Barbara Patterson tries to be objective in offering her
family-oriented clients a choice of either Walt Disney World or
Universal Studios Escape. But so many of them have been choosing
the latter that Patterson recently was named top producer for 1998
for the Orlando, Fla.-based destination resort.
"Universal has a good product, and as
far as pricing goes, it seems to suit our clients' needs," said
Patterson, owner of All Around Travel Inc. in Wilmington, Del.
An agent for 12 years, five of them as an owner, Patterson
started selling Universal when Disney became too expensive for some
of her budget-minded clients. "In addition to price, I also look at
the age of my client's children," Patterson said.
She said children older than 8 sometimes identify more with what
they see on television, such as "Rugrats" (whose characters are
featured at Universal), than with Mickey Mouse.
Universal's new high-tech roller coaster park due to open next
fall also should be popular with older children.
Often, in fact, Patterson's clients are confused about the
various theme parks. "A lot of times, they don't realize that
Disney and Universal are two different entities, so I always
recommend both and leave it up to the client. I just want them to
be informed consumers," she said.
"One reason she has been successful is that she has put together
some very good programs with our regional sales office," said David
Caesar, director of marketing and product development for Universal
Patterson focuses on family packages, encouraging parents and
grandparents to travel together. Sometimes she'll have single
parents who are friends double up in the same room to keep rates
down. But despite all the care she puts into this category, she was
still surprised to win the award. "We just pay close attention to
our customers and fill their needs," she said.
Value travel expert
Know what you're selling, qualify the customer, work to keep
costs down and provide value for your clients. That's the advice of
Barbara Patterson, whose small agency of three full-time people and
10 independents specializes in family travel. Her agency, All
Around Travel Inc. in Wilmington, Del., also keeps up with travel
to Florida, Jamaica and Las Vegas.
To stay abreast of Central Florida, Patterson regularly holds
in-house educational meetings. Her knowledge paid off: Her agency
was named top producer for 1998 for Universal Studios Escape in
"My suggestion to any agent is to really understand the
product," she said. "I also make it a point to know my own market.
I know my client base. I look for things that they can afford," she
One of the ways Patterson has found to cut costs is to book her
clients through the airport in Baltimore, which is less expensive
than Philadelphia, another nearby facility.
For clients who say they can't afford to travel at all,
Patterson tries to show them how proper planning can make trips
feasible. Many of her clients work on the layaway plan, giving her
a down payment and paying the rest in installments.
By Caroline Scutt
You provide your leisure clients with insider tips for their
trips, so why not do the same for your corporate clients with
advice on international business etiquette?
A recent article by Julie Moline, called "Coping with
International Business Styles" (formerly available on the Web site
TheTrip.com), outlines mistakes that many travelers make when
conducting business abroad. Moline's tips included the
following:Slow down. Don't dismiss the pleasantries to launch into
business discussions with contacts you've just met. Remember, the
key is to build a relationship.Don't raise your voice in order to be understood. In many
countries, the louder you are, the ruder you seem.Watch your body language. Hand gestures can mean different
things in different cultures. A positive hand signal in one country
can be a major insult in another.Don't mix business with pleasure. Unlike in the U.S., where it
is OK to do business just about anywhere at any time, in many
corners of the world an invitation to a dinner party or golf outing
is not an invitation to discuss business but to get to know your
Another source of information is Protocol International, with
offices in Chicago and New York, which offers workshops on
cross-cultural fundamentals. Call (312) 606-7300 or e-mail [email protected]. The company's Web site, at
www.protocolintl.com, is under construction.
E-mail can enhance
your business with efficiently delivered messages, but there's no
doubt that it can drown you, too: one travel manager reported
receiving 468 such messages during the week before New Year's. If
that's the weekly average, he would receive a total of 25,000
messages a year!
Here are some guidelines on e-mail etiquette provided by Les
Baker, vice president of Prism Group, an Albuquerque, N.M.-based
management consulting firm:Unsolicited, constant, broadcast e-mail messages are
inappropriate. E-mail is welcome if the message is important,
relevant and concise.Be formal and precise in business e-mails. Use proper English,
full sentences and spell check before sending.Include important information such as name, title, address and
phone number in your automated electronic signature. Avoid mixing
personal and business messages. Be sensitive to mixing internal and
external communication.Remember that e-mails live forever and can be used against you,
as was demonstrated in such recent lawsuits as the Microsoft
antitrust suit. If you don't want someone to see what you've
written, don't send it electronically.Ask permission before you sign someone else up for a
subscription e-mail service; to do otherwise is definitely an
Les Baker's e-mail address is [email protected].
Snazz up your telephone image
Here is another of Richard Turen's sales and marketing
minutes, a regular feature:
Ours is an entire industry that barely knows how to answer the
telephone. Too often, travel agents -- as well as suppliers -- fall
short of the pleasant professionalism required.
But there is absolutely no excuse to lose the telephone
answering game. It is quite easy to beat your competitors -- just
call them if you don't believe me.
The goal should be moving consumers to comment, "That's a really
nice way to answer the phone."
Be distinctive, perhaps wishing the caller "a very pleasant good
morning," or, "Thank you for calling Genuine Credentials Travel, my
name is... ."
Or how about wishing the caller good afternoon in perfect
Seminars set a course for success
Want to upgrade your selling skills and up your agency's
profitability? Consider attending Setting a Course for Success
seminars presented by industry educator Marc Mancini, sponsored by
Geared to agency owners, the morning workshop focuses on agency
profitability. The afternoon workshop, geared to teaching frontline
agents how to sell better than ever, also includes unbiased
profiles of 33 cruise lines and 38 tour operators.
The seminars are scheduled as follows: Feb. 11, San Diego,
Calif.; Feb. 24, Vancouver, British Columbia; Feb. 25, Honolulu;
March 16, Atlanta; March 17, New Orleans; March 18, Houston; March
30, Minneapolis; March 31, Troy, Mich.; April 1, Chicago; April 13,
Bethesda, Md.; April 14, Philadelphia; April 15, Waltham, Mass.
The cost, including lunch, is $99 per person. Call (800)