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At TravelAge West, we aim to serve our travel agent readers with inspiring and engaging content, but we also aim to advocate on behalf of the travel advisor profession.
The last few years have been heartening for us. We’ve watched as the mainstream press changed its tune about travel advisors, trading out stories about how agents are a career of the past in favor of articles that document the many reasons why travelers should consult with a travel professional. (A few of those reasons include the value, expertise and relationships that advisors can provide.)
Survey after survey confirms what advisors also tell us: Business is booming, with many Americans — especially millennials — wanting to use an agent to book their travel.
The old anxieties about the travel agent career being a dying breed have been replaced by a palpable enthusiasm about the droves of new people joining the travel industry. We even launched a TravelAge West event — The Future Leaders in Travel Retreat — to honor the new generation of advisors: a platform for advisors between the ages of 22-37 to network with peers over engaging outdoor activities and carefully crafted professional development sessions.
Indeed, it’s no longer a secret that being an advisor is an exciting career option — particularly if your passions include traveling and learning about the world, mastering the logistics of travel and making people’s dreams come true (it might sound cheesy, but it happens). A love of selling, networking and running your own business doesn’t hurt, either.
If that sounds like you, here’s some reading material that we hope will catch you up to speed about why you should become a travel advisor. We’ve included key details about the nitty-gritty elements of the job, such as how to market yourself; how to create a killer professional Instagram account; whether or not you should join a travel agent consortia (and who the major players are); and how to make a good living as a travel advisor.
Why You Should Become a Travel Advisor If you’re wondering if becoming a travel advisor now is a good idea, this story by TravelAge West Senior Editor Michelle Juergen has got you covered.
According to Juergen: “It’s the holiest of trifectas: As consumer demand for travel agents has risen, it has created a need for agencies to hire as well as a flourishing excitement to become a travel advisor. And agents are a hipper, hotter commodity nowadays for a number of factors, not least of which includes an improved image.”
Read the full story.
Pick a Group, but Not Just Any Group As a new travel advisor, you have your pick of business models. Loving working from home? You can become an independent contractor for a host agency. Prefer collaborating with peers on a daily basis? Consider applying for a job at a brick-and-mortar travel agency. No matter what you choose, joining a travel agent network, aka a consortium, is a great first step.
According to TravelAge West Associate Editor Emma Weissmann, “a consortium’s benefits are not purely financial, although many advisors will admit that membership, which typically includes booking incentives and group rate pricing, has had a major impact on their bottom line. There’s also a vast array of marketing programs, educational events and networking opportunities created specifically to enhance a relationship with a set of preferred suppliers.”
Weissmann breaks down the five largest travel agent networks by how they help their members, how they are different from each other and more.
Building Blocks for Your Business: Branding 101If you want to attract the right clients, you need to ensure the image you’re sharing about yourself — in your in-person sales pitch to your online persona — aligns with your values and professional goals. In this article, Juergen interviews some of the industry’s brand wizards to distill six of the key factors present in strong brands.
Writes Juergen: “From customer interactions and social media posts to multichannel marketing methods and brand partnerships, everything you do should be in line with the brand identity you began with.”
Brand Your Instagram and Make It Work for You Instagram is one of the best ways for new (and millennial) travel advisors to communicate their passion about travel advising, while showing off their travel — and travel planning — style.
In this story, I interviewed several newer-to-the-industry travel advisors who have used Instagram to build a strong brand, prospect for dream clients and remain top of mind with existing clients.
From the story: “A growing group of travel planners [is] ‘bringing sexy back’ to the agent career. They travel often, and they travel in style. And they show it off, too. Using social media and blogs to share their enviable adventures, these social- media-savvy agents are selling followers on the trips they take and how they take them.”
Kill It: Become a Million-Dollar Travel AdvisorHow do travel agents make money? Whether advisors should charge a consulting fee remains a contentious topic, but all agents can agree that working with travel suppliers that pay fair commissions is key.
As a result, the more you sell, the more commission you will make — but there’s more to being successful than chasing down the bottom line. In this story, Weissmann conducted a roundtable discussion with eight “million-dollar travel agents” (as in: that’s how much travel they sell in a year) on how they’ve achieved financial success as an advisor and what other agents can do to step up their knowledge regarding the business side of travel.
Writes Weissmann: “This ‘business of travel’ may include 2 a.m. wake-up calls from clients who are halfway across the globe; continuing education courses to keep destination and supplier knowledge fresh; the task of keeping an up-to-date, detailed client database; and establishing a marketing and business plan even before the first booking is made.”
Constantly Educate YourselfAsk successful travel agents about why they’re at the top of their game, and they’ll tell you that they never stop learning. Destinations and products change rapidly, which is one of the key reasons TravelAge West exists (and has existed for nearly 50 years).
While it’s important to travel and try out hotels, tour operators, cruise lines and other travel products for yourself, there’s no way to do it all on your own. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up-to-date on what’s new in your favorite destinations and travel niches; check our homepage often for new stories; and subscribe to our biweekly print magazine, TravelAge West, which includes subscriptions to our soft-adventure publication, Explorer, and our family travel publication, Family Getaways.
We’re the only travel trade publication that writes in an engaging consumer-magazine style — but with the travel professional in mind.
Hear From Your PeersMany of the stories you’ll find on TravelAge West involve research, first-person experiences and interviews with travel suppliers and your peers: fellow travel agents. Who better to share how to sell a certain travel niche — such as heritage travel in search of family roots — than a travel agent who excels at this kind of trip?
We often pick the brains of destination specialists in our destination guides and itineraries — and even spotlight inspiring travel advisors in our Travel Agent Talk series. Check out a few Q&As from the series about advisors specializing in destinations such as Kauai and Fiji, and niches such as luxury. You’ll find more Travel Agent Talk articles on our Industry Interviews gateway.
What Else Would You Like to Know?New travel advisor, we have your back. If you’ve used the search engine on our site (located in the header), and you can’t find what you’re looking for, please comment below or directly email us at [email protected] with your questions. We’ll do our best to direct you to an appropriate resource or craft a story just for you.