Meredith Hill, the founder of the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE), told travel agents that to be successful owning and running a travel business, it’s best to focus on developing business skills and committing fully to the role of travel seller.
“If you want to up-level the clients you are working with, you have to up-level yourself first,” she said.
Hill, who spoke to agents at the sold-out Travel MarketPlace conference, let attendees in on her “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs,” tips and advice that has helped other travel professionals earn six figures.
Here are the highlights of her talk on the tools agents need to succeed.
Shift toward emotion
Hill said that one of the biggest mistakes travel professionals make is to focus on seeing results, rather than believing that results will come as a result of their process.
“It’s not about action, it’s about emotion,” she said. “If you’re walking around in a state of frustration or pessimism and your goals to occur, you’re preventing that from happening.”
Hill wants agents to believe in themselves while also being more hopeful about the role of the agent in the travel industry.
With the baby-boomer population about to reach retirement age, it’s a great time to be an agent, she said.
Set realistic goals
If agents aren’t setting realistic goals for revenue, then they’re doing something wrong. Hill advises agents to work backwards when setting a sales goal.
Agents should start with expenses, add a personal salary and then add in additional costs and expenses in order to get a total.
Then divide that number by 0.8 if you’re sharing with a host agency and assume an average commission. Agents will now have a reachable sales goal they can shoot for.
Hill stressed that agents shouldn’t be afraid of opportunities that take them out of their comfort zone, and that they should focus on believing in their goals even if the path to reach them isn’t totally clear.
“I see so many people waiting for conditions to be perfect before they take action,” Hill said. “If you have a goal, you’re never going to see every single step in the pathway to that goal at once.”
Get a support system
It can be daunting for agents to be on their own as an entrepreneur. Having a strong support system makes it easier.
“Surround yourself with people who can pull you up and cheer you on, people who are higher than you along the path, and can give you a helping hand when you need it,” Hill said.
Put skin in the game
Investing something in your business that you can’t afford to lose is a good way of raising the stakes and forcing yourself to produce results, Hill said.
“There was a study done by Harvard many years ago about testing the theory of are people more motivated to earn a dollar or avoid losing a dollar,” Hill said. “The results of the study overwhelmingly show that people will take way more action to avoid losing a dollar than they will to earn a dollar.”
“When you have a skin in the game, it gets you doing things you wouldn’t be doing if you didn’t,” she added.
Accept what you can’t control
To avoid stressing out over things out of their control, agents have to adopt an accepting attitude and embrace a lack of control.
“There’s a ton to complain in the travel industry, like commissions, clients and online booking tools,” Hill said. “Make peace with where you are now relative to your goals and enjoy the journey.”
Along with focusing on your business and avoiding “shiny object syndrome”—getting distracted by every little thing that needs to be done for a business like social media marketing—Hill told agents that specializing and establishing an expertise will make it easier to run a business.
“The most important thing to stay focused on is your expertise. If you can establish yourself as an expert and know who needs your expertise, all of your marketing will fall into place,” she said.