Eight Powerful Women in Travel Offer Eight Tips For New Travel Agents

by Marilee Crocker


Ongoing skills development is critical to success in any profession. But what if your career selling leisure travel is in its infancy? Where should you focus your business and professional development?
 
We put the question to eight of the most powerful and successful women in retail travel. If we were guilty of looking for a simplistic answer, they didn’t take the bait. As their responses suggest, no single skill or even set of skills is enough to create success in this multifaceted and demanding profession.
 
“Being a leisure travel advisor is a complex career. But it is a career that can be incredibly rewarding, as long as you are very organized and detail-oriented, an effective written and verbal communicator, a strong people-person with enthusiasm, the desire to provide service, an interest in travel and a desire to constantly learn about new places, destinations and product,” said Kimberly Wilson Wetty, co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel in New York.
 
Here’s some more advice from top female travel executives on how to build success as a leisure travel consultant.
 
1. Master the basics.
“The most basic skill is communication. I’ve always said, ‘She who calls a client back on time or responds to an email with clear information generally wins.’ Get to the point, be clear, remain professional, keep it personal, under-promise and over-deliver. Create your own system of organization so you stay on top of client projects. If you develop this early on, you will reap productivity gains as you grow your business. Never ignore your clients. Follow up on all the details and never assume something will get done for your customer unless you have it in writing. Get everything in writing.”
– Andi Mysza, president, MTravel, Montrose, CA
 
2. Learn to make connections.
“Networking skills are a valuable tool in any business. Be approachable. Get your name out there and network with as many people as possible to grow your database. Get involved in local Chamber of Commerce programs; network at the local country club. Network while being very sales-focused and very service-oriented.”
Kathryn Mazza-Burney, executive vice president, global sales, TRAVELSAVERS and The Affluent Traveler; president, NEST, Oyster Bay, NY
 
3. Focus on a specialty.
“When you first start out, you need to focus as much as possible. Select a product that you can study and become an expert. By specializing in a product you differentiate yourself from the competition. Most importantly, experience the product you are selling. Take advantage of travel agent rates, fam trips and more. The best way to sell a product is to experience it firsthand and share those experiences with your customers. They will recognize and appreciate your authentic passion for the product.”
– Debbie Fiorino, senior vice president, CruiseOne/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc., Wilmington, MA
 
4. Take advantage of training opportunities.
“Get training and coaching early in your career. Attend programs like the Travel Institute Travel Academy; many TMCs have training programs as well. It is a great way to get acclimated, learn product and sales tools, plus build a professional network for yourself.”
– Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Valerie Wilson Travel
 
5. Get customers talking about what matters.
“Really knowing your sales skills is key. It’s building a relationship and being able to converse. It’s probing about their needs and wants by asking open-ended questions and getting them focused. If you’re waiting for them to ask questions, you’ll lose them. Have them describe their last vacation, have them say what they liked and didn’t like so the picture is created and they’re doing the talking.”
– Elaine San Juan, director western region, leisure, Worldview Travel, Santa Ana, CA
 
6. Make the right match.
“It is not enough to just learn about your client’s wants and needs. You have to ensure that you apply what you’ve learned and make the right vacation recommendations. Remember you are in the relationship business and your clients are your greatest asset. Do not treat a booking as a transaction. It is the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship that results in future bookings and referrals.”
– Jackie Friedman, president, Nexion, Southlake, TX

7. Develop your brand identity.
“Create your own personal brand so people in your community start recognizing you as the go-to person for booking vacations. Determine what your value proposition is—why is someone going to book with you over someone else?—and communicate that to your customer base. The best way to do so is by becoming involved in your community.'
Debbie Fiorino, Senior Vice President of CruiseOne/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc., Wilmington, MA

8. Use technology creatively.
“One of the most important skills a successful agent must possess is the ability to creatively adapt to new technologies without losing the personal touch. There are creative ways to use technology that will still feel high touch and personalized to your clients.”
– Claire Bennett, executive vice president, American Express Travel, New York

Next time: Powerful women in travel share advice on how to grow leisure sales.

  28
  0
Tip of the Day

Something could happen to any of us, the loved ones we travel with, or in this case, to the magnificent marvels put up by those who came before us. So we must travel as far and as often as time and money allow.


Stefanie Katz, The Travel Superhero

Daily Top List

Five Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Loyalty Programs

1. Saves money for your clients.

2. Saves time for your corporate clients.

3. Gets all sorts of perks for your clients.

4. Offers enhanced reporting to corporate clients.

5. Provides better service and better client relationships.

Source: TMR.

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=b75eceda-865f-e911-b4aa-782bcb66a2f2

5 Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Travel Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs, also known as frequent buyer programs, have been around for a long time. But you might be surprised to know that many travelers don’t know about them. Here are five good reasons for travel advisors to spread the word to their customers, both leisure and corporate travelers.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Headquarter Happenings: MAST Travel Network Marks 50 Years
Headquarter Happenings: MAST Travel Network Marks 50 Years

As the industry blossoms, storytelling and one-on-one interactions bring a record number of travel advisors back to their Chicago roots.

Six Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
Six Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

As you build a social media following, learn how to sidestep the mindsets and actions that can put a damper on your success.

From One Million to Two in Travel Sales: How Advisors Can Jump the Hurdle
From One Million to Two in Travel Sales: How Advisors Can Jump the Hurdle

Research shows that the leap from $1 million to $2 million is among the toughest hurdles for travel advisors. So, take a little while to bask in your glory — and then try these proven ways to move to the next level.

How One Travel Advisor Staked Her Claim on Travel to France
How One Travel Advisor Staked Her Claim on Travel to France

Moving from a generalist to specializing in custom FIT and group trips to France is forcing Isabelle Williams to learn a whole new set of skills.

Going Platinum: Thoughts from Three Travel Advisors Celebrating 20 Years in Business
Going Platinum: Thoughts from Three Travel Advisors Celebrating 20 Years in Business

It was the year of 9/11, when the pundits were saying travel agents were a dying breed. But with over two decades in business, Vicki Briggs, Brenda Punchak and Cheryl Scavron have each proved them wrong.

Divers Need Travel Advisor Expert Guidance
Divers Need Travel Advisor Expert Guidance

The unique nature of diving destinations, and the physical danger clients could experience, make expert travel advisors invaluable. Part two of our two-part series.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tropics and Exotics 2020 -2021 Collection