What's one of the most important things people forget to do with
their Web site?
Check the spelling of all the copy.
"How many sites do you visit that have misspelled words in the
first paragraph?" asked Peter Stanzel, the Hanover, N.H.-based head
of TA Edge, which creates sites for travel agents.
According to Stanzel, such mistakes create a bad
first impression: A site that looks carelessly put together can
scare off potential clients.
Speaking at ASTA's Eastern Regional Conference, held recently in
Bermuda, Stanzel provided the following tips on building effective
Identify the site's objectives. Will it be to gather leads or
provide information for current and prospective clients? Will it
offer on-line booking?
Right now, only about 10% of all agent sites offer booking
capability, but that's always an easy thing to add later, said
Stanzel.Figure out the level of resources you can commit to developing
and maintaining the site.
According to Stanzel, the cost of basic site development can
range from $200 to $4,000. Other costs include an average range of
$20 to $80 monthly paid to the service that hosts the site as well
as annual or monthly maintenance costs.Identify the target audience. "You're going to be most
effective concentrating on people in your own community" instead of
looking for an international customer base, said Stanzel.Keep the site's message simple. When deciding what to say on
your Web site, "keep it simple, elegant and focused," said Stanzel.
To avoid wordiness, he suggested that you "write the copy, then cut
the text in half."Balance special effects vs. performance. Set up the site so
people who are looking for basic information can bypass special
effects such as video clips and go directly to a specific
area.Register with search engines to market your site. There are
some sites, such as www.add-me.com, that will register you with a number
of search engines for a small fee.
It costs $239 a year for a TA Edge package that includes
site-building tools, site hosting, the ability to update the site
and upload pictures, access to an art library and a toll-free
support number.Turning salsa into dollars
Travel agents looking to generate new business need drive no
further then their favorite ethnic restaurant. The following are
some helpful guidelines to cooking up some new clients:
Meet with the restaurant owner. For our example, we will use a
fine Mexican restaurant. Explain that you want to promote a tour or
a cruise to Mexico and that you are going to turn over the earned
escort tickets to an employee of his/her choice.Explain that every diner at the restaurant will receive a $100
(per family) voucher toward the trip when they receive their bill,
as well as a group discount (at least a portion of which will be
funded by the supplier).
The trip can include such special features as an on-board
cooking demonstration by the restaurant's chef and a group
margarita party at a local in-port venue.Remind the restaurant owners that there is no cost at their
end. You are paying all expenses -- you are asking only that the
trip information be distributed in a mutually agreeable way.Explain that, if successful, this could become an annual event,
perhaps tied in to Cinco de Mayo or some other important
Richard Turen is an industry consultant and travel agency
Contact him at[email protected].Golden rules of interviewing
Next time you watch "60 Minutes" or "20/20," pay close attention
to the interviewers.
A Barbara Walters or a Morley Safer is so good at directing a
question-and-answer session, you'd think they could get a tree to
they get so much valuable information from sometimes reluctant
interview subjects? And what does this have to do with selling
Well, the "tricks" used by professional interviewers apply
equally well to your efforts when qualifying clients.
The following tactics are just simple rules for good
interviewing. But used well, you'd be surprised how quickly you can
get to know your clients -- and then match them with a product
they'll be eager to buy. Here are the rules:Keep questions short and simple. Compound questions, such as
"What ships do you like, and what stateroom category?" can be
confusing. Focus on one thought at a time.Avoid overly personal questions early in the interview.
Although it helps to know up front how much a client wants to
spend, asking about money or other personal information too early
can make clients uneasy. Begin by asking about the client's travel
history or favorite destinations or activities.Ask three questions for every one statement you make. Good
interviewers leave themselves out of the picture. If you make an
effort to ask more questions than you answer, you'll ensure that
your focus remains on the client.Listen carefully. Not only will this help you do your job
better, but it sends the clear signal that you're attentive and
that you care. An effective way to show that you're listening is to
take notes. Even head nods or declarative expressions ("I agree.";
"Yes, that's a good point." ) convey that you're listening
Marc Mancini is an industry consultant and