How To Create an Effective Blog

Blogging has been around for a long time and is an extremely effective tool to create a footprint for you and demonstrate an area of expertise. If you maintain a great blog, your customers will be convinced that you have a very deep knowledge of your field and that you keep abreast of the latest developments in the area.

A blog is also a gathering point for other people who are interested in the same or a related subject. Consequently, you get an audience that is half sold already.

Since you are writing to attract prospective customers, the blog has to discuss your subject in detail and demonstrate to prospective customers that you know the subject well and that they can rely on your judgment. For example, if you were a financial services consultant, your clients must be able to judge your knowledge and skills from reading your blog. You may think that you are giving away information for free, but what you are really doing is proving to the world that you are an expert on the subject and that they can trust your opinion.

Many people can really build a great business by blogging, but a number of important points must be remembered:

•  Plan your blog. If you have many different things on your mind, don’t jumble them in a single blog. Write separate posts instead. Think about what you are going to write. Start a day before you plan to post.
•  Focus on your blog. Do not keep checking your mail or social page while writing; you will lose a smooth flow if you allow yourself to be diverted.
•  Decide how long you will work; minimize distractions during this period.
•  Work to an outline when you write; it makes your job easier.
•  Use simple English, short sentences, and small paragraphs.

Learn the basics of search engine optimization, or use a service that helps you do that.

Here are some more tips on how to blog effectively:

Author: Ali Asadi.  Article Source

Myth-busting Millennials

In 1996, a shaggy-haired Microsoft project manager spoke at a meeting in Toronto of the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association. The manager, Erik Blachford, who ultimately became president of Expedia, told attendees that Microsoft was going into the travel business.

Microsoft was not the first entrant into online travel. But it was by far the biggest. Travel agencies were still reeling from commission cuts implemented a year earlier. But agents had lived with low airline commissions before. Massive Microsoft was a whole new kind of threat. This was a one-two punch that would be the death knell for traditional agents, or so conventional wisdom went.

At the time, Lynn Minnaert, now clinical assistant professor at the New York University’s (NYU) School of Professional Studies at the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, was working on her postgraduate studies in England.

“We talked a lot about the death of travel agents,” she recalled recently.

For nearly 20 years, that myth has lived on. High school and college career counselors routinely tell students that becoming an agent is a dead career. But an increasing number of millennials are not buying that assertion. Recent college graduates whose majors range from liberal arts to the sciences are combining their passion for travel and people with an innate entrepreneurial drive to build their businesses.

Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso and a long-time campaigner for making retail travel a lucrative career, said that never has he seen new entrants hit the million-dollar sales threshold as quickly as he is seeing it today. And the agents he sees hitting those numbers so fast are 20-somethings.

What is it about these new entrants? Read on.

Author: Kate Rice.  Article Source

Congress Needs To Hear From Travel Agents

ASTA travel professionals across all segments of our industry will converge on Capitol Hill to speak directly to lawmakers about issues that matter most to travel agents and the broader travel and tourism industry, including air travel distribution, Cuba travel freedom and discriminatory local taxes on car rental customers. Join us and make your voice heard.

Legislative Day, March 19, 2015

With your participation, we can make a meaningful impact in Washington at a time when our industry faces myriad public policy challenges.
You will have an opportunity to meet with your elected representatives and their staff.
We have experienced staff already setting up appointments.

Register Today

All ASTA members are invited and encouraged to participate.
Due to the time and effort to secure ASTA member meetings on Capitol Hill, we must limit space to the first 75.

Top 10 Mistakes Made By Entrepreneurs Selling Travel

As a business owner who sold travel for over 10 years and now a coach, consultant and mentor for the past 4+ years, you can assume I’ve seen my fair share of mistakes in this business. Heck, I made them all myself. Like a safari guide who knows exactly how to track down the elusive leopard, I’ve been able to hone my own “sixth sense” with respect to achieving success in the business of selling travel. To help you avoid taking wrong turns, following useless paths and making the wrong moves, I have compiled my very own list of the Top 10 Mistakes Made By Entrepreneurs Selling Travel. Without further adieu, here they are:
1.No specialty
Experts make more money, plain and simple. Besides consumers don’t need a travel booker or agent. There are travelers that want an opinion, a filter, and advice…just take a look at the massive traffic gets on a daily basis. The way you shift from being perceived as a travel agent to a travel advisor is by establishing yourself as an expert. Claim your expertise!
2.No message.
Once you have claimed your expertise, you must craft language about your expertise that speaks to your ideal prospect. Skipping this step results in a lot of talk about “how” you do what you do, instead of what and why you do it. A core compelling message is critical to making your marketing magnetic. You want to pull your ideal prospects to you, not chase and hunt them down. People don’t like being sold to. Crafting your core, compelling message is how you stop chasing clients and start attracting them.
3.Cheap-ing out on marketing.
This can include designing your logo or business cards yourself, not having a custom designed website, only using supplier-fed marketing to market your business, or looking for every co-op dollar you can find. Something I teach to my children that applies to your own business is “you get what you give.” So if you are going to cut corners, cut costs and cheap out on marketing your business, you will get clients who want to cut corners, cut costs and cheap out on their travel.

Click here to read the entire article.

Author: Meredith Hill.  Article Source

Join Tourism Cares as they unite the industry in volunteerism!

On May 7 & 8, Tourism Cares invites volunteers to make an impact along the historic corridor where the foundation of America was built. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Tourism Cares, in partnership with The Journey Through Hallowed Ground and their Living Legacy Project, will help in a campaign to plant a tree to honor and pay tribute to every fallen Civil War Soldier.
Volunteers will gather in Loudoun County, Virginia (the geographical center of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway), to plant more than 1,000 trees on Friday, May 8. When completed, The Living Legacy Project will create a unified color palette that reminds visitors that they are, indeed, on hallowed ground.

In addition to participating in this important and historic project, volunteers will also benefit from organized learning sessions and networking opportunities during receptions and other informal gatherings throughout the 2-day program

5 Social Media Skills Millennials Lack

Waaaaah, social media?

FORTUNE – They’re the generation brought up on Facebook. Some have never known a world without the Internet. The innermost details of their lives have been exhaustively Instagrammed, and they get their news from Twitter, not TV.


But when it comes to using social media at work, millennials — the generation whose birth years can range anywhere from 1980 and 2000 — can be surprisingly, even dangerously, unprepared. “Because somebody grows up being a social media native, it doesn’t make them an expert in using social media at work,” says William Ward, professor of social media at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “That’s like saying, ‘I grew up with a fax machine, so that makes me an expert in business.’”

According to Ward, who has 13,500 Twitter followers and teaches a series of popular undergraduate and graduate courses on social media at the university, millennials are lacking in a number of critical areas. While they’re very good at connecting with people they already know, they often fail to understand the professional opportunities and pitfalls posed by networks like Twitter TWTR -2.24% , Facebook FB 1.01% , LinkedIn LNKD 0.87% , and Instagram.

MORE: How Spotify’s hat trick help it pull ahead of competition?

Combined with some of the other predispositions of Generation Me — idealism, entitlement, a need for instant gratification, and recognition — this can be a recipe for trouble. “Companies hire millennials because they think they’re good at social media. Then their bosses discover they don’t have those skills and get frustrated,” Ward says, noting that social media expectations are often higher for millennials than for older workers, who may be just as inept.

For students and recent grads entering the workforce, some social media 101 is definitely in order. In particular, career-minded millennials desperately need to brush up on these five social media skills:
Click here to read the entire article.

Author: Ryan Holmes.  Article Source

What The Agency Networks Are Up To

This past year was a solid one for the travel industry’s consortia and the outlook for 2015 is upbeat. Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben perhaps summed it up best when he released his “State of the Travel Agency Industry” statement earlier this month, saying agents are stronger than ever. The statement was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of when U.S. airlines first capped — and then cut — travel agency commissions, a development that did not, as many predicted, spell doom for travel agents.


“The naysayers have always been wrong about the travel agency industry’s supposed impending collapse — whether they thought it was coming about because of the advent of credit cards, the beginning of the computer reservations system, the dawn of the Internet or the cutting of commissions,” Liben said. “However, what they simply didn’t grasp is that no matter the ‘obstacle,’ the traveling public has always voted with their pocketbook.”

That sentiment is in line with President John Lovell’s assessment, which was part of his annual news conference last month in New York City. He told Travel Agent and other media in attendance that 2014 ended on a high note for and its 5,500 members, and that “after concluding with a solid 2014, we remain extremely bullish on the state of the leisure travel industry for 2015.” The new travel year has started with a boom thanks to a strong U.S. dollar and lower energy costs. Consumers are planning travel nine to 10 months in advance, proving that they are feeling confident about spending on travel in 2015, he said.

libbie riceFurthermore, Lovell explained that some partners turned the year with more than 60 percent of their revenue for 2015 already on the books, forecasting a strong year for leisure travel. Also, 84 percent of members feel personally optimistic about their business in 2015.

Likewise, with more than 80 percent of its independent agents participating, a Nexion survey released late last year was also upbeat, indicating that 2014 bookings to date were higher or equal to bookings at the same point in 2013.  Read on…
Author: David Moseder Article Source

Young Professionals Society Networking Night

Sunday, August 30, 2015
9:00 PM – 11:00 PM 
All AGC attendees are welcome to attendee the Young Professional Society for a ‘little late-night’ networking after the opening reception.

These may be the professionals who can run your travel company in the future, you should be there to meet them.

Travel Brands Can Make Friends and Influene People

A brand is a living entity—and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” Michael Eisner (former CEO of Disney)

It’s 2015, and especially in our industry, relationships with travel brands are deeper and more complex than ever before. Social media has given us more exposure to the brands we love, trust, hate, recognize, admire…and providing a platform for two-way conversation with them.

We are interacting with brands in more ways than we used to, which means brands now need to focus even more on how they communicate with their customers. In many ways we view brands as people; they are familiar, trustworthy and we can relate to them. So just as you’d expect from a friend, a brand needs to have their own distinct personality that’s consistent across all the different points of interaction.

It’s safe to say that this is a much more challenging task than it used to be. In the past television advertising used to represent one of the biggest parts of a brand’s communication, but no longer. Now we have the internet, and mobile apps, and Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram and YouTube. Even customer service interactions have expanded beyond the simple telephone call to include email, live chat and social media support.

Brands need a fundamental approach for interacting with customers, regardless of the channel. If brands can really be seen as people then let’s take this idea a step further, using an analogy from the bestselling 1936 self-help book ‘How to win friends and influence people’ –what can brands today learn about making (and keeping) friends?
Click here to read the entire article.

Author: Laurens Van Den Oever.  Article Source

ASTA Compares Differences in New Hotel Free Wifi Policies For Members

Alexandria, VA, January 6, 2015 – Members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) must evaluate what, if any, operational changes they will make to their business models as major hotel chains begin putting new policies in place to restrict free wifi offers when customers book through travel agents.

ASTA is providing a comparison to its members of these new policies that range from free wifi provided to all guests regardless of agency booking method or loyalty program by Hyatt, to Starwood’s policy to allow agency customers who are Preferred Guests to enjoy wifi if the agent makes the booking at, to Marriott’s new policy that does not allow its non-elite Rewards members to enjoy free wifi if they use a travel agent.

“Let’s be clear, ASTA’s members are against any policy that limits a consumer’s freedom of choice in how they purchase a hotel room, a cruise, an airline ticket or any other means of travel,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “Consumers should be free to book using the channel of their choice rather than being forced to trade off wifi services—now an essential tool for virtually every traveler—against the other benefits of having professional assistance when booking travel,” he said.

To help travel agents better understand the nuances of the offers by each of these hotel companies, ASTA has created a side-by-side comparison of each of these three new wifi/Internet policies. This chart also breaks out the brands within each hotel company’s portfolio that are and are not impacted by the new policies. The chart can be found on

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