Quite a few agents also do travel radio shows -- but Stephen
Pickford's may be the one heard in the most places.
Broadcast from Montreal, "Travel World Radio Show" airs on
Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon EST in various U.S. and Canadian
cities on the affiliated stations of the Liberty Works Radio
Network (based in Westminster, Md.) and is available around the
world on the Internet using Real Audio.
Pickford, who is director of marketing for the Zagury Travel
Group, a corporate travel agency located in Dollard, Quebec (a
suburb of Montreal), said that the show's high profile (it is the
highest-rated locally produced, English-language program in its
time slot) "gives us instant credibility with clients and makes
them feel confident to refer us" to their friends.
As for the content of the show, "we try to create the atmosphere
of buddies sitting around the kitchen table talking about their
latest travel adventures," said Pickford.
His co-host, Willem Bagghus, "has been referred to as the Howard
Stern of travel," said Pickford.
Bagghus, who writes a travel column in a local paper, "keeps the
program moving on a lighter tone" -- especially welcome, said
Pickford, "when we get too tied-down talking in industry jargon."
Also adding to the down-to-earth tone is a "returning cast of
characters for the audience to identify with" -- regular
correspondents who report on various specialties such as family
Pickford does shows on "a variety of destinations" to appeal to
both the East and West coasts, including "a lot of drive
destinations," he said.
He also focuses on industry events such as new routes; often
profiles companies, such as start-up carriers, and discusses issues
affecting the business traveler, such as net fares.
Among Pickford's most memorable guests is former Canadian Prime
Minister Kim Campbell, who "spent a good 45 minutes with us talking
about everything under the sun, like nude beaches in Southern
California." Campbell, who said she had gained weight and
"sometimes felt like she was carrying around a 30-pound ham in her
behind," declined to tell Pickford whether she had actually bared
all on those beaches.
In his 10-year travel-broadcasting career, Stephen Pickford has
done cable TV and he has done radio -- and he much prefers the
Why? The medium is "a lot more fun, easier to do and more
interactive," he said.
Pickford, who has been co-host of Montreal-based "Travel World
Radio Show" for several years, also is happy with radio's
flexibility. "You can talk to guests anywhere; they can be sitting
in the bathtub."
Also director of marketing at Dollard, Quebec-based Zagury Travel
Group, Pickford provided tips for other agents who are thinking of
developing their own travel shows:Make your topics varied and "accessible -- not always about the
most exotic travel," he said. Most listeners prefer to hear about
"affordable trips they can relate to."Always have a long list of questions to ask your interview
subjects, so you don't run out of things to talk about.It's "good not to be a solo act, have someone else there to
talk to and ad-lib with," he said.
The ideal partner is "someone with entertainment background, or
a Joe Average" to provide the nontravel industry point of view.When you're looking at a radio station to hook up with,
consider its demographics; you want the one whose listeners are
closest to your client base, not necessarily the highest-rated
How can I figure what it costs to process a sale?
To get a truly accurate picture of your costs, you'll need the
help of a qualified accountant. However, the following formula will
get you in the ballpark.
up the annual expenses of running your operation. Divide the total
by the number of full-time salespeople, then divide that number by
2,000 -- the approximate number of hours each agent works per
For example, if your expenses are $100,000 and you have two
full-time salespeople, your operating cost per person is $50,000.
Your cost per "sales hour" is $25.
Next, determine how long it takes to handle a transaction. For
an average transaction, consider the time required for the initial
consultation as well as for handling changes and refunds and
sending out documentation. If the transaction takes about 30
minutes and your cost per sales hour is $25, then processing a
typical order costs you $12.50. (These are hypothetical numbers, of
I don't always have time to explain office policies to my staff
-- is this really necessary?
During busy times, you will be tempted to simply dictate
instructions and orders to your staff without explaining why you do
things a certain way. Don't.
Without some rationale behind the policy, employees are more
likely to repeat the same mistake that inspired company policy to
begin with. Take the time to give your staff specific examples of
problems you've handled by deciding on specific company policies --
for example, mistakes that were averted after the last fare sale.
Once your staff is able to see the big picture, they can buy in to
the solution with better understanding.
Former agency owner Dan McManus is the publisher of the
newsletter The Successful Worldspan Agent. Contact him at [email protected].