Practically speaking

You've seen it on bumper stickers: "If you can afford to travel first class and don't, your heirs will."

Such is the wisdom that begins longtime travel agent Theda Kessler's booklet titled Practical Travel Tips.

Kessler, who has been in the industry for about 30 years, first published her tips in 1985 on the assumption that you can't travel as much as she has without picking up some know-how along the way.

Topics range from help for the disabled, packing suggestions and insurance to traveling with children and the intriguing chapter called Complaining.

Theda Kessler's booklet incorporates tips learned from almost 30 ears of travel. Kessler, who these days works as an independent contractor for Wide World Travel in Morristown, N.J., is a generalist with more than a passing knowledge of cruising. She recently spent four months on an around-the-world cruise in the southern hemisphere lecturing on her travel tips.

Here are a few favorites:

  • If you have a close connecting flight and feel your luggage might not make it, ask for "door storage," which means that your bags are loaded last and unloaded first.
  • Make your complaints loud and clear in the event of lost luggage. Your demands for monetary compensation will probably be subject to negotiation. The kind of action you get depends in large part on the way you go about complaining.
  • Always make your car reservation in the U.S. before you leave for your trip. Get a confirmation number and be sure to take your car rental voucher.
  • String Cheerios on a string and use it as a snack necklace to appease hungry children.
  • You do not have to itemize purchases for customs if you have spent $400 or less per person. If asked to show your purchases, pack everything in one case and keep all your receipts together.
  • Never pack all your medication in your luggage, and never carry it all in your purse.
  • Consider carrying a pocket-sized medical passport including personalized medical history.
  • If you are on regular medication, carry a typewritten prescription from your doctor.

  • Many car rental firms now have hand-operated cars and vans (for travelers with disabilities), so reserve ahead.
  • Kessler's travel tips booklet is available for $3 a copy, including postage; bulk rates are available. Call (856) 234-4321.

    All about Eve

    M uch has been said about how it is women who

    are buying leisure travel for themselves and their families.

    Take even a cursory glance at the travel industry and it becomes obvious that women are doing the selling as well.

    A new book called "EVEolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women" written by Faith Popcorn with Lys Marigold, says it's time to wake up to this trend.

    The book's purpose is to shake up suppliers into understanding that those who successfully market to women will prevail in both the retail and service industries in the future.

    Faith Popcorn's book can be obtained through her Web site, www.brainreserve.com. The eight truths have mystifying titles, such as "If She Has to Ask, It's Too Late," and "Co-Parenting Is the Best Way to Raise a Brand."

    "With the economic power and independence that women have gained over the past few years, we're seeing them demand more respect and status in the marketplace," Popcorn wrote about the book. "Traditional marketers need new thinking, new direction."

    Blasting traditional brick-and-mortar retail establishments as woefully out of touch with women's concerns, Popcorn singled out the airline industry as being particularly unaware of what women want.

    What they don't want, at least while in the air, are "bitter flight attendants, dirty bathrooms and endless delays," Popcorn said.

    The book is available from Hyperion Press.

    Taking note of music

    Let's try to roll out a few current cliches in one sentence. Are you a brick-and-mortar, click-and-call niche player, trying to score market share from boomers or seniors, who have "too much leisure time?"

    If you are at work right now, is there music playing in the background?

    Sometimes I think we separate ourselves too much from the rules that run the retail world. It is nice to occasionally consider the fact that we are in sales. Richard Turen.I want to suggest that when I walk into your "store," music says who you are.

    Perhaps you have to concentrate on your work, and management has determined that there can be no music. Fine. But close your eyes and imagine walking into a dead-quiet Gap or a silent Starbucks.

    Did you ever notice that in really quiet stores, the customers start to whisper so no one will notice they are there?

    We sell the hottest, most colorful, most vibrant and most genuinely satisfying product on earth. We're in the dream-fulfillment business. The dreamer entering our store wants to share the dream, and music only can add to the magic.

    If you do lots of Europe, how about some new ballads from the best-selling CDs in Paris or Rome? If you are into adventure travel, and you should be, it's not difficult to transform your office with the sound of gentle showers and a lilting flute transporting you to a Brazilian rain forest.

    Don't get angry but this isn't your parents' travel business anymore. We are in the entertainment business, and creating the best possible mood in our "store" is a challenge we must take on.

    Studies show that properly prepared music can increase retail stores' sales by as much as 20%. Why do we assume that our business is an exception?

    Richard Turen is an industry consultant and travel agency president. Contact him at [email protected].

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