|Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director|
We recently announced our newest class of 30Under30, a program we launched eight years ago to welcome new entrants to the travel advisor business. Over the years, our 30Under30 franchise has helped to form a community of rising stars within the industry and helped to forge the next generation of travel advisors. You can see our final list of winners here, but I wanted to pull out some of their observations here so you could see what’s happening in their world and your marketplace.
“FOMO,” or “fear of missing out” is generating several dynamics. Gorgeous destination photos on Pinterest and Instagram are inspiring consumers to go new places (that’s a good thing), but sometimes these images aren’t even real. As Laura Hanaford from The Trip Trotter reports, one client e-mailed her a picture of a trampoline bridge over the Seine in Paris, which she wanted to see on her next trip. Hanaford had to break the news that the image had been Photoshopped and there was no such trampoline.
Seeing photos of friends’ trips on social media can also cause clients to second-guess their travel advisor’s recommendations. “While your friend may have loved their hotel in Phuket, you may be going during the wrong time of the year for that side of the peninsula,” said Amanda Foshee of Brownell Travel. “We put a lot of thought and planning into client itineraries based on their specific needs and desires; suggestions from friends aren’t always what is best for the client.”
Fear of missing out also works in favor of the travel advisor. Millennial travelers are facing Internet information overload and, as a result, experiencing FOMO, because they’re buried by this barrage of online information. They’re happy to have an advisor filter through all that travel information and they’re willing to pay for the service.
Another trend? Consumers are immersing themselves in destinations virtually online so they feel they’ve already seen the traditional landmarks. Therefore their trip to a new place needs to be culturally immersive and authentic from every angle. As well, clients don’t necessarily want to return to the same places they’ve been; they’re seeking to go where none of their friends have ventured yet. This means behind-the-scenes access to local homes, market visits and cooking classes now outweigh the desire for group tours that visit traditional landmarks. This high demand for the hyper-local immersion has created a challenge for travel advisors in that they must find the very best vendors to get them access to high quality experiences. Our 30Under30 advisors reported that they’re increasingly attending networking events and trade shows looking for tour operators who provide off-the-beaten-path options.
Some of our advisors reported that converting online bookers to using their services remains frustrating, as those clients tend to be focused on price and sometimes fail to understand that what they’re seeing online for a cheaper price is not the same highly curated experience the advisor is providing. One advisor said as a result, he’s instead seeking affluent international clients who understand the value of his services.
Many on our list report they are booking destination weddings and honeymoons; and interestingly, “babymoons,” which started as a public relations strategy by some hotels a few years ago are now a very fast-growing business for travel advisors. The trend of multigenerational travelers looking for larger homes or villas also continues to grow.
Not surprisingly, being a young advisor has its challenges when a client is much older than they are. Earning this client’s trust is a true challenge that is often overcome after that client’s first trip.