What a great time this is to be growing into a career in the travel advisor industry. Consumers are seeking more diverse, authentic travel experiences and suppliers are doing a great job of providing them. There’s a strong demand for travel across the board. In the United States alone, hotel occupancy rates are at a 30-year high and domestic resorts are seeing the largest revenue growth. New cruise ships are extremely chic and high tech, and expedition cruising has become more luxurious. Tour operators, whether they’re serving the mass market or affluent travelers, are venturing into more exotic locales. It’s all very exciting and new.
As a result, the role of the travel advisor has become more diverse. Clients don’t know what they don’t know and need to be schooled on what’s available. They may not have a clue that boutique hotels have upped their game and that a non-branded, urban property in a city center may provide a more dynamic stay than the luxury chain resort that’s virtually a household name. A couple may dream of trekking through the South of France not realizing they’ll need to change hotels every night if they want to see every sight on their bucket list.
The savvy travel advisor, however, will know exactly which cruise itinerary will hit all of their ports and provide a much greater ease of travel.
This year’s “class” of 30Under30 has really embraced the notion that they can help people travel better. In fact, they see that as the essence of their job. Frances Sarrett of McCabe World Travel said it best.
“I could listen to a client’s request and fulfill it, but instead, I provide what they could have,” this young advisor told us. “Clients don’t know what’s out there and what they could have with so many choices. I’ve realized that a new hotel, cruise line, or land / tour operator could be the missing link to make their itinerary echo for years to come.”
Ryan Barks of Travel Haus of St. Louis has the same view. “My day-to-day responsibilities are to meet with clients who want to travel but, for lack of better terms, don’t know how,” he says. “This enables me to be their guide in helping them find the right destination / resort / cruise that entices them to catch the same bug we all have.”
When we launched our first 30Under30 issue in 2008, many suppliers were openly vocal that they didn’t see much of a future for travel agents because it was an aging industry with few fresh faces coming into it. If a young agent went to an industry event, odds were no one else near their age would be in the room.
Fast forward to 2018: There’s been an incredible youth wave, thanks to the extremely diligent efforts of the agency networks. They’ve created sophisticated, integrated programs to educate and develop very viable career paths for newbies to the industry. Individual agencies have done the same and these days when you go to industry events, there’s typically a much more balanced range of age groups.
Our work is not done, however. Many of the more venerable travel advisors are finally getting ready to retire. The amount of experience and knowledge that will go with them cannot be measured, and we all need to find ways to bring still more new people into the travel advisor arena.
It’s a challenge, but I say, we’re up for it.
So, congratulations to all who have supported this youth movement, and congratulations to our Class of 2018. We’re very glad you’re here.