Q&A from May 1st Coffee Break featuring ShoreTrips

by mailpound 5/6/2009 4:05:00 AM
Last week’s coffee break featured ShoreTrips.  Barry Karp gave a great presentation on shore excursions available to your clients in Alaska. We received some really great questions and provided them below with Barry’s answers.  If you have any additional questions please leave a comment below or e-mail admin@shoretrips.com.  Please be sure to check out the recorded version of the webinar by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

Q.  What is the minimum group size that the clients need to receive a discounted rate?
At ShoreTrips we do not have a minimum or maximum number to consider a group.  We will install groups on our group page that have as little as 4 or 6 people.  It really depends on how customized everything is and how specialized you need us to be.  For example, if you have 4 couples that want to make sure they are all together we might form a group so they can all get on the site. 
Do we offer discounts for groups?  Alaska has a very, very short period for there vendors to sell their products and make a profit. Our vendors, because they are the best vendors out there, seldom discount their trips.  However, if you come to me and tell me you have a group of 40 people who would like to do a bus tour of Juneau we will be able to work out a discount.  I will be able to go to the tour company and get the net price of the bus.  We add very, very little mark up, it is only $10 per person and on top of that we will add in your commission.  So we should be able to beat the price if you give us 30-40 people because we will then own the bus.  We can then take the price of the bus and divide it by the 30 or 40 people and everyone will be happy

Q.     Do you offer any travel agent rates?
As I mentioned before we do not mark up our prices by much so we make very little money on each excursion.  However we will work with you.  If you call us and tell us you are going to Alaska we will remove the Travel Agent commission and you can pay the net price for the excursion.  If you have a group we will work with you and the tour operator to see what kind of free ones we can get.  We usually do not go to the operators and ask them for free spots up front but will ask them for a formula, for example 1 free of 20 guests.  Usually we like to receive the bookings before we talk to the tour operator.

Q.     If I send my clients directly to your website, how do I receive my commission?
That is easy J Before you send your clients to ShoreTrips you will login to our website using your user id and password.  Once you are logged in you will click on “edit referral list” and you will add your clients to the list.  You will be asked to put in their name and e-mail address.  If you have a couple I suggest putting in both of their names and e-mail addresses.  Also make sure to include both their work and home e-mail addresses if they have both.  Now anytime your clients come on our site they have to register with us and we specifically ask for their e-mail address.  When they type in their address we will know that they belong to you/your agency.  Now if you forget and you referred your client to us and they booked with us just give us a call providing their name.  We will look up the booking and will add your agency into the system under their booking so you receive the full commission for it.  You will receive your commission check 2 weeks after your client’s trip.

Q.     Can travel agents set up an affiliate account so their clients can purchase directly from their website?
No, however we can provide you a link to place on your website that says “shore excursions”.  When you client clicks on the link they will be taken to ShoreTrips website.  We will know that those clients came from your travel agency and anytime they come to us, now and in the future, you will make full commission on those clients.  You will also be notified everytime they book and you will be able to see their vouchers.  It is a really nice and easy way of offering shore excursions to your clients.

Q.     How do you pick them up by the ship?
What size group do you need to have your own van or private transportation? For example Chris has a group of 17
To answer the first part of the question, 99 times out of 100 in Alaska or any of our locations their tour guide will be there with a sign when they get off the ship.  The sign will have your client’s name on it, which really makes them feel like VIPs.
Now let’s take Chris’s example of a group of 17.  If you would like the group of 17 to stay together, for example a sightseeing tour in Alaska, we will probably use a mini bus.  A mini bus holds about 20-21 people and we would divide the price by 17 if that is how you wish to do it.  If you are unsure that everyone will want to go on that tour we can always divide the price by 14 or 15.  So yes, if you have a group of 17 we could certainly provide private transportation.

Q.     What do you say to clients who are afraid of going outside the cruise ship line on an excursion because they are afraid the cruise ship will leave without them if they are delayed?
ShoreTrips is not for everybody.  If you have clients who are completely afraid of going away from the shore excursions offered by the cruise line, then no matter what you say or do you will not be able to convince them otherwise.  You need to focus on the clients who are open to independent shore excursions.  I would say 90% of your customers would never think twice of coming off the ship and grabbing a taxi to go somewhere.  Those are the people you should be offering ShoreTrips to for independent shore excursions.  Independent shore excursions have been around since we started in 2001.  Every single year our sales are growing which means more and more people are doing independent shore excursions.  So your clients should not be afraid.  We have never had anyone miss a ship and if it does happen we will make sure to get your client to the next port.  It happens to the cruise line shore excursions all the time.  The ship leaves and they fly them to the next port.  We would do exactly the same thing.  If we make a mistake we will make sure to get your clients to the next port.  We will never have you lose a customer over a shore excursion.

Q.     Does everyone in the group have to take the same package?
No, not everyone in the group has to take the same package.  When you have a group and they are doing 3 ports in Alaska we will sit together and think about what your group may want to do.  They do not all have to go on the same trip.  We can have one customized tour for your port or we can have 17 different excursions.  Especially if you have a multigenerational group, not everyone in the group is going to want to do the same thing.  That is why we offer an array of excursions for each port.  For example Juneau we offer helicopter tours, fishing trips, whale watching, hikes, and so on.  We will work together and select shore excursions that will make everyone in your group have a great time.

Q.     Where can I view this webinar again?
We recorded it and posted it on MailPound.com.  Please click here to view.



Volunteers Help at Gettysburg's Spangler Farm

by mailpound 5/4/2009 3:37:00 AM

Volunteers Help at Gettysburg’s Spangler


National Trust for Historic Preservation on April 27th, 2009

Written by Bobbie Greene McCarthy

Bobbie Greene McCarthy, director of Save America's Treasures at the National Trust and Debbie Maier of MailPound in New Jersey, pose in front of the summer kitchen they helped rehab as part of the Tourism Cares for America weekend at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Bobbie Greene McCarthy, director of Save America's Treasures at the National Trust and Debbie Maier of MailPound in New Jersey, pose in front of the summer kitchen they helped rehab as part of the Tourism Cares for America weekend at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Last week, my colleague, Fiona Lawless, and I joined more than 300 volunteers at Gettysburg National Military Park for the seventh annual “Tourism Cares for America” weekend. Begun in 2001 as the tourism industry reeled in the wake of 9/11, this education/philanthropic association of the country’s large tourism organizations has logged countless people hours in an effort to preserve and protect some of our country’s most treasured historic sites, including Ellis Island, Mount Vernon, New Orleans (twice!), the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina, and Virginia City, Nevada. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Save America’s Treasures program has had a long and productive partnership with Tourism Cares and the tourism industry, and we count ourselves among their faithful volunteers.

Participants flocked to Gettysburg from across the US and some even as far as British Columbia to help the National Park Service and the Gettysburg Foundation clear and clean the 80-acre Spangler Farm recently purchased from the family that owned it for many generations. Once restored, it will be used for the Park’s educational programs and outreach activities. The farm was the logistical center of the Union battle line and served as a field hospital for more than 1,700 wounded and dying soldiers during three horrific days in July 1863 that made Gettysburg world-famous and changed the course of the Civil War. It is best known as the place where Confederate General Lewis Armistead died after he was wounded in Pickett’s Charge on the third day of the battle.

(If the name sounds familiar to you, it’s because the Armistead family name is woven through American history. Of special note, Lewis’ uncle, Lieutenant Colonel Major George Armistead, commanded Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, defending Baltimore against the British during the attack that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words to the Star Spangled Banner. In fact, George Armistead was given the Star Spangled Banner after the battle and it remained in his family for generations.)

Most of the Tourism Cares volunteers cleared countless tons of heavy brush and debris from the land but others cleaned the barn and farmhouse. I focused my efforts largely on hauling, shoveling and, finally, sweeping the summer kitchen, where a bronze plaque says it is the actual place where General Armistead died. For a group of desk-jockeys and tour guides with a sense of history but unaccustomed to hard physical labor, it was an exhausting but exhilarating experience. Tourism Cares did — as it always does — a magnificent job of organizing this complex event with its countless moving parts and made sure that the labor was preceded and followed by interesting and enjoyable activities — including LOTS of food and plenty to drink.

The group was treated to a lively tour of the battlefield, and a special viewing of the newly-restored Cyclorama painting (conserved thanks in part to a $200,000 challenge grant from Save America’s Treasures). There also was a special screening of a new video produced by the History Channel about the Battle at Gettysburg. In a final generous gesture, Tourism Cares and Trip Mate Insurance announced a surprise $10,000 grant to the Gettysburg Foundation for further rehabilitation of Spangler Farm.

If you’d like to know more and see pictures from the weekend, visit the Tourism Cares website, and more on Gettysburg National Military Park can be found on their website.

Bobbie Greene McCarthy is the director of the Save America’s Treasures program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.




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