Whether you are a home-based travel advisor or you work in a large office servicing high-profile accounts, the Travel Advisor Innovation Report will have you covered with the trends, news and features you’ll need to stay on top of an ever-changing marketplace.

Welcome to the first issue of Skift’s Travel Advisor Innovation Report, which we’ll publish every Tuesday. In the weeks to come, we will be exploring issues important to travel advisors, mostly in the leisure sector, including strategies for developing a profitable niche in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.

Today’s travel advisors are a business-savvy lot who have weathered all kinds of blows in recent years, including commission cuts and predictions that the internet would make them irrelevant to consumers. The survivors have learned to reinvent themselves and thrive in a new landscape where the personal touch still matters.

One of our stories below explores how an enterprising agent turned her love of rock music into a successful business booking travel for legendary artists like Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and their crews. Another looks at how the American Society of Travel Advisors and its subsidiary organization for independent and home-based agents are rebranding and forging a closer relationship. What advantages and possible disadvantages does this bring to members?

We hope these articles will inspire and generate ideas. For more coverage of pertinent issues click here. Any suggestions for the coverage you would like to see are welcome. Feel free to contact me at mbl@skift.com.

— Maria Lenhart, Travel Advisor Editor

Featured Story

Tzell Travel Advisor Turned Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd Into Fans of Her Tour Planning: As a travel advisor focusing on the entertainment industry, Amy Keeling has been practicing personalization for years, although not in the way the tech world thinks about it. Keeling has become an expert in ensuring comfort for her roster of rock bands as she learned their unique preferences over the last 25 years.

Talking Organizations

Independents Day: ASTA and Subsidiary Forge Closer Relationship: The closer relationship between the American Society of Travel Advisors and its subsidiary, the renamed ASTA Small Business Network, promises greater visibility for independents with consumers. However, the real winner may be the parent organization, given the growing importance of the independent sector.

Ships, Planes and Hotels

Virgin Voyages Will Join the Cruise Ship Crowds in Cuba: Virgin Voyages has been talking about visiting Cuba for three years now, so this announcement is no surprise. But will the destination still be as popular in 2020 as it is now?

Don’t Accuse the Aria Hotel Budapest Musical Director of Being the Muzak Guy: It’s likely that the musical experience of most hotel employees doesn’t extend far beyond karaoke. Not the case for a certain Hungarian concierge, whose vast musical background strikes a special chord with guests.

JetBlue Founder Reveals Details on His New Tech-Focused International Airline: Travel agents might be thinking, “Good luck, David Neeleman, if you think an airline can launch and tell passengers they won’t be able to initiate phone calls with customer service agents.” On the other hand, he promises a very customer-focused airline. We’ll see.

Hyatt Place Requires Direct Bookings for Free Breakfast: Hyatt announced major changes coming to the Hyatt Place breakfast program starting Nov. 1. The biggest hit comes to World of Hyatt members who book their stays via third-party sites such as Hotels.com and Expedia. Hyatt Place guests who don’t book directly with Hyatt — even if the travelers have top-tier Globalist status — will no longer be eligible for a free breakfast.

Air Canada Struggles With How to Fill Planes in Winter: Air Canada has built a successful business flying customers between North America and Europe during the summer. But much of that business dries up the rest of the year. Now, Air Canada wants to find a way to produce more revenue in winter. Can it succeed?

Google’s New Hotel Search Is a Greater Threat to Booking Rivals: When it comes to Google and its hotels redesign, few things are all or nothing. TripAdvisor can worry that Google now has more traveler photos and reviews, but some of them are from TripAdvisor. Hotel websites and phone numbers get featured, but clicking on a book button brings customers to an online travel agency site. In travel, it’s never winner take all.

Skift Travel Advisor Editor Maria Lenhart [mbl@skift.com] curates the Skift Travel Advisor Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send her an email.

Photo Credit: Pink Floyd on the band's 1973 U.S. tour. Tzell travel advisor Amy Keeling booked travels for the band and its crew. Erik Calonius / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikepedia