Funny stuff

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"God has to have a sense of humor -- otherwise, would she have created the travel industry?"

That's one of the lines that provoked audience merriment during Scott Friedman's presentation at the ASTA Eastern Regional Conference, held recently in Bermuda.

Friedman, billed as a "motivational humorist," presented ideas on how to "play the game on your terms again," even if "you're having another bad air day."

"Change can make you bitter or change can make you better," he said. "But if you don't have challenges, you don't have too many opportunities for growth."

Much of his presentation focused on the importance of "wielding your sense of humor."

Read more about Scott Friedman on www.funnyscott.com.According to Friedman, when Inc. magazine surveyed its readers (most of whom own small businesses) on what the No. 1 survival skill for the 21st century is, 88% answered, "a sense of humor."

Here, some of his favorite stress-busting smile-inducers:

  • Call your own home answering machine during the day and record a message: "Hi, Scott, this is Scott. I just drove nine miles in rush-hour traffic to deliver a ticket -- and then I remembered it was an e-ticket! Love ya, Scott."
  • When you get home and listen to your messages, the first thing you'll think is, "Who is that?"

  • "Put on your favorite hat that looks most like an official policeman's cap, take your blow dryer out on the highway, point it and see if cars keep slowing down. People will be asking each other: 'Honey, was that a policeman with a blow dryer?'"
  • Friedman, encouraging the audience to "take risks and try new things," said, "My favorite definition of success is moving from failure to failure with enthusiasm, because you only really fail unless you stop."

    Discussing technology, he noted, "I used to think microchips were the little ones left in the bag. But if you haven't made a commitment to technology, then you might as well retire now."

    Among the technological wonders to come, said Friedman, are cars that won't start until you blow into a breathalyzer. But "that won't work," he said. "You'll have a couple of cocktails, and a guy will come up to you in the parking lot and say, 'Buddy, for $20 I'll blow-start your car.'"

    Good for a laugh

    Here are more witty words of wisdom from motivational humorist Scott Friedman, taken from his Web site, www.funnyscott.com:

    Another view of Scott Friedman's Web site.

  • Value values. The best things in life are not things.
  • Keep your words sweet, in case you have to eat them.
  • Embrace what's important. He or she who dies with the most "joys" wins.
  • Be kind. If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  • Tell the truth. That way you have a lot less to remember.
  • Get better, not bitter. Pain is a blessing when you learn the lesson.
  • Never argue with a crazy person. Outsiders don't know who's who.
  • Slip into something less comfortable. Comfort never produced greatness.
  • Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.
  • Dear IRS: I would like to cancel my subscription.
  • I am in shape. Round is a shape.
  • I hope life isn't a big joke because I don't get it.
  • If you're living on the edge, make sure you're wearing your seat belt.
  • Therapy is expensive, and popping bubble wrap is cheap! You choose.
  • A message to applaud

    A new series of radio commercials ridicules the Internet as a way to book travel, providing reasons to use a "professional travel agent." The spots, now airing in major markets in the Midwest from Omaha to Chicago, have been developed by Travel and Transport, a $600 million plus, Omaha, Neb.-based agency chain and its advertising agency, the Clark Creative Group.

    Richard Turen.The 60-second ads, which all end with the tag line "Next vacation -- I'm back with my travel agent," dramatize the pitfalls of using a dot-com to book travel. One begins, "So there we were -- stuck in the Salt Lake airport at 2 a.m., the second day of our family vacation to the islands," and ends: "Well, I've got a message for everyone who told me the Internet was the cool new way to book family vacations -- www.never again.com."

    Another ad deals with honeymooners who book on line, only to find their flights canceled and their "oceanfront bungalow" three blocks from the beach and surrounded by howler monkeys and mosquitoes.

    Each of the ads is followed by a brief promo of the agency's services.

    Amy Halverson, Travel and Transport's manager of marketing, said the campaign was developed because of agency principals' feeling that the airlines and the Internet pose a greater competitive threat than other agencies. She reported a "very satisfactory" consumer response to the campaign, with several locations tracking specific bookings from clients lured by the commercial.

    While most agencies are joining the lemmings in a mad dash to turn their clients into Internet users, Travel and Transport is taking a big first step to pointing out that faceless travel planning may not be in the consumer's best interest when it comes to vacation planning.

    Richard Turen is an industry consultant and travel agency president.

    Contact him at [email protected]

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