hicago-based education and marketing
firm Nodland Travel Enterprises presented its first-ever Travel
Specialist Retreat March 22 to 25 in Santa Fe, N.M.
The retreat was hosted by company president and 20-year industry
veteran Helen Nodland, who has been running educational seminars on
adventure and exotic travel for conferences and the like for the
past six years.
Forty agents gathered at La Posada Resort & Spa for the
March training session on selling and marketing walking adventures,
the first topic in a series of upcoming specialist retreats.
program featured guided morning walks by Backroads, a comprehensive
city tour by A Boot About Santa Fe and a self-guided walk designed
by Randonnee Tours. Included were presentations on top walking
destinations, industry trends and marketing.
Workshops featured sessions by owners of such niche operators as
Camino Tours, Canadian Mountain Holidays, Explora S.A.,
International Nature & Cultural Adventures, Newmans South
Pacific Vacations, Piccolo Tailor-Made Walking Tours and the
Afternoon sessions included a massage station courtesy of
Butterfield & Robinson, with complimentary foot, neck and
shoulder massages; a presentation on FastTracking Your Business by
Alison Miller, a motivational coach, and a fashion show by Ex
Officio and Eagle Creek Travel Gear.
Lucky agents won prizes ranging from apparel to a Camino Tours
trip to Spain and walking trips along New Zealand's Milford and
Routeburn Tracks by Newmans South Pacific Vacations. The retreat
also allowed free time for exploring Santa Fe, networking with tour
operators and getting treatments at La Posada's Avanyu Spa.
The retreat series was created as a next step for retailers who
have already attended Nodland's popular Adventure & Exotic
Travel educational seminars.
"Now was the time to take education a step further, since the
adventure travel niche has begun to constitute a large percentage
of the public's travel purchases," Nodland said. "The future of the
industry depends on travel consultants developing very focused
areas of expertise."
So she designed the retreats to concentrate on specialized
activities, giving agents the opportunity to get a sense of the
different products their clients can experience.
Her lineup of future events includes a spa retreat in late
summer or early fall; a fall Napa Valley biking trip; a retreat on
ecolodge getaways and responsible tourism in Belize early in
December, and another walking retreat in Santa Fe in spring 2002.
New topics will include multisport, water-based, culinary, family
and women-only tours.
Since the retreats are part of the Institute of Certified Travel
Agents' continuing education program, participants receive 10
continuing education units.
For more details, call (800) 554-3514.
-- Michele San Filippo
Where Helen leads, agents follow
Agents who participated in the March Travel Specialist Retreat
on walking, offered by Helen Nodland of Nodland Travel Enterprises
in Chicago, gave it glowing reports.
"It provided learning via all the senses and awakened the
intellect," said Liz Stroh-Coughlin, an agent from Off the Beaten
Path Travel in Los Gatos, Calif.
"We shared our experiences, we laughed, we exchanged ideas and
discussed trends and, most profoundly, we looked at our business
and ourselves in a holistic manner learning how to achieve our
goals both professionally and personally."
Stroh-Coughlin added that the event introduced her to tour
operators that provide personalized soft-adventure experiences in
"diverse and interesting" geographical areas.
According to agent Susan Askin of Journeys Unlimited in Seattle,
Nodland's Travel Specialist Retreat on walking was comprehensive
"Each day was filled with refreshing and creative ideas to offer
the traveling client interested in an experience beyond the
ordinary," Askin said.
Karen Killebrew, director of marketing and group travel manager
at Bridge Travel Alliance in Emeryville, Calif., attributed the
increased level of awareness about adventure travel among the
agency community to Nodland, whose seminars have introduced
thousands of agents to the market during the past six years.
Killebrew said, "Where Helen leads, her agent devotees follow
and emerge enriched and enthused for doing business in new
Mary Emrich of Elmes Travel in Santa Barbara, Calif., described
Nodland's recent retreat as "the best shot in the arm" she's
experienced in her 23 years in the business.
Said Emrich, "She is the perfect facilitator for bringing agents
and vendors together to build relationships."
The insurance agent
I've never understood why travel agents don't sell more travel
The benefits to both agents and their customers are so
Here are the big ones:The commissions are great and certainly better than what you
get from selling an airline ticket and perhaps the highest supplier
commission you'll receive.
In an age when cross-selling is essential to profitability,
travel insurance is a natural cross-sell and has become
increasingly acceptable to the public.It deflects much of the potential setbacks and problem-solving
that can occur away from you and toward the insurance
provider.To a large degree, it protects your client from on-trip hassles
and unanticipated costs -- something increasingly common in a time
of canceled flights and late port arrivals.It helps defuse the anxiety that clients feel, especially in an
age when every travel problem is highlighted and magnified by the
media.It protects your liability, especially if you offer a "decline
insurance" form to those clients who opt not to take travel
In an age when customers sue for anything, this benefit is
extremely valuable.It positions you as a full-service travel provider offering
overall travel experiences.Probably the most important benefit is the fact that you become
a hero if something goes wrong. Unexpected problems may erase a
client's forthcoming trip, but at least the deposit investment is
protected. The same applies to occurrences during that vacation,
Most importantly, travel insurance should, these days, be an
As client vacations have become more adventurous, media
attention has focused on travel nightmares, and advance-purchase
deals have led to longer deposit times.
Moreover, some third-party insurance companies provide a 24/7
problem-solving line that your clients can use while on their
All of these factors make insurance a must.
Marc Mancini is a professor of travel at West Los Angeles