Feuer decided to become a travel agent, he was completing his last
year of law school and already had a medical degree.
"I remember we had a lecture from a tax professor about how the
real secret to life is finding a job you enjoy," Feuer recalled. He
had already decided to forsake his osteopathy practice and become a
lawyer specializing in health issues because of his disenchantment
with doctors practicing medicine as a business.
But his life took another turn after his tax professor's lecture
on finding happiness only after a career switch. Feuer, then 27,
asked his wife what he should do. "She asked me what I enjoy most.
I told her cruising. She said, 'Why don't you figure out a way to
work cruises into a career?' " Feuer said.
Researching this prospect, Feuer managed to get cruise executive
Rod McLeod, then with Royal Caribbean, on the phone. What did
McLeod think of Feuer joining the cruise line to give seminars on
medicine and law? McLeod suggested that Feuer start his own
Feuer learned the travel business and was soon opening up Pace
Travel (Pace is an acronym for Physician's and Attorney's
Continuing Education) in West Palm Beach, Fla. Now he is probably
the only travel agency owner in the country who also actively
practices both law and medicine. Feuer does not book airline
tickets or take walk-in business. His clients are usually
professional organizations -- often medical associations --
interested in cruises. But individual clients from these groups
often book FITs, as well.
Still, the agency is not his major source of income; he books
less than $1 million a year. The bulk of Feuer's income comes from
his work as an osteopathic physician who is director of medical and
academic affairs for Columbia Hospital in West Palm Beach.
Feuer also works as a lawyer for his agency clients -- law is
the one area where his income keeps going up. In both travel and
medicine, income is capped, but law fees keep rising, Feuer
Hmm. Law school anyone?
The doctor is in, part 2
What do doctors prescribe for their own vacations? His clientele
of doctors and lawyers usually look for what other affluent leisure
travelers do, said Bradley Feuer, a practicing attorney with a
medical degree who is also owner of Pace Travel in West Palm Beach,
Fla. Most seek out products with a high level of customer
satisfaction and service, he said.
There is also a trend toward cruises with lecturers aboard, so
that participants combine pleasure and continuing educational
requirements or professional advancement, Feuer said.
Feuer's educational achievements provide him one advantage when
he deals with his professional clientele. "Being one of them, I
tend to foster more respect than if they were dealing with a
layman. So they might be less likely to blow up when dealing with
me," he said.
Feuer said there are similarities between doctors and travel
agents. Both are professions with problems. For travel agents,
there are airline commission cutbacks. For physicians, there is
Another similarity is the personal satisfaction that comes from
helping people. Feuer remembers one incident when a quarreling
couple went with him on a cruise and managed to patch up their
shaky marriage, which Feuer attributes in large part to the cruise.
"They had taken the cruise as a last-ditch effort to get together.
There's magic about cruises."
Collecting the data
Here is part two
of Lucy Hirleman's series on using database marketing:
Does your agency have a client questionnaire or inquiry form for
collecting personal data? If not, you will need to create one. Your
form should collect as much information as possible yet be simple
and quick to complete.
You can control the information as much as possible, as well as
make things easier for clients, by providing choices for clients to
check off instead of asking them to fill in the blanks. For
example, the "destination" section on our form lists 20
geographical areas. Clients are instructed to put a check mark if
they have visited an area or an "X" if they want to visit it. Don't
forget a place for clients to fill in fax and e-mail information,
Creating a form in a word processor allows quick changes and
adjustments if needed -- or you can have a professional printing
service do the layout for you. Once you have a satisfactory form,
get a few hundred copies made so that you can start mailings and
have them handy when new clients call or walk in.
Then you can start mailing the forms to clients. We attached a
short note to the form explaining that we were updating our
database to provide better service and timely information. We also
encourage returns by awarding one $50 cash prize every quarter,
chosen from all fully completed forms.
You don't have to mail the form to your entire list at one time.
Do it in blocks, such as 50 at a time or alphabetically (such as A
through D in the first mailing, E through I in the second). Enclose
a return addressed (no stamp) envelope. For new clients, we enclose
the form in the thank-you card we send after they return from their
In my next column, I'll discuss how to organize and use the
information you've been collecting.
Lucy Hirleman, CTC, MCC, owns Berkshire Travel in
Newfoundland, N.J. Contact her at [email protected]; fax,
The Working Vacation
Do you know any great 45-plus guys who would like to dine and
dance with women on cruise ships? The Working Vacation invites
agents to become part of its referral network and recommend "men of
character" from their home communities to be part of its gentlemen
hosts program for such cruise lines as Cunard, Holland America and
Delta Queen. www.theworkingvacation.com
For your clients contemplating seeing the various regions of
Britain on foot, you'll find excerpts and an on-line order service
for Richard Hayward's British Footpath Guides. Other features of
the site include articles about Britain and Ireland from European
Visits Magazine. www.britishfootpaths.com
A link home for clients
Agents can earn 20% commission by recommending Link Home, a new
service that provides travelers with instant access to medical and
other essential private information they may need when they're away
Link Home's service is available 24 hours a day from anywhere in
the world. Using the Internet or a toll-free phone number and fax,
Link Home members (or medical personnel treating them in an
emergency) can access complete medical histories; insurance; family
and attorney contacts, and passport details.
Complete confidentiality is maintained using data encryption;
information can only be accessed using a code and ID number. Once a
client has enrolled, his or her file is immediately reviewed by
physicians on staff, who will advise the member to provide more
data if necessary.
Link Home was developed by a team that includes a
Harvard-trained surgeon, a travel agent, an information technology
professional and an attorney. Link Home costs $59 to enroll and $39
to renew annually. For more information, call (800) 501-8723 or
Checking out your outside agents
The Miller Travel Group, the consulting firm headed by Ellicott
City, Md.-based attorney Jeff Miller, is offering a new service --
the travel agency independent contractor audit, designed to assist
travel agency owners in analyzing and assessing the relationship
with their independent contractors and avoiding tax and legal
As part of the audit, the agency owner receives a detailed
questionnaire on such areas as the revenue generated by outside
agents and the agency's written independent contractor
The fee for the full audit is $1,500 for up to three independent
contractors. Additional independent contractors will be audited for
a fee of $350 each.
There is also a less detailed miniaudit available for $400. Both
audits include a copy of Miller Travel Group's Travel Industry
Independent Contractor Handbook and cassette tape, which retail for
For more information, call (410) 418-9200, fax (410) 418-9204 or
check out the group's Web site at www.jmillerlaw.com.
Compiled by Jennifer Dorsey. E-mail suggestions to [email protected]