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Agent to Agent: Getting it Together on Solo Travel

Dear Tammy: How is the market when it comes to solo travelers? I’m wondering if there really are many who want to travel on their own or if it’s best for business to focus on couples and families?

Tammy: First of all, answering what’s ‘best for business’ isn’t something that I can answer for you unless we go over your business goals, except to say that you have to find out what market works best for you.

If specializing in couple and family travel is the best success for your business, then that’s your decision. If, however, you wanted to expand to include solo travelers, you might find that your business increases even more, and there are studies that show it might be the right way to go.

According to a study of 2,000 US adults, commissioned by Intrepid Travel, nine out of 10 adults are now content to be in their own company, with four in 10 have no issues about vacationing abroad solo.

Thirty-six percent of the survey respondents say the greatest benefit of traveling solo is being able to challenge themselves.

The top five reasons that those who were surveyed gave for traveling alone were: no pressure to do certain activities; it’s more relaxing; it’s an easier learning experience; it’s easier to meet new people and their friends don’t have the same time off.

Keep in mind, however, that a third of these solo travelers were worried that they would get bored traveling by themselves. Of those surveyed, about a quarter (24 percent) said they have been on vacation alone while a third worry they would get lonely being abroad without someone to keep them company.

In the United States, however, motoring around the country is a different story with 61 percent of people at ease navigating through the states alone.

So what does this mean to you?

Turn your business to the solo traveler who might be looking for that trip alone. Your expertise can help them to ward off a boring experience by including excursions and tours that are perfect for what they want to do.

Once they see the benefit of using a travel agent for planning a solo trip, they will return to you for planning the next one. The solo travel market is exploding, and travel agents would benefit greatly from learning how to market to and care for this segment of the travel audience.

SLTB Promotes Saint Lucia on ABC

Earlier this month, the SLTB recorded a series of television interviews with ABC Tampa Bay in Florida promoting Saint Lucia as a premier tourist destination. Four interviews were conducted for the travel segment of ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend show which is hosted by Elite Travel’s Tammy Levent. The interview segments featured Minister for Tourism, Hon. Dominic Fedee, SLTB Executive Chair, Mrs. Agnes Francis and SLTB’s Director of Marketing, Kelly Fontenelle-Clarke. The topics highlighted are the Soleil Summer Festival; Saint Lucia as a top wellness destination; Saint Lucia as the premier romance and wedding destination; and a general overview of the island and its attractions. The first interview featured SLTB Exec. Chair, Agnes Francis and aired on ABC Tampa Bay on Wednesday, June 21. The remaining 3 interviews will be aired in the coming months.

Read more at: https://www.damajority.com/sltb-promotes-saint-lucia-abc/

Agent to Agent: Clients Gone Mad

Dear Tammy: Is there something in the water? My clients seem to be complaining about some crazy things lately.

For example, I have a client who actually complained about the spicy food in India, another who complained that there were children at a family friendly resort and a third who couldn’t understand why the online sites couldn’t make her dinner and show reservations as well. Oy.

Tell me you commiserate with what I’m going through and can provide tips on how to handle them!

Tammy: Oh boy, do I commiserate. I’ve had clients complain about the oddest things.

For example, I’ve had clients call from the airport 45 minutes before their international flight and complain they can’t get through security faster and to their plane.

They actually said, “I’m sure it’s sitting there and it should wait for us.” (Not quite how it works!)

If you didn’t already know, your clients are always smarter than you (or so they think). They never read the small print when they are booking their trips online. Then, they have to call you to bail them out. When it comes to traveling internationally and their European trip of a lifetime, they don’t know the laws when they book online.

Then, they are calling you frantically for a visa to that particular country. (By the way, they are leaving in four days!)

If you can believe it, some travelers think that traveling in Europe from country to country on a train is faster than a speeding bullet. When you tell them it’s a six-hour train ride, I’ve had clients actually say, “It doesn’t look that far on the map.”

Of course, there’s the old craziness of waiting until last minute thinking they will get better travel deals. Often, prices go up, and then they are complaining that they are paying more.

So, yes, I commiserate.

What should you do? Listen.

Find out what your clients need help with and help them. Their stories and their comments might be off the wall sometimes, but the reality is that they are calling you because you are the expert and they need help. Once they get through this trip, talk to them about preventing whatever happened from happening again in the future.

For example, your client complained about spicy food yet traveled to India? Talk to them about their dream trips, minus the spice, and help them to make that happen. Book the clients who weren’t happy with the family friendly hotel at an adults-only resort next time.

Bottom line: Turn their complaints into sales and make them even happier the next time. That’s what we do.

ASTA Announces Nominees for Extra Mile, Entrepreneur of the Year

ASTA has announced the nominees for its top award categories Extra Mile Award and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The winners will be announced at the ASTA Global Convention taking place in San Diego, California, August 27-29.

“Travel agents do extraordinary things for their clients every day and our industry is constantly innovating,” said ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby.

“The submissions we received for these awards highlight the trust consumers place in the travel agency community and that time and time again, agents deliver. This year’s entrepreneur submissions offered inspiring stories about professionals and companies who are making lasting and meaningful contribution to the future of the travel industry,” Kerby added.

The nominees for the Extra Mile Award include TravelPulse contributor Tammy Levent of Elite Travel Management Group, Inc. as well as Lisa Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Travel and Mindy Walts of Empress Travel & Cruises.

The Extra Mile Award honors travel agents who go the extra mile for their clients “in a new and creative way that goes above and beyond the normal course of business.”

Entries were gathered from around the world from self-nominated agents as well as from those submitting on an agents behalf. This year’s honor is sponsored by Enterprise.

The Entrepreneur of the Year was established by the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation. The award was created to reward the entrepreneurial spirit within the travel and hospitality sector.

Winners are selected by both ASTA and the foundation and receive a $10,000 cash prize.

This year, finalists will take the stage at the ASTA Global Convention on August 28 in a “Shark Tank”-style competition to compete for the reward. Each nominee has five minutes to make their “pitch” to a panel of industry experts. Judges cast their votes for the finalists and the audience will act as a “super judge,” and will also cast a vote for the winner, according to ASTA.

The finalists include Agent Studio and Travalliance partner, David Chait of Travefy.

Travefy has received rave reviews from agents for its trip planning service.

“I am so happy to see that David Chait of Travefy has been nominated for Entrepreneur of the year.  At Taylor & Co. Travel we have been using Travefy for a number of years.  It is an amazing tool backed by an exceptional staff of people.  I wouldn’t want to sell travel without it,” said Miki Taylor, Agent Amadassador for Agent Studio.

Travel and rentals specialists, Nico and Elkie Nicholas of RentalsCombined.net, were also named as finalists. Their rental service has been described as the “professional answer to Airbnb.”

Jacob Marek, IntroverTravels, is the third finalist. Marek provides a unique service for the introverted traveler, planning life-changing experiences for those who want to travel solo but not alone. Marek has received rave reviews for his trip-planning services from customers such as Delli T.

“It was truly the best travel experience of my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Delli.

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