What Makes a Trendsetter?

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Doing things differently and in a smart manner earned our Trendsetters of 2019 their prestigious spot in our December issue. Here are several of the learnings we’ve culled from these rock stars.

Sell the experience, not the age group: Robert Keddy of All-Travel is no longer looking at clients via their demographic but rather through what type of trip they might like to take. He’s developed a new FIT program to appeal to the agency’s clientele, which skews Baby Boomers who cruise and go on tours. Immersion into destinations is top of mind for Keddy, who recently created programs for the South Pacific and Iceland for All-Travel.

People, Not Money: Cliff Morgan of Largay Travel stays focused on the relationship with the client, rather than the actual transaction that is taking place. He says he never “sells” the trip, but rather, “tells” the travel. It’s this practice that lets the client visualize their vacation and keeps them coming back for more.

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Video, Video, Video: Andres Cortina of Altour takes his camera everywhere he goes to share footage with his colleagues and clients. There’s no better way to show what a hotel actually looks like than by filming it on location, he believes. Moreover, his generation of Millennial travelers consumes social media like no other, and posting video on those channels will help him increase bookings.

Telephones are not evil: We all do it. Our phone rings, we stare at the strange number that is being displayed and wonder, sometimes with anger, “Who is calling me?” Martine Dorobanti of Betty Maclean Travel doesn’t fall into this category; rather, she sees the phone as her friend and the top tool in her toolbox. In fact, when she gets a new client, she has a five- to 10-minute convo with them to explain the benefits of using a travel advisor and to find out more about them.

Families need special care: Dorobanti is a mom and moms know that kids don’t want to spend a day in museums and churches on their European vacation. And so she adds in fun components to her itineraries, such as cooking classes and snorkeling in Santorini. Lauren Maggard of Jet Set World Travel also knows it’s the little things that help families survive and thrive when they’re traveling; she suggests which snacks to bring along and ensures the pool options at the hotels and villas she is booking suit the kids. The dinner reservations she makes are at restaurants that work well when children are at the table.

Flexible Fees: David Ourisman, an affiliate of Brownell, knows clients can book last-minute trips on an impulse and is working to be on hand for those moments. He’s looking at higher fees for those vacations that require a lot of time to find availability at the last minute; however, if the booking is a snap to make, he’ll charge less.

Supplier Respect: Chris Johnson of Corniche Travel knows the value of building a rapport with clients and feels the same goes when it comes to relationships with suppliers. “Your vendor relationships are priceless,” he says. When he asks for those little extras for a client, he does so nicely and with respect.

CJ White of McCabe World Travel goes with that same vibe. When a supplier rep does something great for his clients, he Cc’s the rep’s boss when sending the thank you note. He always lets vendors know when he is sending business their way and is very keen on getting in front of suppliers to form personal relationships as frequently as possible.

Plan Ahead: Colleen Campanella of Gwins Travel (an Acendas affiliate) takes time at the end of each year to plot out what to do differently in the coming months. She contacts clients to propose new adventures and encourages them to go out of their comfort zone.

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