How Paul Gauguin Cruises Changed My Mind About Tahiti Pt. 1

I don’t normally share my travels with you as this is a newsletter about the business of selling travel, but I would be doing you an injustice not sharing this experience.

I have been fortunate to visit many places, but never had the overwhelming desire to go to Tahiti.  So, when our good friend Sandy Stevens, vice president of sales for Paul Gauguin Cruises, invited my wife and me to join her and other travel advisers on a cruise this past January, I was less than enthusiastic at first.

Then I remembered that Tahiti receives roughly the same number of visitors in a year that Hawaii gets in a week! 

We flew into Papeete a few days early and took the 45 min ferry ride to Moorea.  We had booked the Intercontinental, however, there was a worker strike, so they moved us to the Sofitel at no extra cost.

Wow, what a first impression!  Moorea was beautiful, to say the least.  But even more so were the people.  They were the warmest, most generous people...

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What's Your Story?

Uncategorized Jun 05, 2019


The business world is not immune to fads, but there are a few that have stood the test of time. The principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People and Think and Grow Rich had been guiding businesspeople to success since the 1930s.

One recent “fad” is storytelling. The number of people who list “storyteller” as their occupation (I didn’t realize it existed outside the kids’ section in Barnes and Noble) on LinkedIn is incredible. Yet, everyone from StoryBrands Donald Miller, a former screenwriter, to the travel industry’s own Richard D ’Ambrosio are singing the virtues of applying the practice to your own business narrative.

Is it a fad? I don’t think so. According to Miller, business stories typically follow the same predictable framework as a successful screenplay. His Story Script, “A character has a problem and meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action that ends in success or helps to avoid...

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Who Are Your Role Models?

Uncategorized May 08, 2019

One of the more useful lessons I learned early on, is to emulate others. The Virtuoso owners who took this naïve young man under their wing to teach me the “business” of the travel business and later as an industry executive, I modeled those I knew to be good managers with a high level of trust and integrity.

Ray Dalio is someone worth emulating.  A self-made man with a net worth in excess of $16.8 billion, his life and work are governed by hundreds of “Principles” developed over the years and documented in the New York Times bestseller by the same name.  I chose three to highlight that can help you to find your own role models.

“If you can’t successfully do something, don’t think you can tell others how it should be done.”

This happens A LOT.  Several years ago, I was contacted by a new travel agent coach.  She was unfamiliar to me, so I questioned her motives.  She finally admitted to having been in the...

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Will the "Real" Travel Agent Please Stand Up!

Uncategorized May 01, 2019

Last week, someone posted in an online group that she only wanted to share ideas with those she considered to be “legitimate” travel agents.  She had particularly strong feelings about who was real and those who didn’t make the cut – especially those affiliated with network marketing companies.

I found this interesting because the group members (including her) tend to be independent, home-based cruise focused professionals.

I love this industry. There are as many ways to sell travel as there are people selling it. For most suppliers, the travel agency channel is just one of many they utilize to sell inventory. 

Independent travel professionals representing a number of business models are the lifeblood of the distribution system, so in light of this individual’s ignorance, a short history lesson is in order.

Today, a focus on cruising is widely accepted, but this was not always the case.  Cruise agents were excluded from joining industry...

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Are You The BETTER Choice?

Uncategorized Apr 24, 2019

Have you wondered why some advisers seem to be more successful than others?  They are on stage, year after year, receiving top sales awards, while you sit in the audience wishing it was you.  I know, I was once that person in the audience.

Many of us are good travel advisers, some are even great.  So why is it that those often achieving the greatest success are not the most experienced or most qualified?

They succeed, not because they are the best, but because they have positioned themselves to be a better choice. They communicate the benefits of using their services to prospects more effectively than their more qualified competitors.

I don’t know about you, but I have grown weary of trade publications constantly extolling the virtues of using the services of a professional travel adviser.  Not a week goes by that we are not reminding ourselves of this.  I read a recent trade article entitled, “Ten Reasons to Use a Travel Agent in...

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What's Your ONE Thing?

Uncategorized Mar 13, 2019
Photo credit:  Wesley Wiley

On the way home from a recent business trip, I had some time to kill between flights.  While wandering aimlessly through the Hudson Newsstand, a book caught my eye.  I had seen it many times before, but it never spoke to me until that moment.

It was Gary Keller’s (of Keller-Williams Realty fame), The ONE Thing.  It is how he discovered that when he narrowed his focus to one thing, it was often wildly successful when it varied- so did the results.  As a big-time advocate for emulating success, he had my attention.

The book asks a simple question, “What is The ONE thing you can do in your life and work, that by doing it would make everything else easier or unnecessary.” 

Wow! As an “army of one”, there are so many things to do each day, how do I choose just ONE?  Like a prospect given too many choices, my mind went blank. 

He adds, “It’s not that we have too...

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Take Control of Your Sales!

Uncategorized Mar 06, 2019

I often discuss the importance of “control.” Without it, your life, your work, is being dictated by someone else.  Unfortunately, this is how most people operate.  Let’s face it, there are a number of things outside of your control, things you can’t do anything about, so stop worrying about them. 

You can’t control your competitors. You can’t control trade with China.  That doesn’t mean not being cognizant of them.  It does mean being laser-focused on two things that are 100% within your control. 

  1. You control what you sell.

Let’s be honest, almost every supplier, is a preferred supplier with a consortium or host agency.  But that doesn’t mean every preferred - is preferred with you.  You should limit what you sell and choose your own from within their list.  This is who you are committed to selling first.  It may be because of your experience with the product, higher...

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Five Essentials for Creating a Thriving Travel Business

Uncategorized Feb 21, 2019

For many years, I counseled travel business owners from the comfort of my corporate office.  I didn’t have to worry about paying the bills, I doled out advice and collected my salary.  That all changed three years ago when I made the leap back into home-based business ownership.  It was baptism by fire!  I had to adapt rather quickly.  Five things come to mind that helped me to thrive in this environment.

  1. Manage financial risk.

In the corporate world, risk management is about minimizing the negative impact of financial and managerial decisions. Most are made by committee or die a slow death from analysis paralysis.  In my new world as Founder & Chief Commode Cleaner, that risk translates into overhead.  I have learned to ask myself, “Is this an investment or an expense, and more importantly - will I use it.  Many of the tools are available via monthly subscription such as Office 365, Go-to-Webinar, and Clientbase.  These...

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Three Ways to Stick to Your Resolutions

Uncategorized Feb 06, 2019

Each New Year, we go through the time-honored tradition of making resolutions.  Health clubs, Jenny Craig, and similar organizations spend virtually their entire marketing budgets between December 26-January 31.  Why? Because most resolutions involve losing weight or quitting a habit.  They have tiny window to take advantage this opportunity since statistics show we tend to abandon our resolutions by mid-February only to fall back into our same old routines.

May I suggest a different approach to goal setting?  This is one I have practiced with great success for a number of years.

  • Set personal goals on your birthday. I have found this to be very powerful.  Think about it.  You plan to retire or have a net worth of your choosing by a certain age.  For my fiftieth birthday, we rented a home on the water in Nassau Bahamas – one of my favorite places in the world.  That morning, as I sat alone on the deck watching the sun rise, I reflected...
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Dig Deep - Do You Really Want It?

Uncategorized Feb 01, 2019

I am often asked about how I have been able to enjoy such a long and diverse career (agency, consortia, supplier, and now as a business adviser) in the travel industry.

The answer is simpler than you might expect.  For me, it boils down to these three things.   

  • You have really to want it!

I really wanted to work on cruise ships, so I did.  I really wanted to start a travel agency, so I did.  I really thought it would be fun to work for a consortium, so I did (and it was so fun – I worked for two).  I really thought it would be cool to be a sales executive for a cruise line, so I did (and it was).  I really wanted to give back by coaching professional travel advisers and agency owners to become more successful in business and in life, so I did.

And I just as important – I figured out how to get them.  If you really want to get new clients, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means stepping out of your...

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