make the experience less comfortable for you by dehydrating your body and messing with your sleep. Pass up on the Jack and Coke and get a glass of ice water each time the flight attendant comes around. All that water you're drinking will mean more bathroom breaks, giving you the added bonus of more opportunities to stretch your legs.
Bring noise-cancelling headphones.
Most international flights offer in-flight entertainment in the back of the seat in front of you. Watching the newest comedy or action blockbuster is a great way to pass the hours, but that can only happen if you have a set of headphones. To fully immerse yourself in the movie and forget your cramped, noisy surroundings, opt for a pair of noise-canceling headphones. That way, the screaming of the baby eight rows back doesn’t work its way into the movie’s main action sequence.
Pack some healthy snacks.
In-flight food often tastes more like a frozen TV dinner than most people prefer, but avoiding food entirely for international flights will only make you hangry (hungry + angry) when you land at your destination. Even if you plan to eat the meals provided by the airlines, pack some healthy snacks for the time between meals. Fruits and nuts make excellent, fiber-rich snacking that will keep your digestive system happy. Try to avoid packing food that is heavy in carbs to avoid adding to the bloatedness that already comes from flying.
Eye masks and earplugs are necessities.
Most people’s major complaint after an international flight is how poorly they slept. Before you get to the airport, purchase an eye mask and pack of soft earplugs. Although the pilot will likely dim the overhead lights when you should be sleeping, people are still going to have their overhead lights on and windows open. An eye mask will block out the light and help you zone out of your surroundings. Ear plugs silence the various noises around you and keep you from waking up every time someone hits the flight attendant call button.
Vacations are a time to relax, unwind and enjoy yourself. However, sometimes things don’t always go according to plan, and your dream vacation has become a nightmare. Here are 5 situations where you’ll find yourself wishing you’d let a professional handle all the details of your trip planning:
You realize you won't get your new passport before your trip begins
If you’re traveling outside the country for the first time, you’ll likely be needing a passport before your big trip. Your schedule gets swamped and before you know it you only have a month until you leave and you still haven’t sent in the passport application. According to USPS, it takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks for your passport to be processed. Without a passport, your trip is now a no-go, and you’ll find yourself wishing you’d known to plan ahead of time. Travel agents are aware of the time frame needed to get a new passport and can tell you where to go to get the picture taken and the times of year that approval may take longer.
You feel like you need a vacation after all the time and energy you spent trying to research and book your vacation
With the vast amounts of information available online, it’s nearly impossible to know where even start to find accurate information about your upcoming trip. What flights do you need? How will you get to and from the airport? Where is your hotel located? What local customs do you need to be aware of? In addition to all of the research necessary for a trip abroad, you may find booking your hotel and flights is more of a hassle than you imagined. Between language barriers, fine print and hidden charges, you’ll probably need a vacation just from booking your vacation. A travel agent would have handled the entire booking process for you and provided you with the information you needed to know about your destination.
You get stuck in a middle seat 14 rows behind your spouse on a 9-hour flight
It’s all too common to hear nightmare stories about miserable international flights. Sure, you might be saving $100 booking the economy seat on that travel site, but is it worth it? A 9-hour flight can seem like it lasts forever if you’re stuck wedged between two complete strangers and rows behind your travel companion(s). If you’d booked with a travel agent, they would have made sure you were seated with your family or friends and even secured you one of those coveted window or aisle seats.
That hotel you booked is located in a less-than-ideal area
Remember all that information you found on the internet when you were researching your trip? It may have failed to inform you that your hotel is located in the heart of the most dangerous part of the city. The quality and location of the hotel you stay in makes a huge impact on the overall mood of your trip. Even if your hotel is in a good location, there can still be problems with overbooking or canceled reservations. A travel agent knows what parts of town have the safest, nicest hotels, will call ahead of time and confirm your hotel room or alert the hotel if you’re running late to check in.
The stomach flu strikes halfway through your vacation
Just because you're on vacation doesn’t mean you're immune to catching a flu or cold bug, or, in the worst cases, a medical emergency. Finding ibuprofen, antihistamines or cough medicine can be far from easy in a foreign country where there isn’t a drugstore on every corner. And how do you know if that urgent care or hospital will be covered by your insurance? You didn’t even know you needed to get a medical insurance policy to leave the country. While a travel agent can’t prevent sudden sickness while traveling, they can make sure you’re properly prepared in the event illness strikes. Travel agents can work with you and your insurance to get you a policy that covers you during your trip and quickly find you a reputable doctor near your hotel or resort.
As members of the hospitality industry, travel agents bread and butter comes from the relationships they have with their clients. However, between attracting new clients and retaining old ones, it’s easy to slip into a sales-only mindset and neglect building real connections with your customers. If this struggle sounds all too familiar, take a look at these tips on how to build strong, genuine relationships with your clients:
Ditch the sales pitch and have a conversation
Your clients aren’t coming to you to buy a car; they’re there to get help planning their dream vacation. However, if they come in and feel like they're being talked at instead of listened to and engaged with, they probably won’t come back.
Yes, sales talk will work its way into your discussion, but if you’ve spent time learning what the client is looking for and asking them questions, it will work itself into the conversation much more naturally and successfully.
Also, this conversation shouldn’t stop after your client’s trip is over. Reach out to them and ask for feedback on how it went and what you can do better for them in the future.
Let them know you’re available when they really need you
A major advantage independent travel agents have over those big travel websites is the ability to pick up the phone when a client calls you with an emergency. Let your client know once the trip is booked, you are still there for them to answer questions or find solutions to unexpected situations.
This may mean waking up in late at night to find a client a new flight when the first one gets delayed or quickly responding to a Facebook message with a list of doctor’s offices near your client's hotel. Being reachable via phone, email and social media gives peace of mind to your clients and shows them you care about the quality of their trip even after you’ve been paid.
Don’t be afraid to make it personal
Every independent travel agent offers a unique set of knowledge and experiences that they’ve gained during their career. Sharing these stories with clients shows them you care about your job for more than just a paycheck.
Include a bio on your website explaining what drew you to a career as an independent travel agent and why you love fulfilling other’s travel dreams. When meeting with clients, don’t be afraid to let them know if you’ve traveled to their planned destination and what you loved about the experience.
These personal touches can work the other way as well. Ask clients what means of communication they prefer and when they want to contacted. If a client has a large family, tell them about the best family-friendly activities, tours and restaurants in the area they’re staying. Personalization is crucial to lasting client-agent relationships.
Never take your client’s loyalty for granted
You worked hard to get those clients who come back to you for all their travel needs. Now, be sure they know you appreciate them and want to continue working with them in the future.
Whether offering loyalty programs or even taking them out to dinner after they return from a big trip, remind these clients that they are special to you. Never assume you’re entitled to their business and no longer need to work on that relationship.
You can find more success from a strong base of loyal clients than dozens of new ones. In fact, statistics from Gartner, Inc. say that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. Keep this in mind and nurture your existing relationships so those loyal clients keep coming back vacation after vacation.
Building genuine relationships with your clients is rewarding for everyone involved. It allows clients’ needs to be better met and also keeps them coming back to you for future travels. Independent travel agents who put in the extra work to grow these relationships will find they have a more successful and fulfilling career!
The New Year brings a fresh start and like many, you likely made a few resolutions. Resolutions are great ways to set your mind towards a goal and better yourself. As an independent travel agent, some of your resolutions likely revolve around creating a larger client list and increasing your sales. Here are 4 resolutions for travel agents that will ultimately help you achieve those goals as well!
Attend training events.
As a home-based travel agent, there’s no harm in continuing your education through training events. In fact, you’ll actually benefit from it. Not only will you make connections with other agents who could refer you down the road, you’ll also stay at the forefront of the industry making you a go-to travel agent.
If you’re not using social media already, or if you’re just using it sporadically, consider making it a bigger part of your process. Social media is a great way to help show potential clients your personality as well as showcase your knowledge of the travel industry.
After all, you likely got into the industry because of your desire to share your love of travel with others. Don’t let life and work get in the way of enjoying your own passion of traveling. Have you always dreamed of going somewhere exotic? What about a simple escape to a nearby town? You work hard as a travel agent, so treat yourself to trips that will keep you inspired to plan amazing trips for your clients.
Bonus: If you specialize in planning trips to specific destinations make it a goal to visit that destination in the new year. You may already have familiarity with the location from previous trips there, but it never hurts to refresh your memory and take a break from the daily grind of travel agency life!
Take a step back and look at the big picture.
It’s easy to get lost in the planning and ultimately fail in making connections with your clients. In 2017, aim to look at things from a wider lens. This will help you keep from getting bogged down in planning and will ensure you’re making valuable relationships with all of your clients. Better client relationships will mean more referrals and most likely an increase client retention.
Make 2017 your best year yet with these resolutions for travel agents!
Creating your travel agent company name can be hard and you’re probably wondering how to even come up with a good name. Below you’ll find a few tricks that may just help you come up with the next best name in the industry!
1. Look to see what other companies in the industry are named.
You don’t want to copy any of their names, but this gives you a good opportunity to see some examples of good company names (and in some cases bad ones as well). Take note of some of the names that stand out to you and ask yourself why they stand out.
2. Think about your target audience and your brand.
Jot down all of the words that come to mind when you think of your target audience. For example, are you planning trips for families? If so, you could write down words like, “family fun”, “kid activities” or “family bonding”.
After you’ve brainstormed some words that describe your target audience and their desires, think about your brand. What is your brand? In other words, who are you? Who do you want to be? How do you want people to perceive you?
The words you write down during this brainstorming session may never make it to the final company name, but it helps you get your creative juices flowing and allows you to focus on the important aspects of your company.
3. Keep your name short and to the point.
You want your name to be easy to say and easy to remember, so don’t come up with a 4-word company name or try to utilize extravagant wording that your average person will not understand. You also don’t want to use weird, different or extremely quirky spellings of words. For example, “business” spelled “biziness”.
Your name is the first thing that potential customers will see, so you want it to easily give them clues to what your company does.
4. Have a meaning behind your name.
The meaning behind your name doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it’s always great to have a connection to your name. You’ve worked hard to build your business, so why not have a name that strikes a nerve with you?
The tips above are great starting points if you’re stuck in a naming rut, but as you fumble through the naming process add in your own brainstorming techniques. After all, naming your travel agent company is your choice and there are many different ways to come up with a name that fits you and your company.
Many people choose to travel in November, as it is a great opportunity to explore the world before the craziness of the holidays set in. Tickets and vacation packages also tend to be cheaper during this time, as most people are saving up their money and vacation days to travel for the holidays, which means you get to take advantage of great savings!
Here are our picks for the 4 best cities to visit in November:
Rincón, Puerto Rico
Fall in the Caribbean is a wonderful time to visit. The temperatures are more mild than during the hot and rainy summer, and you can take advantage of fun, outdoor activities like surfing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding.
The weather in Hong Kong is never better than in November, when it is sunny, cool, and pleasant. November also marks the start of the Hong Kong WinterFest, which runs through January. WinterFest is when the skyscrapers in Hong Kong get into the Christmas spirit and are decorated to the max with lights, special shopping opportunities, and festive menus.
Turks & Caicos
November marks the end of hurricane season for the Caribbean, meaning you get to enjoy smaller crowds and low prices before they start to get busy in December. November is also when Turks & Caicos hosts the world’s only Conch festival, highlighting the delicious gastropod found in excess in the Caribbean.
Family vacations to a new and exciting location are a wonderful way to create cherished memories that will last for a lifetime! But traveling and vacationing with children can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you’re not prepared. Follow our tips on how to prepare for traveling with kids to ensure that your family vacation is successful and fun for everyone!
Ask Your Agent For Help Planning Kid-Friendly Activities
Work with your travel agent to find activities, museums, and other fun stuff to see and do that is kid-friendly and will keep your children entertained. Most major cities have children’s museums, but there are other attractions—like monuments, galleries, and museums—that may not have a kid focus, but would still be appropriate for children. You agent should be able to help you narrow it down.
Research for Kid-Friendly Restaurants Before The Trip
Before you set off on your vacation, do some research on a few restaurants you’re interested in trying in the cities you’re going to visit. Input your hotel’s address to find restaurants within close distance to where you’re staying or what attractions you’re visiting. Have your kids look at the menus beforehand so you know that they’ll find something on the menu they’d like to eat (to avoid any meltdowns in the restaurant later).
Pack Lots of Activities
Everything from coloring books, to actual books, to an iPad stocked with games and kid-friendly movies will keep your kiddos entertained during the more lackluster parts of the trip (like on the plane or driving to your hotel).
What are your best tips for traveling with children?
Many people operate under the false impression that being a travel agent is a dying career field. In reality, The American Society of Travel Agents says that 41% of Millennials used a travel advisor in the past year. The travel agent industry is growing every year, and more people are relying on our expertise and experience to book successful trips year after year.
"We must be happy with who we serve, and the customer needs to be happy with who they work with. We no longer have anyone coming to us 'shopping' for a trip, or price- instead, we have an engagement together with a full review with the client with clarity to avoid any disappointment."
- Ralph Iontasca
“I have been associated with Travel Leaders, Thomas Hogan Travel in Myrtle Beach since the early ‘90’s. When I first joined this group I had little knowledge of the Travel business.
With the information provided when you become an ‘outside agent’ you soon learn the rules of business and agency ethics. Now any job is not too big or too small to give the clients the attention that they deserve.
I look forward to many years of the fine service that the employees of Thomas Hogan give to their outside agents. My website at the “outsideagentlink.com”, gives my clients a place to make contact with me in a professional manner that gives them confidence in my ability to give them good service as a travel agent."
- Warren "Al" Sandham
“What we sell in terms of cruises is a commodity. It’s the worst thing in the world to sell. I made sure everyone in the agency understands they are selling themselves. We focus on the value we add and never forget the fact we’re there to make somebody happy.”
- Gary Smith
“I have never regretted this decision. Not only do we as agents have the ability to earn as much as we want but we have the tools to work with. Training is always available. I especially appreciate all the assistance that is given to help complete a travel plan for a client, promptness with the commissions, the web site for each of us and the communications. Someone is always willing to help and answer questions. I am impressed with the professionalism and the fact that the suppliers have a great respect for the company.”
Summer is in full swing, but if you haven’t planned your getaway yet, there’s a number of great places to see without breaking your budget. July is a great time to visit countries in the southern hemispheres, as they’re experiencing cooler temperatures than most of the US.
Here are 3 great cities to visit this July:
If you’re a romantic:
When it comes to romance, few cities are better to visit than Tuscany in Italy. Think of it as date night at your favorite Italian restaurant on a much larger scale. July is the best time to visit, as it is nice and warm, which means the perfect weather for taking a vineyard tour, shopping, or lounging poolside at your rented villa.
If you’re adventurous:
News of the Brexit vote means that travel to the UK from the US has become a bit more affordable. The great thing about going to Wales is that it is chock full of adventurous activities, like zip lining, hiking, surfing, and rock climbing (to name a few). If you like festivals, Cardiff hosts a great international food & drink festival in mid-July that allows you to get a true taste of the Motherland.
If you’re artsy:
Like much of the US, most of the citizens of Helsinki go on vacation in July, meaning that the city is much more affordable, and it feels a lot more private than other times of the year. Attractions include architecture museums, design studios, and more! Come hungry, because Helsinki is revolutionizing Nordic cuisine.
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about whether travel agents are still relevant today compared to do-it-yourself websites that abound online. The short answer: yes, travel agents have more expertise and connections that those DIY sites lack. We read a lot of things about travel agents, some true and some not so much. So we decided to take a deeper look and debunk some of the biggest myths about travel agents:
Myth: Nobody Uses Travel Agents
As our hundreds of independent travel agents can attest, this is simply not true. According to the American Association of Travel Agents, agents sell 51% of airline tickets, 87% of cruises, and 81% of tours and packages for travel. Travel agents are still both relevant and effective in the travel industry!
Myth: I Can Book All My Travel Myself For Cheaper.
Have you ever tried to book a family vacation to Paris without ever having been there? There are so many factors that go into planning a big vacation like that: where will you stay? What will you see? Where will you eat? What’s a good price to pay for airfare? Travel agents handle the details so you have the best vacation possible. So it may be true that you can get cheaper baseline tickets to things, but travel agents have the inside track to getting upgrades, perks, and packages that are sometimes based on vendor-agent relationships (that you’re not likely to find online).
Myth: All Travel Agents Are Created Equal
Like doctors and lawyers, travel agents all have a base line of experience and training, but many of them choose to specialize in different locations or vacation types. When you’re looking to book a family trip, find an agent who specializes in that kind of travel (rather than, say, a business travel agent). Always make sure you’re doing business with an agent who has proper training and good connections like all of our OAL agents.
Myth: Travel Agents Can Only Book My Hotel and Flight
As you may have guess from the aforementioned statistics, travel agents can arrange a whole slew of services besides just flights and hotels. They can also arrange car rentals, personalized tours and experiences, restaurant reservations and recommendations, and package deals in addition to being a great resource for knowing what sites to see and which to skip, what area of town is safe to stay in, and other insider info.
Starting a home-based travel agency has a number of perks and flexibilities that traditional jobs lack. Here are some of top reasons to start a career as an independent travel agent:
Flexible Work Schedule Not a morning person? Only want to work 4 days a week? When you’re your own boss, you set the rules.
Unlimited Earning Potential Like lots of sales job, the earning potential is limitless with hard work. At Outside Agent Link, our agents earn top commission in the travel industry—80%. That means that whether you’re providing for your family as the primary breadwinner or simply contributing more as a part-timer, your earnings are really up to you!
Take Advantage of Exclusive Travel Agent Deals Working with Outside Agent Link’s network of established vendors will help you find and take advantage of exclusive deals and promotions both for your clients and for yourself!
Better Work / Life Balance Instead of fighting traffic, adhering to a strict corporate schedule, and wasting your lunch hour standing at the water cooler, you have the ability to get your work done quickly and efficiently so that you have more time to devote to your own passions.
Helping People As a travel agent, your job is to help people find their dream vacations. This means, not only are you helping them save money and time, but you’re also helping them to find relaxation and joy. What job could be more rewarding!
Being a travel agent can be an extremely rewarding and fun career that allows you to help people see the world. But it’s not a career for everyone. It requires a lot of dedication, personality, and attention to detail. If you’re ready to start your career as a travel agent, follow these tips to be successful:
Be Personable & Authentic The main reason people use a travel agent instead of one of those online booking sites is because they want to interact with an actual human being. Avoid being overly promotional; no one likes to feel like they’re being taken advantage of. Take the time to get to know your clients and what they’re interested in and be excited for them and their trip. Build relationships with your clients and they’ll return to you for years to come.
Personalize Their Experience Everyone likes to feel special. Rather than going for a one-size-fits-all approach, attempt to personalize each client’s experience. Different personalities dictate different ways to interacting with people and how you plan their trip. Really get to know your client and go the extra mile to ensure you’re finding them the perfect trip.
Be Dependable You want your customers to think of you as someone they can count on to have their best interests at heart. Get information to them in a timely fashion, and ensure that the information you’re giving them is accurate and up-to-date.
Be a Problem Solver When problems arise, be proactive and find a solution as soon as possible. You should be an advocate for your clients during times of stress or when things go wrong. Make them feel like they are in caring and competent hands and find a solution that is as beneficial as possible.
Remember, the happier you can make people, the more likely they are to return to you in the future. Think of the long term, rather than just the immediate sale, and emphasize building a long term and sustainable client base. Ready to get started with your travel agent business? Learn about our programs and how you can earn up to 80% commission!
Travel sales isn't easy. In fact, it takes a lot of customer service and going the extra mile to make it work. At Outside Agent Link, we know that not all host agencies are one-size-fits all. Here are five tips for choosing the right agency for you:
1. Consider fees vs. return
Many host agencies charge a monthly or annual fee. What do you get for this fee? Though $15-20/month might not sound like a lot, it can add up on your expenses line item. Especially if you're just starting out, research which host agencies charge the most, the least and what services it includes. Also check the fine print because many agencies will charge hidden fees.
2. Show me the support
If you're getting started in the travel business, it's important to surround yourself with a team (even remotely) who can help you succeed. Some host agencies claim to offer support, but it's not 24/7 or it's just a series of pre-recorded webinars. You need a live human being who can answer your specific questions, so be sure your host agency offers that. At Outside Agent Link, for example, we send weekly emails detailing promotions for various vendors, things to keep in mind and tips for your success. Not to mention our 24/7 customer service support line!
3. What does training look like?
Training is just as important when it comes to travel sales. And you don't want to be trained by just anyone; you want a seasoned travel professional who can tell you the ins and outs of dealing with airlines, cruiselines and other vendors. You need to learn the jargon, negotiation tips and more. Choose a host agency that has a good training program--and be sure that it doesn't cost thousands of dollars.
Be sure that your host agency offers the options to create a branded website (or have one created for you), as well as email marketing and other options. These services can cost you thousands of dollars a year and any time a host agency can help you out, you will be happy. Everything is going digital these days, so you need to take part in the online marketing game whether it be through advertising, email marketing or social media. Be sure your host agency is on top of these trends and willing to help you in any way they can!
5. Continued education
Though this can go under "support," it's important that travel agents are always abreast of new and happening trends in travel. This is especially true if you want to garner any younger clients. What's the hot new destination for summer? Are people paying more to get better seats or more small luxuries aboard an airline? How is booking travel changing with the introduction of technology? These are all things you need to know, and your host agency can help!
As you may have guessed, Outside Agent Link offers all of this and much more to our travel agents. We hope that if you're considering a new host agency, you'll take a look at our home-based travel agent programs.
Our sister company, Thomas Hogan Vacations, is no stranger to helping out stranded travelers, and this week was no different. Due to Winter Storm Jonas, we had clients seemingly stuck in San Juan, Puerto Rico (because their travel took them through Charlotte, NC). They were told that all flights were canceled and the airlines weren't going to be able to rebook them for another three days. Naturally, they called our agents.
Krissi and Ashley got to work immediately and worked until 9pm that night to get all Thomas Hogan clients rerouted home. All passengers were home or stateside on their originally-scheduled night.
This is just one of many, many examples we have of travel agents coming to the rescue of their valued clients. Airlines can't always do a lot to help you, so it's important that you have a travel advocate and expert on your side.
If you're thinking about becoming a travel agent, this is the kind of customer service and extra attention it takes to compete in this market. It's not just about low fares. People want to know that they have someone on their side to help out when things go wrong. And if you are shopping for a host agency, these are the people you want training and supporting you!
Is there anything better than going somewhere and feeling truly small, truly changed and truly inspired? We think not. Here are five amazing (and shareable) inspiring travel quotes from Project Inspo. Now, where are we going next?
Travel Leaders is the leading travel franchise in the United States. So why be affiliated with them? We'll tell you the advantages right now:
1. Expand your network
There are over 4,000 independent travel agents associated with Travel Leaders across the nation. That's a pretty amazing potential network of agents you can tap for expertise requests, partnership opportunities and more.
2. Emphasis on customer service
Travel Leaders has an amazing reputation for agents with impeccaable customer service records, as well as personalized travel planning. Taking a custom approach is something all clients appreciate.
3. Award winners
Travel Leaders has been awarded with 65 prestigious travel industry awards since 2009. That's more than 10 per year to date!
4. Marketing help
You don't need to worry that you're not a marketing guru. Travel Leaders and Outside Agent Link sets you up with marketing - including a website and email marketing - to help you find clients for your burgeoning business (or help clients find you). Travel Leaders also has several tools on its site to aid potential clients in finding your agency once you're listed! You can choose to specialize in a "travel interest" as well (such as destination weddings, eco-adventure, and more) so that your clientele and business stay more niche.
Independent travel agents tell us all the time: Canada is underrated. Some people love to poke fun at the Mounties or call the nation "America's Hat." But the fact is that there is not only a lot to do in Canada, its serene beauty is awe-inspiring. Here are a few places we think your clients would love to visit - from nature lovers to urban aficionados.
Jasper National Park - Alberta
This is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, located in Alberta. We think we can let this breathtaking picture from National Geographic speak for itself:
The Tulip Festival - Ottawa (May)
This festival is the perfect outing: gorgeous flowers, artists in the gardens, a Royal Tea Party and more!
Toronto's Wine Country
The Urban Wineries Tour goes from Niagra and back in the spring and summer. Spend 4-5 hours sipping on delicious Canadian wines of all kinds (just make sure you take a cab back to your hotel).
Got other suggestions for visiting Canada in the spring? Tweet us: @OAgentLink!
Independent travel agents, you cannot ignore your email and content marketing as a viable tool for finding new clients. And the holidays are a perfect time to get people thinking about travel. How? Here are a few ideas:
1. Ask for referrals
You know what they say: referrals are the best marketing. Therefore, send your loyal clients an email and ask them to share their great adventures with friends. Encourage them to forward the email to friends. Maybe you give them an incentive to share, maybe you give the recipients incentive as well. You can try free upgrades or deals if some of the vendors you use run holiday promotions anyway. If you think it's too much to ask someone to forward a marketing email, ask for testimonials from your current clients and put them on your social media accounts and website to add more legitimacy and authority to your site.
2. Stay social
Social media is buzzing this time of year with deals and articles and people reaching out to each other. Stay top-of-mind by updating your Facebook page with relevant travel information and specials. Encourage people to think outside the box with their gift-giving and plan a trip instead of buying things!
3. Blog posts
Your website is an invaluable tool. People need to find you and your differentiators quickly and easily on search engines. A great way to ensure your content is always fresh on your site is to start a blog. You can write about places you've been or places you've sent clients (that they loved); you can also write about what to do in different regions and what to avoid. It's a great resource for your clients, but helps new people find your business as well. You can start 2016 off with a bang by having a full-fledge content strategy with a blog.
Got more ideas for holiday marketing? Tweet them to us @oagentlink!
Arriving at a destination without your luggage is an awful way to start your vacation and your customer deserves better. Travel insurance can reimburse for the replacement of essential items and turn around the bad beginning!
Many U.S. Healthcare & Medicare plans don't cover international travel
If clients have an accident or become seriously ill and are unable to fly home via normal airline service back to the United States, this can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Travel insurance, however, can help cover the costs when your client's healthcare provider won't.
Lost or forgotten medication?
You want your customers to be healthy and happy on their vacation. That's the key to repeat business. No matter where your customers are, your clients can contact the insurer's travel assistance services to help them easily locate a pharmacy to purchase the medicine they need.
Vendor goes out of business
When times get rough, companies can file for bankruptcy without notice. History proves this can happen even to highly popular, veteran travel companies. Travel insurance can pay back pre-paid expenses if a cruise line, airline or tour operator goes out of business, which is great for an unpredictable economy.
Cash is King
A refund isn't really a refund unless you can spend it anywhere you want on whatever you want. It's too bad that when something goes wrong, airlines and cruise lines usually only issue credit vouchers with lots of stipulations. Travel insurance, on the other hand, can get your customers their money back. It's the best way to protect the client's valuable investment and assure that even if this vacation doesn't go as planned, they'll soon be planning another one with the help of you, their invaluable travel agent.
If you think "entrepreneur," you might think of a 20-something white male in a hoodie up at all hours on the Internet. But the truth is that entrepreneurship has changed. The fast-moving tech world is giving rise to all kinds of personalities and people from various backgrounds seeing success. So what can you learn from them? The answer is a lot! They're hard-working individuals driven to disrupt their industry. And Outside Agent Link, as well as the travel industry as a whole, could use some disruptive and innovative individuals. Here are some of the great pieces of advice we've read:
"Being comfortable is the enemy." - Sara Rotman
"The best advice I ever received was from my first accountant when I was discussing the launch of my company," says Rotman, founder of ad agency MODCo, which has clients like Vera Wang, True Religion, and Tory Burch. "We were speaking about my business plan and how much money to borrow to launch. She wisely said, 'Only have enough cash on hand to barely survive; never so much that you are comfortable. It's important to stay scared in the beginning.'"
"Do the work. Out-work. Out-think. Out-sell your expectations. There are no shortcuts." - Mark Cuban
"Don't be afraid to ask for help." -Chip Wilson
You can't be afraid to ask for help. No one knows it all, but you're not going to learn anything without asking questions.
"Simplicity is everything." -Dan Horan
We love this advice because as business owners, we tend to overcomplicate things. Often the simplest answer is the one that gets the job done--and with the most efficiency. It's also the most effective way to communicate: simply.
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others."
This one is from us! This is actually an old proverb that emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with the right team. At Outside Agent Link, for example, we know that in order for our at-home travel agents to be successful, they have to have the right support and training. That's why we offer both consistently and for a lot less than our competitors.
Working from home requires a lot of discipline because, let's face it, there are a lot of distractions at home: dishes that need to be washed, dogs that need to be walked, kids that need to be tended to, etc. Some people can find themselves doing everything but working when they're at home. We've rounded up the five ways to know if becoming one of our home-based travel agents is for you:
1. You are highly organized
This is a trait that cannot be understated while working from home. A successful work-from-home professional needs to be able to compartmentalize his or her time in order to maximize productivity. If you get easily distracted, often forget to finish assignments, or are a multi-tasker, you might need to brush up on your organization skills before committing to a full-time, work-from-home gig.
2. You work smarter, not harder
One of the best reasons to work from home is having a great work/life balance: you're not stuck in the car for a long commute or in endless meetings all day. But that fact is negated if you have to work harder to get things done at home. You will be very successful if you are always looking for a better process or way of doing something. If you need a little help, try starting with these tips:
- Track your time to find out how much time you're spending on various tasks
- Simplify client communication with regular follow-ups and updates via email marketing
3. You are results-driven
Working from home can feel aimless without measurable goals in place and a strategy to achieve them. Therefore, being results-driven is the ultimate key to success. Make S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, time-bound) and create a process for measuring your success and a timeline for how often you'll assess success.
If you have these three qualities, or are willing to work on them, you are sure to be a great success working from home. But what are you going to do? Our independent travel agent programs might be a great fit for you; you can test it with this quick quiz.
Our agents are always in-the-know about promotions from popular vendors because we notify them! It's just one more example of how we support our independent agents to help make their home-based travel agency a success. This month's Norwegian Cruise Line's promotion is a great one, so read on for details:
Norwegian Cruise Line - Makes Sailing and Saving A Breeze
Up to $1,400 value per stateroom based on a 7-night itinerary
in a Haven or Suite
From October 12, 2015, through October 31, 2015, book ANY stateroom category on a cruise departing on or before December 22, 2015 or an oceanview, balcony, or mini-suite stateroom on a 2016 cruise, and choose from five great offers:
Ultimate beverage package
Specialty dining package
Shore excursion credit
Best of all, book a Suite or The Haven and get all five offers for FREE!
Booking window: October 12, 2015, through October 31, 2015
Travel window: October 12, 2015, through December 31, 2016
Here are some things that your travel agent wants you to know!
What to Pack
Aside from the essentials (don’t forget your toothbrush), here are a few things you may not have thought about bringing (but our agents recommend):
Two semi-formal outfits for a Captains Dinner and an evening out
A light sweater if flying on a plane
Comfortable shoes for excursions and exploring
Water shoes for boating
Nausea medicine (just in case)
An underwater camera
Small bills if you wish to tip your crew
More sunscreen than you think
Things to Consider
--When booking, make sure you talk to your travel agent about potential weather in that area. For example, summer is hurricane season in the Caribbean and you may experience more rain than you want to on your trip. Your agent should be able to discuss with you the best times to visit (and book)!
--If traveling to an international destination, be sure to brush up on your conversational language of that country or bring a digital translator. You don’t want to be stuck in a tiny town needing to use the restroom with no way to communicate, believe us.
--Pre-booking your excursions can help you plan better for your trip – including budgeting and packing. If you’re more of a spontaneous type, ask your travel agent which excursions are the best and which you should avoid.
--Know your safety options. Talk to your travel agent about any potential hazards at your stops. Your agent can speak to any of your concerns—from rip currents to crime.
The moral of this article is: be prepared. Talk to your agent about any and all concerns and get his or her ideas on things to see and do. You don’t want to miss out on anything and your agent is your best guide!
This may seem like a no-brainer in a sales role, but there are plenty of people out there who want to become independent travel agents who don’t know how to deal with people. The most successful travel agents are ones that make the client feel at ease and can convey trustworthiness. After all, many customers are taking your advice and flying around the world hoping that you know what you’re talking about! Opening the conversation (yes, even on the telephone) with a smile will start conversations out on the right foot. And if a client is late on a deposit, you can keep them off the defensive by simply being friendly.
They never stop learning
There is no such thing as knowing enough about travel. This world is a huge and sometimes daunting place. Many travel agents have an area of expertise, a place they’ve traveled many times and know like the back of their hand. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be opening to trying new vendors, new destinations and new modes of transportation. Learning is the key to success and you will be able to bestow that knowledge on your clients, making their trips more seamless and less stressful.
They’re not afraid to go to bat
Using a travel agent is not mandatory anymore. Travel agents have to go beyond the pale to keep their clients coming back trip after trip—and sending their friends to you as well. The best travel agents are the ones who are willing to go to bat for their customers—especially when something goes awry. Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty with an airline or cruiseline that canceled your client’s trip. They won’t soon forget it.
“The most important thing to remember when selling travel is that everyone has a computer and therefore thinks they can get the best deals. They’re coming to you for a personal touch, so don’t be afraid to go above and beyond for clients. Repeat business from a loyal customer is worth more than anything!”
Lend your Expertise – Lana from Tennessee
“Sometimes clients will come to me who are skeptical about using a travel agent. But once they see that I can give them the expertise that a reviews website (and strangers) can’t, they’re sold. Experienced travel agents can read people, tell them where to go, recommend excursions, and shop vendors to get the best prices and upgrades.”
Go Big – Tricia from Georgia
“People come to travel agents because they want the experience of a lifetime. I like to present my clients with great, big options for the vacations of their dreams. They may not take it today, but you can be saving up to take that trip later!”
Be Their Advocate – Ashley from South Carolina
“The human element is the reason people are moving from shopping on faceless travel sites to working with travel agents again. They know that saving 5% is nothing if they don’t have someone to call if things go wrong. Work hard to get them the deal and be there to follow-up with them.”
Build Relationships – Rose from Illinois
“Whether I’m building relationships with vendors or clients, I’m always keen to be polite and patient. It really does make all the difference—especially when dealing with complex travel plans and international trips.”
When it comes to travel, there can sometimes feel like a lot of confusion with vendors and tours. What's the difference in an American Plan and a Modified American Plan for meals, for example? To best serve your clients, independent travel agents need to know the quick and easy way to explain these terms. Here's a breakdown of some that are often perplexing:
High Season - The time of year where this destination is most popular, when there may be a possible increase in price for rooms, tours and services.
All-inclusive - This term can be used by travel agents to explain that the fare includes airfare and land accomodations. It may also be used by resorts to explain rates that include meals, entertainment and/or excursions.
Baggage fees - All U.S. airlines except Southwest now charge baggage fees. Most clients may think they can avoid this by not checking baggage, but some airlines charge for carry-ons as well. It's best to familiarize yourself with these fees and inform your clients before they book their trip.
Add-on fare - A transportation fee (such as bus or airfare) that may be appended to a client's itinerary to get him or her to the tour's departure city.
Double Occupancy Rate - Hotels use this term to describe the rate per person based on two people staying in a room.
Double Room Rate - Hotels use this term to describe the rate per room with two people staying in it.
Travel insurance - Clients can purchase this through a tour operator or service provider so that they may receive a refund in the event that they need to cancel due to illness, baggage loss, etc. It is voluntary for a client to purchase this and may not be offered by some operators and vendors.
Continental Breakfast - Cold breakfast items, such as milk, muffins, pastries, butter and jam.
American Plan - Three meals
Modified American Plan - Breakfast and dinner
Now that you're equipped with knowledge about the more confusing terms, you're ready to sell to new clients and help them plan a trip of their dreams!
Email marketing is not dead--as long as you're doing it right. Email is still a very powerful and viable option for generating leads and cultivating relationships with current and potential clients. But it has to be done right. So how do you do it "right?" Here are a few tips for success: 1) Don't spam. This is the cardinal sin of email marketing. Don't just put a boring newsletter together and email it to everyone on your list. And certainly don't put a catchy headline that generates a great open rate but fails to deliver with the email's content. Those are two great ways to generate a lot of "Unsubscribes." 2. Tailor content to your audience There's no reason you should send out the exact same marketing emails to current and prospective clients. They each want something different from you. Your current clients are looking for their connection with you to be deepened. Your prospective clients are still looking for a reason to do business with you and not someone else. Tailoring your content and sending out just two lists could make a huge impact. 3. Test, test, and test again Don't be afraid to test varying subject lines, send times and images in each of your email marketing sends. It's important you understand exactly what people are responding to so that you can deliver more of that and less of what they don't want. Don't send something just to send it. 4. Make it fun Our inboxes are already riddled with boring stuff. Make your emails a breath of fresh air by writing compelling content that people will actually want to read. Spotlight a particular place--whether it be a city to visit, a restaurant with an incredible signature dish at that destination, or a site to see. Highlight a current customer who had a terrific trip and share their testimonial. Offer travel tips, promotions and fun anecdotes. Write your emails to your customers with as much gumption as you would start a dinner conversation with them. 5. Find the balance At first, it can be difficult to find the right amount of sends for your customer. Maybe they want to see something from you once a quarter. Maybe they want to see something bi-weekly. Ask your customers what they want from you and test appropriately. If you get on a bi-weekly schedule, however, make sure that you have something compelling to share that often. If you have doubts, then start with once a month or every two months. You can always increase, but decreasing can be confusing to your recipients. Got more email marketing tips? Tweet us: @oagentlink!
School might be back in session for most, but it's still summer out there, and that means there are still ways we can enjoy it (even if it's on the weekends)! Here are five perfect activities for the hot days and nights of August:
1. Make a frozen treat
It's hotter outside than it has been all year, so it's the perfect time to get creative with your DIY. If you're in the mood for a light, cool refreshment, then try making a frozen lemonade or root beer popsicle. If you prefer something with a little more punch, you can try a boozy milkshake. And for the less adventurous (but equally as thirsty), there's always the standby frozen margarita.
2. Catch up on your reading
Pleasure reading makes the world go 'round -- or at least your brain cells. It's been a leisurely summer, so don't forget to jump start your cognitive skills with some good reading. May we suggest: BossyPants by Tina Fey, The Sunlight Night by Rebecca Dinerstein and The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson.
3. Host a theme party
Nothing brings people together like a great theme party. Try something fun like a Roaring '20s Soiree, a Superhero Social or a Greaser Get-Together. All you need are some finger foods, great music and a signature cocktail to keep the party rolling into the hot summer night.
4. Dig in
Have you neglected your garden or yard this summer? Seeing patches of yellow from a dry spell or too many weeds from a Southern weather saturation? It's the perfect time to take back the yard and prepare it for cooler months ahead. Plus, gardening is proven to be therapeutic. Just don't forget your sunscreen!
5. Do nothing at all
Dog days of summer are also built for something else: sleep and relaxation. If you want to just kick back in a hammock or on the beach with a friend, don't feel guilty. The cooler months are fast approaching so soak up that sun while you still have a chance!
One key to being a successful independent travel agent and setting yourself apart from other agents is to make sure that you’re always up on current events, new technology, and trends. With so many sites out there, it can often be difficult to figure out which travel sites are the best resources.
Here are our picks for the top 5 travel news sites:
TravelPulse.com is an excellent resource for travel agents. This site aggregates breaking news that impacts travel in the US and abroad. Featuring the latest and greatest news about airports, car rentals, entertainment, tourism, hotels, and factors impacting travel, TravelPulse.com makes it easy for you to keep your clients up-to-date on their upcoming trips.
The United States Tour Operators Association’s website is full of helpful info for beginner and established travel agents. Their site helps you think like an agent and gives you advice on things like volume purchasing for group travel and their blog is a great resource for finding more info on destinations you haven’t visited yet.
The TSA’s travel agent resource website is full of FAQs about travel, printable travel info regarding governmental regulations (like the 3-1-1 liquid rule for air travel), and tips for traveling with children, and best practices for packing different items in your suitcase.
TravelWeekly.com features breaking news on travel industry information, especially cruise ship info. They also host travel chats on Twitter weekly where you can get advice from other agents or weigh in on your travel experiences. Other resources include webinars, deals, research, and photos that will come in handy when planning travel for clients.
Including both USAtoday.com/Travel and 10Best.com travel guides, USA Today makes it easy for you to give travel advice to clients as if you were local to that area. Learn the best places to eat, see, and stay with advice from real travelers.
What are your favorite travel resources? Let us know in the comments!
No matter what industry you're in, there are three qualities that all successful small business owners possess. And having these qualities is a great way to ascertain whether or not you're ready to take on the challenge of becoming your own boss and selling travel as an independent agent. All successful small business owners possess the powers of:
The business landscape is ever-changing with the constant influx of new technology, so it is very important that small business owners are able to adapt and change business processes to better aid their customers. Likewise, it's also important that they are able to ascertain if a new technology is something that will help or hinder a customer's experience, and how to tell if something is just a flash in the pan.
When you think about it, this one is pretty easy to see. After all, going to work for yourself is not an easy feat. In order to go out on that limb alone, you have to possess a certain amount of confidence. And oftentimes, you have to "fake it 'til you make it." If you've got the confidence to go in the direction of your dreams, then you will be able to ask for the sale, and then the sky is the limit for you as a businessperson!
The best small business owners are first and foremost natural (or seemingly natural) self-promoters. They make connections with people that influence their markets and industry. They take the first step to put themselves--and their companies--out there. It may seem like a daunting task, but this is a power you must possess (or teach yourself) in order to be successful. It is important to make connections seem organic and not just for your gain. Creating relationships are key to any business venture, especially when it comes to the customer.
What other qualities do you think successful business owners possess?
Working from home can be a difficult endeavor, especially for those of us home-based travel agents who have trouble staying focused or managing our time. To make matters worse, you've got distractions like social media and Buzzfeed. Luckily, there are tons of organizational tools that will help you stay on task. Here are a few of our favorites:
What is it? A virtual organizer that allows you to save links from the Internet, take notes and track tasks. And that's just the basic package!
The convenience and ease of Evernote cannot be overstated. As an organizational tool, almost nothing beats it. Additionally, Evernote has a great iPhone app that allows you to stay organized even when you're on the go (or traveling, yourself)!
What is it? A time tracking tool.
Toggl is an easy-to-use time tracking tool that will allow you to see just how much time you spend on single tasks or clients, allowing you to evaluate and optimize your task times. It is also available in an app, too, if you find the desktop version too inconvenient to use.
What is it? A social media management tool
If social media is a priority for your independent travel business, you should consider using this tool. Hootsuite allows you to write and pre-schedule content across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. You save time and keep your social media sites fresh. Also, it offers link tracking capabilities if you're linking to your website.
What is it? An email marketing tool
MailChimp is a very simple-to-use email marketing tool that can allow you to keep in contact with your clients, telling them about current specials happening or sending out a monthly newsletter. The templates are easy to use, you can link to your website or social channels from the email, and you can manage your contacts (and send different promotions to different target audiences).
What is it? A note-taking and tasking tool
If you're the kind of person who loves to write things on cocktail napkins and post-it notes, then Trello is for you. You can organize your thoughts on cards and categorize by column.
Some people think that technology is making it easier to travel because of online deals from faceless companies like Travelocity or Expedia. But that's not the kind of technology we're heralding in this article. After all, we know that having a travel agent is worlds better than booking through a search engine. Technology, and more specifically gadgets, is making traveling easier regardless of where you're venturing off to. Here are 3 of our agents' favorites to recommend to their clients:
1. The All-in-One Conveter
If you're traveling outside of the U.S., it's possible that you won't be able to use your electronics without a converter. However, some countries (especially in Europe) have varying types of outlet sources. Never fear; this all-in-one converter is the perfect solution.
2. The Back-Up Battery
The Power Card is about as slim as a wallet and can charge your phone up to 60%. Since it's a USB, it can also be used for digital cameras, iPod, etc. It's rechargable, so it's the perfect thing to throw in your carry-on in case your game of Words with Friends has drained your device.
Never let the language barrier hold you back again (and don't worry about packing a bulky paperback dictionary). Go beyond asking where the bus station and the bathrooms are, too. With these electronic translators, you can fully communicate and learn more about where you are.
There you have it! Our favorite three must-have travel gadgets. Did we miss yours? Tell us about it in the comments!
We took a poll. And here are what our agents had to say were the five best things about starting their home-based travel agency:
5. Travel is flexible
Travel itself is a flexible industry. There are high
seasons, where almost all of your clients will be looking for deals (summer
holiday with the kids or grandkids, over the Christmas/New Years break), but
there will also be down time. During this down time, you can do what you want: exploring
ways to grow your business, spending time with family and friends or, of
4. Agent perks
Becoming an independent travel agent gives you a few perks.
With your newfound negotiating abilities and network of vendors, you will be
able to take advantage of travel deals for yourself as well!
3. Make your own schedule
You’re the boss. You answer only to your clients. So if you
want to be available only on certain days or certain times, that’s your
prerogative. Kids got a soccer game each Thursday afternoon? Be there without
guilt! Husband earned a long weekend from his company? Take that Monday without
fret! When you work from home and for yourself, you can be as flexible as you
2. Obtain work/life balance
Much like making your own schedule, working from home allows
you to have a work/life balance you may not have gotten before. Instead of
spending an hour in the car on your daily commute, wasting your lunch hour at
the water cooler or staring at the clock from 4-5pm, you can get what you need to
get done quickly from home and carry on with your life. More efficiency, less
1. Unlimited earning
Like lots of sales job, the earning potential is limitless with
hard work. At Outside Agent Link, our agents earn top commission in the travel industry—80%. Depending on how hard you want to work, you can sell group,
corporate or individual travel and make a great living, providing for your
family as the breadwinner or simply contributing more as a part-timer. Your
earnings are really up to you!
Helping people is a wonderful benefit of becoming an
independent travel agent. And you’re not only helping them save time and money,
but helping them to relax and have fun. There’s nothing better!
9. You need a flexible work schedule
Starting your own travel business gives you the unique and
distinct pleasure of setting your own hours according to your schedule.
8. You need to work from home
The reasons to work from home are numerous. Maybe your
spouse is in a job that relocates a lot, perhaps you’re a caregiver for an
elderly family member or small child. Working from home can be the answer for
7. You need extra income
In uncertain times, there’s no better reassurance than
having a little extra money in the savings account. Becoming an independent
travel agent with Outside Agent Link can allow you earn up to 80% commissions
on the trips you book, the highest in the industry.
6. You’re a stay-at-home caregiver
Whether it’s your mother, grandfather or child, caregiving
can be a full-time job and not allow you to explore many traditional 9-5 jobs.
However, with the flexibility of schedule and working from home, starting a
travel business from home could be just what you need to earn money while still
focusing on your familial responsibilities.
5. You’re retired or semi-retired
Outside Agent Link is the perfect fit for retirees, whether
you used to work in the travel industry or not. Plus, it’s the perfect time for
you to travel, so maybe you can put your extra income from the business into a
fund to see the parts of the world you’ve been wanting to!
4. You’re looking for a big change
The American workforce has changed in recent years. People
are no longer entering a company and staying for 30 years. People are looking
at their career paths as a "jungle gym” (to borrow a term from Sheryl
Sandberg). If it’s time to shake things up, this can be a great way to sharpen
your entrepreneurial and sales skills, while maintaining clientele. You may
fall in love with it or choose to move on, but you have shifted directions in a
positive way and improved your marketability.
3. You’re unhappy in your current career
The best reason to try something new is your work/life
balance and happiness level. If you’re not happy at your current day job, you
need to quit and find something that is fulfilling. Here are 5 signs you’re
ready to quit your day job.
2. You love to travel
What better reason do you need to become an independent
travel agent? You can leverage connections and networks for your own vacations
later—not to mention make extra money to add to the travel savings fund.
Additionally, there may be discounts and promotions you have access to as a
travel agent that average people would not.
1. You’re ready to be your own boss
Being your own boss can be a
daunting task, especially when thinking about the discipline it takes to work
from home. But nothing worth doing is ever easy! So, if you’re ready to take
the plunge and work for yourself, then becoming an independent travel agent
could be the perfect career move.
Quitting is not something we’re taught to do. In fact, most
people try to avoid it at all costs. But sometimes, quitting is the smart thing
to do—especially when it comes to feeling freedom in your career. Here are five
signs you need to quit your day job (and find a new path):
1. You’re feeling disrespected
Respect is a huge motivator in our
professional lives. We want it from our colleagues, our boss and even our
families (in relation to what we do for a living). If you’re feeling
disrespected in your line of work, chances are that you are at the wrong
company or under the wrong direction. You want a job that challenges you to
work hard, but one that is also rewarding as well.
2. You have no work/life balance
If you just read that headline and thought,
"What’s a work/life balance?” it may be time to quit. Yes, your career is
important, but so is your family, friends and personal wellbeing. In order to
be professionally successful, you have to have some downtime. If you never take
vacation, or even a weekend off, you won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of your
labor, which could lead to regret later.
3. You’re bored
The best jobs are the ones that excite you.
Maybe not every task is thrilling (especially those time sheets, media plans or
HR paperwork), but overall, you should be feel challenged and fulfilled. If
you’re bored at work every day, chances are you aren’t living up to your full
4. You’re not making enough money
Money is a huge factor when it comes to be
satisfied with your job. If your present company isn’t paying you enough for
the time you spend, and you have already requested more but to no avail, it
might be time to change it up.
5. You dream of quitting
Yes, this may be the most obvious, but if
you’re thinking about quitting, you probably should’ve already quit! It’s never
too late to get started on a new career path and to take control of your life. No job is perfect, but if you’re suffering from any of these
professional woes, it may be time to quit and find a new path. If you’re
passionate about travel, Outside Agent Link offers a way for you to work independently, and from home, with
up to 80% commissions, with training and support available.
The sun is shining, the birds are chirping. And you’re
inside working. It can be hard to get motivated when you’re working from home
and in an industry that requires client service, like travel. But don’t worry;
we have three quick and easy ways to get motivated that you’ll love.
Take an active break
That’s right! One way to help you get back to work is to, in
fact, take a break from it. The important word here, though, is "active.” Don’t
sit on the couch and get sucked into a Netflix marathon or a daytime soap
opera. Instead, get outside and take a walk. Do some stretches or yoga in your
living room. Put away the dishes and wipe down the counters. Set a timer for 15
minutes and get to breaking! Once your 15 minutes is up, don’t move onto
another housework task. Sit back down at your computer and get to work.
Turn up the jams
Music can be a huge motivator, especially if you’re sleepy.
Some people do best when listening to songs they know and love. Others work
best when there are no lyrics. Browse some new playlists on Pandora or Spotify
and turn it up. Opening a window for some fresh breeze might be helpful as
well. And if you need to stand up for a 30 second dance party, so be it!
Listen to a podcast, speech or TED Talk
One surefire way to get motivated is to hear about other
people doing great things. Try listening to "The Daily Boost” podcast, YouTube
"commencement speeches” and choose some famous ones, or simply go to TED.org
and view some talks you’re most interested in. You will love hearing the
advice, the jokes and you will come away feeling inspired.