11 Tips for Travel Agents Who Want to Become Superstar Specialistsby Doug Gollan /
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.
For more than a quarter century, the idea of specialization has been popular with travel advisors as a way to separate themselves from the pack and add value for consumers.
Publications, such as Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, make up lists of advisors largely based on their specialties and niches, while consortia and agencies structure their online advisor search functions based on products, consumer interests, and destination specializations.
After surveying more than 800 advisors, here are 11 quick and simple tips for advisors looking to become superstar specialists.
1. Follow your passion.
Being passionate will make you hungry to keep learning, and the top specialists say there is always more to learn!
2. Take fam trips.
First-hand knowledge is essential. Online certification courses don’t make you a true specialist.
Don’t limit yourself to only trade discounts. Be willing to invest in your own travel experiences.
4. Use your BDMs.
Good BDMs are like gold and can add their personal insights and experiences. They are also busy. Make sure they want to invest time with you.
5. Don’t forget the tourist boards.
Tourism offices add an extra layer of neutral expertise and can often match you with smaller, local suppliers who can add to your bag of tricks.
6. Use your clients.
Referrals are, by far, the biggest source of new business for specialists, so make sure you personally speak with each of your clients after they return. Their feedback, from new restaurants to old favorites that closed, and everything else, keeps you current.
7. Keep learning.
Tune into webinars, take online training courses, attend seminars when they come to your city, or make an effort to go to an out-of-town trade show where there are seminars from suppliers or destinations you want to learn more about.
8. Be patient.
Becoming a true specialist doesn’t happen overnight.
9. The Limit is you.
The number of products, destinations or customer profiles you can specialize in is only limited to the time, energy and passion you have for each.
10. While referrals are the biggest source for new business, don’t overlook agency or consortia email lists.
The same is true for opportunities to promote yourself either via your own website or your agency group. Hosting local events, and asking existing customers to bring friends, family and neighbors will expand your database. And don’t forget both digital advertising and direct mail promoting your specialty can bring new clients.
11. Just do it!
Dive in. It’s the best way to get started, but keep in mind that truly becoming a specialist who can add value for both your clients and the suppliers you work with takes time and effort, so be selective. Over time, your number of specializations will grow.