09/13/2018 in Travel
Before the internet, a well-connected travel agent was the only way to book a comprehensive vacation. But today, things are a little more complicated. As a travel agent, no doubt you are familiar with the one overwhelming argument from the general populace: Why should they pay a professional when all the resources to research and book a vacation are available online?
This simple piece of rationale is your biggest obstacle. Even clients who seek you out will probably want to ask this question. What can you offer them that websites like Orbitz or Trivago can't? No matter what regions or vacation types you specialize in, your elevator pitch is going to have to answer this question satisfactorily for every single new client. So there's no time like right now to perfect that pitch. Whether you're talking to a client across your desk or a potential client you just met outside of work, you want to be able to explain what a travel agent really has to offer that will beat instant booking platforms every time.
"When has an online platform asked you about your travel preferences?"
The best tool in your elevator pitch toolbox is the heartless impersonal process of online booking platforms. Platforms will offer a selection of plane seats and hotel rooms, but there won't be any way to personalize the experience. Meeting special requests, whether they are desires or requirements, is not their strong suit. An online platform cannot help a client find the best window seat with a view on their flight. It can't help them avoid triggers for their food allergy, make sure they have adjacent seats with their traveling companions, or help them calculate for traveling with a toddler. You can.
Remind your prospective clients that they have travel preferences no online platform could help them with. From in-flight meal preferences to baby-friendly hotels, you can meet their needs and desires in a way that an online platform never could. And in a fraction the time it would take clients to do the extensive research on their own.
"I can book you a complete vacation experience, not just a room and a flight."
When planning a vacation, each person has their own vision of how the experience will be. Perhaps they want to go on a wine tasting tour all over the legendary vineyards of Italy or explore breathtaking ruins of ancient civilizations. Perhaps they want non-stop sea and sun activities or to book a hotel with so many luxury services they never have to leave the building. Arranging for this kind of complete vacation, however, can take months trying to book it all ahead of time through online research and websites.
Point out to your clients that, as a travel agent, complete experiences tailored to their desires are your specialty. Instead of spending weeks doing research, a client can simply explain to you how they envision their vacation and in a few days, you can make that plan a reality. Not only will they get everything they dreamed of, but it will all be scheduled and waiting for them hassle-free from the moment they step off the plane.
"Travel agent connections can get you discounts you never imagined were possible."
Many people use online booking platforms for the package discounts. It feels good to save money and booking through a platform in and of itself feels pretty frugal. What they don't realize is that for a modest travel agent fee, you can get them discounts they never dreamed were possible. This is because you are a real person with real industry connections.
By making a few phone calls and pulling a few strings, you can get clients almost anything they could want. From free spots on fixed-seat tours to half-price honeymoon suites, asking you to work your network could easily result in an incredible (and incredibly affordable) vacation.
"I'll be here for you if something goes wrong, from missed flights to bad service."
Finally, don't forget to remind your clients about the biggest difference of all: disaster management. Travel is full of unexpected problems and setbacks, something online platforms practically bank on. They specialize in making clients pay the full price for missed flights or a second hotel room if something is profoundly wrong with the first one.
You, on the other hand, specialize in making problems go away. After missing a flight or experiencing a sudden and uncontrollable change in plans, all your clients need is to get you on the phone and you'll help them salvage the vacation with style. You can find them a new flight that leaves in only an hour or two, you can have a rental car waiting for them, and you can force a hotel that falls through to give clients a nicer room at a discount instead of leaving clients in the lurch.
Perfecting your travel agent elevator pitch is all about highlighting what you offer that online quick-booking does not. From custom trip requirements to personalized experiences to dedicated problem solving, remind your clients that having a human travel expert on their side is infinitely better than a heartless booking website. You care if they have a good time and will make sure that nothing logistics-related could possibly ruin their vacation. From there, it's just up to your clients to have a wonderful time.
08/24/2018 in Travel
As an independent travel agent, your goal is to book more clients. However, it's hard to do that if you aren't getting enough leads – or you aren't communicating effectively with all of the leads. You don't have to have a degree in marketing to succeed. You simply need to utilize the right tools available.
CRM, also known as Customer Relationship Management, is a platform that will allow you to manage customer relationships and leads more effectively. There are a number of CRM's that you can use as an independent travel agent to make it easier for you to market and stay organized every step of the way.
CRM tools will allow you to ensure that all of your leads have been touched. You can schedule email marketing newsletters, determine who the best leads are, and even reach out to customers you have not talked to in a while.
Hubspot is one of the leaders when it comes to CRM. A variety of free marketing tools are provided to you, including contact management and contact activity. You can also use various pop-up forms on your website and maintain a lead analytics dashboard. If you plan on doing any Facebook or Instagram lead ads, these can be managed through Hubspot as well.
Insightly offers a way to help you grow your business. At $29 per month, you can send out 2500 emails and maintain as many as 100,000 records. Plus, you're able to manage custom tasks and projects. In order to manage everything on the go, there is also a mobile app for you to utilize.
Pipedrive offers an affordable CRM solution with no contract and no setup. The cost is only $15 per month and provides you with all of the sales management features. You can have a contact timeline, a customizable dashboard, as well as a calendar. It makes it easier for you to track who you have talked to so that you can be a more effective work-from-home travel agent.
Zoho is another leading CRM platform. The cost is $12 per month and you can take advantage of a free trial. It will provide you with a document library, web forms, as well as charts and KPIs. Custom fields will also allow you to collect various details about your clients, such as where they would like to travel or what airlines they prefer. It will allow you to provide a higher level of customer service.
Ultimately, you have to think about how you're going to operate. Especially if you're a travel agent working independently from home, you need to use the latest technology in order to help you. You can work more productively and more affordable by using a CRM platform. It will make it easier for you to touch the leads that you get and manage your clients – especially as your list of clients continues to grow with your marketing efforts.
Many of the CRM providers will provide you with a free trial, allowing you to test out the features. Additionally, as you start to grow your travel agency, you may want to go to a higher tier, paying more per month but also receiving a number of other features, such as email integration, Google AdWords integration, and more to assist you with your marketing strategies.
At Outside Agent Link, we are dedicated to making travel our business. When you are an independent travel agent, you need resources. Our goal is to help you fulfill your dreams of booking travel for clients around the world. Contact us today to learn more about earning more.
07/31/2018 in Travel
As an independent travel agent with Outside Agent Link, it's very important to maintain those close relationships with your clientele, along with your reputation as the leading authority in your field. This concept holds true year round, whether your customers are actively booking with you, or if they are on their off season, while they map out plans for the next trip on the horizon.
Your clients clearly value your priceless expertise of the sometimes overwhelming world of travel. In turn, you value their repeated business (along with the obvious rewards of assisting them in planning their unforgettable, epic travels). However, you will not have the opportunity to serve these clients if you and your business is not first and foremost in their minds. Your goal is to be their first choice when it comes time for them to head off for their next adventure.
We live in an Age of Information, and many of us have very high expectations for instant gratification. As such, it's more critical than ever to firmly establish your personal and authentic presence on the web, in each of your online interactions, and during your face to face encounters. One tried and true method for keeping in touch with your market is to reach out through an engaging newsletter. Your newsletter can be electronic or printed, and released on a monthly or bimonthly basis. Not sure what to include? Below is a short list to get you started with a brainstorm for your own periodic masterpiece.
Stay Afloat on Stellar Deals Coming Up in the Travel Industry
As an independent travel agent with Outside Agent Link, part of your work involves self-directed research into the intricacies of various travel markets. Be sure to share those top deals in your newsletter. A travel client that has saved their hard earned money with you in the past is more than likely to return for their next journey.
There are a great way to drum up some excitement about the specifics and particularities of a certain adventure. Whether it's a review of a brand new cruise ship that is scheduled to dock at an exotic distant port, or hotel deals in Dubai that can't be passed up, you want to share that insider scoop with your audience. You will be pleasantly surprised to see that many people watch and wait for just the right itineraries.
Provide Travel Hacks for Various Types of Trips
As an independent travel agent, you are probably just as eager and enthusiastic about travel as your customers. What experiences can you share that may offer a new insight or give your clients the advantage? Do you know a way to beat the lines at the airport, or to save on drink packages? Make a list and then write it out. You want to be giving your clients the advantage of information while simultaneously demonstrating your own professionalism.
Refer a Friend
The "Rewards" system has become increasingly popular across numerous industries in recent years. Consider advertising for a discount should your loyal customers bring in new business.
Remember to Add Your Unique, Personal Flare!
As always and with all of the worthy endeavors in life, let your true self shine through. Though we live in a competitive world of immediacy, human beings still appreciate the authentic voice. A little humor goes a long way in relating to readers, and you will likely discover relationships that will last for years to come. In the end, it is these relationships that form the basis for good business.
For more clever tips and tricks, or information about becoming an independent travel agent with Outside Agent Link, feel free to reach out and contact us today!
07/27/2018 in Travel
Cruising Your Way to the Entrepreneurial Lifestyle
The business of selling travel: it's the sweet life.
As an independent travel agent, you will be working for yourself, on your own time, at your own pace, and very likely, from your own home. With Outside Agent Link, you can be assured that we are here to make smooth sailing out of that transition from corporate nine-to-five employee to successful, lucrative entrepreneur.
As an outside agent, you are in the unique position to assist in the planning, booking and other important preparations involved in the thrill of world travel. Some of these adventures will likely become the trip of a lifetime, celebrating a special event or milestone, and always making memories that last. It's clear that you share your clients' enthusiasm and excitement for seeing the great sights of the world. As a work-from-home travel agent, you want every detail to be carefully tended to.
Take a look at a very popular market in the cruise travel industry: retirees.
Different Demographics Have Different Needs
Let's face it...the things that are important to us at age 20 are sure to change by the time we achieve age 65. A cruise ship with a three-tiered dance floor may not have quite the appeal to our more experienced cruisers. Generally speaking, mature travelers aim to get more for their hard-earned money, the dollars that they have worked their entire lives to accumulate. Some generations may have already traveled to many destinations. Sometimes, there may also be issues of limited mobility.
Different Cruise Lines Have Different Personalities
Many travelers are aware that each cruise line has a certain flavor and unique atmosphere. While most ships are happy to cater to and accommodate guests from all walks of life, there are distinctive personalities to be noted with each individual company.
To give just a few quick examples: Royal Caribbean is probably best known for their wide selection of sports activities and may be a great choice for very active types. Carnival, on the other hand, is known for its party vibe, while Disney Cruises is ideal for kids and the young at heart.
So what are the best lines for our retirees?
Three Cruise Lines for Retirees
- Viking River Cruises, aptly branded as The Thinking Person's Cruise, offers a multitude of cultural and behind-the-scenes experiences to explore. The multiple award-winning company boasts diverse destinations off the beaten path, including stops at the verdant French vineyards, Egyptian temples along the famed Nile River, and the rich Mekong Delta of Vietnam, to name just a few. In addition to the river cruises, Viking also sails the high seas.
- Holland America Line takes you to unique ports around the world with a traditional atmosphere. Although their ships showcase nothing less than the top of the line technology, the company adheres to a time-honored respect for convention. With a staggering 145 years of experience under their belt, you can bet you are in good hands with Holland America. Popular ports include the intriguing landscapes of Nova Scotia, Canada; the paradise of private Caribbean islands; and the Panama Canal.
- Crystal Cruises also sails both river excursions and ocean voyages across the globe. The company brings a keen eye for luxurious comfort and excellent customer service. Travel to exotic locales like chilly Antarctica, the Indian Ocean, and the West Indies. If your aim is to set sail with a bit of elegance and class, award-winning Crystal Cruises may be just the cruise line for you.
Break into the world of travel from a new perspective as a work-from-home travel agent. You will find that for each unique individual you encounter, there is an equally unique itinerary just waiting to be discovered!
For more information, contact us today!
07/27/2018 in Travel
Few trips are more memorable than a couple's honeymoon. You want to ensure that the newlyweds have a romantic time. There are many great destinations in the United States that a pair of lovers could find their own personal paradise, but we've narrowed it down to just five. These destinations will provide a nice range of experiences to match the tastes of the happy couple.
1. Napa Valley
Like most of the destinations on this list, Napa Valley will get the newlyweds away from the hustle and bustle and give them an intimate location where all of their focus can be on each other. Beautiful vineyards paint the landscape in California's wine country. There is no shortage of luxury hotels in the area when a place is this picturesque. A couple looking to be pampered cannot go wrong with locations like Meadowood or Auberge du Soleil.
In addition to the vineyards, there are other romantic activities for lovers to do in the area. Popular choices are hot air balloon rides over the beautiful countryside, a romantic stroll on the hiking trails, or visits to the nearby small towns, which have a unique charm that is sure to put a smile on anyone's face.
For a more tropical destination, you can't go wrong with any of the Hawaiian islands. Of the all the islands, Maui is the Goldilocks of the bunch. It isn't too big, nor too small. It isn't too busy, nor too quiet. It offers the perfect blend of a beautiful, secluded location and a wide variety of activities so that honeymooners can make the most of their trip. Among the many quality resorts in the area, two of the highest rated among honeymooning couples are Hotel Wailea and The Four Seasons Maui.
3. Jackson Hole
For couples that prefer a more rustic, woodland environment to the vineyards and tropical location of the previous destinations, Jackson Hole makes a great honeymoon location. Popular resorts such as Wyoming Inn and The Rusty Parrot will provide beautiful mountain views to go along with a romantic cabin atmosphere. Alternatively, if the couple will be planning to hit the slopes for some skiing, then Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a fantastic place for them to stay.
There will be no shortage of activities for the outdoor enthusiast in Jackson Hole. It is near enough to the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks for the couple to visit those popular destinations. When they are ready to relax, the newlyweds can cuddle up in the Granite Hot Springs for an enjoyable soak.
4. Lake Tahoe
For a less rustic mountain honeymoon, couples can choose the ever-popular Lake Tahoe. Its crystal clear waters offer the perfect opportunity to spend the day boating. Popular lodging spots like Meeks Bay Resort and Chinquapin offer visitors awe-inspiring views of one of the country's most beautiful bodies of water.
With high-end shopping on the North Shore and casinos on the South Shore, newlyweds are sure to find something to do in Lake Tahoe when they are done on the lake. There are also miles of hiking trails for a romantic walk. Like Jackson Hole, Lake Tahoe also offers skiing in the winter if that is something the lovebirds are interested in.
5. Cape Cod
Finally, we come to Cape Cod. This quaint New England destination is perfect for a couple that wants to slow things down and just enjoy each other's company in a picturesque location. A seemingly endless seashore filled with fishing boats, lighthouses, and beautiful forests are just some of the sights that await visitors to Cape Cod. Newlyweds can be pampered in style at popular inns such as The Seaglass Inn and Spa or Chatham Bars Inn.
07/19/2018 in Travel
Why do you travel? Some travel for religious reasons, for sporting events, for beer and wine, the list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is that the travel and tourism industry is ever-changing, and so are the interests of those who travel. While travel trends and top destinations may come and go, current travel agents should keep in mind these four emerging forms of tourism:
Instead of hitting the mall for your next shopping spree, how about visiting a whole other country? Fashion tourism includes traveling to and staying in new and exciting places to experiment, enjoy and purchase fashion. Fashion is a top industry in both younger and older generations, and some people associate their unique style with specific countries or specific cultures. As a result, there has been a rising trend of shopping festivals where fashionistas from other cultures can come and shop for clothing they couldn’t find in their own countries.
Have you ever wanted to travel where your favorite movie was filmed? It’s a lot more common than you may think! Tourists from all over travel to Britain and Ireland to see where Harry Potter was filmed, New Zealand for Lord of the Rings and even Hawaii for Jurassic World. Televisions lovers also book trips to see experience parts of their favorite series in real life. Tourists travel to Seattle, WA to experience the ferry ride just like Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy; Wilmington, NC also sees many tourists that want to visit the homes in which their favorite characters from One Tree Hill lived; and Iceland and Ireland to see the majestic scenes from Game of Thrones in person.
Medical tourism refers to people traveling to a country other than their own to obtain medical treatment. While this term previously referred to people that traveled from less-developed countries to seek medical treatment that is unavailable to them where they are from, it has somewhat shifted in meaning in recent years. Many people now travel outside of the U.S. to gain medical services at a cheaper cost or to try experimental treatments not yet offered in the U.S.
Have a passion for traveling and helping others? Voluntourism, or volunteering tourism, is right up your alley. Voluntourism is a popular form of international travel that allows you to contribute to sustainable development while exploring a new country and culture. Despite the positive mindsets behind this travel trend, there are still conversations that need to take place about the negative sides of this form of tourism as well. It isn’t uncommon for volunteer tourists in these less-developed countries to leave projects that are unfinished or damage the environment or culture they visit. However, when planned out and executed with care, there are real benefits to helping out the economies of these countries.
06/21/2018 in Travel
Your bags are packed. You’re checked-in for your flight. The only thing between you and your vacation is a few grueling hours at the airport. Instead of starting and ending your getaway on a sour note, make the most of your time at the airport with this survival guide:
Picking the correct outfit to travel in is never easy. It may be a sweltering 100 degrees outside during the summer, but the airport’s air conditioning is working overtime, and you’re freezing in that beach-ready dress. The trick to comfortable airport outfit? Layering. You have to be ready to drag your luggage around a crowded gate while also prepare to feel the arctic air coming out of the open vent next to you on the airplane. Bring multiple lightweight layers in your carry-on bag for those unpredictable airport temperatures. Don’t forget to throw in a pair of socks for the airplane, too!
Plan Ahead for Security
Sometimes getting to the airport an hour early still isn’t enough time to get through the security line and to your gate. When you’ve got an early morning flight or find yourself running behind schedule, the last thing you want to see is a TSA line wrapping around the lobby of the airport. That’s when TSA Pre?® comes in handy. While signing up for the program takes some foresight, the pass is good for 5 years and gives you the freedom to zoom through airport security every time. Added bonus, you don’t have to take off your shoes or jacket or remove electronics from your bag when you use TSA Pre?®.
While the airplane is your transportation to your final destination, don’t forget about transportation to the airport. While most airports have an abundance of lower-priced parking spots within a shuttle ride to the terminal, sometimes we simply don’t have the time or patience to deal with that. Thankfully, a quick google search of parking near your airport can hook you up with coupons and discounts on shuttle-free airport parking. You’ll have more time to get through security and go to your gate when you arrive, and you’ll be grateful for the short commute from the plane to the car after a day of traveling.
Rethink what’s in your carry-on
Think of your carry on bag as your own personal airport travel survival guide. Pack a portable battery pack for your phone when you lost the fight for the last outlet at the gate. Throw in your favorite snacks so you don’t have to pay for overpriced airport food. Throw in an extra sweatshirt to double as a pillow if necessary. Lastly, pack an empty water bottle to fill up once you get past security. Having all these things on hand can make a day spent at the airport more comfortable and far less expensive.
Lounge in luxury
Between overcrowded gates where you can’t find a seat (or a power outlet) and unreliable free wi-fi signals, it’s understandable how many people would be in a bad mood once it came time to board their plane. Avoid the chaos and noise but purchasing a one-time luxury lounge pass for around $50. Finally go behind those “sky, admirals and united” club signs and spend your layover in the lap of luxury. These lounges offer everything from free alcohol, private wifi, comfortable seating, and even showers. Another perk, airline representatives in these lounges are often extremely accommodating, especially when your flight’s delayed.
04/26/2018 in Travel
In the past years, social media has become much more than funny videos and status updates. It is now a major platform that affects how individuals and businesses go about every day. The travel industry is not immune to the effects of social media, either. From changing expectations of service to increased demand for exotic destinations, here are four ways that social media has influenced the travel industry:
Nowadays, when a customer has a question, complaint or concern with a business, they often turn to social media first to get a quick answer. From tweeting at your airline when your flight gets delayed to posting a negative Facebook review of a less-than-perfect hotel stay, social media has revolutionized customer service for the travel industry. Travelers expect their tweets and posts to be seen and acknowledged on the same day, sometimes even within the same hour. Even independent travel agents will have to adjust their customer service to keep their clients happy by being available, even during non-work hours to help in emergencies.
FOMO, or fear of missing out, has become a wide-spread side effect of social media. With friends and strangers constantly posting snapshots of the best of their days online, people are always in search of ways to experience those moments for themselves. Vacation posts are full of exotic destinations, stunning beaches, and adrenaline pumping adventures. This is driving travelers to book more unique, niche trips not only for the chance to get away but also to share (and even brag about) online.
Social media has put a lot of pressure on companies to be more transparent with their customers, and the travel industry is no exception. When every aspect of a trip can be posted online in a matter of seconds, airlines, hotel chains, and other travel players are no longer able to hide shady policies or poor service from the masses. This can be seen in the rising popularity of sustainable tourism to the PR nightmares that have plagued United Airlines in recent years. While consumers have certainly benefited from this increased transparency in the travel market, many areas in the industry still have a long way to go to regain consumer trust.
Many small businesses have reaped the benefits of social media’s unique ability to bring awareness at a reasonable cost. Independent travel agents can also make the most of social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to get their services in front of new audiences and clients. From finding and targeting niche travel audiences online to keeping in touch with current clients throughout their travels, there’s no reason the modern travel agent shouldn’t be on social media.
04/20/2018 in Travel
Everyone has advice when it comes to traveling. Go here, bring this, don’t do that, avoid this. Often times these tips are helpful in certain situations and destinations, but otherwise irrelevant to other travelers. However, there are some travel tips that can be carried over from trip to trip and destination to destination. From road trips to Disney World to international flights to Europe, these all-time best travel tips will come in handy for every traveler:
While this is a good habit to follow every day, it’s even more important when traveling. Whether you’re flying, driving or touring a city by foot, it's essential that you and your travel companions stay hydrated throughout your trip. While you may have to make a few extra trips to the bathroom, you’ll have much more energy to enjoy your trip if you’re drinking plenty of water.
Talk to the locals.
While travel guides and online reviews are amazing tools for finding quality restaurants and attractions, the best information source you’ll find on any trip is the local population. They’ll have tips and suggestions you would never have found online. Also, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about your destination from the eyes of a resident instead of a tourist.
Always pack earplugs.
From screaming children to noisy hotel rooms, earplugs are a lifesaver for every traveler. Noise canceling headphones are nice to have for music and movies, but they often are not comfortable to sleep in. Remember to pack a few pairs of earplugs on every trip, and you’ll find yourself more rested and ready to enjoy your travels.
Play podcasts and audiobooks to pass time in transit.
If your trip involves a long travel period, don’t overlook this form of entertainment. Podcasts and audiobooks are easy to access through the Apple and Android podcast apps, Amazon, Spotify and more. You can sit back, close your eyes and listen to the newest novel or binge listen to episodes from your favorite podcast. They're especially helpful if you’re the driver for a road trip, as they keep you awake and entertained better than music.
Get the travel insurance.
No one ever plans for something to go wrong during vacation, but it’s still good to be prepared. From travel bugs to accidents to natural disasters, travel insurance gives you extra piece of mind before and during your trip.
Wake up early to see the popular attractions.
Vacation is the best time to sleep in, right? Not if you’re traveling to a popular destination that is often packed with tourists. Instead of snoozing until the late morning, set your alarm and wake up at sunset to go see famous attractions. The lines will be shorter, the weather will often be better during the summer, and the lighting will be perfect for photographing those destinations.
Many travelers try to cram as many destinations as possible into one trip. Not only is this exhausting, you won’t be able to fully experience and enjoy each destination along the way. Chances are, you’ll never be able to see everything a city has to offer in a few days, let alone a few hours. Don’t overdo your trip itinerary and be open to traveling slowly. Keeping your travel schedule light also allows you to go with spontaneous opportunities that might regret not taking.
What tips have you accumulated during your travels? Share them with us on Facebook!
03/29/2018 in Travel
There’s a new hybrid type of travel that’s gaining popularity amongst businessmen and women. It’s called “bleisure” travel, a mix of business and leisure, two starkly separate categories, combined in one trip. Where did this new travel trend come from and how does it affect travel agents? We’ve got some answers to those questions:
Where did bleisure travel come from?
The lines between work and life have become more and more blurred in a world where we receive our business emails on our personal cell phones and have a second office set up in our homes. Combine that with the declining use of vacation time, and those lines between work and personal life almost vanish for some.
The rise of bleisure travel is one response of employers and employees to this new balancing act of work-life. Many modern companies have been making their offices more fun, with game rooms, lounges, video games and movies and more, in attempts to connect with the younger generations entering the workforce. Bleisure travel is a way to make business travel a win-win for companies and their workers.
How does bleisure travel affect travel agents?
Travel agents, especially those who specialize in business travel, may begin to see more and more clients coming in to book a bleisure vacation. Here are some tips for travel agents who want to branch out into the world of business and leisure trips for their clients:
Offer information about tourist and family activities in their business travel destination. Are there any events, festivals or concerts occurring around the time of the trip? Let your client know about these options. They may decide they want to extend their traveling dates and bring along their spouse or family and turn that work trip into a mini vacation.
Not all business travelers are potential bleisure travelers. While the majority of business travelers are men, bleisure travel is more evenly split between the genders, with businesswomen slightly more likely to turn their trip into bleisure travel. Additionally, younger professionals show more interest in the bleisure trend. Millenials are most likely to extend a business trip in order to relax and enjoy the destination.
Business travelers that go on frequent trips for work are not as likely to book bleisure travel. Instead, travel agents should target professionals who travel once or twice a month or once every two or three months. Trips that have long travel times and travel to never before visited cities and destinations are more likely to be good opportunities for bleisure travel.
Bleisure travel will likely to continue to increase in popularity as the corporate and travel industries continue to evolve with new technology and cultural values. Is it a big enough niche for a travel agent to specialize? Maybe not yet, but every travel agent should be ready to recognize and promote opportunities bleisure travel to their clients.
What do you think about bleisure travel? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page!
02/28/2018 in Travel
The internet is an amazing tool, especially when it comes to planning trips. You can learn about new places you would never have considered, easily compare flight times and discover the best food and lodging at your destination with a few clicks of your mouse. However, there’s a dark side to booking travel online. While many travelers gravitate towards those one-stop online discount booking sites, they often end up falling prey to the many hidden downfalls of those websites. Here are three common mistakes travelers make when booking trips on online booking sites that may have you thinking twice next time you’re planning a vacation:
Forgetting about customer service needs
Online travel booking sites are notorious for poor customer service. Customers wind up stuck on hold for hours, waiting days, weeks and even months for responses to emails, and being passed endlessly between the booking site and the airline. Just read this Expedia customer service nightmare from a woman trying to cancel a flight to Turkey due to a political coup. Even if you just want to make a minor change to your reservation with one of the online booking sites, you’re likely in for a long, aggravating process. How can you avoid this situation? The best solution is to book with a travel agent who will serve as a middleman with your best interest at heart between you, the airlines and your hotels.
Assuming you’ll get the best seats or hotel room
Many hotels and airlines set aside the less popular seats and rooms for the discount travel booking sites. You may end up sleeping in the room next to the ice machine or elevator or wedged in the very back of the airplane. It shouldn’t surprise you that airlines and hotel chains often give preferential treatment to those who book directly through them or loyalty program members. If not having the best seat or the best hotel room is a dealbreaker for you, you might want to consider calling the airline or hotel directly before booking on Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity or similar sites. In most situations, you’ll be better off calling the hotel or airline directly and reserving through them. Many times, they’ll even match the rate the online travel site quoted you.
Ignoring the fine print
No one wants to read the fine print when buying something online. However, not doing so when booking a trip can have serious negative side effects on your travel plans. What do you want to look out for in that small copy hidden on the last page? Always read about the flight’s and hotel’s cancellation policies. Is your ticket nonrefundable? What are the exact terms of the 24-hour cancellation window? Will you be charged a hefty fee if you want to switch your travel dates? For flights, make sure you aren’t about to book a standby seat. If the flight is overbooked, you and your travel companions could be the first booted off. For hotels, pull up the hotel location on the map before reserving. The description may say it's only 1.5 miles away from where you’ll want to be during your trip, but that doesn’t mean it’s a safe or convenient location.
Have you ever booked a trip on an online booking site and fallen victim to one of these mistakes? Share your experience with us on Facebook.
01/11/2018 in Travel
It’s undeniable that technology and the internet have permanently changed the travel industry. From how people book their trips to what they do while traveling, the constant presence of smartphones connected to the internet means new tools are emerging for travelers full of helpful information about foreign places. Whether you’re an experienced travel agent or a first-time traveler, these apps are necessities for anyone wanting to have the best travel experience possible:
Public transportation, even in your hometown, can be disorienting and difficult to keep track of. Thankfully, app developers created Citymapper, a tool that helps you navigate the public transport systems of cities all over the world. Whether you need a bus, subway, taxi or train, this app will help you get around while you travel. You can even see train and subway times while offline so you don’t miss the last line back to your hotel at night. It’s easy to use and, best of all, free to download on iPhone and Android devices.
For the many of us out there who dread packing, this app is a veritable godsend. Packpoint will help you get everything you’ll need on your trip in your suitcase and ready to go. You enter your destination and length of travel, select activities you might participate in on the trip and out comes a well thought out packing list. You can then share your packing list with your travel companions. The app even accounts for the weather forecast while you travel. You can find both free and premium versions of the app in the App Store and on Google Play.
Guides by Lonely Planet
This app by Lonely Planet takes all the information you or your travel agent found about your destination and packs it away into one convenient app. Guides will give you the must-see tourist locations around you, offer suggestions for dining, provide attractions based on various trip budgets and will even help you communicate with locals. Information on the app is put together by real experts and carefully curated. With over 177 cities in the latest version, this app will be your best friend on your next vacation. Get the free app for your iPhone or Android device.
When you get dozens of emails every day, it’s hard to keep track of the ones containing important travel information for your upcoming trip. Thankfully, Google once again jumped into the app game to make Google Trips, the virtual manila folder of your trip itinerary. The app will gather all the information of your upcoming trip from your Gmail account and automatically sort it for you. It’ll even map out your day to day schedule and provide suggestions for places to go or things to see. It works offline and is free to download in the App Store and on Google Play.
What’s one thing that all travelers need no matter where they go? Bathrooms. The app SitOrSquat is powered by Charmin and helps travelers find the best bathroom near them when nature calls. Bathrooms are rated on cleanliness, “sit” for clean or “squat” if not, and users can add their own rating after they’ve done their business. You can find bathrooms by location, rating, availability of a changing table and whether they’re free to use. You’ll love this app while traveling in new cities and even when out and about back home. Download it for free on your iPhone or Android device.
11/27/2017 in Travel
The holidays are in full swing and that means 2018 is just around the corner. For avid travelers and travel experts, it’s important to know the upcoming trends in the industry. Before 2017 comes to a close, be sure to check out these six top travel destinations for next year:
Lonely Planet named Chile the number one country to visit in 2018, and any visit to Chile wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Patagonia. Filled with mountains, lakes, glaciers and forests, there is an abundance of places to explore. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, the untouched natural beauty of Patagonia is the perfect destination for you next year.
Prague, Czech Republic
With a seemingly endless number of dining, shopping and entertainment options, Prague is always a good idea, especially in 2018. See Prague Castle, which is named the largest castle complex in the world according to Guinness Book of Records. Cross the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Europe still in use. As an extra, but important, bonus, Prague is also considered one of the cheapest European capital cities to visit with low-cost public transportation, budget-friendly dining and many free museums and attractions.
For travelers wanting a taste of France without the European price tag, Montreal, Canada will be a prime destination next year. The current exchange rate from the American dollar is favorable, meaning more bang for your buck as you witness the many festivals, browse the museums and shop the city markets. On top of that, Montreal offers more restaurants per capita than all other North American cities, making it a dream destination for foodies. Don’t forget to get a Montreal-style bagel from Fairmount Bagel in Mile End.
If you needed another reason to visit Valletta on top of its unsurpassable beauty, the city has also been declared the European Capital of Culture for 2018. Malta’s capital city may be the smallest capital in Europe, but it’s overflowing with history, art and culture. If planning a trip to Valletta, be sure to visit St. John’s Co-Cathedral, St. Barbara’s Bastion, the Upper Barrakka gardens, and the main city street, Triq ir-Repubblika.
This ancient Basilicata town is one of the longest continuously inhabit human settlements in the world. It isn’t surprising that a town as rich in history and culture would have an abundance of artistic wonders from ancient cave paintings to modern museums to buildings cut entirely out of the surrounding tufa stone.
Lonely Planet ranked Seville at the top of their list for 2018 destinations, and for good reason, too. The stunning Spanish city is known for its incredible architecture and rich culture. Explore the colorful gardens at the Alcázar, take pictures of the Plaza de Espana as the sun sets and be amazed by the intricate beauty of the Seville cathedral.
10/19/2017 in Travel
All around the world, autumn is a time of celebration and festivals. While we celebrate with pumpkin carving, costumes and candy in the United States, there are numerous other famous events taking place in other countries throughout the harvest season. Here are five of the most well-known fall festivals around the globe:
Mid-Autumn Festival/Moon Festival
When: October 4, 2017
What: The Moon Festival is a harvest festival celebrated in China and other East Asian countries. The event takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar with a full moon at night, generally sometime in late September or early October. The festival honors the importance of family, thanksgiving and prayer. Festival goers celebrate by reuniting with family and friends outdoors and eating mooncakes as they watch the full moon rise.
Dia de Los Muertos
When: October 31 through November 2, 2017
What: Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of the most famous autumn celebrations in the world. During this multi-day festival, Mexicans honor and remember their deceased loved ones. Residents celebrate with food, parties, dancing and offerings at the gravesites of their departed family members. The festival is a lively, colorful event that acknowledges the role death plays in our lives and pays tribute to the lives of deceased. On the Day of the Dead, it is believed by many that the dead are able to awaken and share in the celebrations with family.
Diwali Festival of Lights
When: October 19, 2017
What: Diwali Festival of LIghts is a Hindu tradition that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. The festival takes place over five days sometime in the months of October or November, with the main event taking place on the third day. People celebrate with the lighting lamps, candles and lanterns in the streets, fireworks, prayer and feasting among family members.
Oktoberfest in Germany
Where: Munich, Germany
When: September 22 through October 7, 2017
What: While known globally for beer, Oktoberfest is actually the largest folk festival in the world. The festival spans over about two weeks, lasting between 16 and 18 days. Residents and tourists celebrate the famous festival with food, parades, dancing, fair rides, and, of course, beer. Originally started in 1810 to honor the wedding of the Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, the festival today brings in millions of tourists each year.
Yi Peng Lantern Festival
Where: Chiang Mai, Thailand
When: November 4, 2017
What: The Yi Peng Lantern Festival coincides with the annual Loi Krathong in Thailand. Yi Peng is known for the beautiful floating lanterns made from thin rice paper that are released on the day of the full moon in the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar. Residents and visitors write prayers and encouraging messages on the lanterns before releasing them into the sky. The festival is also celebrated with parades, fireworks and colorful decorations in homes and temples.
Have you had the chance to celebrate any of these festivals in person? Share your comments and favorite memories with us on Facebook!
09/29/2017 in Travel
When all the information in the world is seemingly at our fingertips, a lot of people out there have the mindset that they don’t need experts anymore. From fixing their leaky sink using a Youtube video to planning their family vacation on Expedia, consumers can give you reason after reason that they’d rather just do it themselves. As travel agents, it’s crucial that we learn the reasoning behind individual's desire to book travel themselves. When we understand these motivations, we can assuage doubts and dispel the common myths that the general population has regarding travel agents. Below are three of the top reasons people say they don’t need a travel agent, and how you can change their minds:
They think they can find better deals online
We’ve all seen the many advertisements and commercials for bargain vacation and travel booking websites. Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com—it seems there’s a never-ending list of websites promising to find you the cheapest fare for your trip. However, the consumers who swear by these sites are often less than thrilled with the “bargain” experience. That low-cost flight might actually be stand-by only. The hotel you booked might be a little less clean and modern than it looked online, but when you call the bargain website’s customer support, they’re less than helpful or sympathetic. What these people don’t know is that a travel agent can often match or come very close to those online bargain prices, and they’ll be there to help if anything unexpected happens. This gives you the opportunity to educate them about your personalized service and flex your expert muscles about knowledge of the region to which they’re traveling.
They want to organize their own travel itinerary
We all know these people—the type-A, I’ll-just-do-it-myself individual that has trouble relinquishing control. Some consumers think that there’s no chance a stranger can plan them a trip that fits their personality and expectations. They don’t want a detailed list telling them where to go and what to do on their vacation. They think they can come up with a better plan from conducting their own research or talking to friends. There isn’t anything wrong with the independent consumer; however, they often assume if they go to a travel agent they have to surrender complete control of their vacation itinerary. Travel agents are perfectly comfortable working closely with the client to plan their trip or taking care of the broader details and leaving the rest up to the traveler. This allows you the opportunity to build lasting, trusting relationships with clients and give them more reasons to come back to you in the future.
They don’t want to spend extra money paying a travel agent commission
Hiring an expert is never cheap, right? If you book a trip through a travel agent, you have to pay for their knowledge and time on top of the travel expenses. With that mindset, it’s easy to see why some consumers think they can save more money if they do everything themselves. What they don’t know? Travel agents have relationships with big cruise lines, airlines and hotel chains that let them work out better deals the average consumer couldn’t receive. In the end, they’ll save costs in many other areas by booking with a travel agent that far outweigh any added cost for the agent’s commission. You can also talk to your potential customers (whether in person, at a travel event or via marketing channels) about how commissions work and when it’s the customer’s money and when it’s the vendor’s. People appreciate transparency.
09/22/2017 in Travel
With school back in full swing, now is a good time to start thinking about a family vacation for everyone to look forward to. While a trip to an exotic beach or foreign country may not be plausible for families with young children, there are plenty of cities in the U.S. that kids (and parents) will love visiting. Check out these four cities around the country perfect for creating some family vacation memories:
San Diego, California
While the San Diego Zoo is a must-visit for any family vacation to the city, San Diego offers many other attractions for young children. Downtown, The New Children’s Museum lets kids climb on sculptures, take classes and express their creativity outside of the school classroom. Take older children to ride some roller coasters at Belmont Park, a beachfront amusement park. And don’t forget to spend at least one afternoon relaxing on the beach in the beautiful San Diego weather.
The capital city of the United States is far more exciting than young children may initially think. Washington, D.C. has the expected plethora of museums ranging from the Museum of Natural National History to the Museum of Air and Space. After a trip to visit dinosaur fossils and rocket ships, you and your family can head to the National Mall to ride the famous carousel. Tour the White House and show your kids where the president spends his days or spend an afternoon at the free zoo. This city offers plenty of history communicated in ways that will keep the entire family entertained.
St. Louis, Missouri
While it may not be the first place that comes to mind for a family vacation, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the Gateway to the West city. The entire family can spend an entire afternoon crawling and sliding around the City Museum in downtown St. Louis. Nearby, Forest Park holds one of the best free zoos in the nation as well as the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum. The Saint Louis Science Center also offers science demonstrations, hands-on adventures and experiments and much more. Lastly, no trip to St. Louis would be complete without a ride to the top of the famous Arch.
It’s every kid’s dream to visit Disney World, but there are many other activities for the entire family to enjoy in Orlando. Curious children (and parents) may enjoy a trip to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Orlando Odditorium. For a little bit of educational fun, head over to the Orlando Science Center or learn about marine life at SeaWorld. You can even take more adventurous family members to try indoor skydiving at IFLY Orlando Indoor Skydiving. Be sure to take a ride on the Orlando Eye before you and your family head back home for some amazing views of the city!
What are cities should be on parents’ lists to travel to with their children? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!
06/19/2017 in Travel
Summertime means vacations galore. While some people prefer to spend their summer holiday somewhere that doesn’t require a passport, there’s something to be said for taking a trip across the ocean this time of year.
Here are some of the best vacation spots around the world for those looking for something new and exciting this summer:
Colorful outdoor markets and festivals, awe-inspiring ancient ruins, tours of the Sacred Valley - there’s plenty to do in this Peruvian city this time of year. While it may be winter in South America, you’ll find cool to mild temperatures throughout June, July and August. Take a day to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or spend the afternoon and evening taking in the sights and sounds of the Plaza de Armas. Cusco offers numerous museums, beautiful churches and cathedrals, and fine examples of Peruvian cuisine. You can find all the ingredients for a memorable vacation in Cusco, Peru.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Skip the crowds at the zoo this summer. There is no substitution for a safari through this large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya. Dry season goes from July through September. During this time, you can experience once in a lifetime sights such as the Great Migration of nearly 2 million wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras. Lodges and campsites on the reserve offer knowledgeable guides and skilled drivers so your experience is safe and full of adventure. Maasai Mara is also known as one of the most child-friendly safari locations in Africa, making it perfect for vacations with the entire family.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This Dutch capital comes alive during the summer. With festivals almost every weekend, world famous museums, and unforgettable sightseeing, there’s no reason Amsterdam shouldn’t make your list of places to spend summer vacation. Art lovers can get lost in the Van Gogh Museum, while history fans visit the Anne Frank House. Take a cruise of the canal to soak in a small taste of everything this city has to offer. The floating flower market is a colorful, fragrant experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world. There’s plenty of wine, beer and dining for foodies as well. You won’t ever regret a summer trip to Amsterdam.
There’s a reason Bali is the most popular destination in Indonesia and often ranked the best beach in the world. Vacations here offer sandy beaches, turquoise waters, majestic volcanoes and lively jungles. This island offers world-famous resorts and one of a kind dining experiences. Take a break from the sand and water and check out some of the ancient temples and hidden shrines around the island - you’ll never forget a visit to Tanah Lot Temple. Escape reality for a week this summer and spend some time in heaven on earth.
While your friends melt in the summer heat, chill out in Thredbo, Australia. Ski, snowboard, sled, skate and play in the snow in this alpine village located in the New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains. Boasting five of the longest ski runs on the continent, this wintry town is a ski lover’s dream. Other activities this time of year include scenic chairlift rides, snow tubing, and guided backcountry tours. You can also take a break from the snow activities and visit the village shops, restaurants and bars at the base of the mountain. It’s no wonder why Thredbo receives around 700,000 visitors each Australian winter.
06/06/2017 in Travel
Nowadays, it seems that around every virtual corner is a new website offering travelers cheap and fast access to all the services they used to rely on from travel agents. As an independent travel agent, you may be wondering how you can stack up against sites like Expedia, Travelocity or Priceline. Are travel agents doomed to become a thing of the past? Of course not! There is still plenty of room in the travel market for independent travel agents who follow these tips:
Have an area of expertise and market this specialized knowledge
How can one individual compete with the vast amount of information offered by travel websites? You don't have to. Many independent travel agents find success specializing in one certain area of travel or vacation planning. Perhaps you're a master when it comes to cruise bookings, or have indepth knowledge of traveling through Japan. Clients will come to you for your expertise when the travel websites overload them with information. This specialized knowledge is something that can't be mimicked by online travel sites.
Know those travel websites and what they offer
You've heard the saying “know your enemy.” Chances are many of your clients are aware of what those travel sites offer and will bring them up when they speak with you. By being up to date with these websites, you'll be able to show clients that the low fare ticket is actually for stand-by seating or that the hotel room is actually non-refundable. Not every deal offered on travel websites is a good value. As an independent travel agent, it's important to know how those travel websites may be lacking when it comes to fulfilling the unique needs of your clients.
Offer personalized, friendly service to your customers
One huge thing travel websites aren't able to offer is personalized, friendly customer service that goes past the moment the customer enters their credit card online. If you want to stand out from the online travel sites as an independent travel agent, focus on giving their clients excellent customer service. Remember client's’ specific needs and preferences. Offer a friendly face that genuinely cares about the quality of their trip. Don’t give them a sales pitch, give them real conversation that shows you're there to help them. You’ll build customer loyalty and trust by going above and beyond the impersonal customer service offered by travel websites.
Be your customers’ support when things go wrong
The internet doesn't follow traditional business hours, and in order to be successful as an independent travel agent you may have to be willing to break with the 9 to 5 mentality as well. Your clients may need immediate help when they're running late for a flight or severe weather throws their plans awry. You don’t need to become your own 24-hour call center, but being available in emergencies gives you a competitive edge over travel websites.
Travel websites seem here to stay, but that doesn’t mean independent travel agents are no longer in demand. There are many shortcomings to those sites that show the value of booking travel with a professional agent. While the travel profession will undoubtedly continue to evolve, independent agents who adapt with the market will still find success and thrive.
05/24/2017 in Travel
There is just something about a frosted glass filling with the rich ambers, crisp pales, and smooth darks of a great, foaming beer. When traveling around the world, you may find a moment to stop and grab a pint, or two! Here are a verity of pints and breweries from each continent:
Let’s start in Quebec Canada with the Brasserie Auval Brewing Co. boasting the Auvald IPA. This beer comes with high ratings for being cloudy, juicy, and hoppy with high scores for aroma from rate a beer.com.
Moving down to the United States, Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont holds another 100% rated beer on ratebeer.com. The Hill Farmstead Ann is a Saison style beer that has been aged in wine barrels. It receives high ratings for the honey and fruity tastes.
Continue South to Ensenada, Mexico for a great Red Ale Cerveceria Wendlant has the Wendlandt Harry Polanco Red Ale. This beer received great scores on ratebeer.com with consistent descriptions as a nice caramel malt.
In Chile, the Kross brewery creates several award-winning flavors. This beer enthusiast described the Kross 5 as a great dark beer with wood scents and vanilla flavors.
In Peru, the Pilsen is a part of the Backus and Johnston Brewery which has beginnings traced back to the 1870’s in Lima. The beer itself has mixed reviews, but the company is starting to make microbrews with growing popularity.
Denmark is the home well-known Carlsberg Brewery founded in 1847. With hundreds of beers originating from countries such as Italy, Laos, Cambodia and Russia (Just to name a few) there will likely be something for everyone!
As if you need another excuse to want to travel to Greece, Mythos is a local brewery making Mythos lager. Advertised as being the perfect beer for the city square or an island bar, the website includes small and large draught masters products to take and make the beer everywhere with you.
Ireland is well-known for the dark, frothy Guinness that is most popular on draught. However, their Harp Blonde Lager is another great option from this company. This beer has a golden amber color with a light finish. Located in a great location in Dublin, a trip to sip this blonde lager and enjoy the town is well worth a visit.
The Harar Beer Factory in Ethiopia brews the Hakim Stout, a beer making a few tops lists for African beers. Reviews list this beer as a chocolate/coffee flavor with bit of fruit, mixed reviews as to which kind of fruit.
From South Africa, a popular beer is the Castle Lager. Originally brewed in 1895, this bitter and dry beer grew in popularity with miners in Johannesburg. Today you can order a customized bottle off the website.
Japan has an espresso stout brewed with roasted espresso beans. Claiming to be based on a recipe from a Russian Emperor, the beer boasts a rich taste that is balanced with a coffee flavor. Originally founded as a Sake Brewery in 1823, an alcohol taxation change in 1994 enabled the brewery to take on the challenge of brewing beer.
The Boxing Cat Brewery in Shanghai has some American fare and a unique take a beer. Equipped with even a Facebook page The Sucker Punch Pale Ale is advertised as less malty than an English pale Ales with a light and unique hoppy flavor.
Cascade Brewery in South Hobart, Tasmania, is cited as the oldest Brewery in Australia which is still in operation. The three main beers of this brewery and the Cascade Premium, the Cascade Pale Ale and the Cascade Blonde.
The Phat Mongral from Fox Hat Brewing in South Australia hit the list in The Australian as one of the best beers of 2016. The chocolate noted oatmeal stout is described as smooth and easy to drink.
Yes, even Antarctica has beer. While most of the beer on the continent is brought in from Australia, one group is starting a home brewery at the Casey station. While resources are limited posing some difficulties, it is easy and quick to chill the beer.
Wherever you travel, there will be good beer nearby. Have you tried a beer in a different continent you enjoyed? Let us know about it on Facebook.
05/02/2017 in Travel
Hiring a qualified travel agent to plan your travel experience is a great decision for so many reasons. While you can find information online and likely plan a decent trip for yourself, independent travel agents plan travel better. Here’s why:
Save Time and Money
Independent travel agents plan travel better first and foremost because they will help you save both time and money. The time and money you do spend with them will be returned to you many times over in the form of perks, upgrades, convenience and great service that will save you in the long run.
You have no doubt heard the “you wouldn’t be your own doctor” argument to hire an expert. The same holds true for travel agents. A qualified travel agent is an expert in planning travel. This means they know the right questions to ask, understand your pain points, and have connections and experience to find the right options for you.
Peace of Mind
There are many moving parts (literally!) in planning travel and actually traveling. Travel agents have knowledge of these parts and can help you plan to make sure everything runs smoothly. Even when things don’t always go according to plan, a flight cancellation, for example, your travel agent has your back and can help you figure the next steps to keep the vacation going and keep you worry free!
Finally, an independent travel agent has the connections to ensure you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Your agent can help you arrange side trips, find special passes, and get you the upgrades you can’t find on Google.
To make your next trip a great experience here is some advice; independent travel agents plan travel better! Hiring an agent will be something your future self will thank you for.
Get in touch with one of our well-qualified agents here.
04/11/2017 in Travel
As an independent travel agent, many clients are likely eager to plan a summer getaway, but to offer an out of the box experience, it’s often a good idea to offer clients spring trip ideas. From fabulous festivals to hot new hotels, there's a lot to see and do around the world this spring.
Here are some top places to visit this spring:
During spring months, New Orleans boasts the perfect mixture of cool breezes and warmer temps. Make your trip during April 25th- May 4th, when the city of New Orleans hosts the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and enjoy days full of a ton of music and fun. This year will mark the festival's 45th year and will off an amazing lineup of artists that include Robin Thicke and Bruce Springsteen.
The town of Cartagena is an old town that still features a well preserved culture. Located along the coast, it boasts beaches with crystal-clear water and astounding coral reefs that make it the perfect destination for a relaxing spring beach getaway or an adventures diving trip.
Pro tip: get the most out of your diving experience by visiting the outlying islands of Baru, Rosario and San Bernardo.
South Island, New Zealand
While wineries in the northern hemisphere are just beginning to their planting and growing endeavors, wineries in South Island have already begun harvesting meaning fresh new batches of wine await. Sprawled amongst the mountains, South Island wineries are known for their pinot noirs and for the range of colors that mother nature produces during this time of year. For those looking for a relaxing mountain getaway, it’s the perfect spring escape.
Pro tip: the most popular vineyards include Rippon in Wanaka and Amisfield in Lake Hayes.
Paris lights up in the spring making it the perfect time to indulge in the city of elegance and romance. Spring marks the opening up of gardens and parks like Luxembourg Gardens and Buttes-Chaumont, and visitors will enjoy the streets that are sprawling with festivals, vendors and locals.
Pro tip: plan a stroll through the area’s newest exhibit, the Parc Zoologipue, which is home to a range of animals and boasts a brilliant recreation of each animals’ natural habitat.
03/22/2017 in Travel
At Outside Agent Link, our independent travel agents work hard to ensure your trips are planned perfectly and go off without a hitch. With warmer months ahead, cruise planning will increase and as experts in the field of all things travel, here are a few items we recommend packing for your next cruise.
Hanging toiletry bag
As you’ll quickly find out, cruises have limited space which means you’ll want to take advantage of any and all counter space. A hanging toiletry bag will make your toiletries easily acceptable while still giving you plenty of space. It’s also easily movable which means if the bathroom is crowded with family members getting ready, you can smoothly transition into the cabin vanity area to get ready.
There will be outlets in your cabin, but just like the limited space, there will also be limited outlets. With all of the different types of devices, you’ll likely bring with you, this becomes a bit of a problem. A charging station will allow everyone in the cabin to easily charge their devices without having to fight for an outlet.
Insulated drink mugs
Cruises are filled with a lot of fun in the sun which can quickly drain your energy and lead to dehydration. To fully enjoy your trip, it’s a good idea to pack a few insulated drink mugs that your family can fill with water throughout the day. However, you’ll just need to be sure that you fill the cups given to you in the dining area with the water first, then use that cup to fill your insulated drink mug: never attempt to fill your insulated drink mug directly from the water station.
Not only will water help you sustain all the fun in the sun, but aloe will also help on those nights where you realize you spent a little too much time in the sun. Aloe will ensure your sunburned skin is calmed and even help the burn go down which means you’ll still be able to enjoy the remainder of your trip.
Waterproof phone cases
Water, water everywhere! Whether you’re on the cruise ship or on one of the islands you’re likely visiting, you’re going to be surrounded by water for the majority of your trip which means investing in a waterproof phone case can be a lifesaver.
It’s always best to be prepared because you never know what you may face while on your cruising adventures especially when it comes to boarding or deboarding at different ports along your trip.
Cruise ships don’t allow irons in the cabins which means your clothing will likely come out of your bag wrinkled and stay that way during your entire trip. However, small travel sized wrinkle spray is an easy way to decrease wrinkles and keep your clothes looking fresh and presentable!
What items are a ‘must-pack’ for your cruise vacations?
02/20/2017 in Travel
Getting new clients to work with you is hard, especially if you don’t consider yourself to be a salesperson. If you're stuck in a slump, follow these top tips to get new clients in the door.
Talk to everyone.
Every single person you meet is a potential client! Your goal every day should be to talk to three people on whatever platform you’re most comfortable with: phone, email, social media, in person, etc. You never know who may be looking to travel. If you talk to three people every day for a year that’s over a thousand potential new clients which makes the chances of gaining a new client look pretty good!
Don’t always sit behind your desk.
This goes with number one. If you sit behind your computer all day waiting for clients to come to you, it may never happen. Go get them! Going to things like networking events or other events in your area that interest you, allows people to get to know you. People trust who they know and trust plays a huge part in a client who is deciding whether or not to book with you.
If you get a number from someone that you meet, follow up with them. Even if they didn’t seem very interested, one call won’t hurt. Sending a quick email when you get home is also great because the meeting is fresh in your mind and their mind.
Reward clients for their referrals.
Word of mouth is still on of the best ways to grow your business. Offering your existing clients a discount or gift for referrals is a great way to generate business.
Partner with a host travel agency for leads.
Perfected your pitch? Great. Who are you going to pitch to now? Without leads, you’ll struggle to build a strong client base. Using a host travel agency like Outside Agent Link will go a long way in helping you generate viable leads that can turn into customers.
What are some of your tips for getting new clients in the door?
02/02/2017 in Travel
February is widely known as the month of love which is why it’s no wonder that travelers seek out romantic destinations to travel to during the month and with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, travelers are sure to decide last minute that they’d like to venture out on a romantic getaway. As an independent travel agent, you can help increase your sales during this typically slower month by being prepared for last-minute travelers and by recommending these 4 romantic destinations in the United States that your clients will surely enjoy visiting.
Cobblestone and colorful historic homes fill the streets while friendly locals smile and say, “hello” as you walk by. Couples can spend their day strolling along the battery or meandering through the local stands in the market. Couples will also find that the cuisine in Charleston is phenomenal which makes for a few perfect nights out on the town, sipping wine and trying local dishes.
Savannah and Charleston are sometimes referred to as sister cities and it’s no wonder! Like Charleston, Savannah offers majestic historic homes, cobblestone and friendly locals. The Riverfront offers romantic waterfront shopping and dining options that are too good to pass up.
Providence, Rhode Island
Many claim that Providence’s canals and waterways are reminiscent of the canals in Venice. Couples can even enjoy a gondola ride! Cobblestone streets lined with unique restaurants also await and for those couples who want to pamper themselves, unique shops also await.
Napa Valley, CA
Napa Valley is full of vineyards, fine wine and international cuisine making it perfect for spending a few lazy days together as a couple, indulging in life’s finer things! But, Napa Valley not only offers the finest in food and drink, couples will also find that golfing, spas and hotels are all higher quality as well.
01/25/2017 in Travel
Travelers will always yearn to go to well-known places like Paris, the Bahamas or Ireland. But, in 2016, it became a trend for travelers to also desire to visit lesser-known or unique destinations. This is a trend that is sure to continue in 2017. As an independent travel agent, this means there’s a great opportunity to branch out in regards to the types of trips you help plan and increase your overall sales. So, if you’re ready to boost your income, keep in mind these 4 unique destinations to travel to in 2017.
The Andaman Islands rest in between India and Myanmar and is a tropical escape that still remains nearly untouched. Travelers will find the islands are filled with white sand beaches, clear blue water and canopies of rainforests. If travelers are feeling really adventurous, the Barren Island is home to the only active volcano in India and is a site not to be missed!
Though the islands remain mostly untouched, a short boat ride to Port Blair will provide plenty of activities for travelers to enjoy like fishing, beach camping, snorkeling, sea walk, forest treks and water sports. Travelers looking for a lesser-known destination will surely appreciate feeling as though they’re off the grid in the Andaman Islands!
Ischia is a volcanic island off the coast of Naples, Italy and is part of the Phlegrean Islands. The island is filled with vineyards and beautiful small towns, but travelers are most impressed by the natural hot springs and spas that fill the island. Because Ischia experiences more Italian visitors than compared to other areas, travelers will feel as though they’re getting a true, local experience as opposed to the crowded touristy areas in other parts of Italy.
Jura is filled with natural landscapes like rivers, waterfalls and lakes. The towns are picturesque and full of rich history. Travelers will also find that vineyards in Jura produce exceptional wine, but are far less busy than those in nearby Burgundy or other family wine areas. This makes for some relaxing days sipping wine and enjoying the view!
Salta rests in the Northwest portion of Argentina. Its diverse landscape is filled with jungles, volcanoes, vineyards and salt flats. The towns are filled with historic Hispanic architecture and unique restaurants with menus filled with local cuisine. Some of the regions best wineries also rest just outside of Salta making for a great day trip.
12/15/2016 in Travel
Are you planning on taking your pet with you on your next travel adventure? It’s important to plan ahead and think about all of the aspects that go into traveling with your furry friend. Here are some of our outside agents' favorite tips for traveling with pets that will ensure your trip is a success for both you and your pet.
When trying to decide when to travel with your pet, consider the type of trip you’ll be taking and the types of activities you want to do. Here are some questions to consider:
Will you be staying in a hotel? Consider that your pet will not be able to stay in the hotel room alone, so this limits the type of activities you’ll be able to do.
Will you be staying with family? If your family is okay with pets in the house, your pet will be able to roam around more freely leaving you with more flexibility.
Are you traveling internationally? Consider the rules and regulations of the country that you’ll be entering (i.e. what paperwork do you need for your pet, what types of vaccinations or tests need to be done beforehand, etc.).
If traveling by car:
- Make sure you have a good leash and collar that fits correctly so that when you get out at rest areas to walk your dog, you can be confident they can’t get loose.
- Bring plastic bags for cleaning up after your dog.
- Bring bottled water and plastic container or bowl to put water in.
- Pack your pet’s favorite type of toy or chew bone to keep your pet occupied in the car.
- Plan to stop at rest areas or gas stations with a grassy area regularly to let your dog go to the restroom and walk around some. A good estimate is to stop every 2-3 hours.
If traveling by plane:
- Research the differences between checked bag cabin, checked baggage cargo and manifest cargo so you’ll know how your pet will need to travel.
- Check the airline's requirements to ensure your pet is situated in the appropriate type of carrier.
- Tape your pet’s name as well as your name and info on the outside of their carrier.
- Put a pet pad in the carrier.
- If your pet is boarding with you, be prepared to remove your pet from the crate, so that the carrier can be sent through the X-ray machine.
Travel adventures are always better when you have everyone you love by your side, even your furry friend! With these tips for traveling with pets, your four-legged adventurer will end your trip having had just as much fun as you did!
What are your tips for traveling with pets?
12/12/2016 in Travel
If you’re currently in a position where business travel is a must, you’ve probably already learned just how grueling of a task it can become which is why we’ve compiled a list of ways to improve business travel.
Below you’ll find some of the best tips for triumphantly taking on business travel.
Create a travel checklist.
A travel checklist will help to ensure you don’t leave anything important behind. It will also help you save time as it eliminates the last minute frantic run around the house as you try to remember all of the items you need to pack.
Pack an energy bar or other small packaged snack in your carry-on.
Once you’ve reached the point where your stomach is aching and your head is aching, it’s hard to return to normal. Business travel calls for you to be at the top of your game, so don’t let yourself become starved.
Staying hydrated helps prevent headaches and gives you some overall much-needed energy, so be sure to drink water during your flight or car ride as well as during your entire trip to be sure that you’re ready for anything your business trip has to throw at you.
Establish designated travel chargers.
Keep designated travel chargers that are only used when you travel and stay in your carry-on
when not traveling. This will ensure you’re never left with a device that is low on battery, but no charger because it’s still plugged into the wall by your nightstand.
Use travel apps to find food.
Use travel apps like Yelp and do research on restaurants before you arrive. A decent meal can work wonders for your mood and energy, so don’t deprive yourself of a good meal while you’re away on business.
Buy sample products of some of your favorite toiletries that you use at home.
Most regular sized products like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and toothpaste can be bought in sample sizes at your local home goods store. This may seem like something small, but it will give you a sense of home while on the road.
At Outside Agent Link, our trained travel agents always keep their customers in mind, which is why we know business travel can quickly become an overwhelming undertaking. With these tips, we’re sure you’ll be able to become a business travel pro.
11/18/2016 in Travel
Travel is an ever changing industry, especially with the new age of the internet. If you’re a travel agent, don’t get stuck in a rut! Implement this list of “must do’s” into your life and get ready to become the travel agent you’ve always dreamed of being!
1. Be active on social media.
Nearly everyone is on social media which makes it one of the major ways to promote and sell your services.
Tip: You can use Instagram to post travel pictures, Facebook as a way to get client reviews and Twitter to post industry news or updates.
2. Have a well-designed website that is mobile friendly.
Your website says a lot to your clients, make sure it fits your personality as a travel agent and that it is easily accessible on mobile devices since most clients are going to be searching for travel agents on their smartphones.
3. Take a course in email etiquette and client relations.
As a travel agent, your job is all about working well with clients and most likely, you talk with your clients via email or over the phone.
4. Perfect a pitch.
As a travel agent, you want to sell yourself quickly and effectively. With so many options out there on the web, you want to stand out.
5. Find a niche.
For example, are you very familiar with Italy? Have you planned a lot of trips to the Caribbean? Is family travel what you have the most experience in? Whatever it is, focus on it. Potential clients want to know that they’re working with an expert and by focusing on a specialty, you’ll be able to truly promote yourself as an expert.
6. Create unique opportunities for clients.
After you’ve found your niche, make sure you can offer your clients something special. Is there a small vineyard in Italy that not many people get to go to, but you have a connection that can get clients in the door? What about a restaurant that’s always booked, but is a must try?
7. Attend networking events.
Networking events are one of the best ways to get your name out there. You may not always get clients, but you will develop connections that can help you along your journey.
8. Stay up to date on industry news and updates.
As a travel agent, it’s easy to miss new things going on in the industry because you’re so consumed with work, but it’s always a good idea to stay in the know.
9. Create a somewhat streamlined process.
You want to get things like prices, trip ideas and itineraries to clients in a timely manner. To do this, create a system that you’ll be able to use for every client. This doesn’t mean itineraries aren’t customized, it just means that you’ve already established an effective way for creating it.
11/16/2016 in Travel
If you’re a lover of travel like all of us at Outside Agent Link, you probably live by the philosophy, “I’m working to pay for my next trip.” It’s an all too common way of life for travel buffs, but as an independent travel agent you can actually travel and make money at the same time.
Yes, you read that right! You can travel and make money. Sounds amazing, right?
As an independent travel agent, you get to choose where you work. This means you can cozy up on your couch with a fresh cup of coffee while you work or work from the balcony of a Parisian hotel (and say hello, to that amazing french coffee!).
With three different program tiers, OAL offers some of the highest commission in the industry and 24/7 support. So that means while you’re traveling to that town in Italy, we’ll be there for you!
“But what exactly does an independent travel agent do?” You help others fulfill their dreams to travel! As an independent travel agent, you’ll help clients decide on things like their travel destination, plan their flights, their accommodations and anything else the client needs help with.
And if you’re an independent travel agent it’s not only just amazing to travel the world while you work, it’s also a great way to help you become a better travel agent. Experience those destinations you’ve been recommending, first hand.
Along your travel journey, you’ll also develop great connections with hotel owners, restaurant owners, and local businesses. This allows you to offer great insight into the trips you’re helping clients plan and in some cases better deals.
If you love all things travel, why not make money while doing it? OAL will be there every step of the way and through all of your travel adventures!
11/03/2016 in Travel
At OutsideAgentLink, we love to travel. Travel opens doors and opens your eyes. These inspirational travel quotes are small snippets that show the joy and greatness that travel can bring. Let them encourage and prepare you for your next travel adventure!
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustave Flaubert
Travel allows you to see the world and in turn, changes your views on life. Don’t be afraid to take that step and visit those destinations that have been calling your name.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
People don’t travel to escape life. People travel because it gives them life. The places you’ll see and the people you’ll can add a sense of fulfillment to your life that you never saw coming!
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Travel costs money, but in the grand sense, the money you spend on tickets, hotels and activities won’t make you poorer. You’ll learn new things, expand your view and experience life in a new way!
“The world is a book and those who do not travel, read only one page.” - St. Augustine
There are so many awesome destinations full of different cultures and amazing people. If you don’t experience it, you’re missing out!
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
Travel opens your eyes to the lives of others around the world and it also opens your eyes to yourself.
Travel quotes are always a great way to help you stay inspired and if you're planning a trip with one of our awesome independent travel agents, it's a great way to get excited for your vacation!
What are your favorite travel quotes?
10/31/2016 in Travel
During your travels, you’ve probably acquired some memorabilia that you’d love to display. Whether it’s plane tickets, coffee mugs or pictures of the places you’ve traveled there’s a DIY project waiting!
Do you have a lot of small items like plane tickets, theater tickets, metro passes, hotel keys or coins from your travels? Place the items in a decorated shadow box for an easy way to display them.
Get directions here.
Utilize pictures from your travels, inspirational travel quotes and other travel related items to create a travel wall.
Get some inspiration for this here.
Create unique travel journals for each of the destinations you’ve visited. Then, display them on your coffee table.
Some great instructions can be found here.
Collect postcards during your travels? Easily display them by placing them in picture frames and hanging them on the walls! Place the postcards in one large frame or frame them individually.
Travel Memory Box
Create travel memory boxes to that you can fill with all of your travel trinkets. Customize each box based on the destination, then display them by stacking them on shelves, a desk or a coffee table.
Find some directions for this, here.
Of course, if you’re not the DIY type, our affiliate Thomas Hogan Travel has compiled a list of travel keepsake items you can purchase! Check out it here.
If you're a lover of travel and a pro at planning trips, you may also want to check out our independent travel agent program.
10/14/2016 in Travel
No matter where you’re located, the holidays are a magical time for most. However, there are a few destinations where the holiday season is so alive that you can’t help, but to feel like you’re in your own Hallmark Christmas movie.
New York City is always a great destination during the holiday season. The first stop on your journey: the ice skating rink in Central Park. There you’ll find kids laughing as they try to skate backward, adults holding hands as they slowly make their way around the rink, crisp winter air brushing across your face and Christmas music blaring from the speakers. Oh, and don’t miss out on some hot chocolate as you watch the spectacular scene.
Other things to do:
- Attend The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting.
- Walk the streets and find holiday decorations in nearly every store window and within every plaza.
- Watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
With views of snow capped mountains and cobbled streets gleaming with fresh powder, Vail is a snowy wonderland during the holidays. The town is so enthralled by the holiday season that they hold a special event called Vail Holidaze where families can partake in family-friendly activities that boost holiday spirit.
Other things to do:
- Participate in some of the events held during Vail Snow Daze.
- Ice skating
- Spend a few hours tubing down designated areas on surrounding mountains.
With snow powdering the ground throughout December and a town that seems to glow the colder it gets, you’ll find Aspen to be a winter holiday paradise. Each year the town hosts an event called 12 Days of Aspen where kids and adults alike can partake in holiday festivities that are sure to make the holidays memorable.
Other things to do:
- Go tubing or sledding. You can rent your gear from places in town.
- Experience the torchlight parade & fireworks on Dec 28th.
- Attend the Little Nell Tree Lighting Ceremony where free hot chocolate, cookies carolers, Santa and reindeer await.
Park City is a town eager to celebrate the holiday spirit. Lights are strung through town and snow glistens on the side. Even Santa is so eager to spend the holidays in Park City, that he comes down the town lift and enjoys cocoa, cookies and listening to carolers while taking note of the Christmas wishes from the children. You can also enjoy Park City’s DecemberFest from December 17th - January 1st.
Other things to do:
The holidays are a great time to travel and see the changing the landscape. Check out our independent travel agent programs and learn how you can travel while earning money!
10/06/2016 in Travel
Travel is an adventure enjoyed by many. It’s a way to explore the world, learn about new cultures and experience life in a new light. However, planning travel can also be a headache, but partnering with a travel agent can make the whole process easier.
Travel agents are experts at all things booking. This includes flights, hotels, and rental cars. With direct connections with airlines and hotels, travel agents actually have the ability to receive discounts not available to the public (and who doesn’t like a nice discount?). Not only is a discount great, but with your travel agent booking all of your accommodations you’ll spend less time worrying about which flight or hotel is best, and more time dreaming about your destination.
Travel agents love helping their clients have the best trip possible. When you first make initial contact with your travel agent, he/she will make sure to obtain as much information as possible from you. Are you an adventurous type or would you rather relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery? Are you a foodie or would you rather spend your money on the arts? Whatever it is you like, your travel agent will plan your trip accordingly. This allows for you to stress less about what you’re going to do each day, and spend more time actually enjoying the destination.
Like the connections with airlines, rental companies, and hotels, many travel agents also have area specific connections. This means you may be given certain discounts for things like museums, shows, restaurants or activities. Additionally, with area, specific connections comes the ability to recommend authentic local restaurants or excursions giving your trip a unique aspect that isn’t always easy to obtain if you’re planning your trip on your own.
Planning trips on your own (especially trips overseas) can quickly become overwhelming, but as our independent agents would agree, partnering with a travel agent can calm your stress and make your trip exceptional.
If you have a passion for travel and would love to make trip planning your job, visit our site to learn more about our independent travel agent programs!
09/06/2016 in Travel
October is a great time for travel because you get to take advantage of lower fares because of the offseason, and cooler, more comfortable weather. Plus, few things are more picturesque than visiting a city during autumn when all the leaves are turning colors (talk about a Kodak moment!).
October is the “just right” month to visit Istanbul, when it’s not too hot or too cold. The rainy season hasn’t started yet, and the humidity has decreased to more comfortable levels. You can also check out the Istanbul coffee festival in early October, or the International Puppet Festival later on in the month.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
October is actually the beginning of springtime in Argentina, so you’ll enjoy warmer days, spring blooms, and lots of culture. Temperatures hover between 60 and 75 degrees, and although you can expect a few rain showers, there are plenty of indoor cultural activities for you to enjoy.
Most of the tourists have left Croatia by October, which means the whole city is yours for the taking! Most people want to visit Dubrovnik, but Split is very similar and more authentic (not to mention less expensive), as it’s yet to be overrun with tourists.
Barcelona is beautiful year-round, but in October temperatures hover around 70 degrees and there is little rainfall, which means, it’s still warm enough to spend the day at the beach and go dancing at night.
Where do you want to travel in October?
09/06/2016 in Travel
If you’ve ever traveled in an airport before, odds are good that you’ve experienced at least one negative experience—flights are delayed or canceled, you have no legroom in coach, food is really expensive, etc.—to make you dread going to the airport. Many people think of airports as a necessary evil to the travel experience, and after reading some of these airport fails, it’s easy to see why!
These airport fails will make you see the airport in a positive light and thank the heavens that these events have never happened to you!
1. Getting Too Close to TSA
2. Don't Forget to Double Check Your Timeline
3. Who Travels With A Crate of Fish Anyway?
4. Hold The Mayo
5. Hold On Tight to Your Passport!
6. Have You Ever Had Your Flight Delayed Due to Batteries?
What’s your worst airport fail? Let us know in the comments!
08/02/2016 in Travel
So now that summertime has essentially come to an end, it’s time to start thinking about fall travel! Fall brings cooler weather, often more festivals and activities, as well as cheaper travel prices.
Here are some of our favorite cities to visit in September:
Although Scotland is arguably wonderful to visit at any point during the year, September is great because you’ll be able to enjoy its fall temperatures, which average about 61 degrees Fahrenheit, and longer days. We recommend renting a car and taking a drive along the North Coast 500, which will help you to experience the country’s beautiful landscapes and greenery.
The best time to visit Mykonos (known as the Ibiza of Greece) is in September, where the crowds have thinned out a bit, without diminishing its party atmosphere. You can take advantage of cheaper prices, while also still enjoying warm temperatures and water warm enough to swim in.
A perpetual favorite of Caribbean travelers, Cozumel is fun to visit in September because that’s when they celebrate their independence day! Just be sure to follow along with weather reports, as hurricanes are common in the Caribbean in September.
Calling all winos! Visit Budapest in September and attend the Budapest International Wine Festival, a popular festival celebrating wine from around the world. You’ll also enjoy mild temperatures in low 70’s, and low chances of precipitation!
08/02/2016 in Travel
Many of us who’ve been going on exotic and adventurous vacations our entire lives take traveling for granted. We forget that travel is a luxury that not everyone can afford. So if you’ve never been on a big vacation before, don’t fret! We have the advice to ensure that your first vacation is a success and just the 1st in a line of many!
- Do plenty of research on the weather before you start packing so you have an idea of what sort of climate to pack for.
- Bring a jacket, extra socks, a spare t-shirt, and extra undies because it never hurts to pack for the unexpected!
- Focus on just 3 pairs of shoes: sneakers, slip ons, and a nice pair for dinner.
- Hide some extra cash in your suitcase, because it helps to have if anything happens to your wallet!
- Bring a small traveler’s health kit, with band-aids, ibuprofen, and medicine of upset stomach.
- Invest in unique luggage or tie a bright, colorful scarf around your suitcase so you can easily identify it.
- Get to the airport earlier than you think you need to. It’s better to be bored at the airport than miss your flight!
- Eat before you get to the airport, and pack a few snacks, as airport food prices tend to be pretty expensive.
- If you’re flight is overnight, plan to take sleeping pills or stay awake based on what time you’re supposed to land in your final destination. Planning ahead is key to beating jetlag!
- Bring prepared travel entertainment: a deck of cards, a full charged iPad with lots of books to read or movies to watch, and a spare charger.
- Pack toothbrush, toothpaste, and a spare change of clothes in your carry on.
Experiencing a New Culture
- Be polite and smile; a smile can take you a long way!
- Do your research ahead of time to avoid getting lost or turned around.
- Be alert, but there’s no need to be paranoid!
- Soak up the new culture: look for restaurants that are different than you can find at home (after all, isn’t that the reason you left in the first place?)
06/29/2016 in Travel
Summer is winding to a close, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to take a trip and explore a fantastic new city! Here are our recommendations for the best cities to visit in August:
If you’re looking for a more low-key getaway, Baden Baden has made many lists of the best “spa towns” in Europe, and for good reason! The natural springs in Baden-Baden reach temperatures between 122ºF and 154ºF, and are packed full of curative minerals to help with blood circulation and promote wellbeing.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sports fans are flocking to Brazil for the 2016 Rio Olympics in August. Tickets to events are mostly sold out, although there are some that are still available. But there’s nothing better than watching the games from a Brazilian beach than from your own living room!
August is a great time to visit Seattle, as the temperatures are still warm, and precipitation index is typically at a low point. So that means many more sunshine-filled days to go exploring all that Seattle has to offer—the Space Needle, Pike’s Place, and the many great restaurants, bars & coffee shops that the Emerald City has to offer.
August in Australia is prime vacationing time, as the weather is coming out of their winter season and going into spring, so temperatures average about 60ºF, and tourism is down, so everything tends to be a little cheaper. Activities include a winter festival, and the “Taste of Melbourne” food festival.
06/29/2016 in Travel
Calling all winos! There’s something so romantic about strolling through a vineyard, sipping a glass of merlot as the sunsets. What could be better than that! Visiting one of the many stunning vineyards or wineries around the world can be both a beautiful and enlightening backdrop for a vacation, and will help introduce and education your knowledge of winemaking.
One of the most popular regions of France for wine lovers, Burgundy is home to some of your favorite pinot noirs and chardonnays. Visiting Burgundy is like stepping into a wine-making fairytale, and as such, tours are very popular. Be sure to make your reservations well in advance if you want to be able to visit a tasting room!
San Gimignano, Italy
San Gimignano is a city within the Tuscany region that’s been making wine since the 13th century. Like most Italian wines, wine from San Gimignano pairs best with rich foods, so the bet way to experience the wine culture here is with a food & wine tour!
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, straddling the Old World –New World wine divide, has been the center of South African wine for centuries, offering many grape varieties that are found in European wines, but with a distinctly South African flavor.
You can thank the Mediterranean for the wonderful wine climate in Valencia. Being nestled right on the port makes Valencia a key Spanish wine town, featuring a number of wine tours, restaurants, and varieties available for tasting.
Duoro Valley, Portugal
Duoro Valley is also a historical wine-producing area (perhaps the oldest on this list), having had grapes introduced there as early as the 3rd century AD. Known specifically for the production of Port, the Duoro Valley is best explored by boat tour on the Duoro River (a number of wine tasting tours are available).
Situated on the banks of the Rhine, Mainz is known as being one of the centers of the German wine economy. The most popular wines produced in Mainz are Riesling, sparkling white wines, and other dry white varietals.
06/06/2016 in Travel
Many people think of travel agents as being a job rendered obsolete by the Internet and popular travel websites, but when it comes to getting great deals and taking the stress out of travel planning, there’s no beating the expertise and industry experience of a travel agent! If you still like the idea of making your own travel plans, then you should consider becoming a travel agent! Outside Agent Link has exclusive training and networks to ensure that you’re finding the best deals for yourself and your clients.
Here are 10 reasons being a travel agent is the best job ever:
- You help people plan their dream vacations
- You earn extra money
- You learn more about the world
- You can receive exclusive discounts on travel for yourself
- You can work from home
- You gain industry knowledge that helps you learn more about what goes on behind the scenes.
- You learn the rules and requirements of different countries and trips to help reduce stress on your clients and ensure their vacation goes smoothly
- You learn how to be a great salesperson and interact with customers
- You set your own hours
- It’s fun!
Outside Agent Link can help you get started with your travel agent career. Learn more & get started today!
06/01/2016 in Travel
When traveling by air, it’s always a good idea to bring a carry on, regardless of whether or not you’re checking a bag. Most airlines allow you to bring 2 carry on bags—a larger bag and a small personal item, like a backpack or a purse—included in the cost of your ticket (although this is not true of every airline, be sure to check the fine print on your ticket).
Here are basics you should always consider packing in your carry on:
- Boarding Pass
- Copy of your flight itinerary
- Physical print out of your transportation arrangements and hotel booking
- If traveling internationally, also consider printing out your Visa confirmation
- Wallet & Cash
- Camera & equipment
- Tooth brush & mini toothpaste
- Face wipes
- Empty water bottle
- Healthy snacks
- Laptop & charger
- Phone charger
- Music player
- 1-2 changes of clothing
- 1 or 2 articles of clothing that you couldn’t do without
- Extra underwear
- Sleep mask
- Sleep Aid (for a longer flight)
06/01/2016 in Travel
The world is a big place, and odds are, you’ve seen very little of it. That means there are so many places and sights out there still left for you to see! Here are some cool places you should try to see this June:
Sydney is really hitting its stride lately. The culinary scene has situated itself as being on-par with cities like Paris and NYC, and the fashion industry is also booming. If you’re looking to sit out on a beach this summer, you can’t beat the famous Bondi Beach, or the world renowned Sydney Opera House.
The capital city of Mozambique is a haven for seafood and spices. There are numerous colorful markets (like the famed Municipal Market) and a thriving nightlife scene. Try the national dish of peri-peri prawns, tour the many museums and galleries, or take a walking tour; there’s plenty to experience!
Known best for the Blue Lagoon, a spa-like geothermal lagoon that is said to be beneficial for its healing, wellness, and beauty. Grindavik has a number of other things to do and see, such as The Old Church (built in 1909), Eldey, a steep rock island, the Reykjanes light house, and Hópneshringur Circle, a walking trail with shipwrecked old fishing boats, among other sights.
Prince William Sound, Alaska
Located on the Gulf of Alaska in the southeastern coast of the state, Prince William Sound is perfect for nature lovers. You can take a glacier cruise and watch for whales in water, go hiking, fishing, or birdwatching.
04/29/2016 in Travel
There’s a whole big world out there for you to explore! We think everyone should commit to seeing 1 new city every month, even if it’s just a short drive from where you live. Life is short, and you should drink in as much of this world as you can!
Here are 5 places you should visit in May:
Mexico City, Mexico
If you like fine dining, architecture, design, and culture, Mexico City is definitely a destination to add to your “must see” list. The city center is constantly buzzing and humming with a new festival or event, meaning you’ll have very little time to be bored. There’s always something to see and do!
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Named after the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt Nation Park is a shining tribute to the president’s important conservation efforts that continue to this day. You can camp at the park and experience nature firsthand. You might even see a buffalo roaming around!
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi is like a shining jewel in the desert. Luxury hotels abound. Art and architecture have taken a prime spot in the city, and museums and galleries have been opening left and right. The restaurants in Abu Dhabi are also among some of the finest in the world, meaning you should come with a rich appetite for both food and culture.
Most people might think only to go to Copenhagen when visiting Denmark, but you’d miss out on so much! Aarhus is young and thriving, featuring one of the largest libraries in Scandinavia, an amazing opera house, cultural center, and art galleries that are unparalleled.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague has had a long and fascinating history, but has withstood the test of time gracefully. The stories, architecture, and monuments of Prague call to those with an appreciation for history and culture. The operas and symphonies will bring a tear to your eye, and are very affordable compared to some others around the world.
Where will you visit in May?
04/29/2016 in Travel
One of the worst things about traveling is having to deal with the stress that comes with airports. After paying an arm and a leg to check a bag, being frisked by TSA, and searching in futility to find an available outlet to charge your cell phone, you just want to be able to relax until it’s time to board. Here our favorite ways to pass the time while waiting for your flight or layover.
- Take A Tour: Stretch your legs a little bit and walk around the airport. You might discover a cool restaurant or get some entertaining people watching. Download Gate Guru (free, Android & iPhone) to see a map of your airport and be able to find the closest Starbucks with ease.
- Listen To A Bestseller: Sites like Audible make it easy for you to listen to that book you’ve “been meaning to read” at affordable prices. There are also many coupon codes online you can use to get credits for a free audiobook when you sign up for a trial.
- Appreciate Some Art: Certain major airports, like San Francisco and Philadelphia, have libraries, museums, or art galleries on display so you can take in some culture while you’re waiting to board.
- Finish Your Presentation: Business lounges are the next big thing in airports, offering a quiet, comfortable workspace at a nominal fee for travelers who want to knock some things off of their to-do list while waiting for their next flight. Check out the Regus Express business lounges at Atlanta-Hartsfield, Chicago O’Hare, and more!
- Take Advantage Of Free Wi-Fi: Need to get some work done, but not interested in paying extra to use a business lounge? Just connect to the free (or low-fee) Wi-Fi that many airports are offering now.
- Work Up A Sweat: Be sure to pack a pair of sneakers in your carry on, because airport hotels are now offering day passes to their gyms for passengers to use. If your next flight is international, your body will thank you for getting your blood flowing before sitting for 10 hours.
- Unwind At The Spa: Nothing eases away the tension of 3 hours in a middle seat like a good massage. Airport spas are sprouting up at many major concourses, offering everything from Swedish massages, to foot rubs, to manicures that’ll have you arriving at your destination fresh and relaxed.
How do you choose to spend your time during a layover?
03/29/2016 in Travel
After having been in business for over 15 years now, we’ve experienced pretty much everything there is to experience—both good and bad—when it comes to traveling the world. Whether you’re a first time traveler or a seasoned explorer, follow these tips to have a positive travel experience:
The Early Bird Catches the Worm
We get it; you’re on vacation and you want to sleep in. But you paid a lot of money to get here and make the most out of your limited time abroad. Waking up early means you get more daylight to enjoy your new surroundings, plus you’re likely to miss the lines and crowds of some of the more popular places on your “must see” list. So save the sleeping in for after you get home.
Prepare for the Unexpected
This one is a lot more ambiguous and harder to fully accomplish. We suggest packing extra cash and pre-paid money cards in different bags so if one of your bags happens to be lost or stolen, you’ll still be able to get around without any difficulty.
Patience is a Virtue
Between changing time-zones, jetlag, and airport stress, traveling can bring out the crankiness in us. But to truly enjoy your time traveling, you have to understand that things happen. Don’t sweat the small stuff; let it roll of your back and try to find the humor in every situation. You’ll be much happier that you did!
Eat Like A Local, Feel Like A Local
One of our favorite things to do to feel like a true local is to hail a cab and ask the driver to take you to where he ate lunch the day before (or most recently, if he tends to pack a lunch). You’ll bypass the chain restaurants and are likely to get a true feel for the local cuisine and culture.
Make Every Moment a Kodak Moment (Kind Of)
The best way to commemorate your trip is to take pictures of your journey. Because when you look back at photos, you’re momentarily transported back to that time, so you get to relive the trip over and over again! However, don’t spend so much time hiding behind a viewfinder that you don’t appreciate the moment while you’re in it. Snap a few photos and then enjoy your current surroundings!
What are your best travel tips?
02/16/2016 in Travel
Spring is right around the corner, and that means warmer temperatures, longer days, and more excuses to get out and travel! We’ve compiled 5 of our favorite Spring travel destinations. Where will your Spring take you?
Why Visit: To see the cherry blossoms, drink sake, and go sightseeing
In the Springtime in Japan, they have an activity called hanami, which is essentially a national tradition where people meet up with their friends, drink sake, and observe the cherry blossoms. You can even look up the “blossom forecast” that tells you the best parts of the country to see the cherry blossom’s pink petals during peak blossom time.
US Virgin Islands
Why Visit: To experience Carnival
Although Carnival is typically more of a Brazilian festival, many places throughout the Caribbean celebrate to usher in the spring season. St Thomas features parades with festive and ornate costumes, street vendors offer up delicious foods and delicacies for you to try, and the temperature averages about 75 degrees.
Why Visit: To see the Keukenhof Flower Festival and bike around the city
Amsterdam is known for many things, but is perhaps best known for its tulips. In March, the annual Keukenhof flower festival features thousands of blooms from tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and many other flowers on display in indoor and outdoor pavilions. For a truly magical experience, however, take a tour of the outdoor tulips fields right at sunset, which stretch on as far as the eye can see.
Why Visit: To experience history and great food before the summer heat arrives
Charleston, SC has been voted the #1 tourist destination in the world for a number of years now, and it’s no surprise why. The culinary scene here is on par with that of Paris or NYC, and the cobblestone streets and moss-covered trees offer an idyllic quality not found outside of the south. Temperatures in spring start to creep up into the high 70’s or 80’s, but if you visit early enough, you’ll enjoy moderate temperatures with little humidity.
Why Visit: Because nothing beats Paris in Springtime!
Paris in the Spring is a cliché…but for good reason! The city starts to return to its normal hustle and bustle with the streets filled with music and cafes opening their patios so that you can take advantage of eating your morning croissant outside. If you’re looking for a lover’s getaway with that special someone, there’s nothing more romantic than taking a stroll along the Seine as the flowers are in full bloom.
Love to travel? Earn money toward your next vacation, and receive exclusive travel discounts as an independent travel agent! Contact Outside Agent Link to learn more.
02/16/2016 in Travel
Hans Christen Anderson once said “to travel is to live,” a quote we at Outside Agent Link wholeheartedly agree with. Traveling is one of the best ways to learn about and experience the world and all its beauty and diversity. But many people decide not to travel because they think of traveling as a group experience. We spend so much time around other people—at work, at home, during free time—that sometimes we forget what it is to take a break and spend time with our own minds.
Oscar Wilde said “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” Traveling solo is a great way to take yourself out of your comfort zone and get to know yourself a little better.
Here are some of the benefits of traveling alone:
Get to Know Yourself a Little Better
Introspection and reflection can be empowering and illuminating byproducts of solo travel. Witnessing how you react to different situations can help you gain a deeper understanding of who you are.
Traveling solo can be a challenge, but challenging yourself helps you grow. As you experience and overcome new situations and obstacles, you are gaining confidence in yourself and in your abilities.
Like meditation, purposeful solitude can help you cultivate mindfulness and help you live in the present, rather than focusing on the future or the past. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to lower your stress levels and make you feel more appreciative of your current state.
Not having to coordinate with a companion or spend time and energy catering to someone else’s desires can eliminate plan out every day of your travel common sources of travel stress. When you’re on your own schedule, you can rest and unwind as much as you need, allowing yourself to indulge in leisurely luxuries like spending the day reading on the beach.
02/16/2016 in Travel
The best part about working with a travel agent is that they can help save you time and money and plan the totally unique, personalized vacation of your dreams. One locale you should add to your travel bucket list is Monaco on the Mediterranean Sea.
Monaco is the 2nd smallest country in the world, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in culture, cuisines, and natural beauty. Here are a few reasons to plan a trip to Monaco:
Monaco’s cuisine takes everything you love about French, Italian, and Northern African cooking and adds a little unique flair to result in some of the best food you’re likely to taste. Being a coastal country, seafood plays a huge role in Monegasque cuisine. Famed chef Alain Ducasse’s restaurant Le Louis XV, one of the best restaurants in the world, also calls Monaco home.
Monaco is nestled comfortable on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the world. In Monte Carlo, you’ll find one of the most glamorous beaches in the world: Larvotto Beach. Much of the beach is free, although there are spots where you’ll have to pay to enter. It’s a very family-friendly beach with lifeguard stands and plenty of places to rent equipment for watersports.
Monte Carlo is known for the grand gambling and entertainment complex known as the Casino de Monte-Carlo, which houses a casino, opera house, and ballet company. For race fans, Monaco is famous for its Formula 1 grand prix racing.
Being a vacation spot for the rich and famous, Monaco’s shopping options are varied and high quality. You can purchase well-known brands, such as Prada, Hermes, and Christian Dior, or visit the Boutique du Rocher and take home some authentic Monegasque handicrafts. You can also visit the famous Fragonard perfume factory and choose your perfect scent.
04/14/2015 in Travel
Many of our clients love the idea of taking a family
vacation, but it seems like a daunting task with packing and actually getting
to the destination. However, we have a few pro tips from agents for traveling
with kids that might make it easier:
Make the journey fun.
Sometimes, even the iPad won’t do. Instead of dreading a car
ride for hours on-end or half-day travel in and out of airports, try to make
the journey as enjoyable as possible. For example, if you’re taking a long
drive, plan your stops ahead of time and visit a fun rest stop with a park or a
cool restaurant along the way (instead of pulling in for fast food). Sure, it
may add an hour to your trip, but you will have enjoyed it more. If you’re
going through the airport with kids, create an Eye Spy game and encourage them
to find things along their way: a plastic pair of wings, a traveler with a dog,
a baby with a stuffed animal, someone with a pink suitcase, an airplane traffic
director, a tram, a yogurt shop, etc.
Freeze meals to bring.
If you’re going to be staying at a beach or mountain house,
try to pre-plan your meals with kid-friendly ease. The week prior to your
vacation, double your recipes and put half in a container in the freezer. Store
them all in a cooler and voila!
No-hassle cooking throughout the week of your vacation.
Divide and conquer.
Vacations are just as exciting for kids as they are for
adults. If you’re able, separate the kids at nap times and bed times. They
won’t stay up as long if they’re not together. This means more sleep for you
and for them—and much less crankiness in the mornings.
Take a cruise.
A cruise is the perfect vacation with kids because there is
always something to do onboard. There are usually daycare programs that allow
for parents-only time, too, and you won’t have to worry about supervision.
There are lots of activities on and off the ship and you won’t have to worry
about meals, either!
Make airport security lines a breeze.
We loved this tip from mom Nicol in Rochester, NY on minitime.com:
"Everyone wears a brightly-colored t-shirt and is responsible for his own
carry-on and backpack. My husband goes through security line first with the
valuables, followed by all the kids (youngest to oldest) and then myself.
Nothing gets stolen and the kids have time to put their Crocs (so easy!) back
on. Got more tips for traveling with kids? We want to hear from
you in the comments or on the Outside Agent Link Facebook
04/10/2015 in Travel
The best travel agents are those with a healthy appetite for traveling the world. If they have first-hand knowledge of different places, cultures, customs, food and more, they are more equipped to give awesome advice to their clients. If you're thinking about becoming a travel agent, chances are that you love to travel or want to do it more often. Here are 10 signs that you have been bitten by the travel bug (for which there is no cure but more jet-setting!):
10. Your social media feed consists mostly of reposts of sunsets, exotic locales and quotes about wanderlust.
9. You pronounce foreign words appropriately (instead of Americanizing them).
8. You're addicted to the Travel Channel.
7. You're first in line at any ethnic food restaurant openings in your town.
6. Your bucket list has turned into more of a bucket novel.
5. You've traded in your celebrity crushes for Celebrity Cruises.
4. You read so many travel blogs that you can give tons of advice about a place you've never even been.
3. You refer to Anthony Bourdain regularly in conversation and as if he is your close friend.
2. You judge anyone who doesn't want to leave the United States or has never been on a plane.
1. You use your credit card(s) simply to rack up miles.
03/27/2015 in Travel
Becoming an independent travel consultant is a rewarding experience, but it does take work. It's not for everyone, and at Outside Agent Link, we like to be transparent about what it takes because we want all of our agents to be successful. The three things you need to have to be a successful travel agent? Interpersonal skills, a thirst for knowledge and tremendous organization skills. Read on to find out why:
Our success begins with our affiliation with Travel Leaders, one of the largest travel franchises in the world. And this partnership emphasizes our first point, which is that in order to be a successful travel agent, networking has to be a priority. In order to be an effective travel agent, you have to know people. They have to trust you with big decisions and planning, so it's important to go to networking events and grow your interpersonal skills. Additionally, growing your experience with different vendors will allow you to offer your clientele deals and promotions they may not find online. Networking is a key trait for all salespeople.
Outside Agent Link also doesn't expect you to know everything about our business right off the bat. That's why we provide training guides and materials to help acclimate you to selling travel. A thirst for knowledge is a huge asset to any salesperson as they are growing their independent business. Being eager to learn and develop new ways of servicing your clients is imperative to your success.
Lastly, a successful travel consultant is endlessly organized. Your clients' trips have a lot of moving parts--from flights, to hotels, to excursion reservations, to dining options. They literally have a lot of baggage. Having a great organization system is key to your success--and their fun!
03/27/2015 in Travel
If you're getting your home office together, inspiration is key. Platforms like Houzz and Pinterest have hundreds of thousands of photos of cute offices, but are they functional? Getting work done is more important than having a picture-perfect space. That's where home organization blogs and tools come in handy. Here are a few tips to help you get inspired to make your space both functional and picturesque:
1. Determine how much paper you'll accumulate (mail, notes from meetings, contracts)
How can you keep these organized within reach? The following desk sets are from See Jane Work and can organize your papers and knick knacks that tend to clutter up.
2. Determine what kind of storage you need.
If you're looking for portable storage, opt for a filing cabinet that is easy to pick up and put in the car, or one that has wheels. If you're looking for something secure, look for locks. Next, make sure you have enough space to store your necessities, but not so much storage that it becomes a catch-all for stuff you don't need.
This modern filing cabinet is from Poppin and can probably handle a fair amount of contracts, HR documents and receipts. But if you need much more (client or employee files), you might need something bigger, like this cabinet from West Elm:
3. How do you plan to keep yourself on track?
Lots of people love planners for their ease and portability, while other people rely solely on their computers and smart phones to sync with their digital calendar of choice (Google Calendar is easy). Other people prefer to have a calendar in front of them. The rare breed really needs all three. However, be careful not to overwhelm yourself. Whichever medium of task organization is preferable to you is great, but giving yourself too many places to write things down may cause things to slip through the cracks.
It's best to touch these things in person to get a feel for what you can accomplish with each.
Got more home office organization tips and inspiration? Share them with us. Our independent travel agents at Outside Agent Link are only as effective as their spaces!
03/02/2015 in Travel
When it comes to being a work-from-home travel agent, there are several advantages that travelers, both first-time and seasonal, will see over trying to plan a trip themselves.
Aside from having a leg up on travel jargon, rules and regulations, travel agents have the added bonus of being a reliable, go-to source for nearly everything travelers may need during the booking process.
This infographic, created by Business 2 Community, outlines some of the most important upsides that can comes with being a travel agent:
(click image to enlarge)
For more information on how you can become a work-from-home agent, be sure to visit our Contact Us page or enroll today!