Travel sellers enjoyed many wonderful, often unexpected, moments in the course of selling leisure travel in 2010, from handling quirky client requests to discovering that cutting out the general public as clients actually improves the bottom line.
In their own words, here are a few of our readers’ favorite on-the-job experiences during the past year.
Roxanne Boryczki, MCC
President, AZ Trails Travel, Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Finding the Perfect Place: “We moved in February from a stand-alone building that housed two suites – it was shared with a law firm on one side. The space had become too large and too expensive, so we took a space on the street level in a shopping center on one of the main intersections in town. Instead of putting our name on the sign, we mounted a large sign on the outside saying ‘travel’ in red LED lighting. It works great and really stands out, especially at night. Anyone coming through that intersection definitely sees the sign. With our new office, we’ve attracted a younger clientele, picked up increased foot traffic and increased our visibility in the community. We have a dry cleaners on one side and a fitness center on the other, thus access to the younger demographic we were seeking. The traffic has been great and has brought us a fair number of new clients. It is everything I’ve always wanted in a retail location.”
President, Red Bird Travel Plus, Cedar Hill, Texas
Goodbye Joe Public, Hello Net Increase: “I was surprised that I was able to close my office to the public to concentrate on my existing customers and their referrals by appointment only. I didn’t waste time quoting prices for packages or cruises from the 'unwashed' who call every agency and check every website. It resulted in a net increase of my preferred supplier sales by $150K for me personally, with fewer travelers.”
Margie Jordan, CTA
CEO, ASAP Travel, Jacksonville, Fla.
2010 High: “I had one interesting request from a client this year. I was asked to book the client and her friends on a trip to Amsterdam specifically to be judges of the annual Cannabis Cup. That knocked my socks off! This client is a very well-respected attorney in my local area. I was so surprised by the request but I did all the research and provided it to my client in complete confidentiality. As travel agents, you just never know where your client will want to travel.”
Stephanie Turner, CTC
President & CEO, Brentwood Travel, St. Louis, MO
Make New Friends, but Keep the Old: “I have suddenly heard from many old clients and friends that I hadn’t seen or heard from in a long time. I just booked a Galapagos Cruise on Xpedition for women who went to Israel with me 12 years ago. They had booked nothing with me for 12 years, even though I have mailed them things and see them both from time to time. I guess my marketing and our socializing on occasion made them think of me. They just showed up! Also, I have gained many new, high-end clients this year. The new clients are either people I play golf with or old friends from years back.”
Supervisor, AAA Tidewater Virginia, Virginia Beach, VA
The 10/10/10 Adventure: “2010 was an exciting year for me. I escorted a group on Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, the Oasis of the Seas, and we were onboard the ship on 10/10/10; we celebrated by ziplining across the top of the ship. For next year, I already have a group on the newest ship, Allure of the Seas; we will be on board 11/11/11 and plan to celebrate in an equally exciting manner. Also, a few months ago I was honored to be chosen by Carol Ormond, our CEO, to be featured in AAA’s annual report for my not-so-exciting life achievements.”
Travel Consultant, Great Southern Travel, Columbia, MO.
Travel Insurance Pays Off: “I had a group of 20 go on a 10-day cruise and land tour. One lady fell the first day getting off the tour bus in Vancouver – before she even got on the cruise ship – and ended up in the hospital the entire trip. I sent her flowers and kept in contact with her daughter. This woman had complained about the high cost of insurance, but is now our poster person for buying insurance. She had to be flown back to Columbia and the insurance paid it all. She has become my example of why you always need insurance while traveling.”
Manager, Two Rivers Travel, Two Rivers, N.J.
Welcome Back Middle Class: “It was nice to see some of my middle class clients (for lack of a better term) who didn’t travel last year, traveling more. And one really nice surprise was that I qualified for the Best of the Best with Travel Impressions this year. On the other hand, I was really surprised that Hyatt Hotels did not have their travel agent awards for top producers this year.”