Grumpy Cat Meme!

As promised, here is your first free downloadable meme to celebrate Travel Agent Awareness Day's "Meme May"!

Feel free to download this meme (right click, "save as") and be sure to tag us using #TravelAgentAwareness! 

3 ways you can get involved in Travel Agent Awareness

We are excited for Travel Agent Awareness Day next Monday, February 1st!  By now, you probably know that the theme is "Ask An Agent," but maybe you’re wondering exactly how you can get involved.

Get creative! Here are 3 actionable ideas to get you started:

  1. Create a short video response. A video answering the public’s questions is a fun way to engage your audience, and it is the single best way to increase your reach on Facebook and other social platforms. It doesn’t have to be long - 1 to 5 minutes is best.  Be sure to also upload them to Youtube and your website!
  2. Get your local media involved. It’s not too late to send out a last-minute press release (you can download a free template here) or send an email to your local TV station or newspaper. Assignment editors often have a need for a last-minute story idea.

  3. Use your database. Include a blurb in your weekly newsletter or send a “special bulletin” email to your database to solicit questions. Create a sense of urgency in your subject line to increase your open rates and generate more questions.

And be sure to use the hashtags #TravelAgentAwareness and #AskAnAgent.  We'll be going through the posts and will feature your success stories in future promotions!

In Support of Agents

ROBIN AMSTER | JANUARY 12, 2016 12:00 PM ET

Travel agents landed solidly in the Winners column in a year-end story I wrote on the year’s Winners and Losers. The reasons: Among others, we’re hearing compelling stories from individual agents and seeing impressive sales figures from agent groups to back up the buzz that agents are “back.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s all sweetness and light on the agent front. At least one Florida agent sees the need for far more awareness of the value of agents.

Leila Coe, an independent contractor with World Class Travel in Gainesville, has taken matters into her own hands by introducing a multi-faceted agent awareness campaign and, so far, hundreds of other agents have joined her.

A newly launched website, www.travelagentawareness.com, provides information on the campaign and allows agents to submit their contact information to be listed on the site as a supporter.

Coe’s initial effort, a Travel Agent Awareness Week, was held this past Nov. 1 to 7. “I was sick of agents complaining on Facebook forums and elsewhere so I decided to do something about it,” she says.

The “grass roots” campaign focused on a Facebook group Coe started. She asked agents to post on Facebook—and other social media—on a variety of topics, including Why Use a Travel Agent, Your Specialties, What Your Typical Day as a Travel Agent is Like, and, The Future of Travel.

A blog post from Jeanne Morris, of JMorris Travel in Monroe, Georgia, beautifully sums up exactly what an agent does. Instead of paraphrasing, here’s what Jeanne, a family travel specialist, wrote:

“I really wish I had something glamourous here – Travel for Free . . . I’m a millionaire doing what I love. . . Famous Clients. . . But in truth, being a Travel Professional is WORK!

“Do I travel?  Yes.  For free?  Hardly!  Am I am millionaire?  Uh, not even close!  Do I love my job?  Absolutely!  Do I have famous clients?  Not really, but I do strive to make them feel like Rock Stars!

“My job consists of research, dealing with suppliers, making plans and itineraries (and then changing them a million times to make them perfect), waiting on hold to make changes on a client’s trip (sometimes so long it is easy to forget why. . . or even who I am calling!), quoting different options, and more research. 

“My job consists of explaining to people that I don’t get paid until they travel (and only then if they book through me).

“My job consists of going over each family’s plans with a fine-toothed comb to make sure their getaway is perfect for them.

“My job consists of putting my own family life on hold when I have clients travelingI’m constantly checking weather forecasts and scanning the news headlines in case there is something that may affect my clients currently traveling.

“I answer frantic texts and phone calls from clients with questions or problems. 

“Yup, my job is not glamourous.  But when you see your client post on Facebook about how wonderful their Family Getaway was (and you know your part in it) and how precious the memories they made together as a family, it is all worth it!”

Coe has now introduced other initiatives as part of what she envisions as a continuing campaign.

The latest is a call for agents to boost awareness by seeking out someoneto interview them—whether that’s a client, a friend or local or national media.

Coe plans to make the 2016 campaign a quarterly event consisting of February, May and August events plus another week-longevent next November.

May's theme will be memes but the details have yet to be worked out for that or for August. Next November will once again feature daily topics for agents to post about on Facebook, their own blogs or other social media platforms.

“I just want to share with the public why we are here and why we do what we do; that we are not a computer but use real human intellect, emotion and common sense when putting together our clients trips,” says Coe. “And that we care about our clients in ways that Orbitz never can.”

Get Ready for Travel Agent Awareness Day

TRAVEL AGENT | ROBIN AMSTER | JANUARY 05, 2016

The organizer of the first Travel Agent Awareness Week this past fall is organizing a Travel Agent Awareness day to be held Feb. 1.

Leila Coe, organizer of the first campaign, is also behind the new initiative which will take a different approach from the last effort.

Coe, an independent contractor with World Class Travel in Gainesville, Fla., said the new campaign will be an effort for travel agents to seek out someoneto interview them—whether that’s a client, a friend or local or national media.

“We are hoping to appear on other people's blogs/social media as well as on our own. Time to spread the word a bit more,” said Coe.

The first Travel Agent Awareness Week, held from Nov. 1 to 7, was a “grass roots” campaign focused on a Facebook group Coe founded.

She enlisted agents and asked them to spread the word to others. All of the participating agents were asked to post on a different topic each day, including why they became agents, what they typically book, why use an agent, and the future of travel.

“The goal is to get the majority of those in the group to participate but it is up to each agent how they want to participate,” said Coe. An agent suggested to Coe the idea of having agents interviewed. “I thought it was a good idea. Something different than what we did before,” she added. 

Coe said about 500 agents took part in the November campaign. “The majority of them participated in some ways - whether it was just one post on Twitter or Facebook or, many did the daily topic postings,”  she said.

“Considering that I started the campaign a month prior, it has grown rapidly. We now have 800 members and counting,” she added.

Coe’s reasons for launching the initiative remain.

“I started the campaign as I was tired of reading articles about how we don't exist or explaining to people I meet that yes, I am a travel agent as most are so surprised that we still exist in today's world,” she said.

“I still think most don't understand why because you can do everything on the internet. So I wanted to change that perception and I can't do that alone so started the Facebook group which has grown fast,” she added. “I think most other agents have these same issues and it is time for us to do something about it instead of whining to each other.

“I just want to share with the public why we are here and why we do what we do; that we are not a computer but use real human intellect, emotion and common sense when putting together our clients trips. And that we care about our clients in ways that Orbitz never can.”

Coe plans to make the 2016 campaign a quarterly event consisting of February, May and August events plus theweek-long November campaign.

May's theme will be memes but the details have yet to be worked out for that or for August. Next November will once again be a week-long event featuring daily topics for agents to post about on Facebook, their own blogs or other social media platforms.

Coe also pointed out that Jacob Marek, founder of 45 Degrees Marketing and a member of the Facebook group, has put together a free press release template for any agent to use. They only have to edit the release, available here, with their own information.

Florida Agent Launches Travel Agent Awareness Week

TRAVEL AGENT | ROBIN AMSTER | OCTOBER 20, 2015

Tired of hearing other travel agents complain that consumers don’t know they exist, a Florida home-based agent is organizing a Travel Agent Awareness Week for Nov. 1 to 7.

“I was sick of agents complaining on Facebook forums and elsewhere so I decided to do something about it,” said Leila Coe, CTA, an independent contractor with World Class Travel in Gainesville, Florida.

Coe introduced her “grass roots” campaign to launch Travel Agent Awareness Week with a Facebook group she started a week and a half ago. She has already enlisted some 100 agents to participate and has asked them to spread the word to other agents. “Any agent is welcome,” said Coe.

During the week-long campaign, participating agents will post on social media on a different topic each day. The topics:

Nov. 1: Who you are, what’s your background, why do you do what you do, what made you become a travel agent?

Nov. 2: A Day in the Life - What your typical day is like as a travel agent? (Try to be positive but you can also mention some “behind the scenes” frustrations like long hold times or the airlines and explain how you deal with them.)

Nov. 3: Your Specialties - What you typically book; your destinations, products, niches?

Nov. 4: Why use a travel agent, in your own words. Why should someone choose to call you instead of the supplier directly?

Nov. 5: Throwback Thursday – What your favorite vacation was; your favorite destination, trip, hotel, restaurant, beach. Try to include photos.

Nov. 6: Free Day - Blog about whatever you want but remember to keep it positive.

Nov. 7: The future of travel – trends, ideas, calls to action. 

The hashtags for Travel Agent Awareness Week are:

#TravelAgents #WeExist #TravelAgentAwareness