|Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director|
We’re getting ready to select our next class of 30Under30 here at Travel Agent magazine; that’s a program we started nearly a decade ago to support the next generation of travel advisors in the business. We wanted to ensure these new entrants had their own peer group they could relate to, as they were learning from the more veteran members of the industry.
There’s no doubt that the 30Under30 program and those launched by the agency networks to foster newbies in the business have been a homerun success. There’s a palpable new energy in the travel agency distribution channel that’s coming from this next generation. Complementing this energy, and actually leading the way, are those successful veterans of the business whose professionalism and knowledge keep the entire channel alive.
Mentoring this next generation is a necessity, but there’s still more work to be done to support those coming in to the industry from other careers, particularly those who aren’t employed by brick-and-mortar travel agencies.
Instead of being in offices, with seasoned colleagues to champion and advise them, they’re virtual agents flying solo with a host agency that likely has a training program and some support but doesn’t have a 24/7 chat line to answer the more mundane questions, such as where to book a client who is requesting a destination they’re unfamiliar with or what to do when a client calls to say they’ve missed a connecting flight and can’t get to their cruise.
These independent folks typically turn to online support from agency groups that serve as informal networks for advisors to assist each other with day-to-day advice.
My question to you is, if you’re an experienced travel agent, what type of example are you setting for these newbies? If they’re asking for sage advice, with a question that may actually sound unbelievably naïve to you, are you ignoring them, or worse, sniping at them in front of everyone else who’s online? Or are you responding in a gentle manner that will at least set them off in the right direction to resolve the problem on their own? Your advice is probably worth more to them than you’ll ever know, and administering it probably takes about 15 seconds of your time.
Whenever I’m around young adults, I try to be conscious of being as polite and friendly as possible, rather than impatient and projecting a tired, been there, done that attitude. My reasoning is that if they don’t see the generation before them acting in a civilized manner, what are they to think of the world that’s out there waiting for them? It’s so easy to discourage those just starting out, whether they’re young in years or simply young in the amount of experience they have.
Which is all a way of saying, don’t just be a hero to those rising stars you have in your offices. Treat those you see struggling to excel in this business online as well. You don’t have to give away your entire knowledge base, but setting a good example and sharing a few words of kindness and wisdom is a good investment of your time and benefits the entire industry that you’re a part of.
And by the way, watch for our next 30Under30 to appear in our August 24 issue, and for a look back, “Where Are They Now” feature on past 30Under30s in our August 10 edition.