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The Leadership Lansing Blog is the open communication forum of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. In the Leadership Lansing Blog, we will highlight all things related to the Greater Lansing business community. We will feature posts from our staff, our membership and the legislative leaders of this region. If you have any questions or would like to be a contributor to the Leadership Lansing Blog, please contact Eric Dimoff, Marketing and Communications Director, at 517-853-6460 or We appreciate the continued support!


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Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Internet or travel agent? It’s a dilemma many people are wrestling with as the summer vacation season heats up.

If you think most travel agents are being superseded by online booking mechanisms, think again. Although the Internet has simplified booking an airline ticket or a room at a well-known hotel chain, if your trip involves several components or you’re seeking a truly unique professional or private experience, that’s when a well-connected travel agent can really make a difference.

Travel agents are staging a comeback to web sites like, Orbitz, and Travelocity. This is because travelers are tired of always communicating with a screen and want to ensure that their getaway is in good hands. Creating a personal relationship with a travel agent who understands and cares about your travel needs is important no matter what realm you are traveling in: corporate or academic, group or private, domestic or international. Just as much as you can’t beat the relationship that you create with an agent, you also can’t beat the relationship that they have forged through repeat business with travel suppliers that will be sure to land you your ‘sold out’ room or coveted aisle seat. 

Here are three scenarios when a travel agent’s expertise may outperform the electronic variety:

  1. If your trip is complex – A vacation involving a 10-day Mediterranean cruise followed by a week on your own driving the Grand Corniche into Monte Carlo requires numerous airline, cruise, hotel, and car reservations. Or perhaps more realistically, consider a business summit involving numerous guests arriving and departing at different times, staying at different hotels, and looking for different combinations of business and pleasure while they’re there. These are situations that can be overwhelming to most travelers or travel planners. Leave those critical details to a travel consultant like 7C Lingo, who specializes in group and corporate travel and has instant access to it all.
  2. If you’re traveling overseas – Do I need a passport and/or visa? Are there security issues or travel advisories for this country? These are just three of a myriad of questions that a travel agent can answer for you. Travel counselors also have access to the specific locale and region, such as which museums are closed for renovation, which holidays shut down the city, and which festivals are coming up. 7C Lingo is unique because it already functions as a cultural consultancy that can provide you with expert multi-cultural knowledge to supplement your travel experience. Whether you are an individual with just a few country-specific questions or a business leader looking for a pre-departure culture seminar or an English interpreter, 7C Lingo can help to ensure that you are prepared in every dimension for your journey. 
  3. If you want an ally start-to-finish– Many people like the comfort in knowing they have a built-in problem solver throughout not only the trip planning process, but also the trip itself. From an advisor on the local best cuisine to someone to call when your party was double booked in your hotel’s only conference room, you will have someone to call if you are working with a travel agency.

And what about pricing? Smart Money magazine compared the vacation pricing of three traditional travel agencies to two travel Web sites. The results? The travel agents were able to deliver the greatest savings to their clients when going head to head with Expedia and Travelocity. Travel agents can always recommend ways for you to save money without jeopardizing the quality of the vacation experience. Sometimes all it takes is for your agent to make a slight modification of your itinerary based on their knowledge of the industry.

Indeed, a travel agent should not be the sole source when planning your next vacation. But if you’re seeking extraordinary experiences, insider connections, and exclusive perks not possible on your own – plus the benefit of a real person – there’s none better.

7C Lingo has expanded to become a full-service retail travel agency specializing in group and corporate travel. Its customized, uniquely personal approach provides not just the buying power of a travel agency, but the full-service, multi-cultural support of true global experts. 7C Lingo is a member of Ensemble Travel® Group, an elite circle of professionals with knowledge of every type of vacation experience. 7C offers special amenities and unique opportunities around the world which are only available through an Ensemble Travel Group member agency.

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Tags:  business  cultural  internet  multi-cultural  overseas  passport  summer  travel  travel agent  trip  vacation 

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Big or Small, Strategic Planning is for All!

Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Big or Small, Strategic Planning is for All!

Why?  Lao Tzu stated, If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."  Strategic planning is akin to the map and navigation software we use when we are heading out on a trip: we know where we want to go and we are looking for the best route to get there.  Imagine getting into your vehicle and when Siri asks, “What is your destination?”  You respond with, “Anywhere is fine, just as long as I’m moving.”  That is a common unintentional approach that many small and medium sized businesses take to planning. 

Who?  For small/medium sized companies the planning should start with the owners picking the destination and then involving the operational leaders to fill out the near term activities needed to support the goals.  Those goals should be shared with the entire company for top to bottom and bottom up clarity.

When?  Annually is the most common and the smaller the company, the less time the process should take.  The meetings should be held away from the phones of the business during a dedicated time that doesn’t allow for interruptions.  The future is very important to all businesses and if it can’t function without the owner’s input to “put out customer fires” then the business may have other challenges to address.

How to make it work?

Share the goals and Key Performance Indicators: your staff believes in you and the company; share your vision of the coming year with them.

Keep Score in a highly visible manner: share actual results compared to your planned goals.  Review them with your team on a regular basis.  Ask them for their opinions on how operations are performing and how to improve.    Depending on the size of the company, the results should be posted in the time frame that makes the most sense: daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly are common in successful firms.

Review as a team:  employees want to hear the owner’s or key manager’s interpretation of the results and the next steps.  Do this routinely and your staff will feel much more attuned to the company’s future.

Strategic planning and sharing company operating information are difficult for many small and medium sized business owners to implement.  However, committing to the process will greatly increase the company’s ability to meet its goals and will gain more commitment to the future by its employees.


Jeff Chaffin

Principal, The Executive Influence

Phone: 517.853.2570, ext. 570

Find us on the web:


Tags:  Business  Goals  Key Performance Indicators  Small Business  Strategic Planning  Team 

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