At a recent travel agent conference aboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, I collected a number of business cards. All were from the same cruise franchise group, but there was an astonishing variety of designs.  I looked at nine cards, and with the exception of the blue and white color scheme and the inclusion of the company logo somewhere on the card, no two were alike.

Of the nine, only three included a photo of the agent on the card. That's a feature I like because when you collect a lot of cards at a function, it is easy to lose track of who's who. The face is a useful memory aide.

A fourth card included a caricature of an agent who uses a wheelchair. The caricature of the agent waving a friendly hello in her chair, paired with the name of the agency - Wheelie Fun Cruise and Travel -  nicely illustrates to potential clients that the agent is a wheelchair user, and in fact, is a certified Special Needs Accessibility Advocate.

Several cruise agents used the entire side of one card to display a landscape, seascape or beach scene. One used flip-flops, seashells and a beach blanket to evoke a leisurely feeling.

Another put Portofino, Italy, on the reverse of her card. She happens to be an Italy specialist, a fact I learned by scanning the QR code on the front side. Even today not everyone knows how to use a QR reader, but it was a very effective way of getting to more information than the card could hold.

A few used their cards to attach badges of awards they'd won. A franchisee who was a military vet put "Veteran Owned Business" in a small stars and bars pennant.

Only two of the nine cards told me where the business was located. Call me old fashioned, but that's something I'd like to know.

One agent used the back of her card to advertise all the types of vacations beyond cruising that she can offer. Another used it to display a dozen small logos of cruise lines she represents. It looks busy, but it also delivers a visual message about choice and credibility.

The most unusual card was not printed on card stock, but on a rubberized magnetic material that lets it stick to a refrigerator door or any other steel surface.  It could be seen by some as a little cheesy, but there's also a better than average chance the card will wind up someplace useful, instead of in a drawer or on a pile on your desk somewhere.   
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