A poet and he knows it


Never underestimate the power of a rhymed jingle.

Burma Shave didn't and, in days gone by, sold mounds of shaving cream by printing jingles on a series of roadside signs, catching the attention of countless drivers and passengers over the years.

Image Now ASTA is modernizing that approach with a series of special bumper stickers being given out to everyone who attends the ASTA World Travel Congress, opening in Los Angeles this week. The stickers are an inexpensive and creative solution to the problem of getting widespread advertising exposure for ASTA and travel agents, said Norman Sherman. Owner of Suburban Travel in Larchmont, N.Y., Sherman introduced them to his chapter, Hudson Valley, last month.

"We can't always spend a quarter of a million dollars to take half a page in the [New York] Times," Sherman said. The bumper stickers work especially well in small towns, he noted. After three days driving with a bumper sticker on his car, Sherman said he was getting lots of comments from friends and neighbors.

He said the jingles were written by "everyone who wanted to get involved," which included his wife, his daughter and outgoing ASTA president Mike Spinelli, with a contribution using one of Spinelli's favorite sayings, "Internet, schminternet," continuing with the line, "A travel agent/is a scam-free bet." The stickers are available in two versions, one for car bumpers, another for car or office windows.

Sherman had this to add about the importance of consumers' learning about travel agents and ASTA:

"Our time is short
The fight is long
Get our message out now
Or be forever forlorn."

Getting ready for the congress

Here are some hints on how to get the most out of this week's ASTA World Travel Congress in (or any conference), adapted from Travel Agency Management, a newsletter published by Davidoff Associates:

  • Prepare yourself ahead of time. For example, you can list several specific questions you want answered.
  • Use break time to network. Talk with your peers. Make lunch and dinner plans with as many different people as you can. Conference participants can often learn more from each other than from the professional presenters.
  • Bring lots of business cards. When you receive a card, make a note about something distinctive about the person giving it to you. Leave cards at trade show booths to be placed on exhibitors' mailing list.
  • Collect handouts from all speakers--even those whose sessions you do not attend. Some conferences publish all handouts in a single book, ASTA among them.
  • Read your notes. Review them on the way home and prepare a summary of what you have learned to share with your staff.
  • Back at work, conduct a mini-seminar for your staff on key points you have learned.
  • Keep in touch with speakers. Write or e-mail them with your questions on specific topics. Ask how you can get additional information on their specialties.
  • Dick, we'll miss ya

    Dick KnodtAccessibility. Great follow-through. The cutest knees of all the ASTA executives who wore kilts at last year's ASTA World Travel Congress in Glasgow. These are some of the virtues of Dick Knodt, ASTA's executive vice president and chief operating officer, according to Society officials.

    Other tributes follow for Knodt, who will leave ASTA next week to become president of a new marketing company, Travel Associates Network.

    "I felt like Dick was one of my favorite brothers when we were working about 28 hours a day together on crisis management right after the commission caps. You'd always look to him to find what's positive in a situation."
    Jeanne Epping
    ASTA past president

    "I always called him when I had a problem. Twenty minutes later, he'd call back. He was able to be objective, even when a problem was political."
    Elaine Ackerman
    Area 3 director

    "He'd always tell [ASTA staff], 'When you're spending money, always remember that you're spending the members' dues money.' "
    Ray Greenley
    Vice president
    Chapter and member services

    "When the commission caps first hit, he was scheduled to address our chapter. He was broadsided by 120 members, all asking 'What's ASTA going to do for us?' He was able to calm everybody down, so nobody went out and decided to close their agency the next day."
    Bev Zukow
    Orange County, Calif. Chapter

    "What impressed me the most was that Dick was able to stabilize the staff situation at headquarters. His management ability combined with his background as a travel agent made him uniquely suited to bridging the connection between ASTA's volunteers and staff workers."
    Gerry Jung
    Outgoing ASTA secretary

    Outside agents to visit Emerald Isle

    National Gallery"Unforgettable Ireland" is the theme of the 1999 international conference to be held by Jupiter, Fla.-based Outside Sales Support Network March 26 to 30. Independent agent members will get to choose from several preconference fams at such properties as Dromoland Castle, Ashford Castle and Glenlo Abbey. The conference will begin in Dublin, with a city tour. Participants will travel to Killarney for the full-day trade show and meeting, which will feature seminars on such topics as how to develop an international sales force with travel consultants abroad. The conference cost, including all hotels, meals and tours, is $599. Call (800) 771-7327 or e-mail [email protected].

    Destination seminars

    Want to get more destination and tour information on Asia, Europe and Hawaii? If you're located in or near one of seven cities, you can attend sessions put on by the Minneapolis-based tour operator KLM/Northwest World Vacations and sponsored by Alamo and Travel Weekly. Agents attending can earn two continuing education credits with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents and are eligible to win a trip for two to Asia.

    These free seminars include dinner and run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Venues and dates are as follows:
    Oct. 21. Sheraton Cavalier Hotel in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
    Oct. 27. Radisson Inn Green Bay in Green Bay, Wis.
    Oct. 28. Sheraton Society Hill Hotel, Philadelphia.
    Oct. 29. The Holiday Inn Syracuse, Syracuse, N.Y.
    Nov. 3. Seattle Marriott, at Sea-Tac Airport.
    Nov. 4. Pasadena Hilton, Pasadena, Calif.
    Nov. 5. Warner Center Marriott, Woodland Hills, Calif.
    Call (800) 283-7268 to get further details and to register. bookstores, despite bearing dates that would have readers believe otherwise.")

    Taking a tip from Nordstrom
    By Laura Del Rosso

    attractive agencyServing customers is not unlike having guests over for a special occasion, like Thanksgiving. You plan, set the table and make sure everything is in order so that the guests have a wonderful experience. That's the analogy that Nordstrom, the Seattle-based department store known for fine customer service, uses in its sales training.

    Pat McCarthy, one of Nordstrom's top salespeople and coauthor of the business best-seller "The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America's No. 1 Customer Service Company," told delegates at AAA's Travel Industry Conference recently that agencies can easily adapt Nordstrom's practices to their own operations.

    In the Thanksgiving analogy, for example, McCarthy noted how the smells of the roasting turkey, a beautifully set table and the warmth of a crackling fire all add to an atmosphere "that gets the senses going from the minute guests step inside your door." He described the creation of such a "sensory experience" as "celebrating the customers" by making them and the entire purchasing experience feel special. "Do we just get them in and out of the door or do we create a special time with them?" he asked.

    McCarthy said that to enhance the atmosphere, agencies should make sure their premises are clean and attractive, window displays are interesting, there is good lighting and every contact that the customer has with an employee is warm and welcoming.


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