|Vice President—Content / Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
It’s said that having too many choices often results in an angst that you’ve picked the wrong thing. It’s easy to analyze options to pieces only to agonize when you’ve made your selection. This must be an issue for newbie travel agents, who have the entire world in front of them to learn about. Where do you begin?
Consider the following assessment strategy.
You’re in business, so you need to earn a viable income. I suggest going for the low-hanging fruit, the travel offerings that will provide an immediate return. Take supplier and destination courses that give you the 101 on how to sell to more than just one type of client, that verse you in the art of upselling and give you specific instructions on how to close the deal.
Next step: Cultivating a new business isn’t all about the now. You need to nurture new markets by learning about products and places that speak to emerging trends. Read up on where new hotels are being developed in international markets; the larger lodging companies often have an eye on those places that have the potential for new tourists. Which new ports are the cruise lines visiting? Assemble as much information as possible on where to go next so you’ve got much to offer that new sophisticated client who comes your way.
The next step is to pick your passion. What fascinates you and how can you take the joy that it brings you and fold it in to selling travel? If you’re an art collector, where can you experience top cultural exhibits first hand? Do you love to golf? Where are the best courses in the world and how can you get clients there? Focus your learning efforts on how to sell these passion points and it’s likely the money will flow in.
As you’re learning, share your newfound knowledge with your clients. Tell them you’ve just taken a destination course on a place they’ve expressed interest in. Have you ever had a medical professional or a financial advisor tell you they’ve just come back from a seminar on the latest options available to you? It’s thrilling to know the expert you’re dealing with is educated with up-to-the-minute market intel. Do the same for your clients; they’ll appreciate it.
You have much more to share with clients. You meet with suppliers about their new products and attend events where you learn about the latest vacation experiences available. Do you ever relay this information to customers? This is not just trade talk you need to keep to yourself. I’ll bet you that they'll find it fascinating that you just met with the GM of a grande dame hotel in Europe or that you recently returned from a mini-trade show featuring the top independent hotels of the world. Select tidbits that will be of interest to them and start a dialogue.
Conversations about travel are rarely boring. So craft an educational strategy that will help you start earning money right away while igniting your passions in life — and share the bounty along the way.