Green, to the next level
OOnce in a while you read about somebody
else’s bright idea, and you give yourself a little
dope-slap and say, “Of course! Why didn’t I
think of that?”
We suspect that some hotel developers were going
through that routine in recent days, after Barry Sternlicht
rolled out his latest bright idea — a chain of ecofriendly
hotels that will take “being green” to the next level.
The concept seems so right for the times as to be, in
retrospect, inevitable: Hotels in green buildings that incorporate all the latest active and passive designs, technology and materials to minimize their impact on the
The chain, dubbed “ 1,” is to be positioned as a five-star chain, and its green credentials will undoubtedly allow it to command a
E D I T O R I A L S premium. But there’s no reason why the ultimate
in greenness has to be associated exclusively with the ultimate in luxury. Judging from what we’ve seen in the hotel
business over the last few years, there ought to be enough
ingenuity out there to bring greenness to the masses who
patronize midlevel and budget brands, too.
Follow-up stories are common in the media and com-
Fmon at Travel Weekly. Sometimes a follow-up comes
a week or a month after the initial story, as new developments dictate. Sometimes it’s a year or two later, but
rarely more than that.
In today’s issue we may have set a record with a report
that picks up a story line from 1977. That was the year
we heard about a 10-year-old kid in Virginia who was an
amateur travel agent.
He didn’t write tickets or handle money, but he figured
out schedules and fare codes, planned itineraries, counseled clients and called the airlines to confirm and reconfirm. On Nov. 14, 1977, we published our report on the
unique hobby of Gailen “Rocky” David, who wanted to
work for “the airlines.”
We are pleased to report that Rocky is alive and well
and enjoying life as a purser for American. More than
that, we are pleased to see yet another example of how
people get passionate about this crazy business, even at
an early age. Sometimes, travel just gets its hooks into
people — or maybe it’s the other way around. If Rocky’s
story has a moral, maybe it’s this: “Don’t let go.”
Plan Your Vacation Day
If Expedia has its way, Oct. 23 will hereafter be known
Ias “National Plan Your Vacation Day.” With the support
of the Travel Industry Association, the company is inviting the rest of the industry to sign on, to help educate
consumers about the importance of vacations and the
dangers of “vacation deprivation.”
Where do we sign?
We have long believed that the travel industry doesn’t
do enough to sensitize employers and employees throughout the economy about the need to take vacation benefits
seriously. American companies are, globally speaking, a
bit too stingy with vacation time, and American workers
are more willing than their overseas counterparts to leave
unused vacation time on the table.
We believe that’s bad for business, and not just the
travel business. If you believe, as we do, that travel is good
for you, then passing up an opportunity to take a vacation is just, well, bad.
There’s little reward for
taking step ‘outside the cube’
Regarding Richard Turen’s column titled “A step outside the cube” (Aug. 7): Everything you described is
what I have done as an independent consultant for
the past six years (home-based for the last two).
I’m not a 9-to- 5’er. I visit clients on their turf. I hand-deliver documents to home or office, frequent Starbucks
and Barnes & Noble, take clients to lunch/dinner/coffee,
get to know clients personally, tailor trips and gifts to
their interests, contact every hotel manager involved in
an itinerary to request special treatment for my clients,
have surprises waiting for them in their room and ask
every one of them for referrals (which have been very
generously given to me over the years).
I’ve been a travel agent for 27 years, and I began “
relationship” selling back in the ’80s when we didn’t know
that’s what it was called.
I’ve always made it a habit to know clients’ triumphs
in business and personal arenas, keep up with their kids/
dogs/cats, send notes with newspaper clippings naming or picturing them, send magazine articles relating
to their areas of interest, send welcome-home calls and
cards, remember birthdays/anniversaries and so on.
I belong to several organizations, hold prominent
committee positions and hand out business cards to a
fault. I advertise in a local businesswomen’s magazine
and directory and in my church bulletin, attend face-to-face networking opportunities and write occasional
travel articles for local publications.
I promote all of my “unusual” services on a one-sheet
mailer that I include with every piece of correspondence
and all documents that leave my office. I’m affiliated
with a Virtuoso agency and use every possible marketing
tool they offer.
Yet as an independent consultant, I find myself in a
very difficult position: I’m not making enough income
to pay bills, tuition for my kids, etc. So I’ve taken on a
job as an inbound call salesperson for a large computer
corporation in our area.
My travel business is operated late into the night and
on weekends, but I’m not sure how long I can keep that
up. Although I don’t believe that what we do is who
we are, I think I’m a pretty damn good agent (I made
Travel+Leisure’s A-list a couple years ago, and I didn’t
even have to nominate myself).
It’s hard for me to imagine having to completely give
up what I love doing, but reality sets in when the bills arrive in the mailbox.
I agree with everything you said and find it amazing
that most agents would never consider implementing
your suggestions. I’ve even had several tell me to my face
that they would never cater to clients and baby them the
way I do. Yet they work at agencies that continue to pay
them a salary to sit at a desk, while I’m out pounding the
pavement (and loving it, by the way).
Obviously, there is no magic pill that will solve this or
any other economic situation that arises in today’s business environment.
I just wish that being creative, hard-working, conscientious, passionate and willing to work “outside the cube”
had a better payoff.
(Name withheld at writer’s request)
Nurturing younger agents
ensures industry’s future
Regarding Arnie Weissmann’s column about cultivating young agents [“Disruption!” Sept. 25]: We turn
over some of our top clients to our younger agents.
They are mentored, cutting their teeth as they work
with an older agent’s book of business, and it frees up
time for seasoned agents to attract even more clients.