USTOA’s 40th Annual Conference & Marketplace was held at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Phoenix AZ, November 26-30, 2018. Representing 55 companies and over 165 brands, USTOA has its finger on the pulse of the travel industry. Their annual conference, in addition to being a great networking opportunity, is also a great time to learn what the coming year holds for the industry. Below are some highlights from an annual survey of its tour operator members.
Today I am in the Bahamas at Ensemble’s Annual Conference. Weighing heavily on my mind was developing a topic for this issue’s Publisher’s Page. I went to listen to one of the keynote speakers, Kindra Hall, who spoke about marketing through storytelling. Storytelling is a method of engaging your clients (or in this case, readers) through the use of creative storytelling. I realized that, at a time when many of our competitors are large, corporately owned companies, our small family owned publishing company has a unique story to tell, and that story sets us apart. And so, I give you, The Story of JAX FAX.
The all-inclusive resort concept, first made popular in the 1970s, has transformed the resort industry and provided excellent earning opportunities for travel advisors. Today’s all-inclusives bear little resemblance to their predecessors of 50 years ago. JAX FAX recently stayed at the new Sandals Royal Barbados, and this serves as a great example of the evolution of the all-inclusive concept (or what Sandals calls “Luxury Included”).
Virtual reality has finally arrived as an exciting new sales tool for travel agents with the much anticipated launch of Explor VR - JAX FAX’s brand new app-based virtual reality technology, created especially for travel agents.
Early this fall, JAX FAX will be distributing Virtual Reality Starter Kits to our subscribers. This new sales tool will give you a sense of the amazing potential of VR technology - as a tool to help close sales, as a tactic to grab attention, as a means to bring more foot traffic through your agency door, and much more. Virtual reality technology can be used to engage and ‘wow’ clients, and we want agents to benefit from this technological development, bringing more to your clients that online booking websites can’t.
As the whirlwind of winter/spring tradeshows comes to a close, I am faced with a mountain of business cards on my desk. Each of these cards represents a chat with an industry friend or the making of a new industry acquaintance.
For years, the tourism industry organizations in the Caribbean have been working to market the Caribbean as one region connected by a common sea. The idea is to create awareness of the Caribbean as a region to draw potential worldwide travelers. And, while it is true that a united effort can accomplish much more than a fragmented approach to enhancing awareness of the region as whole, this strategy can also backfire when certain parts of that region are faced with adversity.
Understanding why your customer wants to travel is equally, if not more important than knowing where they want to go. This was a common theme at two of the year’s best conferences, that JAX FAX attended in December. During the USTOA Annual Conference, the results of a recently completed project exploring the reasons people travel were announced. Also, at the Signature Travel Annual Sales Conference, generation research expert Jason Dorsey explained to a packed house how different age groups perceive the process of vacation planning.
On Friday, October 6th, Clif Cooke, founder of JAX FAX and lifelong aviation buff, boarded his final flight to the great beyond. He was 86 years old. For 56 of those years, he was my Dad. During those 56 years, I had the privilege of working with him for 25. To say he was my inspiration and mentor would be an understatement. He shaped my life through childhood and into my adult years. I am proud that he was my Dad. He was an honest, intelligent and hard working man who genuinely cared about his friends and customers in the travel industry, where he worked from 1952 until his retirement in 2002.
As you read this page, summer is coming to an end. As sad as that is, the good news is that your clients are now starting to plan their holiday and 2018 vacations. Now is the time to kick your marketing into high gear and capture that business. Below are 6 sales strategies you can use now brought to you courtesy of travel industry speaker and marketing consultant, Mike Marchev, who recently co-hosted a webinar highlighting these and other sales strategies you can use to build your business. That webinar can be found in our webinar library at www.jaxfax.com
JAX FAX recently hosted a webinar for Image Tours during which they gave travel agents tried and true marketing ideas. Keeping your client and prospects pipeline full is key to creating a steady income stream. Below are several ideas garnered from the webinar as well as a few of our own.