Of the three partners in Gotta Go Cruises in Bayshore, N.Y., "I'm
the nutty one," said Cindy Clifford. (But since her cruise-only
agency was virtually unaffected by the airline commission cuts,
we'd call her a smart cookie instead.)
Clifford was a little nervous about admitting she believes in
psychic phenomena. "But I've gone to some extraordinarily talented
psychics," she said.
"The thing that defines their credibility is when they'll give
you one or two specific details they couldn't have known any other
way," Clifford said.
"Once you know that you go on [after death] and that the people
you've loved and lost [go on], it changes your overall approach to
Beyond providing spiritual comfort, Clifford's beliefs helped
her develop the agency's latest theme cruise, NowAge 2000, set for
March 26 on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky.
First she asked a local psychic, Jeffrey Wand, who has his own
radio show, "The Psychic Eye," if he wanted to host a cruise. Wand
put her in touch with well-known psychic Suzane Northrop, author of
the book "The Seance: Healing Messages From Beyond," who will
headline the program. The cruise will feature seminars on such
topics as intuitive healing.
"This is a voyage for believers that the dearly departed [are]
ready to make contact [with the living]," reads the press release
written by Northrop's public relations firm, which has planned a
big "media push" for the cruise.
This has meant lots of publicity for the agency, including
stories in the Miami Sun Sentinel, on Yahoo and on the TV show
"Extra." But Gotta Go's partners -- Clifford, Flo Kiss and Lain
Johanson -- were most tickled by receiving a call from CNN
With this sailing, "we look to people who maybe have never
cruised before but will be drawn to it for the content of the
seminars. They'll go on to discover the magic of cruising."
The agency doesn't always deal with otherworldly themes; next up
is an alumni cruise for hockey players on NCL's Voyager of the
And while Clifford may believe in psychics, she's also big on
"free will." The information she'll get from a reading "is not
written in stone; it's more, this is the direction [in which]
Fruitful promotion tips
We're not a storefront with brochures," said Cindy Clifford of
Gotta Go Cruises in Bayshore, N.Y. "We're going out there and
looking for business."
Clifford and her two partners first became outside agents after
their enthusiasm about cruises led them to "convincing people in
the supermarket" to ship out; then they formed their own agency
three-and-a-half years ago.
The following are tips from an agency that sees its mission as
"converting the world one passenger at a time":Be observant and look for ideas in your everyday life. "Check
out every business you drive by and ask yourself, 'Are they going
for the same people as I am? What could I do with them?' " said
For example, her commute took her past a large, very popular
water amusement park that was a mecca for families from all over.
Figuring there was a natural fit between water sports and cruising,
she and a Carnival rep developed a joint ad, including a cruise
discount coupon, that ran next to the amusement park's map.Look for a good fit and the right demographics when checking
out partners for promotions.
For example, an automotive dealer may not be your best bet
because people spending money on a car may not have the additional
bucks for a vacation at the same time.Make connections with supplier sales reps. Clifford suggested
calling your district sales managers and saying, "I'd like to be
doing something other than waiting for bookings to come in."
She said, "Our DSMs have been absolutely instrumental to our
success, providing astounding amounts of support and ideas. If we
try something and it doesn't work, they say, 'Let's try something
else.' "The $699 cruise
To some of us, those phony price come-on ads are merely
humorous.You know what I'm talking about -- those huge ads
screaming prices that always end in nine.
approach may seem dated and silly, but there are naive consumers
who get the impression that these large discount outlets actually
get prices other retailers can't match.
One approach you might take to counter this industry practice is
what I call a dissection ad. Take the $699 price and clearly show
the reader what it doesn't include. You might headline your ad, "Is
This Truthful Advertising?" Then, point out your firm does not use
bait-and-switch pricing techniques. Your price will include air
fare, port charges, government fees, transfers, etc.
If you have an architect friend, ask him or her to draw a
diagram labeled "Dissection of a Cruise Price." Yes, your prices
will be higher than those of the phony discounters. But an ad
discussing honest pricing enables your agency to be the consumer's
This is a far better position from which to attract and retain
clients. Phony price ads that show minimum cruise cabins and leave
out numerous extra charges, as well as air fare, are inherently
insulting to the reader.
Richard Turen is managing director of the Churchill Group, a
sales and marketing consulting firm, as well as president of the
agency Churchill & Turen Ltd., both based in Naperville, Ill.
E-mail him at [email protected].Updated consolidator guide
Moffit's Consolidators Guide, now in an updated fourth edition,
is one source of information for agents who want to sell air
through consolidators. Published by Roanoke, Va.-based SFC Travel
Publications, the volume provides a list of domestic and
Information on each company
includes years of operation, trade affiliation, details of bonds
and/or escrow accounts, ticketing information, airlines
represented, destinations served and gateway cities.
Commission information incudes whether or not agents get paid a
commission percentage or the consolidator provides a net fare as
well as the timing of commission payments. There are also ads
throughout, some of which provide interesting information.
For example, there's an ad by the U.S. Air Consolidators
Association, a trade association for this industry segment that we
had never heard of (visit its Web site at www.usaca.com for more
The book costs $49.95, with volume discounts available. Call
(800) 322-3834.Periodic tables for travelers
Looking for a travel-related poster to decorate your agency or
to give to clients as a premium?
Check out the Periodic Table
of First Class, which spotlights 40 tails of the world's leading
airlines. Others in the series are the Periodic Table of Languages,
which displays the flags and mottos of 40 countries, and the
Periodic Table of Money, a guide to foreign currency. All three
posters come in two sizes: 11-by-17-inch for $10.95 and
24-by-34-inch for $20.50. The posters can be printed with your
For more information, call JFA Associates at (612) 525-0731.Got a question?
How do you write a mission statement?" was the question
forwarded to us from an agent/ reader.
immediately passed the query on to Dan Mc-Manus, a former agency
owner who writes the From Dan's Desk column that appears in Agent
Life. Dan answered that question in a piece that will run in a
future issue -- which started us thinking, why not invite readers
to ask questions of the industry experts who write regularly for
Although they cannot provide personal responses, they'll use
your questions as springboards for future columns. Each of our
columnists has his or her own specialties.
Want to know how to fire an employee as painlessly as possible?
Try asking Dan McManus, whose expertise is personnel, technology
and business operations issues. E-mail him at [email protected].
Got a question on how to develop a successful promotion? Agency
owner and consultant Richard Turen is your guy, handling queries on
sales and marketing, with special expertise in cruises. E-mail him
at [email protected].
And if you want to get the perspective of a down-to-earth agency
owner who's also an industry educator, small agency strategist and
consultant, e-mail Lucy Hirleman at [email protected].
Further, if you have questions on marketing or geography and
want to get the perspective of industry consultant Marc Mancini,
e-mail Agent Life editor Phyllis Fine at [email protected].