Shameless Moochers

If honesty is good for the soul, after this post I should be no more than a couple of certified miracles away from sainthood.  I am going to make an admission about the travel industry which, while it is stating the bleeding obvious to travel industry insiders, goes largely unnoticed to the uninitiated.

Korean AirTravel agents, practically without exception, are all shameless moochers.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen an anorexic travel agent?  If you think the term moocher is harsh, I Korean Airactually toyed with the terms parasites, sponges and bloodsuckers before dialing it back a bit.  Without a doubt, one of the great benefits of being in this industry is the endless stream of supplier events.

Take last night as an example since my memory fades rapidly beyond yesterday’s breakfast.  I was invited by Stacey  Montgomery to attend a Korean Air event at a unique, edgy private venue called 7 Senses.  I mention her name because somewhere in the midst of the free-flowing adult beverages, I promised her I would subtly work into this post what an all around fantastic person she is.   Based on the quality of the event, I can fulfill that pledge with a clear conscience.

Korean AirThe purpose of this particular soirée  was to celebrate the increase in flights from DFW to Seoul from five a week to daily.  I gladly rejoice with them in this important announcement but my point is, my fellow attendees and I would have been there had they been celebrating Korean Independence Movement Day.

When you have labored in the travel vineyards as long as I have, you develop an intuition about who is going to sponsor a great event.   My radar did not disappoint last evening.  Given my legendary sweet tooth, it is not surprising that my favorite food station was the one pictured below.  The assortment included Bananas Foster shots, Triple Chocolate Mousse shots, Apple Caramel shots, Cheesecake shots, Tiramisu shots and Strawberry Shortcake shots.  Let’s just say if these were shots of alcohol instead of desserts, this picture would include me lying under the table!

Korean AirPerhaps the evening’s biggest surprise was being handed a very nice parting gift as I left and being told that there was even more food out in the parking lot!  Say what??  As I stepped out into the dusk to retrieve my valeted car, what before my wonderous eyes should appear (not Santa and his reindeer but almost as amazing), a bus with “Gourmet Korean Tacos” blazoned across the back.

Korean BBQLest the overly literal misinterpret this little tounge-in-cheek exposition, travel agents are among the most professional workers I know. They labor long hours orchestrating other people’s joyful experiences often with modest compensation.  Nice events such as the one last night are both productive investments of their time and richly deserved diversions from their daily stress.  I am merely having a little fun at our own expense.

So thank you Stacey Montgomery and Korean Air for a wonderful evening and good luck with your new flights.  It is reassuring knowing that in this turbulent industry where I ply my trade, I may well someday end up homeless but as long as I own a sportscoat, I will never starve!

We Get You. We Get You There.

As many of you know who follow this blog, our agency Travel Leaders / Main Street Travel is an associate of Travel Leaders, one of the travel industry’s fastest-growing and most robust networks of travel agents.  Just a couple of months back, at our national meeting in Dallas, a new marketing campaign was unveiled and I thought you might enjoy a little backstage view of the rationale behind this branding effort.

This campaign, “We Get You.  We Get You There” is anchored by a new shortenedWe Get You with Logo tagline “Travel Better”.  Please don’t ask me to share the older, longer version because I could never remember it which, I am told by savvy marketers, is not considered a strong selling point for a tagline.  Granted, I have the attention span of a gnat but even I can remember “Travel Better.” 

WE GET YOU

I recently wrote a post about the value of travel agents called “Travel Agents:  Dinosaurs or Crocodiles?”  in which I addressed the tremendous value travel agents add to the equation.  One of the primary tools we use is asking customers a series of discovery questions to better understand our clients’ specific interests, their personal budget, their previous travel experience, etc.

We prod and probe (in an ever-so-gentle manner, I hasten to add, and thankfully without ever asking you to disrobe or bend over), until a clear picture begins to emerge of you, the traveler.  As has been aptly pointed out . . . by me, I think . . . prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

Perhaps you are thinking at this point, “Sheesh, I didn’t come into your office to get psychoanalyzed.  I just wanted to go on vacation.”  OK, fair enough but here is an interesting thing I have discovered over the years, “People generally don’t care how much you know about them once they know how much you care about them.”  Once you realize our objective is not to sate our prurient interests (the National Enquirer and Star serve that purpose nicely, thank you), but to understand and thus serve you better, hopefully you will not care either.

It is when we get to know your preferences, your expectations and your aspirations that we well and truly “get you.”  It is then we are prepared to move to the next step.

We Get Your Priceless Moments

WE GET YOU THERE 

So you are probably thinking, “After I have confessed in front of God (and let’s not forget my spouse who is a little less forgiving), to every secret travel fantasy I’ve ever had, I hope to heck you are going to put that information to some good use!”   We are and trust us, all will be forgiven when you get back from the perfect vacation.

It is at this juncture that we take off our doctor’s lab coats and pick up the pins, patterns and measuring tape of a tailor to fashion a memorable vacation that is perfectly suited to your needs.  I like to think of it as fitting you to a T since that was my dad’s nickname for me and has nice associations.

Think about it.  Wouldn’t you much rather have us tailor a vacation that fits you instead of grabbing “garments” off the rack and trying to squeeze you into them?  I did that years ago with a leisure suit which may explain my uncanny ability to sing falsetto.

THREE COMMERCIALS

Now for a little entertainment.  I know, it’s about time!  Travel Leaders has fashioned  three clever thirty second commercials in support of this new campaign, all of which can be found on YouTube at Travel By Terry Videos.

Travel Leaders commercial

We Get You – Humor

Travel Leaders Commerical

We Get You – Heartstrings

Travel Leaders Commerical

We Get You – Aspirations

I would be very curious to know which one of these commercials most resonates with you.  Please take a moment and cast your vote below.

Go Ahead Emirates: Make My Day

One definition of a good job is one in which every day is a little different from the one before.  I guess that is one reason I like the travel industry so much.  Not only is every day distinctive but every six months or so,  just for grins, we all get together and reinvent the entire industry.  Some of us find that a tad stressful but I suppose at least It keeps the little gray cells from atrophying.

DAY ONE

Earlier this year I experienced not one but two of those unique sorts of days thanks to one of the world’s most successful and fastest growing airlines:  Emirates.  Back in Dallas Cowboys Stadium Big ScreenJanuary Emirates staged a huge event for nine hundred or so Dallas / Fort Worth luminaries (and a few dimmer bulbs like me) at the iconic Dallas Cowboys Stadium of all places.  Perhaps you will recognize the big screen that hovers above the field like a suspended Walmart parking lot.   The event was hosted, appropriately enough, by Daryl “Moose” Johnson, the former Cowboys fullback.

I must say, Emirates knows how to do things right.  To give you an idea of the decor check Emirates Launch Event in DFWout this little item.  For those who may be wondering, this is not the hallway leading to my office although I think we can all agree, if there were any justice in this world, it would be.  In case you are also wondering about perspective, it is considerably taller than me, not the loftiest of standards, I will grant you.

DAY TWO

My second little “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” came  two months later in March when I was invited by Emirates to drive out to DFW Airport for a nice breakfast presentation and then to tour one of their 777s  which by then were shuttling people daily back and forth between DFW Airport and Dubai.  After the tour, we reconvened for a sumptuous lunch.  I told you they know how to do things right!

OK, steel yourself for a study in contrasts.  Close your eyes and conjure up the last time you flew Emirates First Class on the 777domestic coach in a middle seat wedged between a Japanese Sumo wrestler and a contestant on their way to an audition for “The Biggest Loser”  I know, shudder!!!

Now take a peek at what greets you when you arrive in first class on an Emirates flight to Dubai.   You know, now that I think about it, I never did find the little mini-bar or the make-up mirror on my last Spirit Airlines flight to Detroit.  Whether you are fortunate enough to fly first class on the 777 or the A380, you get you own freakin’ suite!   Now that’s just plain decadent.

First Class on the Emirates a380

This may come as a surprise but in addition to booking business and vacation travelers, we also have a missionary / humanitarian contract with Emirates for those traveling for more altruistic motives.  You can connect to 125 destinations in 74 countries through Dubai.  If you are flying from DFW or SEA, be sure and ask about the brand new firm upgrade offer from Economy Class to Business Class.  So if your purpose for travel is business, pleasure or even service to humanity, Emirates and Travel Leaders would be more than pleased to “make your day” too!

Backroom Banter

This brief post introduces a new category I am calling “Backroom Banter”.

In the days ahead, if the Lord tarries and I keep the creditors at bay, I will be conducting one-on-one interviews with notable luminaries in the travel industry, and perhaps a few outside, who meet two criteria: something worthwhile to say and an engaging flair for saying it.

I think it is safe to assume that most of my readers, if not actually ardent travelers, are at the least furtively frittering away obscene blocks of time at work surfing the net andInterview with travel industry leaders daydreaming about travel.  Not to worry, it is our little secret . . . unless your boss reads this blog in which case you may soon have, if not the funds, at least unlimited time for travel.

I thought you might find it interesting to garner insights from travel industry influentials about  emerging trends, timely topics and insider tips.  If I am mistaken, this may well go down as one of the shortest blogging careers in cyber history.  However, if I do a proper job in the guest interviewee selection process, even if the questions are a bit lame, their insightful answers should be able to carry the day.

You will be excited to know I have already drawn a bead on my very first guest which, incidentally, proved quite a challenge since I don’t draw very well and he would not hold still.   While it would be premature to reveal his identity I have already reduced the possibilities by 50 percent or so merely by revealing his gender.  If I now add that he currently resides in North America and, as far as I know, has no felony criminal record, I am practically giving his identity away.

By my reckoning, at this point I have you drooling in anticipation of the first installment.  Either that or you have dozed off and are doing that disgusting thing people do when sleeping on airplanes.   If you want to read the first installment of “Backroom Banter” you will just have to mosey on back, as we practically never say here in Texas.

Who would you like to see take the “Backroom Banter” hot seat?