This article is from Travel Market Report’s 2019 Outlook on Niche Travel and Specializations, released last month. The full report can be read here.
When we asked advisors what advice they would give to their peers, over half of all respondents had something to share. “Take advantage of all the tools and webinars, supplier events to learn, learn, learn, and keep in touch with them to build relationships,” said one, echoing a common theme.
Another said not to overthink things too much: “Just do it! If you have a passion, follow it. It is way more manageable and rewarding as you have a focus for your research, study, knowledge, and expertise, and will see how much this pays off in the experiences you are able to give to your guests.”
Still, don’t go too fast at the beginning. “Choose only a couple [niches] that you would like to specialize in first to get to know your product well, so that you are able to become successful at selling,” one advisor said.
Another highlighted that true expertise comes with experience. “Keep selling what you know and when you are confi
dent in something, you will know and excel. Then specialize in it, take it, and run with it,” she said.
Tapping into neutral sources, such as tourist boards, can be helpful, said advisors. “Often it’s the tourism boards because they take you to another level of the behind-the-scenes,” one advisor told us.
Another advisor said to think strategically. “Choose the type of clients you would like to work with and combine that with something you are passionate about to choose your area of specialization,” she said.
Advisors also told us that you have to always be wanting to know more. “Be humble, because there is always more to learn.” Never pass up an opportunity to take a fam trip, advisors say, and tap into the experiences of your clients by getting feedback from them after every trip. If you have a knowledgeable sales rep, it can be gold, say the advisors, so don’t take for granted that they are just doing their job. Make them want to spend more time, effort, and knowledge with you, advisors say.
Furthermore, don’t let setbacks get you down. The key to being successful is passion and experience. Clients will see your love of what you are recommending goes beyond the profits.
Still, it takes investment. Often at the beginning, without a track record of sales, you will need to invest to build your knowledge. Don’t lose focus by choosing where you are going based on the trade discount. One advisor says she funded a month-long stay in the Riviera Maya so she could stay in all the resorts she planned to sell and personally experience all of the activities and attractions. “You need to put money upfront to attract the clients, so take the risk. Build a brand around it,” she says.
“You’re not a specialist if you haven’t been there,” said one advisor. “If it is a destination, you need to experience it. The clients I have booked for Africa have contacted me because I have been there. Supplier training and building relationships with suppliers is a must. You can’t know everything, and it is important to have someone to help you with in-destination logistics.”
“Just taking an online training course doesn’t make you an expert,” noted another advisor. Time and experience, traveling to and experiencing the variety of suppliers is key. However, the most common advice is to focus on your passions, dive in, and the profits will follow over time.