Louis Willacy is no stranger to giving back.
As a boy, he was an Eagle Scout. And as an attorney who graduated
from the Columbia Law School in New York, he has taken on his fair
share of pro bono work. So when he decided to open an online travel
agency, it made sense that his business plan would incorporate a
DonorTravel.com, which debuted earlier this year,
donates 50% of commissions to a range of charitable organizations,
which the client can choose.
Charities include the
American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes
Association, American Heart Association, Childrens Defense Fund,
Habitat for Humanity, Alzheimers Association, United Negro College
Fund, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and
When clients click on
one of the listed charities, they are linked to that charitys Web
site where they can learn about all aspects of that particular
organization. Willacy said DonorTravel.com hopes to eventually
expand its list of charities to include smaller, niche
behind DonorTravel.com was to combine the two aspects of my life,
community service and travel, said Willacy. We wanted to choose
Earlier in the year,
most clients chose to donate to the American Red Cross to send aid
to victims of the December tsunami in Asia.
Willacy believes the
travel industry is a natural fit for him.
I love to travel, and
my involvement began more as a hobby than a business endeavor, he
said. I was very lucky in that my parents not only loved to travel,
but they also didnt mind traveling with kids. We traveled to
Canada, Mexico and took some bigger trips to Europe.
In 2002, he launched
Globapost.com, a message-board service that also produced a monthly
newsletter covering destinations around the world.
The segue to
DonorTravel.com sprung out of our focus on trying to generate
revenue to support the newsletter and Globapost.com, said
launching of DonorTravel.com was so involved and time-consuming
that Globapost.com has temporarily fallen by the wayside, Willacy
said, adding that he expected to have it up and running by years
designed to offer prospective travelers the best deals in a
competitive online marketplace, Willacy said. Our inventory is very
competitive price-wise, he said. We are a viable option for anyone
who wants to book travel online, and we have the same or better
rates than most of the other travel Web sites.
whose tagline is Feel Good Travel, uses a third-party company that
provides the inventory and handles the bookings.
This company notifies
DonorTravel.com of the booking. The company inputs booking
information into its database, and sends an e-mail to clients
delineating the trip details.
It then notifies
DonorTravel.com who has booked travel so that we can notify those
travelers to have them designate which charity will receive the
donation, said Willacy.
The site is set up so
that one smaller charity, the Blackmon Foundation in Canton, Miss.,
which provides college scholarships, acts as a clearinghouse that
remits funds to the charities of the clients choice.
The company is on
target to meet its sales goals.
Since weve launched,
we have received a very strong response from consumers, said
Willacy. Weve launched with a solid business plan with targets and
Willacy is optimistic
about the future of DonorTravel.com.
Because we have the
same rates or better rates than most of the travel Web sites, there
is no downside to booking on DonorTravel, Willacy said. And the
upside is you help charities.
To contact Agent
Life reporter Claudette Covey, send e-mail [email protected].
Living it up in
Tessie Young, a travel counselor at San
Jose, Calif.-based Peak Travel, designed this five-night tour of
London. Young has been a European specialist for more than 20
years. For the best specials, upgrades and dollar rates she
suggests agents book through www.jhhotels.com.
Clients check into
the Stafford Hotel. Since they will be arriving early, Young
suggests they leave their bags at the front desk, stop for a latte
at Cafe Nero and then board the Big Red Bus for a tour of London.
They should buy tickets beforehand to enter the Tower of London and
join a Beefeaters tour. The venue for lunch is Chez Girard. That
evening, they can enjoy a light dinner at the Staffords American
The day starts with a
visit to Trafalgar Square and Lord Nelsons Monument. They then
visit the National Gallery and have an early lunch in the museums
Sainsbury Wing. Travelers cross the street in time for the free
lunchtime concert at St. Martins in the Field. Later in the day
they can visit Knightsbridge. After exploring Harvey Nichols and
Harrods -Young said not to miss the food hall, which serves the
best gelato outside of Italy -- clients can continue the shopping
spree with a walk down Walton Street past Chelseas boutiques.
Travelers dine at Bibendum before attending the theater in the
A morning tour
includes the changing of the guard at Parliament Square,
Westminster Abbey, the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum.
Travelers can then have lunch at Alberts Pub, near the Churchill
Museum. If it is a weekend,they can eat at the Borough Market.
Clients walk the pedestrian bridge to the South Bank and see the
London Eye, the New Tate Gallery, the Saatchi Gallery and
Shakespeares Globe. The venue for dinner is Chor Bizarre, an Indian
restaurant near the Stafford.
Travelers take a tour
with Lewis Day Chauffeurs, which has designed a secret tour of
London. Lunch is sandwiches from Pret a Manger. The Staffords
concierge will arrange a dinner at the Wolseley restaurant. Weeks
before arrival the concierge can obtain tickets to the Ceremony of
the Keys at the Tower.
Clients visit the
British Museum in time for the highlights tour by a Blue Badge
Guide. They have lunch at the museum in the Great Court. The
Stafford concierge can book tea at the Ritz and a play for
travelers last evening in London, which is capped off with a light
meal at the Soho Hotel.
Itinerary is an example of an itinerary an agent crafted his or
herself, not available anywhere else, but can be duplicated by
other agents to sell to their clients. To send an example of an
itinerary youve customized, e-mail Covey at [email protected].
agent makes the extra effort
Jewell Ramos specialty is designing highly
detailed FIT vacations to Mexico. Although her clientele is decidedly upscale, Ramos said she
is on a mission to ensure customers get the best value for their
Ramos, an outside
consultant for Worldview Travel who is based in Hendersonville,
N.C., knows where to turn when looking for that value: Gogo
I happened to call
Gogo on a whim three years ago -- I knew they handled a certain
property -- and got reservations agent Meagan Campain on the phone,
said Ramos, adding that the two instantly clicked. She and I have
been as thick as thieves ever since.
Campain is creative
when helping Ramos find the best air and hotel prices, she
Also, Campain, who is
based in Las Vegas, is certain to get back to Ramos, regardless of
any time-zone differences.
Ill call her from
anywhere, any time zone, said Ramos. She makes sure she gets back
to me, no matter what continent Im on.
Campain said the two
have connected under an array of circumstances.
Ive caught Jewell
while shes in the airport connecting to another flight, she said.
During a hurricane she plugged her laptop into the cigarette
lighter of her car, enabling the two to work on an itinerary
together, said Campain.
In Campains view,
what makes Ramos a superlative travel counselor is her ability to
A lot people are just
order takers, Campain said. Jewell listens to her clients. She
knows what theyre looking for and what their budgets
Both women agree that
clients are demanding.
They dont mind
spending money, but they know what they want and you better get it
for them -- and they want every nook and cranny of Mexico, said
as a team, the women obtain the trip elements that are ideally
suited for clients.
Together, we get them
what they want, said Campain.
Hand in Hand
highlights successful examples of agents and suppliers working
together. Send suggestions to Covey at [email protected].
Im sorry, I dont share the views
of the doom-and-gloom brigade. There are endless opportunities in
travel. And just in case those of us who work in travel run out of
creative ideas, the academics on university campuses can guide us
in the creation of still more opportunities. To wit, two professors
in the field of geriatric medicine at Chicagos prestigious
Doctors Robert Golub
and Lee Lindquist wrote an article in the American Geriatrics
Journal that suggests a modern cruise ship is well equipped to fill
the role of a floating assisted-living facility.
Their article was
accompanied by estimates that boils down the cost of cruise ship
care to about $3,000 per month. That compares quite favorably with
current assisted-living costs.
The idea is designed
to appeal to Baby Boomers who dread the thought of being
For the same
approximate price, the doctors theorize, a family could tell a
loved one that instead of placing him in a home or a nursing
facility, it is going to place him on a cruise ship in the
Crews would have to
be trained in caring for the elderly, helping guests get around the
ship, assisting them in the morning as they get dressed, etc. But
onboard medical care is not a problem, accessibility to major
hospitals in Florida is not a problem and the nonmedical benefits
are not insignificant.
Mr. Wilson we want
you to feel better tomorrow so you can go ashore in Aruba would
seem to be better motivation than what is currently offered to our
seniors in most medical settings on land.
Some have ridiculed
the concept. I wont.
Sure, its out there,
and I dont see Bob, Micky, Jack or Mark jumping on this anytime
soon. And, yes, we might have to get rid of the rock-climbing
But think about the
possibility that housekeeping, meal service, staff-to-patient
ratios and the availability of 24/7 medical care could be better
and more affordable aboard a ship then they currently are on
Perhaps, some day, we
can take our slightly worn and regal Voyagers, Diamonds and
Princesses and find a far better use for them in their old age as
we improve the golden years of some of our slightly worn but still
consultant Richard Turen owns the vacation-planning firm Churchill
and Turen in Naperville, Ill. An industry veteran for nearly 25
years, he has been named to Conde Nast Travelers Best Agents list
since the list debuted in 2000.
using clients preferences
Personal preferences are the cornerstone to successful one-to-one
marketing efforts, said Rick Kaplan of WeCan Partners, a Travel
& Hospitality consulting firm in Los Angeles. These personal
likes and dislikes play a significant role in the purchase of
travel, he said. Understanding preferences allows you to talk on a
more personal level to both prospects and customers.
Capture preferences early and often. Ask how they want to be
contacted, if they can travel in fewer than 60 days and if they can
travel with children. Dont be afraid to ask for their e-mail
address so that you can send them specials, said Kaplan. Then,
based on your ability to store the information, gather additional
data on personal preferences for future marketing
Segment customers and prospects not by where they live, but by
their personal preferences and what kind of travel they like.
Create separate contact pieces for each customer type and develop a
past-guest marketing program. You should touch past customers three
to four times a year and after each trip, said Kaplan.
Develop relevant content that addresses the individuality of your
audience. If they have indicated they want to go to Alaska, why
send them Europe? asked Kaplan. If they buy upscale packages or
cruises, a three- or four-day cruise may not be relevant. Although
you may not be able to talk to each individually, you can talk to
their preferences in your e-mail or traditional contact pieces, he
said. Learn the tricks of how to tailor those pieces to make them
relevant to your customers. If you do, your close ratios and
profitability will show dramatic improvements.
Data is king, and if you are sending direct mail, incorporate a
postage-paid survey card. If you are e-mailing them, provide an
ability to append their personal preferences online and monitor
those changes for a sales follow-up. It will be the best marketing
money you ever spent, said Kaplan.