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shop talk | agents COMING UP:


36 In the know 37 Added value 38 Work rights


38 Focus on 40 10 ways to... 42 Profile


IN THE KNOW


Regular columnist Kari Thomas, president of Will Travel, weighs up the pros and cons of taking on challenging clients


WE’VE ALL HAD those challenging bookings, the ones requiring special requests such as calls to hotel managers, head chefs and on-board cruise services. I had one such booking recently, with three of the four people traveling having completely different food allergies. They’d booked direct with the cruise line in


the past and encountered problems, so it was my chance to be the hero. I spent hours making sure I understood their dietary restrictions, that the cruise line was aware of their needs and that they’d set off on their trip without worrying they wouldn’t eat for seven days. I did this with the hope they’d recognize I went above and beyond, and would be my clients for a long time to come. They did have a great experience and thanked


me for my hard work. But the next time they were ready to travel they asked me to match the price of a discounter and I said no. I knew I’d spend tons of time in making sure their trip was perfect for less and less return.


But something good did come out of it. A


couple of weeks later, I had a call from a woman who found my information on ASTA’s Travelsense website. She was a luxury traveler planning a trip with her niece who had dietary restrictions, and was looking for an agent experienced in dealing with this type of situation. We talked for a while


and I hoped I’d gain her as a client. Since then she’s booked not only the trip with her niece but a few others as well, and referred luxury friends. So remember,


when you’re dealing with a challenging client that it’ll eventually pay off as someone will find you and value the hard work you put into their trip.


HELPINGHAND


n AGENT APP: Global travel technology company Sabre has partnered with TripAdvisor to create a mobile application that gives travel agents access to aircraft seats and in-flight amenity information at the point of sale. Agents using the Sabre GDS can buy the


SeatGuru app from the Sabre Red App Centre and plug it into their workstation to offer clients a better insight into different airline products, ultimately leading to more informed choices and purchasing by travelers. Information comes from seat maps, product


guides and reviews submitted to TripAdvisor- owned SeatGuru by travelers. In addition, agents will have access to information on in-flight amenities, including entertainment options, wi-fi, power, USB ports and meals. “As airlines do more to differentiate the


traveler experience, it is critical that agents are able to quickly access information on the differences in seat attributes and amenities between airlines,” said Chris Kroeger, senior vice president of Sabre Travel Network. “Sabre and TripAdvisor have leveraged the


Sabre Red App Centre to quickly introduce new, innovative capabilities that benefit both our travel agency and airline customers.” Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor


AGENT OFFERS


n G ADVENTURES is inviting agents to join its series of fam tours to Turkey, Cambodia, Ecuador and India. Each agent-only trip is priced from $499 per person, double, and includes accommodation, transfers, some meals and guided excursions. The trip cost will be refunded to agents on completion of travel by eight clients within a year of the tour. go.gadventures.com/2014fams


n ASTON HOTELS & RESORTS is offering agents reduced rates for overnight stays at its properties in the US. They are billed as eduVacations, with rates from $59 per person, double, for stays at mainland US properties, including Las Vegas, Orlando and Lake Tahoe, and from $79 at its Hawaii properties. T: 866 774 2924. astonhotels.com/for-travel- specialists/educational-tours


n STERLING VACATIONS is offering agents a seven-night roundtrip cruise from Venice on MSC Fantasia, calling at Bari in Italy; Olympia, Santorini, Athens and Corfu in Greece; and Dubrovnik in Croatia. It’s priced from $549 per person, double, with accommodation and meals. Departures are in June, September and October. T: 866 345 7755. E: info@ sterlingvacations.com


Flights, added: “SeatGuru is a powerful travel planning resource that provides travelers with insights into the best airline seats and in-flight amenities covering airlines worldwide. “Being able to offer SeatGuru content


through Sabre’s extensive network of travel agents means we’re helping even more travelers to fly smarter and find a flight they’ll love.” Sabre introduced the Red App Centre in


March 2012, and has since launched more than 150 apps designed to help agencies increase efficiency and revenue, and improve service. Agents in 100 countries have used the Red App Centre, generating more than 210,000 app downloads. sabreredappcentre.sabre.com


36 | ASTAnetwork | summer 2014


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