Politics aside, agents hope Washington will work with the travel industry

By Michelle Baran
CruiseWorld and Home Based Agent ShowFORT LAUDERDALE -- The day after the presidential election, how and whether Washington can help the travel industry was top of mind among travel agents during an open forum discussion here.

"We represent not a particular political party, we represent the industry of travel," said one agent during the Think Tank: Open Attendee Exchange at Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld and Home Based Agent Show.

Suggesting that retailers refer to travel-related economic charts and data published by Travel Weekly, the agent recommended sharing that information with clients as an indication that customers should feel confident traveling.

"Regardless of what side of the political spectrum [our clients are] on, say, 'Things have really been picking up in travel, that's a good sign. You can feel comfortable traveling,'" she said.

Travel agents avoided partisanship during the open discussion, choosing instead to focus on common issues in the travel industry that they can rally behind.

"I'm smart enough not to lose half of my friends by talking politics," said Captain Lou Edwards.

Another agent hoped that the Obama administration would simply help encourage travel with positive messages about traveling.

One agent shared a nonpartisan election-related business story, saying she had gotten a call after the election for a booking of 20 people who wanted to go to President Obama's second-term inauguration. Her business acumen received loud applause from the crowd.

The discussion then turned to other hot-button topics among retailers, including travel insurance horror stories and a slew of tech tips.

One agent asked if there is insurance that covers agents' commissions in the event a client cancels, and another agent said that Travel Insured does indeed offer commission protection.

Some of the most popular technology sites that emerged during the discussion included Zopim.com, a free live-chat provider; Zoho.com, a free CRM; Call-Em-All.com, a mass-texting service; and Pogoplug.com, a data storage service.

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