Column: What Makes a Great Sales Rep?

Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director
Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director

At Travel Agent, we love celebrating the top sales representatives in the business. They can be an unsung group of heroes in the travel industry, yet, their job is tough. They need to help generate new business, to teach travel advisors all about their products and to help resolve issues, sometimes 24/7, while the traveler is actually on the road. On top of that, they’re road warriors, venturing throughout the country to visit with travel consultants face to face, in their agencies, at regional trade shows or at industry conferences. Never a dull moment with this group!

Yet, if you think of your favorite sales rep, you probably picture them with a smile on their face. This tends to be a good natured group of people, gregarious, upbeat, patient — and they have to be pretty smart on top of all that to handle the many facets of their job.

With this year’s group of winners, the familiar resounding comment is that they are each “doing what they love.” Many are entrepreneurs with independent spirits. Even if they work for a larger corporation, they can develop business within their territories in a creative and independent fashion, often by finding unique ways to bring consumers and advisors together.

Thierry Vuolo of Oceania Cruises excels at finding pied pipers, charismatic individuals who can attract travelers, and connecting them with travel advisors. In one instance, she discovered a great chef in Raleigh, NC, whom she linked up with Julie Harris of Largay Travel. Together, they put on a consumer night at the chef’s restaurant and ended up pulling together an Alaska group cruise from the attendees.

Gina West of Apple Vacations took her love of teaching (she taught micro-biology!) and today instructs new agents about her company’s products. That’s fulfilling enough, but West cites another trait that’s uniform amongst successful sales reps — her love of people.

To that end, Kristen Sauter-Moore of Destinations of Distinctions says that her style is not to walk into an agency office to drop off her business cards and a pile of brochures. Not only does she and her team know the advisors they work with, Sauter-Moore says they feel more like family. But at the end of the day, it does come down to business, and Gilberto Machain of Karisma Hotels & Resorts notes that without the support of travel agents, there would be no travel industry. Indeed, he says that consulting with a travel agent “is like going to the doctor. They will have a solution and recommendation for anything you need.”

So here’s to the 2015 winners of Travel Agent’s Top Supplier Sales Reps. We salute you and thank you for making the travel industry a more professional place to be!