ASTA, Microsoft to Explore Tech Tools for Agency Productivity
ASTA, Microsoft to Explore Tech Tools for Agency Productivity
Tips & Trends

ASTA, Microsoft to Explore Tech Tools for Agency Productivity

Survey: What Technologies Would Boost Your Agency’s Output?
ASTA and Microsoft want to know what kinds of technology tools would help travel agencies be more productive. The companies are asking agents to complete a quick seven-question survey about the basic technology tools used in their agencies: type of smartphone, email program, desktop operating system, productivity software, etc. The survey results will provide the demographics needed for a discussion of technology tools to improve productivity.

Ensemble Conference Raises $61K for Make-A-Wish
A raffle and live auction at the recent Ensemble Travel Group conference in Las Vegas raised $61,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada, which benefits children with life-threatening medical illnesses. “We were blown away by the overwhelming generosity of our members and suppliers,” said Lindsay Pearlman, co-president of Ensemble Travel Group. “This was our first year for a benefit effort of this magnitude at the conference.”

Pestronk Urges Agents to Use Disclaimers Against Supplier Failure . . .
Recent speculation about yet another airline (American) filing for bankruptcy, prompted Travel Market Report to ask industry attorney Mark Pestronk how travel sellers should handle such situations.  “Agents need to try to protect themselves by putting clients on notice that agents are not liable for suppliers' failures,” he said. He added that the best kind of notice is a signed disclaimer (available at

. . . Plus What to Do When Disclaimers Are Impractical
When it’s impractical for agency clients to sign a disclaimer about supplier failures, for instance when selling a single airline ticket, there’s another option, according to attorney Mark Pestronk. “In those cases, the agent needs to put a brief and clear disclaimer right on the front of the invoice/itinerary. Then, when a client threatens to sue because of a supplier bankruptcy, the agent can remind him or her of what is printed on the itinerary. The chances are that the client will go away.” Pestronk also advised agents to encourage clients to pay by credit card, as the Fair Credit Billing Act ensures a refund if a service is not delivered.

Service Fees Create Investment Mindset for Customers
“The customer wants to make an investment. That’s why it’s so important to charge fees. Fees are the way you put a value on yourself.” – Peter Sheahan, CEO, ChangeLabs

Feeling Shy About Social Media?  At Least Have a Facebook Page
“There are some people that are introverted, that don’t want to socialize, that aren’t good at chit chat and socializing. This [social media] might not be the right avenue for them,” Nolan Burris, president of Visionistics Enterprises told Travel Market Report. Even those travel agents should at least have a Facebook page and post something to it once a day, Burris advised. “It’s kind of equivalent to just being listed in the phone book without having a display ad. You’re giving people a way to find you.”

Tell Your Clients: For Safe Travels, Turn Off Your iPods
“Tune into your surroundings instead of your iPod if you want to stay safe during the [holiday] travel rush. Pay attention to the ebb and flow at airports, rail stations and bus terminals. You will become sensitive to the norm and more aware of behaviors that are out of step with the crowd – behaviors that don’t make sense and could mean trouble. Forget religions or ethnicity as clues. Beware of the individual who hangs back when everyone rushes to make their flight, brings luggage into the baggage claim area, photographs items that are not tourist attractions.”  – Todd McGhee, antiterrorism expert, co-founder, Protecting the Homeland Innovations

Are You Tuned Out at Work? You’ve Got Company
Well over two-thirds (71%) of Americans are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, according to a recent Gallup poll. Translation: most of us feel emotionally disconnected in our jobs and are less productive as a result. Who’s most likely to be highly engaged at work? Women more than men, for one. Also, workers ages 65 and older. Unfortunately, employees ages 30 and 64 are less engaged than both older and younger employees. There are no significant differences in employee engagement by income level. Interestingly, Americans who have some college education are significantly less likely to be engaged at work than those with a high school diploma or less.

Go for a Better Customer
“If you're constantly getting complaints from customers that they found it online cheaper, then you're working with clients who want the lowest price, and you need to consider ways to raise the bar on the type of customer you're targeting.” – Kevin Graham, Empowered Sales Training

HotTravelJobs.Com Adds Page for Travel Agent Wannabes has added a resource page called “New to Travel,” for people interested in pursuing a travel career. The page includes a FAQ section of commonly asked questions about becoming a travel agent. Also new is a separate registration page for posting resumes and accomplishments. A section devoted to training and professional development features resources from The Travel Institute and the Intrepid Traveler, a travel publishing company. Hot Travel Jobs is the official job board for ASTA, OSSN and The Travel Institute.

Michele McDonald contributed to this report.

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The customer wants to make an investment. That’s why it’s so important to charge fees. Fees are the way you put a value on yourself.

Peter Sheahan, ChangeLabs

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