Recommend August 2010 - (Page 6)

editor’s I notes agent speak It’s August and it’s hot, hot, hot—and so is this month’s issue and a few other projects we have lined up. First, you’re definitely going to want to save our “Central America Calling...” pullout supplement because it’s positively loaded with information on new product, new properties, along with information on all the Central America hotspots that’s going to add a lot to your bottom line. But we’ve got a lot more in the pipeline this month and next month that are geared to—as our tag line proudly says—“helping travel agents sell travel.” Beginning Aug. 12, Recommend and yours truly will be introducing an 8-part Magical Kenya Webinar Series in conjunction with the Kenya Tourist Board highlighting all the product this “Magical” destination has to offer. The individual webinars will be co-hosted by select Kenya specialist wholesaler partners and Kenya experts, including African Travel, Inc., Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Ker & Downey, Micato Safaris and Swain Tours. As a special incentive, participants in all eight webinars of the Magical Kenya Webinar Series will be entered into a drawing to win one of 25 Kenya prize packages. But wait, there’s more—as the TV pitchmen say. Next month, we’re kicking off the Saint Lucia Travel Agent Specialist Program in both our print September issue and online at the Recommend Education Center (edu. In this invaluable information and education program, you’ll get in-depth knowledge of everything you need to know to effectively sell this beautiful island as a Saint Lucia specialist, plus earn ongoing education credits and a whole lot more. We’ll also be front and center at the “Home Based Travel Agent Forum,” scheduled for Sept. 27-29 in Miami at the Hyatt Regency Miami, where yours truly will be the moderator on the panel, A Turnaround in Tours? Catching the Upswing, and the rest of the Recommend team will be on hand to meet you, as well, so we all look forward to seeing you there. big fish, little fish In spite of cruise lines now operating as though everyone has a computer (and a printer), we know that is not the case and subsequently invest a chunk of our workday pre-registering our clients, printing up their boarding passes and instructing them on the fine art of baggage tag origami. Along with super-serving our clientele, this also puts us in the position of being accidental recipients of the cruise line’s direct marketing. It has always been our contention that we entrust our clients to a cruise line’s care, not that we are handing them over and gracefully stepping aside. Two recent communications, intended for our clients, made us feel otherwise. The first, a welcome home greeting from Celebrity, followed within the hour by a special offer from RCI, which prompted me to set aside the paperwork, the online forms, printing, and—oh yes—sales, to return those e-mails directly to the presidents of Celebrity and Royal Caribbean along with a note, which in essence said this: “As you read over the following e-mail to our client, is there a mention of Gotta Go Cruises, the agency who guided and entrusted this client to you? Is there a direct link to Our phone number? Or does this piece only contain links, phone numbers and offers that all connect directly, exclusively, back to you? The correct answers are no, no, no, and absolutely. I’d appreciate it if you would take another look at the e-mail, this time from the perspective of the client and then from that of the agency that steered that client to you. Perhaps from a different viewpoint, you may see that tossing in a travel agent mention does not in any way imply an endorsement or even a sincere suggestion on your part. We understand the intent of the e-mail but the generic message to ‘call your travel agent,’ ironically, is also in competition with the numerous boldface links and options that lead directly to you.” Our hope is to continue to move forward with our partnership and not have to compete with the cruise line for our clients.” Within 24 hours I had e-mail responses both from Dan Hanrahan and from Vicki Freed (who was at sea, on vacation in Europe and wrote to promise a follow-up phone call when she returned). While I was impressed that they took our concerns seriously enough to respond, and while both Hanrahan and Freed assured me that they regard the travel agent community as partners, I don’t know that our subsequent conversations have resolved the issue. It seems that part of the problem still stems from the perception by some that booking direct is better than working with a travel agent. And while I understand that changing the perception is not the cruise line’s responsibility, it does seem that elevating our presence (and by that I mean specifically naming the agency that delivered the business) in their direct communications, would go a long way as a recommendation. We understand that there are massive ships to be filled and we’re all doing our best to book up the cabins (as well as provide the time-consuming followup required). But recognizing that our primary function is to sell and service, and given that RCCL has a significant marketing machine in place, wouldn’t everyone benefit if that marketing continued the loop of sending our clients back to us so we could help them return to the RCI ships? Cindy Clifford Gotta Go Cruises Long Island, NY Responses, opinions and comments are welcome at Recommend reserves the right to edit letters submitted to Agent Speak. next month Get ready to call your family travel clients, because we’ve got a whole issue dedicated to family travel with features on everything from “Most Affordable Family Tours to Europe,” the top 10 family resort stays in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Africa family safaris and family cruising. You’re also going to get an in-depth look at the new Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios in Orlando, as well as sightseeing in Montreal, family-style. In the meantime, have a great read.—Rick Shively 6 august 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend August 2010

Editor's Notes/Agent Speak
Hotel Desk
Tour Talk
Uniworld's River Royale
Discover flanders
Five-Star Taiwan
Karisma Sweetens the Pot
Barcelo Los Cabos Palace Deluxe
Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa
Central America Calling...
Garza  Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa
Israel With Goway Travel
Puerto Rico: A community Experience
Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
The Bahamas: Players' Paradise
Orlando World Center Marriott Resort
All-American St. Louis
PH Towers by Westgate, Las Vegas

Recommend August 2010