Special thanks to our sponsor Uniglobe Travel Center.
This quarter we sit down with a mom of seven who left a career in education to start a travel agency focused on educational travel just four years ago. She’s moved from being with a traditional host to a host-franchise hybrid and we dig into why. (Not sure what a host-franchise hybrid is? We cover that too.) If you’ve ever wondered the difference between an agency that belongs to a travel franchise, vs. one that doesn’t, we break down the main differentiators in layman’s terms for you.
Not only has Houston-based travel advisor LaTonya White sampled two different host structures, she’s also made the leap from home based to renting office space. We tap into her knowledge on how to get in as a vendor with schools and educational organizations, as well as the challenges and joys of focusing on educational trips for students of all ages.
We ❤️ reviews!
- HAR's Candidate Chat: Hear from the 8 candidates running for ASTA's Board of Director. Voting ends Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 at 5pm ET.
- Listen to TAC Vol 20: Ja'Vonne's trips have a very strong cultural and educational component. Inspiration for those interested in added a education flair to their trips. :)
- Travel MLMs: Know the real facts about MLMs/pyramid schemes/direct selling/multi-level marketing.
- List of Travel Industry Lawyer: Great idea to have a travel-specific attorney look at your contracts and franchise disclosure documents (FDDs).
- Three Real Life Ways Travel Agents Save Consumer's Money: Know these unique and tangible perks you bring to your clients!
- Using a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online: What's the difference? We go beyond just value and expertise.
- A guide to when and how to legally charge fees under seller of travel registration.
- Sign up for e-mail reminders when the next Travel Agent Chatter episode comes out!
Steph: [00:00:00] You're listening to Travel Agent Chatter, volume 23.
That is right folks. If you are a new subscriber to our podcast, you know, we do our weekly Friday 15s, but we also push out our Travel Agent Chatter podcast, where we do long-form interviews with successful advisors from all walks of life. We do that every quarter and that my friends is what you are listening to right now.
In today's TAC episode, our guest has made some big strides in just four years of being in the travel industry. And yes, two of those years were COVID years. So our guest today is a mom of seven, who started as a hosted advisor underneath another advisor, but she changed to a franchise model. So we'll hear about why and help you get your learning on about how franchises [00:01:00] operate and what exactly a host- franchise hybrid is.
⭐️ Podcast Topics! ⭐️
- Welcome! Meet LaTonya White
- Educational Travel
- Host to Franchise
- Home-based to Office Space
- Under the Hood (Charging Fees)
So upping her game in 2021, after just three years as an advisor, our guest also moved from home-based agency to her own office outside the home. So not too shabby, right?
We are going to follow her journey from educator to travel agency that focuses on family and friends' bookings, destination weddings, and educational travel.
She'll shed some light on what it takes to get into educational travel because it's not as easy as you might think folks.
So new advisors stay tuned to be inspired as you hear about a newer advisor's successful journey, despite the worldwide pandemic. And before we jump into our interview, an important announcement for all of you.
So ASTA, the American Society of Travel Advisors is holding their elections for their board of directors this July. So they are our voice in Washington, DC, and they play a critical, [00:02:00] critical role in making sure that our legislators know that travel agents not only exist. But ASTA is actively building relationships with those legislators for us so that when something comes up that hurts our travel advisor community, number one, they can hear about it. And number two, we can go ahead and fight back.
So the board of directors is— they're essentially the people that drive the ship at ASTA . They decide what priorities ASTA should focus on and how they go about reaching those priorities. This year, there are nine candidates and about a third of those spots are available on the board.
So there are a lot of people to choose from and each candidate has different views. So it's important that you don't just choose on name recognition, or if they belong to your host or consortium. You wanna choose the candidate that's gonna represent your agency's best interest.
We've interviewed all nine candidates, asking their thoughts, and what their priorities are. And I will put a link to the event in the show notes where you [00:03:00] can listen to or watch the interviews with the candidates. Voting ends Tuesday, July 26th at 5 pm eastern time.
And now without further ado, let's get onto the show.
Welcome! Meet LaTonya White
Steph: Well, hello, hello, hello! It is so great to have you on for another rip-roarin' Travel Agent Chatter episode. Today, we have LaTonya white, the owner of Traveling Made Affordable out of Houston, Texas. This mom of, is it, is it six LaTonya or is it seven? I can't remember.
LaTonya: Total is seven.
Steph: Seven. Yeah. So she started out in education, but she made the leap over into travel in 2018, just in time for the pandemic, of course. So if you're a newer advisor kind of finding your way, or if you're an experienced advisor thinking about the possibility of moving from your host, we'll be hearing about how LaTonya made the leap and grew her business from home based to having an office outside the home. And also made the leap from being hosted [00:04:00] within another host to becoming her own franchise owner.
So a quick reminder, before we get started. So TAC is available in a variety of formats. We've got it on the podcast. We've got the video on our YouTube channel. We've got the transcript on Host Agency Reviews. So lots of ways to digest it.
And we'll likely be going over some resources that you might wanna utilize. So any links or resources that we mention on today's show we'll list them in today's show notes, which are found on the website. So you can find that by going to HostAgencyReviews.com/tac in clicking on episode 23.
So let's get in today's schedule. So it's gonna be into six segments today.
The first is beginning. Then we'll talk about educational travel. We'll move into the host to a franchise, and then we'll move into being home based to moving into an office space and the last two segments are under the [00:05:00] hood, and then we're gonna finish it with a special new segment at the end, entitled Indispensable.
- Welcome! Meet LaTonya White
- Educational Travel
- Host to Franchise
- Home-based to Office Space
- Under the Hood (Charging Fees)
So are you ready for this LaTonya?
Welcome to Travel Agent Chatter!
LaTonya: I am ready! Yay. Good morning.
Steph: I know this is a very early morning for me and LaTonya recording this. So it is such a pleasure to have you on the show today. Your story is so inspiring because not only are you just a woman that's brimming with positivity, but you started your agency just a few years ago, ran into the pandemic just as things were picking up.
So we'll touch more on that later, but let's start by hearing about how you came into the industry. So give me your career arc. What were you doing before travel?
LaTonya: Oh, before travel. Good morning again, Stephanie, before travel, I was an educator. Seven years as a teacher and one year as a school counselor and I love education.
And one of my cohorts that I [00:06:00] work with was a travel agent on the side and offered me to join their organization. And so I did as a way to supplement 'cause you know, educators, we need all the coins we need all the coin we can get.
Steph: And that hard work doesn't get paid like you should.
LaTonya: Yes. And so I did. I joined one of your host agencies.
I didn't really do any research on it because it came as a direct referral from someone I trust in the game, in the industry. So I didn't have to tap in to learn about this host agency. But over the course of my time there in booking clients, I noticed that my commission splits were very, let's just say unsustainable.
Steph: Yeah, that's good word.
LaTonya: And I think it's because I literally came in under, you know, someone else.
LaTonya: It got me to thinking like, okay, if I could just step [00:07:00] into this and be that person, what would that look like? And, and I always thought about that. It didn't become a dream that became reality until other doors started opening for me in the world of travel. Because I was at that same time, I was contacted by a travel magazine who wanted me to contribute for their magazine. I did that.
And I also learned how to begin to pitch myself because I am a blogger. So I got into that world and it's just like, everything started coming together and it just made sense.
Steph: So that, so the magazine reaching out to you was kind of the impetus to make you go off on your own and, or, or just to start?
LaTonya: Eh, it was, it was definitely a, a, a, a strong ingredient because I already had these ideas in my head because I didn't like how the commission was looking. So it was [00:08:00] definitely a strong ingredient in the cake, right?
But what was the icing on the cake was the magazine. Because see now I'm learning to read and, and research on what host agencies are and what franchises are, and other consortiums and things like that. And that's how I found your website, which led me to becoming a Cruise Planners independent franchisee! And I'm still here today.
Steph: Well, that's awesome because as a former educator, I love that you've integrated your love of education into kind of like a, a different career. So if, if you are a teacher listening to this or an educator who's toying with joining the travel industry, but is like, "I'll really miss teaching", hopefully, LaTonya's journey will inspire you that there are so many ways that you can build an educational component into your agency. It's not like you can either be in travel or you can be an [00:09:00] educator.
LaTonya: You can, you can. The possibilities are endless. I tell all of my educator associates, who I tap into and they're thinking about stepping out, the world is at your fingertips! You know so much as an educator, make it work for you outside of the classroom.
Steph: Yeah. It's a wonderful transition to our next section because I know that you also focus on families and destination weddings, but I wanna hear more about your, like one of your other niches, which is educational travel with exploratory learning. So let's have you first explain kind of how you view what educational travel is.
LaTonya: So educational travel is taking your students from their learning environment and taking them outside of that and still providing them with a learning experience.
Steph: I love it.
LaTonya: And you know what, that just came to me, right? But I mean, we've always been thinking about this because even in a classroom, you've always gotta present an objective. You've [00:10:00] always gotta present a lesson. And what is the end goal you want your students to learn?
And so being that I was that person as a department chair for a program that took students off of campus, it was an extracurricular activity. My goal was to set up field trips. And listen, I wasn't tapped in with a travel agent back then. I wish I was.
LaTonya: Guess who was managing all those funds? Guess who was managing all of the tickets and all of the emails and everything like that for these tons of students? And teachers, it was me, it was solo me.
LaTonya: I enjoyed it. I mean, we've taken kids off the campus and experienced things locally and in state.
And, and, and so it was just a secondhand thing for me to put that together in this journey that I'm in now. So...
Steph: Yeah. Well, one of the things you mentioned was that part of the reason that your career change went so well because of how involved you are with your community and your [00:11:00] background in education.
LaTonya: That's right.
Steph: So, so for those that are interested in kind of tapping into this market, what kind of advice would you have for them about, you know, breaking into or starting out in educational travel?
LaTonya: If you're thinking about stepping into the world of educational travel, listen, it is not easy. You've got to one, have patience. It is a different type of patience than it is for booking your normal leisure travel. You've got to have patience and that patience comes from a lot of educators because we have that. You have to have that in order to one, be an educator.
Number two is if you're thinking about doing educational travel for the coins, you're not gonna be successful in it. Because you gotta understand this is a, this is a state entity. It's a government entity. And it's not about how rich you can get; it's about helping students.
So if you're in it for that reason, then it is not going to be for you. And, and if you keep these things at the [00:12:00] forefront and you still love education, you still like working with your community and giving back in that realm and helping students experience the world outside of their classroom.
Cause these teachers, they, they have a time. They don't have time to be worried about itineraries. They don't have time to be responding to emails and setting things up. That's where we come in! And it has been a blessing in disguise for me.
Steph: Well, that's awesome. So 'cause you work with pretty much K through 12 schools is kind of your target, right?
LaTonya: Mm-hmm. So I work with K through 12 schools and my goal is for the secondary and up field trip.
LaTonya: Because with those field trips, you can take the kids further than you could with the little babies, you know?
Steph: Oh, that's true. Yeah.
LaTonya: Yeah. So you wanna keep that in mind. Drive your learning experiences around the ages of the [00:13:00] students. And literally the teacher's gonna tell you, give you a general idea what they're looking for.
I think the caveat here for me is that coming from that world of education, that is my caveat. That's my niche. Like I love that. And, and you know, the old saying Stephanie. Once an educator...
Steph: Always an educator!
LaTonya: That's right.
Steph: Well, I think, you know, when you're dealing with the schools and government entities, it can be, you know, the budgets are, are more tight.
One thing to keep in mind for people that are listening is there's so many ways to go into educational travel. You know, if you're doing university trips or you're doing, you know, private school trips, they may have more money to burn than you might find with your typical public school K through 12.
LaTonya: They are traveling international too. Now of course, COVID put a lot of hindrance on a lot of that international travel, but some of them are starting to pick it back up. So let's just pray COVID keeps its [00:14:00] ugly head where it is and we can get back to where it was pre COVID.
Steph: That would be so dreamy...
Steph: Well, so one of the other things we talked about is why it's so difficult, not only because you need patience and because it can be difficult to make tons of money in it... one of the other things is you can't just approach a teacher and say, 'Hey, I want a book for your classroom.'
There's a process that you need to go through and an approval. So can you tell us a little bit more about that?
We'll be back in a moment after a quick word from our sponsor. [00:15:00]
LaTonya: Yes. There is a process and there is an approval that you have to go through. So one thing that's important to keep in mind is that you must be registered and a vendor with whatever schools that you want to do business with. It is not as easy as contacting them and saying, 'Hey, I would like to be your travel agent.'
No, you've gotta go through that process. And that process can be very arduous and long. But guess what guys? If you're willing to go through that process, you've already proven that you have patience because you are already tapping into the world of education. Be it, if you're coming from that place of education or be it that you just have that niche to work with other people in that realm. No matter what, you're gonna have to take time and build in that part of the business, because it is a process to do [00:16:00] business with any of your public schools. They are a state entity.
Steph: mm-hmm. Yeah. And I think, you know, what helped you was, of course, you were a former educator and were familiar with how things worked. But you're also very embedded in your community. So if you're someone that maybe is on the PTO or really involved at the school, mm-hmm , that can really help you if you're having trouble breaking in, I think.
LaTonya: Yeah. I actually helped a, a fellow cohort with Cruise Planners, she's an independent franchisee as well. I actually helped her get registered with one of the biggest school districts here to become a travel agent vendor. So we've got two now here in Houston, we've got myself I'm with one large school district and she's with another.
So walking her through that process and helping guide her in getting her business ready to do business with schools, I think it has made a world of difference for her to be a recognized brand in the community as well.
Steph: Oh, for sure. And [00:17:00] yeah, I think when I, when I hear you talking about the vendors that you need to be an approved vendor for the school. I just can't help, but think like, oh, that parallels preferred suppliers so much. It's like the preferred suppliers of the school. You've gotta get vetted.
LaTonya: You said it. That's the big, that's the big context clue right there, you have to be vetted and it's no way around that.
Steph: Yeah. And that's probably a good thing. If you're gonna be around kids and doing stuff like that...
LaTonya: Oh yeah, definitely. You wanna know? They wanna know that they have the right person. And it's not like you're gonna be the only one, guys. So keep that in mind. There are gonna be multiple travel agencies that are selected and voted in by a board to represent as one of the vendors that any one of their schools can choose to do business with.
LaTonya: So you just want to make sure that you're not only selected to be one of those vendors, but you're also getting reached out to build the students' next dream [00:18:00] memories. It could be their senior trips, or their junior trips, or a learning experience for sophomores. It doesn't matter. Just make sure you are that person.
Steph: Yeah. Yeah. Education is such a big area. And like we said earlier, you know, you could do sports teams. I know some advisors that specialize in university travel and moving the sports teams around, or you know, when a professor wants to take a class somewhere, they go ahead and do the exchange trips.
So another great podcast of ours to listen to is in episode 20, we did, we interviewed Ja'Vonne Harley, who she, she takes adults, but very much the focus of her trips has a very strong cultural and educational component.
Steph: And she leads the groups and helps travelers learn about the culture. So if this is something you're interested—
Steph: —in and wanna learn a little bit more about it, check out episode 20.
Okay. So LaTonya, I know this is gonna vary by trip because [00:19:00] obviously it's going to be different, but so people can get an idea, what are the kind of the size of groups you're working with when you put together these trips?
LaTonya: Group travel can be so large and it can be so small. It can be private, small groups, all the way to large corporate groups.
It can be small from four people. It can be as large as, oh my God, the number doesn't stop when we talk about large .
LaTonya: So it just depends on how you want to run that and how the group formalizes itself. I mean, word of mouth travels fast, so you could start off with a small group. And then by the time it's time to travel, you're ending up with a pretty large number.
Listen, I've got my hands tapped into it all. So at the end of the day, I'm grateful if your group is a very small group or if your group is large. And I need those large groups, cause I'm ready to hire my people, you know?! Come on guys!
Steph: Yeah. So when [00:20:00] you're doing students, like the field trips, you've done anywhere from like 30 to a hundred students on a trip is that—
LaTonya: The most I've had, I think is about 40.
LaTonya: It was a junior senior trip and, and I was actually working on two sets of field trips and one was gonna do an instate field trip. They were going to go to a different city. Another field trip the teacher wanted to take the students to Disney World. It was an—
Steph: oh, that's a fun teacher!
LaTonya: Yeah. It was an incentive for her students. And, and you gotta understand, in this community, a lot of our students have not left their neighborhoods. They don't know what life is like outside of that. So this is why I'm so tapped in with my community and I'm so readily available for them to build these experiences for these students that will last with them for the rest of their lives.
So, yeah, it just depends. It just depends on what the teachers are, [00:21:00] are working with and what they come to you with.
I mean, just be ready. When a group grows, be ready to get it in. Because it is... when you're working with students, it is a pretty large group.
Steph: Yeah. And, and when people are reaching out, like for you in Houston the process might be a little different on each school district, but where would be the place you would recommend people interested in tapping into the educational market go? Is it the school district? Do they go to the state? What, what resources should they kind of be looking out for?
LaTonya: I would say anybody that's interested in tapping into the educational market is to do your research on your school community and your local school areas. Get to know your community.
LaTonya: Get to know the culture of your community. I mean, what teacher do you know, want a headache to put all of this stuff together? I don't know one yet. I haven't met one yet.
Steph: Just you!
LaTonya: And so just tapping in with the [00:22:00] community and learning about what is it that the school districts are looking for. Next step, get yourself ready to do business with that school district. That's gonna take research.
Steph: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So calling around at the school and seeing what you need to do to become a vendor. And they'll probably refer you to whoever you need to.
LaTonya: Yeah, they'll refer you, but it's, it's the 21st century now. A lot of this stuff is Googleable. So once you go to your community schools, go to their vendor site and look, what is it, the requirement for--
Steph: They have a vendor site? Who knew?
LaTonya: Yes. What is it that you need to do to do business with the government and get all of your ducks in a row and be ready. And then, get that lovely contract, filled out and pray that they choose your organization and the rest can be history.
Host to Franchise
Steph: Well, that's awesome. So let's switch gears and talk about another unique aspect of your agency, which is that you are a franchise.
So when you started [00:23:00] out in the industry, you started out as an independent contractor, under another advisor who was like the main person connected to the host. We call those here at HAR kind of 'mini host' or 'host-within-a-host'.
And, and by the way, that's like a, that's something that I've seen through the years.
I would say maybe through the past five to 10 years has become a lot more popular as these mini hosts within hosts.
LaTonya: Yeah. Well, so that host was a different host from who I'm with now.
Steph: Yeah. So yeah, I'd love for you to share your journey. I have a couple questions. Well actually first off, so franchises are typically quite a bit more expensive for someone to join than if they were to go with a non franchise host.
And part of that is because you're getting this pre branded business where you can tap into a brand that's already built the trust and recognition with their consumers.
Steph: So, as you started your journey LaTonya and you started looking for a new host, did you have any [00:24:00] misconceptions about what a franchise is or isn't? Or did you have questions about what a franchise is exactly?
LaTonya: Well, background knowledge. Everyone knows that a franchise is like your local, Chick-fil-A, your Starbucks, your, you know, your local fast food restaurants, right?
Steph: Yeah. Yeah.
LaTonya: And so I kind of knew that a franchise would be something to that matter, but I didn't really know the difference of what it was going to entail. So that was my misconceptions. And that is something that I had to work through before I made my decision of becoming a franchisee.
Steph: Mm-hmm. So what was the main draw for you about a franchise and how was your franchise experience different from a straight up host experience that you had earlier?
LaTonya: Well, I'm so glad you asked, darling. I'm four years in the game. I'm gonna be [00:25:00] celebrating four years in September. That is my anniversary date. And —
LaTonya: I think for me the biggest piece that has had me celebrating year after year is I really appreciate how my franchise values us as associates and independent franchisees. They value us. They're not taking all of our coins that we made; we can actually sustain.
Now provided, COVID did do damage. COVID did a lot of damage and to say that we're still growing and we're still here and we're still standing every day, boxing it out in the ninth round, the 10th round, the 11th round, the 12th round.... it speaks volumes. Because it just shows you the support that your franchise will put behind you to help you become successful.
Steph: Mm-hmm. So you had talked earlier [00:26:00] about— well, so one thing I think for maybe listeners that aren't as familiar with the host-within-a-host. So LaTonya, like the host agency would pay whoever LaTonya was associated with at their agency. And then that agency would pay her. And I'm assuming what happened was they took some kind of a, a cut in the middle for the work that they're doing for you.
But with a franchise, or if you were going just direct with a host agency, without someone in between then you are the person, the main person, and the main contact.
LaTonya: I'm the main person, honey. And it shows.
Steph: Yeah. You get to see all the back office stuff.
LaTonya: I look at my travel partners and I look at when I complete a booking and I look at what we're being paid. Now, keep in mind. I don't know if this is coming, but I'm gonna put it out there. So every franchise that you could possibly know of on this planet has to pay some type of royalty fees for the [00:27:00] brand recognition. I've been in travel groups and I see the misconception that, oh my God, they charge so much money, but do they?
Because all of the support that you get to run your business is literally priceless. You can't put a dollar amount on that. I don't think we've complained about how much comes out of our royalties. It's pretty standard and it's pretty doable.
LaTonya: I don't ever complain about that. I am so grateful to still have a piece of the pie. That makes sense. You see what I'm saying?
LaTonya: And so this is why I am so grateful to be in a position to be a franchise owner today. It, I think I'm the first in my family. It is just something that I'm just honored and blessed with. And I think people have to get that misconception out of their head that franchises are expensive.
LaTonya: Let me tell you something, running a business is expensive, and if you're running a business, you don't wanna be stressed out. [00:28:00] That is so priceless. So what's the cost of you not being stressed out? That is the question.
Steph: Yeah, well, let's I'm gonna take a quick moment and kind of jump us out.
I wanna clarify something that no matter how long you've been in the industry it can be a little bit confusing, the franchises that are host agencies. So let me jump in and show you guys the site really quick, 'cause there's something I wanna show you. And LaTonya feel free to jump in if you have something to, to say about this.
Alright, so on har we have our list of host, franchise, and consortia. And there's actually a host hybrid category too. So I wanna show you really quick how we label these. So let me go into... on the homepage, we're just selecting that we wanna go to a host agency and then if you click on any of these, like let's click on Departure Lounge here.
All right. On the [00:29:00] site on either the host agency or franchise profiles— 'cause we have a separate list for franchises up here— under the company detail section, you'll see that we have something that says host type. So we can see right here that this host agency is a host-only meaning they don't have any franchise with it.
So if we go back to our host agency list and underneath filters, we can look at the host-franchise hybrid and we can select that as a filter. And then we'll see here's Cruise Planners. And you can see that it's a host-franchise hybrid and what that means and why that's key is it's a small nuance, but it's an important one because if you're looking at a travel franchise, there are some that require you to get your own accreditation number like Travel Leaders Network does. And they require that you have a storefront.
And there are some that allow you to use their accreditation number, which is technically a host agency. So that's who we call host hybrids. So when LaTonya belongs to Cruise Planners, she's using [00:30:00] their accreditation numbers for the bookings, but it's also a franchise. And so it's a host-franchise hybrid.
And so it's important for anyone that's on the site, looking and understanding things that some hosts are also franchises. And if you wanna be hosted and are dead set on having your own brand you'd wanna stay away from the host-franchise hybrids. And on the flip side, if you really think it's attractive to have a business in a box and a brand already built, host-franchise models might be something that you wanna take a look at.
So, yep. Anything you wanna add on that?
LaTonya: You said it. That was what got it for me.
And so after I did my research on your website, 'cause we've been on your website for years, this is how I found you. I would not have become a franchisee had it not been for Host Agency Reviews.
Steph: Oh yay!!!.
LaTonya: I would like to thank you for being consistent because there's so many people who consistently ask this question, how can I become a [00:31:00] travel agent?
But no one ever asks, how can I become a franchise owner? I never really see that 'cause I don't think that people know that that is even an option.
LaTonya: and, and so I found out it was an option because of your website. And here I am today. Those good teacher retirement funds at work.
Steph: Well, it's, you know, and it's hard because there's only a few travel franchise models.
So it's, you know, it's not the most common. If we look on our site, we have. I don't know, like maybe a hundred plus host agencies. I'm not exactly sure.
Steph: But then like the number of franchises, I, I think like it's four, so it's, it's a very small percentage of what's going on out there.
LaTonya: And Cruise Planners is such a powerful brand and this is why I, I did what I did because, you know, once you find your host, if you're thinking about going with a host agency, you need to still do the same business as usual.
You need to put your research in. If you're thinking about joining a franchise, you need to do business as usual, put your research in. [00:32:00] And so once I put my research in and tapped in with current franchisees and interview them, like literally interviewed them to see if this is some place that I could see myself calling home.
LaTonya: Getting their tea. I wanted to know the tea, honey. Gimme the tea! What's the pros? What's the cons? And once I got that information, it kind of helped me make my own solid decision. Like, yeah, this is something I'm gonna do. I interviewed five people, one of them.
Steph: Well, hold on. I'm gonna have you— I see where you're going with this...
LaTonya: I'm mixing it up!
Steph: I, I wanna cover one thing that's very unique about franchises too. 'Cause typically in the host agency world what we see is there's a commission split. You know, you'll do 80% goes to you, 20% for the host.
Steph: But that's not how franchise do it. They do royalty fees.
Steph: So can you explain a little bit how that works for us?
LaTonya: So Cruise Planners will take a small percentage, which is pretty [00:33:00] standard. I'm pretty sure if you ask any any franchisee who's out here, we don't really have any complaints. We're still here.
If I keep meeting people who've been with this organization for a double digit years. That speaks volumes to me. So, yeah. I was like, I wanna get in too. I don't wanna be left behind.
Steph: Yeah. Well, so we'll, we'll chat about this in a second, but you know, I looked this up before the call. So with Cruise Planners, so there's something called— with every franchise when you sign on, you need to, you'll get a franchise disclosure document or an FDD.
LaTonya: Mm-hmm .
Steph: And so within that it, it lists the royalties that you can expect to pay. And with Cruise Planners, it's 1.5 to 3% of gross commissionable fares.
So if you're earning a hundred dollars and you make [00:34:00] 15% commission, instead of getting like $15 being split 80/20. I'm so bad with math. This gets so confusing, especially early in the morning!
LaTonya: I'm not a math teacher. I was a reading teacher top, top 10 reading educator, come on.
Steph: But you'll be paying the, the royalties on the hundred dollars instead of the $15. So that's a little bit confusing and a lot to digest.
But when, when you got your FDD, your franchise disclosure document, what type of info, what other info was in there and what should a franchise, a future franchise advisor, kind of expect if they align with the franchise?
LaTonya: So I wanna explain a little bit what an FDD for you newbies out there, who don't even know what we're talking about. We're using acronyms here. And what it simply means as Stephanie said, is a franchise disclosure agreement, pretty much.
LaTonya: And what that highlights is all about the brand. [00:35:00] It's all about what you can expect when you're joining a brand. Now, listen, this is a legal document.
LaTonya: You may wanna have your legal team look over this before you decide to sign up with a franchise and sign on the dotted line.
Because it's going to list the executive team, the business experience, your initial startup fees, the franchise relationships and what your expectations are, how important branding is. If you are that person that says, I like Luxury Butterfly Travel. That's the name of my agency.
You can't market that. You need to market Cruise Planners all of the time, because that's your brand. So you can't go off and get independent flyers or your vehicle wrap with Luxury Butterfly Travel. You still need to represent Cruise Planners because that is the main brand that you are independent under. So if that is not something you're interested in and you want Luxury Butterfly Travel [00:36:00] everywhere, then you need to probably look at a host agency because franchising is completely different.
It's just like your Chick-fil-A's. They're owned by different people who have other business names, but they can't put their LLCs on Chick-fil-A. So this is why you see Chick-fil-A, right? It's the same business principle there.
And so it also discusses your annual financials. What you'll be looking to pay every year, because we renew, every year we pay our fee.
We also have all of the franchisees listed across the country. Can I say it now?
Steph: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go for it.
LaTonya: Okay. So we have a list of all of the franchisees listed across the country. I know when I started, I think it was like 2,500. I'm not sure what it is today. But before you sign on that dotted line, eeny meeny miney mo, call a franchisee you don't know—
LaTonya: —and interview them.
I'm serious interview them. Because this [00:37:00] is how I got to where I am today. I interviewed a couple of women and, and five, I chose five. And one told me to run and the other four said, go for it. We've been here for double-digit years. You're gonna love it here.
And I have to formulate my own opinions, of course. I'm a, I'm an educator. So I had my T chart.
And the T chart simply is a, a sheet of paper. I drew a T. Pros and cons. I listed what I liked about it. What I didn't like about it. I shopped it as a consumer. If I was someone looking to go to this website and I wanna book travel. Am I gonna like it as an independent consumer?
Because you know, a lot of our consumers, they like to do things themselves. Can I take care of anything myself? Or do I always have to reach out to somebody?
That is how I shopped it and decided that this was the brand for me.
Steph: And it, it totally is. You just love it so much. It comes through.
LaTonya: Oh my God. CP green all the way, honey! [00:38:00] We are rocking it out. We love it. I'm celebrating four years in September with a couple of other franchisees who we all had training around the same time.
Steph: Oh, fun!
LaTonya: I'm so excited. And I, and the biggest thing I love about it is inspiring new franchisees who joined the team. Now I, I wanna put this out there 'cause we didn't talk about this but —
Steph: Uh-oh. She's going off script. I don't know what's gonna happen, everyone!
LaTonya: Guys, you would never see us say, Hey, sign up to become one of our franchisees. Hey, are you interested in travel. You won't ever see franchisees really doing that because that is not our organization.
Our organization is not driven off of that. If you decide that you wanna join. Great. If you don't, you don't. It's not gonna make or break us, guys. So you're not gonna see us being pushy like that because of our, our organization is — that's not what drives us.
Steph: Yeah. [00:39:00] 'cause you had mentioned when we talked earlier about how before you ended up with a host agency in the very beginning, you'd had someone kind strongly pestering you about joining—
LaTonya: My God!
Steph: —like their mLM.
LaTonya: It was an MLM. She was after me. When I say she was after me. she was AF—
Steph: She was, she was tenacious!
LaTonya: I'm not even gonna mention the brand on here. I'm not gonna do that to them. But I know when I say what I say, people are gonna know who it is. I mean, this, this organization was so after me that it kind of made me nervous.
It kind of made the red flags go up for me. Yeah. I'm into reading. I was a reading teacher. If I put in your organization and the first thing I see is somebody at the top and then somebody here and then multiple people here and then multiple people are—
Steph: That looks like a pyramid!
LaTonya: Hello? Hello?! And then I'm reading the reviews of current agents who [00:40:00] don't agree with how their checks are looking.... like, you are gonna have a problem. I don't want those type of problems in my life.
And, and then when I went to the website to shop it as a consumer, I hit the book now button. It took me to a contact form. There was nothing on the website I could book now. My consumers in this day and age are not gonna like that. I need to be readily available for my clients.
My clients need to know, if they wanna book a cruise online, they can simply go and do that. And they don't have to talk to me.
It's so priceless to get an email that says a client has reserved a reservation from your website.
Steph: Oh yeah, that's pretty awesome.
We'll be back in a moment after a quick word from our sponsor. [00:41:00]
So let's see one thing. If, if you're not familiar with MLMs, the term we used, it's, multi-level marketing, also known as pyramid schemes or direct sales. And I'm gonna link in the show notes to our MLM article.
And that'll be really helpful if you're not familiar with them. But they, they're very large travel organizations. They'll have tens of thousands of advisors. And within that, there are definitely some great advisors in there— they're actually what I would call a bonafide travel advisor and booking not just themselves and, and a couple friends every year.
But MLMs are—
LaTonya: Stephanie, [00:42:00] almost spit this cappuccino out of my— oh my gosh. They're— oh my gosh.
Steph: Are you OK? [laughter]
LaTonya: [laughing] I'm good. I didn't, I wasn't ready for that. I didn't know you were gonna say that. Oh my God!
Steph: No. So the MLMs are — we'll put that in there, but they have very small... if you break it down by the number of advisors they have and their, their sales and the amount of people that actually make money, 'cause they'll disclose that. And I'm forgetting what it's called... It's not like a franchise disclosure statement, but it's something somewhat similar. And it'll say like, 84% of our advisors didn't make anything— like zero— the year before. And that is not —
LaTonya: You're spilling some tea here. I just heard on the travel wire! Ooh.
Steph: Yeah, yeah. You heard it straight here.
LaTonya: Oh, I heard on the travel wire. Oh my God.
Steph: Yeah. So check out that link. 'cause it's actually, even if you're not interested in them [00:43:00] as a travel advisor, it's great to be educated about it. And if someone comes up to you—
LaTonya: And you know what it, this, I, I think your caveat into a great segue here. One thing to keep in mind, guys is branding is important.
When I mention the name Cruise Planners, a lot of travel suppliers know the name, they know the brand. Yep. And when I even in trainings and I listen to some of these travel suppliers, talk about the other organization [MLMs], it is not always in a positive light.
I cannot be associated with any— I cannot, I cannot. I'm a positive person.
It surrounds me. And I have to be with an organization that you know...
Steph: Is, yeah, reputable.
And it I, I think it's important for everyone to check out the MLM article only because there's so many people that you'll probably be approached—you'll probably be approached at some point [00:44:00] by someone from an MLM asking you to join in their down line or underneath them.
And it's important that, you know, number one, that who the main players are. And then also that you can educate the person, if they're willing to — maybe it's working really well for them, but if it's not, you can link them to the article that kind of gives some hard facts and data on the actual success rates of people that belong to MLMs.
And there's, you know, there's places you can align with that have much better success rates.
LaTonya: So I know what threw me off was researching. And I read, I read reviews from people who are no longer doing it. And one lady complained about receiving a commission check for $4.
Steph: [laughter] Yeah.. The, the other thing about MLMs— so I told you that there, you know, they'll say 85% of advisors don't make any money. But then it'll be like something like 15% make something. But it could be that $4.
[00:45:00] So even if you're like, oh, 15% of people make it, the amount they're making could be like 4 cent. And they'll be counted in that 15%. So that's something else to keep in mind.
I know, I know it's tricky stuff.
LaTonya: The things we learn on Host Agency Reviews. My god, it is amazing.
Steph: Yeah. We, we like to try to educate on that, especially because it you know, you can spend a lot of money and lose a lot of money in those relationships if you're not aware of what you're going into.
LaTonya: It's so funny because the post in today's world is, Hey, I wanna learn how to become a travel agent, but no MLMs, please.
Steph: Oh, that's, that's fantastic that people know.
LaTonya: Yeah, because they're onto it. They know, or either they've experienced it and didn't have a positive experience. So I, I think the world is waking up and, and people are now becoming more interested in learning the difference.
Guys, if you're listening, if this is you and you recently posted how to become a travel agent, tap into [00:46:00] Host Agency Reviews. She has the tea, darling.
Steph: She she's my marketing. She's my right-hand marketing lady here. So...
LaTonya: Hey, I'm a testimony. You helped me, honey. So...
Steph: Yay! Well, let's like jumping back to this franchise disclosure statement.
We got a little bit off track with the MLMs, but that's important. But definitely have an attorney look it over. If, if you decide to go that route and I'll link to our article on travel industry attorneys. There they'll likely be — there's just a handful of franchises out there— so they'll be very familiar with these franchise disclosure statements.
And it'll give you a really good idea... the FDD will give you a really good idea of the history of the business, the fees, the rules, and restrictions. If you like to free flow, you can't really bastardize the Cruise Planners' logo. You need to keep it as the Cruise Planners' little logo. No adding butterflies or anything else around it.
LaTonya: Right. You're right. I mean, Hey, we are [00:47:00] reputable brand. They know us, so let's just keep it.
And they have to keep up their brand integrity. So it's important to read all that.
Like LaTonya was saying with Cruise Planners, there's subtle differences between franchises. It's not just if you need an accreditation number or if you can use theirs, there's also you know, my parents belong to a Travel Leaders Network and with their franchise, you have to have a storefront. You can't be home-based, versus Cruise Planners you could be either.
And then if you're looking at... what's another difference? Oh, the, the use of the brand name. So LaTonya is saying that Cruise Planners, you can't use your, you know, butterfly brand with it. But with Travel Leaders Network, you're able to. You can buy the franchise, but you could also kind of have like my parents' agency was Travel Leaders Albertville slash... I can't remember what the slash was, but .... there's a little bit of difference.
So make sure to read those and compare. If you're [00:48:00] doing franchises, it's not like a one-size, this is what happens
LaTonya: I think a lot of people worry, like, okay, well, how am I gonna be viewable? How are people gonna know who I am, if it's over 2,500 of us. And you can, I'm living proof. I mean, I stepped into this game four years ago and people know my hashtags. Now they know my little slogans. It's all about how you market. So it's very doable.
Steph: Yeah. So last, last question on franchises. So we already talked about how a franchise is a much bigger monetary investment for most advisors upfront. And that's, you know, partially due to the fact that headquarters has spent a lot of money building up the brand--
Steph: And consumer awareness so that you're not having to do the heavy lifting. But for you LaTonya, why was having a known brand more attractive to you compared to your old host where you were building your, your own brand? So what was attractive about this business in a box to you?
LaTonya: What was attractive about this is that I didn't always [00:49:00] have to go to my overhead when there was a problem.
LaTonya: I had to wait on availability. I didn't have access to the back office that I needed to. And also I didn't have any social marketing. I didn't have anything of the sorts. My website sucked. It was just not my tea. And I love them dearly because it was a great start for me to build that background knowledge into how to become who I am today.
And I think it's a great start for anyone who's interested. Go to Host Agency Reviews, look at those trusted, reputable agencies out there. Do your research and pick who you wanna join. And I, I say that to say that today as a franchisee, our support systems, our technology, our [inaudible] dashboard.
We even have multiple platform marketing where we can get a post on one platform. It could hit all of our platforms. Or we could do a different [00:50:00] post here, different posts there. And it's not me! It's my marketing team because they're fire, honey. And, and, and we pay for that. Now that's not free. That's an additional charge. But listen, if it costs you $20 a month and you sell a cruise, you sell a Sandals or Beaches resort, or you sell whatever you sell a tour. Would you not have made that $20 back?
LaTonya: You have to really look at it and see if it's going to be literally viable for your business, your business plan. And for me, it has worked. I haven't wavered. I've been a pro marketing person since I joined and I'm not going anywhere. They gonna literally have to kick me out
LaTonya: They know me so well because they know I'm so tapped into this social thing. I love it. I make 98%, probably 99% of my bookings from social media. So I'm just very honored to [00:51:00] be with a platform in an organization that allows me to be me. So, yeah.
Steph: Well, I, I love that you've ended up somewhere that you're so passionate about because I wanna remind people, it's very common when you're first starting out to switch hosts within your first couple years, as you find better footing.
Steph: So like, it's definitely not a failure. It's just finding your footing. So yeah, if you're kind of newer to the industry or you've been in it a few years and you're like, I chose the wrong host agency, it's part of the journey.
LaTonya: That's right.
Steph: Yeah. So while your agency has leveled up in another way, besides just their affiliation and moving to a franchise model.
Home-based to Office Space
Steph: So in the four years that you've been open— two of which again, being the pandemic years— you went from being home based to having an office outside the home, which is pretty darn awesome and not something that I hear very often.
Steph: I wanna change topics and talk about this leap of faith you did.
So my first question is with seven [00:52:00] kids and you working full time was moving to an office a way to kind of help you separate your work and private life, or what was the draw to, to moving into this separate office?
LaTonya: Yeah. So with my husband has three girls. I have four kids, two girls, and a boy. So combined is seven all together. And I've only got two little ones at the house now, 14 and my baby boy just had his 12th birthday yesterday.
Steph: Happy birthday!
LaTonya: So literally I think the support from my husband has been priceless because he has been my rock and given me the opportunity to follow this passion of mine. Because like I said before, I even became a travel agent and a franchisee, I was a travel blogger. I think that has made all the difference.
And me stepping out on faith, literally it was the pandemic that made me do it. I'm—
Steph: Oh, interesting. Cause most people contracted.
LaTonya: It was the pandemic because [00:53:00] I was always home based. I was always home based when I bought my franchise because you know, that was a viable option they gave us. But when a pandemic happened and I lost all of my earnings for 2020, and even partially for 2021.
LaTonya: I don't think I had a trip that booked and left in 2021 until November. That's how hard it was.
LaTonya: So for me, it had me looking at stepping out and focusing on multiple streams of income. And listen, I'm an educator. I own a couple other businesses. You know, just trying to make sure that I am sustainable because the pandemic taught me that if you don't, it's gonna kick you right on your bottom. And I don't ever wanna be in a position like that again. But I'm grateful because I didn't know I could do this and I'm doing it!
Steph: You sure are! Well, so do you have any tips for advisors that are [00:54:00] looking to get started? That can help them meet these kind of milestones, like finding the perfect host agency that's a great fit for them and moving to a storefront if that's something that they're interested in.
LaTonya: Yes, definitely get with your tribe. You need to find your tribe on social media and you do that. Once you do your research and find out what host agency you want to join. Once you do your research and you tap in with current travel agents and owners and get their tea on how they feel about that brand. Once you've made that decision to go to the next level, then find a tribe that you can join on social media.
A lot of people have a, a social media presence. So if you got questions, ask those questions. If you've got burning answers that you needed right away, post it in a group, go to their message and get a reply. And actually that could be a shopping experience too, because how fast will someone respond to you?
It's important. And you wanna make these [00:55:00] decisions accordingly because it's gonna help you make your next best decision in your journey to working in the wonderful world of travel.
Steph: Yeah. You know, and I just have to say, 'cause Orion, my pup just got up and moved around for those that of you that are listening to this, instead of watching the video on YouTube, you're missing out because there is a very cute puppy in the background.
LaTonya: Yeah. Yeah. We look cute today too. Stephanie, so...
Steph: Oh and there's two cute humans too!
LaTonya: Yes, that is very true.
Steph: I'm always, I'm always very dog focused!
LaTonya: Yeah. I, I have my three pups at home. I wouldn't be able to do it. They would not stop barking. My fur babies. They won't let me have a, a interview so I'm glad I'm at the office today.
Under the Hood
Steph: Well, there's one where area I wanna pick your brain on and I'm gonna call this section, under the hood. So let's chat about fees because I always like to hear what people are doing with that, because I think it's a very personal decision and there are a lot of factors that come into play. The [00:56:00] more input advisors who wanna charge fees can have on what others are doing, the more likely that they're gonna find a structure that they feel comfortable with.
So do you charge fees, LaTonya?
LaTonya: I do.
Steph: And can you tell us more about that?
LaTonya: I do charge fees and it depends on the type of trip I'm building. I have set fees, which is on my website: TravelingMadeAffordable.com. You can go to terms and conditions and you'll be able to see those fees.
But if it's a customizable trip, it takes a little bit of work. Those fees could be a little bit higher because time is money, honey. And if you've got to put a lot of work into something, you wanna make sure you do it right.
So my fees are not all over the place. They're very doable. They're very affordable, but one misconception that people have, and I'm gonna say, consumers. Consumers, you guys gotta stop expecting travel agents to work for you for free. We are running a professional business.
LaTonya: Yeah, we are running professional business. And, and [00:57:00] to think that someone will spend hours doing research for you and building itinerary for you is crazy. Like these people have families to feed. And so you're taking away time out of that day that they could have been booking a client who was going to bring them some earnings.
Let's be reasonable. How we treat people, just be good humans, folks. That's all.
Steph: Yeah. And I'm gonna link to two resources for advisors that might be interested in. We have a really in-depth article with stats on booking with a travel agency versus the internet and the cost savings with that. And then we have a separate article that talks about three real life ways travel agents can do things that OTAs can't. So, you know, you can pay an installments with a travel advisor and you can't with OTAs without paying interest. And if you're with a travel advisor, they can put the vacation on hold for a little bit or the airline tickets on hold. So there's, there's some real concrete [00:58:00] things you can explain to your friends.
LaTonya: There's a lot of work.
Steph: Yeah. So I'll, I'll put those in these show notes, but for your families and destination weddings that you do, what are your fees that you charge there?
LaTonya: It's on my website. Don't quote me. I, I don't remember— but it depends on, it definitely depends on where you're going because I have an international fee and I have a domestic fee.
LaTonya: So domestic is if you're traveling in the states and international is if you're traveling across the pond. And listen guys, I hold the right to waive it if I want, you know.
LaTonya: I've waived fees before for certain people depending on how much business they're bringing me. Or just whatever. It depends on the situation and how much work will have to go into building your vacation.
You made a very good point earlier when you said that it takes a lot to build a vacation, meaning that building your lodging and let's just say group flights. That's a lot guys.
Steph: [00:59:00] Yeah.
And I — in a past, I think it was a Travel Agent Chatter episode, but I remember speaking with a very high end that worked with that, high net worth individuals and talked to her about kind of the pricing strategy she has. And she has a pricing structure within there, but like LaTonya said, you know, there's—
LaTonya: I need to hear her structure, what does she say? I'm gonna go tap in.
Steph: Well, yeah, I can't remember the exact numbers, but I remember her saying, you know, if somebody's spending $25,000 on a vacation with me and I'm making however much in commission, I'm not gonna charge them my $250 fee. I'm making more than enough money.
So it's like I said, hearing these different structures, fee structures—
Steph: It's just really important for people to be able to kind of construct one that works for them.
LaTonya: Call whoever you're interested in joining and interview them. Ask them.
So you can engage for yourself. Oh, and another important thing is you have to make sure that you can charge a fee. Some [01:00:00] states don't allow you.
Steph: Mm. Yeah. With the seller of travel laws. So I'll, I'll link to our article on that, seller of travel laws and fees.
Steph: And that, if you're not familiar with it, is sometimes if you're with a host agency, you're not able to charge a fee and run it through your business on your own, you have to have it through your host agency. And there's, it's, it's a very complex thing. So I'm just going to link to it in the show notes. If you're not familiar with it, definitely take a read.
Now, one of the things we talked about the other day, LaTonya, was in terms of coming up with the pricing for your school groups. One thing you did was you went to the district site, you saw the travel agencies that were listed and you looked at what they were offering and did some competitive intelligence to figure out what they're charging, right?
LaTonya: I would say that is where you start. If you want to work in your community, start there. See what everybody else who has won those contracts, what they offered and what did the [01:01:00] community schools agree to mm-hmm . And so you can kind of gauge on what your fees need to be... if you're gonna go higher, if you're gonna go lower. None of this is guaranteed guys. There's no guarantee that the schools will vote you in, but it's definitely a great start for you to know and get your feet wet in the industry if you're looking into joining the world of educational learning.
Steph: Yeah, well, those are some awesome tips, great insights for us to end on.
And I know we normally do a warm, fuzzy segment to wrap things up, but we've been doing the podcast. LaTonya asked me yesterday, like how long we've been doing it. So I looked it up last night and we've been doing it almost six years. So I was like, maybe it's time to try something new.
So I'm gonna change things up a bit here, and we're gonna change out our last segment to— I, I think this is a really fun name and I, I might add music to this when I say it later— but indispensable.
Steph: [01:02:00] So this is the segment where we ask travel advisors, what technology or a book or a person that has been indispensable in the growth of their agency. And then to kind of explain why. So LaTonya not a big deal, but you are the very first guest to answer this question. So the world is kind of your oyster here. What tech, book, or person has been instrumental to your agency's growth?
LaTonya: Well, I love being the first to do anything, darling. And so for indispensable, I would say the cohorts that I am so honored to be called franchisees with, because we bounce ideas off of each other. If I have questions, I could go to our group, post it there, I'll get an answer. You know, we're women in green, right? And men in green [01:03:00] cruisitude.
So at the end of the day, you have a multitude of people to tap into. That has been the stronghold for me in continuing this. I have a great business coach— hey Arnelle!
Even though I signed up and I became a franchisee in 2018. I still tap into Host Agency Reviews.
Steph: Ah yeah!!
LaTonya: And get the latest tea on what's hot, what's new and travel and what definitely I need to be aware of. Because she hasn't wavered. She's been consistent. And she doesn't know that Stephanie has been a vital part of me being the person I am today. So I would like to thank you and give your [sadly inaudible] I can.
Steph: Thank you, LaTonya. That was so sweet! And. And that was super fun. Cause it was not only a great answer and made me feel a warm and fuzzy. So it's kind of like a warm, fuzzy segment...
But that was historical! This was our very first indispensable segment. Boom. It's done.
LaTonya: That's right.
Steph: So all right, kiddos [01:04:00] one last reminder for you. So mark your calendars for the ASTA 's board of director's election. It ends on Tuesday.
Ooh, Tuesday . Oh yeah.
Mark your calendar Tuesday, July 26th, 5 PM eastern time. We've interviewed All the candidates for the board of directors at ASTA. And these are the people that are gonna be representing you. They're the one that drive the ship of priorities at ASTA. Make sure it's really important to be engaged because you don't want someone elected that has no interests that align with yours.
So we're gonna put a link in the show notes to the candidate interviews with more details. And that is it here in Minneapolis.
LaTonya, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your experience and success with us.
LaTonya: Thank you so much, guys. Thank you for rocking it out with your girl, your local Houston blogger, your Cruise Planners' land sea expert.
Stephanie, it has been an honor.
Well until next time everyone have a wonderful rest of your day!
Steph: You can read a transcript, view the show notes, [01:05:00] and watch a video of today's episode all in one place. You can head on over to HostAgencyReviews.com/tac and clicking on episode 23.
So in a less traditional outro the hard team is getting together for a retreat later this month in Massachusetts. Now here's the thing.
I have been dying to go on a great white shark tour, and I have been reading lots and lots of books. I've been practicing my chomping and Mary and April have been kind enough in humoring me. And they're gonna go on this great white shark boat tour with me, in which April's mom said, "Steph knows that we have whale tours here, right?"
Which whale tours are so mainstream...
But Mary and April— this is the problem. Mary and April are against me wearing a shark suit during our boat tour. So what I have envisioned in my mind is something like what Katie Perry's backup singers wore during the Super Bowl a few years ago. So anyhow for the dedicated [01:06:00] listeners that have hung on this long, I need your help with persuading Mary and April that this is a good idea, because it's not like I'm going into the water with the shark suit.
Like, that'd be ridiculous.
I'm just wearing it on the boat and it would be fun and funny, wouldn't it?!
So here's what I need you to do because I have not told Mary and April about this, and I don't think they're going to read the transcript or watch this all the way through. So I need you to send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
So send them an email and let them know that you heard through the grapevine, that they were anti- shark suit for the HAR great white shark tour, and that you are urging them to change their mind.
But don't tell them you heard it on the podcast though, because I'm worried they might take it down and ruin my master plan. [Evil laugh]
So thanks for joining and look for pictures of our great white shark tour on social soon.
Whether or not I'll be wearing a shark suit in that with Mary and April right by my side is gonna [01:07:00] be up to you!