How to Handle a Social Media Crisis

In today’s quickly changing social environment, every company should be prepared to handle a social media crisis. It’s not a question of if, but when you, or your company could be under attack online.A social media crisis usually starts small, but can progress into something very difficult to handle. It is crucial that you detect a social media crisis while it is still in its early stages.

Step #1: Don’t ignore it
Social Media fiascos typically start with something small. A customer posts a bad review, or a negative blog is posted. Recognize that this is the point at which your company should respond to the situation proactively.
When you notice an unhappy or angry customer has left a not-so-good review on your Facebook or Twitter page, it’s a good time to reach out. It is crucial to constantly monitor your company page and set a Google alert for your brand. Once you spot a social media issue, try to resolve the problem that is causing it.
Step #2: Identify the Problem
Accepting blame is not a typical human response. While there are individuals out there that will never be happy, consider most customers are being honest about their experience. Apologize right away if you are sorry. Explain why your company has a certain policy if you’re not. Things can get hairy very quickly, so having a publicist manage the situation properly can be invaluable. No matter what you do, don’t give your initial knee-jerk response. Make sure your response is professional, truthful, and prompt.

Author: Daniel Burrus.  Article Source:

3 Keys to Increase Your Fees without a Customer Revolt

At some point, all businesses have to implement new fees or increase their prices. The question is, “How do you do that without receiving a backlash from customers?”

Remember a few years ago when Verizon announced it was imposing a new $2 fee for paying your bill online or over the phone? Customers quickly revolted, with the news trending on Twitter and an online petition against the fee garnering over 50,000 signatures in a single day. The company quickly cancelled their plans for the fee. Similarly, Bank of America canceled their plans for a $5 debit card usage fee after weeks of customer outcry and closed accounts. If large companies such as these have a tough time implementing new or raised fees, how can your organization do it successfully?

Realize that the key is not what you do; rather, it’s how you do it. In other words, it’s not about implementing new fees or increasing prices; it’s about how you implement the fees or increase the prices. Following are some strategies for raising prices the right way.

Know your value.

Author: Daniel Burrus.  Article Source:

2nd Annual Blue Sky Symposium

2nd Annual Blue Sky Symposium

“The Future of Agent/Supplier Relationships”
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
On the campus of West Los Angeles College
Culver City, California

Considering topics, discussing ideas, creating action.
Featuring Power Presentations and Roundtable Discussions

Debating the Retail Industry’s Hottest Topics

What is Blue Sky Symposium?

Blue Sky Symposium is a future-focused event to spark new initiatives, engage in deep discussion, and make professional connections in an intimate, small group setting.  The theme for the 2014 symposium is “The Future of Agent/Supplier Relationships.”

  •     Blue Sky Symposium is not a travel agent educational conference
  •     Blue Sky Symposium is not a panel discussion, lecture, or keynote
  •     Blue Sky Symposium is not a trade show or supplier showcase

Who Should Attend?

Blue Sky Symposium is designed for all travel industry professionals. The vision for this event is to gather the brightest minds in the retail segment of the travel industry in a think-tank-style event to discuss big picture issues and generate problem-solving ideas and direction for specific industry topics. The goal is to fill the 100 available seats with a mix of travel agents, travel suppliers, industry leaders of all ages and levels of expertise.
Why You Should Attend Blue Sky Symposium?

Blue Sky Symposium is all about discussing big picture topics, generating ideas and solutions, and creating tangible action plans for the industry.  And when you attend, you will:

  •     Network in an intimate environment (maximum 100 attendees) with the brightest minds in the retail travel industry
  •     Interact in small groups with executive level suppliers and successful travel agents
  •     Add your voice to important discussions and action plans
  •     Help shape the future of your industry

How Do You Register?

Registration will open in approximately two weeks. Watch your email for complete details!

Travel Promotion , Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014

“ASTA is proud to have nearly 800 international members who drive ‘inbound’ travel to the U.S., and as such strongly supports efforts to help the U.S. recapture our historic share of worldwide overseas travel. The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act is essential to marketing the United States as a desirable destination for international tourists, conferences and business,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s President and CEO. “We applaud Representatives Bilirakis and Welch and Senators Klobuchar and Blunt for their bipartisan commitment to generating jobs and economic activity through increased travel. Every inbound international traveler stimulates the U.S. economy.

”In 2010, Congress passed the Travel Promotion Act (P.L. 111-145) with broad, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate. The law created a non-profit organization, Brand USA, as a public-private partnership to promote increased inbound international travel to the U.S. Brand USA is supported by international visitors and private contributions – not U.S. taxpayers. Half of its budget comes from the private sector through cash and in-kind contributions with the rest – up to a maximum of $100 million – funded through a nominal fee assessed on visa-free international visitors screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

A recent analysis performed by the independent analysis firm Oxford Economics estimated that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Brand USA generated 1.1 million additional international visitors who spent an estimated $3.4 billion – generating revenue and supporting jobs in communities across America.

Read more.

Author: Yolanda Walters.  Article Source:

SEAS the Future at ASTA Global Convention

Join ASTA YPS aboard the Norwegian Breakaway September 14-21!

It’s much more than a cruise – it’s a networking, educational and powerhouse of an industry event that will help you move your business forward. As magnificent as the Norwegian Breakaway is, think of it as the canvas for what lies ahead. This event will bring you together with the industry’s top travel professionals, travel suppliers and industry experts in a relaxed and fun environment that will help you “SEAS the Future.”

What’s in it for you as a young travel professional?

  • Set yourself above your competitors. Earn up to three highly valued and marketable New York, Bermuda and Norwegian Cruise Line specialist certificates.
  • Boost your profitability. Develop strong lasting personal relationships with key suppliers that will help drive up your bottom line. This event offers an innovative and intimate trade show with ample one-on-one networking time with industry executives.
  • Enhance your business and develop long lasting strategic goals. Participate in interactive educational sessions offered by inspiring subject matter experts that will help you learn, set your strategic goals and move your business forward.
  • Experience one of the most exciting ships in the industry – one recently named Best New Ship by Cruise Critic editors – the Norwegian Breakaway combines the best of New York City with the most magnificent amenities at sea.
  • Fun! Yes, fun. All work and no play makes for a dull existence. Get your mojo back. Join ASTA and suppliers at inspiring networking events and parties. Enjoy the excitement and energy of New York, the magic of Bermuda and the thrill of the new Norwegian Breakaway.


Creating the Next Generation of Brand Advocates

Did you know that there are 41 million Gen Xs, as compared to 71 million Gen Ys? As the Gen X population ages while Gen Y rises to form the majority of the working force, there is a major shift in purchasing power across these two generations. Yet, most business and marketing strategies of today are slow to recognize the shift, due to the inertia of ‘proven strategies’ stemming from the Gen X period, during the Internet Revolution.Companies are slow to adapt to meet the needs of the next generation because their strategies worked extremely well in the past. Although there is a general consensus that Gen X and Gen Y have starkly contrasting personalities and there is a need to adapt to suit Gen Y’s preferences, change to suit Gen Y’s volatile and demanding personality has been slow. In order to catalyze this change, companies need to be far-sighted, and realize that it is not just about customer acquisition and retention, but also creating next generation brand advocates.

From Engagement to Loyalty, then Advocacy

Every product/service starts off with customer engagement–to capture the interest in the brand, followed by building desire to purchase the product/service. Of the three customer lifecycle stages (engagement, loyalty and advocacy), this stage is most mature. Ever since the Internet Revolution during Gen X, marketing strategies have evolved online and offline to get the word out about the existence of products and services. From blatant, conventional marketing channels such as salesmen door-to-door knocking to subtle, unconventional marketing tactics such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), customer engagement strategies have never been more refined, proven and effective. Even among Gen Ys, building customer engagement is extensive and prevalent, leveraging on platforms such as Google (Google Adwords, PageRank) and Facebook (,Advertisements, Page Insights). These customer acquisition strategies have matured, because their ROI is immediate and visible.  Read the full article.

Author: Looi Qin En.  Article Source:

“Today’s Travel Agents”

The team at Travel Show Marketing Group, producer of the Home Based Travel Agent Forum, sat down with Zane Kerby, CEO of ASTA, to talk about today’s travel agents and his role in the upcoming Las Vegas Home Based Forum, June 16 – 18.  Zane will be one of the keynote speakers at the General Session on Tuesday, June 17th, and is being proudly sponsored by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

Zane was congratulated on his one year anniversary as CEO of ASTA, and talked about his past and what he brought to the table when he took the position.  Zane was the Senior Vice President, Events, Sponsorships and Advertising with GBTA.  He came into the role of CEO with the focus of growing ASTA’s membership and keeping the organization on track in being the advocate for the travel agent community.  When asked what some of the highlights from the past year have been, Zane responded that there have been a lot of changes.  He is making sure that the annual convention is meeting the needs of the membership segments.  There has been a lot of work on the advocacy front, and also the representation to members when new technology offerings come to market.  Another highlight has been working on the compliancy handbook.  This helps ASTA agents understand all the new guidelines.  “Last year, when the DOT was handing out fines for non-compliance, ASTA agents were ready.  They were aware of the guidelines and all of the new changes.”  The goal is to keep the details flowing to the travel agent.

Zane also spoke about the travel agent industry as a whole, and about the effort in attracting young professionals into the leisure travel market.  Zane agreed that it is really important to bring young people in, and admitted it has been a challenge.  ASTA has the Young Professionals Society, which has over 400 members.  There are great leaders and mentors within the group, and they have a fantastic schedule of events this year.  He remarked that if travel agents are happy, no matter their age or longevity within the industry, they aren’t going to go anywhere.  It is a great industry, and ASTA is eager to get the word out.  Read more.

Content Marketing: What is it, really?

Rarely has a buzzword been so, well, buzzy.

In My Industry, the term “content marketing” is hot, hot, hot right now (check out what Google Trends has to say about it). “Content marketing is the new SEO” reads one headline. “Content marketing is the new go-to promotional strategy” reads another.

All you need to do, so the claim goes, is produce a ton of content, load it with keywords and links, and distribute it everywhere.

No writing staff? No problem! Outsource your content overseas for dirt cheap. You can even “spin” it with software to get hundreds of variations on the same piece. Just have the intern manage it all!

And presto change-o, the search engines will happily send hundreds of customers your way. All you need to do after that is open your wallet and let the money pour in.

That’s the promise behind the hype, and frankly, it’s giving content marketing a terrible rep.

While the aforementioned approach might work, any success that it results in will be temporary. Companies that use cheap, badly written, or spun search engine bait will eventually be caught by Google. While they may generate some revenue, they’re really just one Panda or Penguin update away from having zero revenue.

Worse still, this kind of tactic typically only works for dodgy weight loss products or suspect pharmaceuticals, and even then it will only convert a tiny, tiny fraction of site visitors. That means that for every 100 visitors that a site gets, 99 will instantly recognize the cheap content for what it is, roll their eyes, and click away in a heartbeat. What you save in content production you will lose a thousand times over in direct revenue, branding, and reputation.

Author: Chandra Clarke.  Article Source:

Social Media thriving among travel agents – but is there a clear ROI?

ASTA has compiled its latest brief on the usage of technology by travel agents, showing that social media use has surged to eighty percent of surveyed travel agents.

The results were derived from ASTA’s Research Family, a representative sample across its member base, and has a sampling margin of +/- 5%, providing an extensive layout of how agents use technology to sell travel.

Social + ROI?

So with all these agents plying the seas of social media, what about ROI?

Well, ROI remains elusive, according to this set of findings.

Of the 80% that responded positively to usage of social media, a whopping third have seen zero dollars in revenue directly from that source. And yet, beyond that “0% of revenues” mark, 43% have seen over 5% of their total revenue derived from social media efforts.

- See more at:

Author: Nick Vivion.  Article Source:

ASTA Destination Expo Kicksoff!

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) today announced the successful start of ASTA Destination Expo (ADE) Merida, Yucatan Mexico following the opening general session where Rolando Zapata Bello, the Yucatan Governor, and Claudia Ruiz Massieu, the Secretary of Mexico Tourism, welcomed delegates.

ASTA ADE will offer nearly 400 participants, including travel professionals, supplier representatives and tourism executives, the opportunity to immerse themselves in the gastronomy, culture and history of the region, and return home with a comprehensive understanding of the wonders of the Yucatan. Many will also earn destination specialist certificates.

“It is a tremendous honor for us to partner with ASTA and host this immersive learning and networking experience for travel professionals,” said Mr. Saul Ancona, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Yucatan. “We look forward to reaping the rewards of having a trained, energized and motivated cadre of North American travel professionals that will showcase the wonders and value that the Yucatan offers.”

“Merida, the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico are strategically important tourism partners,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA president and CEO. “I want to thank the Tourism Boards of Yucatan and Mexico for understanding the value of creating a hands-on training opportunity. It’s a win-win. Participating travel professionals will win by gaining first-hand experience about an amazing destination that will help expand their business and gain new clients, and the Yucatan will win from a growth in visitors to the region that this motivated and trained sales force will ultimately produce.”

ASTA offers its sincere thanks to ASTA ADE sponsors – Tourism of the State of Yucatan, Mexico Tourism Board, AeroMexico, Grupo Posadas/Fiesta Americana, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Sabre Travel Network.

ASTA Destination Expo (ADE) is an immersive, onsite learning experience that offers participants:  up-to-the-minute intelligence on industry issues; access to regional and local contacts; and, the opportunity to become a highly marketable destination specialist in a strategically important and growing tourism region.

Author: Yolanda Walters.  Article Source:

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