Keep it fresh to look professional. This rule of Web management is
key to how Pennsylvania Travel in Paoli, Pa., gets good business
from its Internet site (www.patravel.com), according to Barbara Hall, the
agency's manager. Keeping it fresh means updating the specials on
the site every day.
you're highlighting has to be current and up to date," Hall said.
"If it's January and somebody sees offers on your site from last
November, you're done. Or if they call or e-mail you and the
product [you had on your site] isn't available, you've got a 50-50
shot at keeping them. Lack of availability definitely does more
harm than good."
The task of daily site maintenance at Pennsylvania Travel now
falls on an out-of-office Web master -- a woman who's done a lot of
other Web work but whose main job is at the printing company that
handles the agency's newsletters and whose fees are more reasonable
than those of strict Web specialists.
The other material on the Web site is mainly the company's
backlog of newsletters, written by a professional writer -- another
case where the agency decided to delegate duties outside the
company. The agency also keeps the site professional with timely
responses to e-mails from prospects.
One agent is dedicated to answering those e-mails, providing
quotes and other information, though the company has found that of
the roughly 50 to 80 "hits" the site gets a day, "two-thirds of
that group will want to talk to a real live person and will call
our 800 number," Hall said.
Escorted tours, one of the agency's specialties, get a big push
on its Web site. Hall said the company has identified those tour
products that are a "perfect computer match," such as Contiki
Tours, whose target market is 18- to 35-year-olds, and Apple
Vacations, with lots of three- to four-night getaways. "Our Contiki
bookings have gone through the ceiling," she said.
Another way the agency gets electronic leads is by being listed
on search engines and on suppliers' (especially tour operators')
Web sites. This isn't expensive. The only listing Pennsylvania
Travel pays for is its connection to the travel site 1travel.com.
Selling your honeymooners
Got honeymooning clients? If you register them with After I Do,
a Denver-based national Internet honeymoon registry service (www.afterido.com), you may be able to sell them a more
expensive trip, since their friends and families are helping to pay
for the trip.
The company estimates that agents should be able to sell up by
at least $500 from the industry average of $2,500 per honeymoon
After I Do also has set up a database within its Web site that
will link prospects to travel agents selling honeymoons either by
location or specialty.
There is no charge for the listing -- but "we do ask that agents
provide a link to us on their own Web sites," said After I Do
manager Liana Carlson.
"There are a lot of agencies out there that try to offer the
service we offer, but that's not really what they do, just like
we're not travel agents," she said. "There's no reason why we can't
work together for some economies of scale."
For more information, contact Carlson at (800) 956-4436 or (720)
941-9288.Planning your giving
E-mail: [email protected].
We have budgets for salaries and advertising, so why not for
charitable contributions? If your finances run on a calendar year
and you don't have a charity budget, now is a good time to
use a fiscal year, add this item to your annual budget. Check with
your accountant or bookkeeper for advice on how much to allocate.
There are many benefits to having a specific charity budget. For
one, it will force you to review more carefully any organization
requesting a donation.
It also is a great way to remove guilt: Tell a solicitor that
the budget has been used up with a comment that "if you call
earlier in the year next time, we would be delighted to consider a
More ideas on giving: Some contributions (such as an ad in the
local high school yearbook) can be considered advertising, but
check with your accountant, since laws may vary by state.
If the Girl Scouts or any other organization is selling cookies,
consider making a flat donation vs. buying the treats. You don't
need the extra calories, and the local organization gets back only
pennies on the dollar on the cost of the cookies.
Also, be very careful of local police and fire organizations.
They are usually too busy or short-staffed to make solicitations
themselves, so outside companies are hired. Some of these companies
keep upward of 50% of the donation.
When we get these calls, our first question is, "Are you a
police officer or fireman?"
We make our contributions directly to these organizations so we
know they are getting all of the money. And never commit to a
contribution by phone. Consider only those offers mailed or faxed
to your office.
Lucy Hirleman, CTC, MCC, owns Berkshire Travel in
Newfoundland, N.J. Contact her at [email protected]; fax (973) 208-1204.