Do you have what it takes?
The travel industry is not for the faint of heart. You must daily tap into both sides of your brain — your creative side and your logical side — in order to recommend, book, and manage incredible travel experiences for your clients. You are a salesperson, a marketer, an accountant, and a customer service rep all wrapped into one! If you have what it takes, it is one of the most exciting and rewarding jobs you can find! You get to know and sell what you love (and the FAM trips are pretty great too)!
Whether you are ready to grow your business by hiring another employee, or just looking to improve yourself as an agent, these are the characteristics that separate the outstanding travel agents from the good ones!
When travelers choose to use a travel agent instead of booking a trip themselves, they are looking for expertise. Turn yourself into an information sponge and soak up everything there is to know about airlines, airports, destinations, dining, and accommodations. Read travel articles and publications to stay current. Don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers questions about the products you are buying.
Set high expectations of professionalism for yourself and your employees. Check the spelling on your emails and quotes. Put efficient processes in place for making and managing bookings rather than just “winging it” as you go. Consider implementing or following a personal dress code to help you feel at the top of your game — even if you work from home!
Enthusiasm is contagious. Stay excited about what you sell and your clients will catch on. Be that crazy person that loves Mondays. Keep your standards high and your goals ahead of you. Make sure to save plenty of time in your year for your own travels. This will keep you excited and passionate about what you do!
4. People Skills
Are you able to pick up on subtle communication cues? Can you figure out what a client really wants when they’re having a hard time expressing it clearly? Do you know how and when to close the sale? Some of these things come naturally, but much of it is learned simply by paying attention. Become a student of human nature even when you are not on the job and you will start to develop a keen ability to read people.
Be honest and upfront about fares, rules and regulations. Don’t try to sell something you don’t think your travelers would love. Take the high road. Referrals and recommendations are your best form of advertising, but they simply won’t happen if you don’t maintain the highest standards of integrity.
A great travel agent has the ability to think on their feet and adapt to new situations. Whether it’s a forced a schedule change, an unusual request, or a missed connection, quick-thinking is essential. Learn to stay calm and navigate emergencies like a pro. Figure out what resources you have at your disposal and make it happen! Your clients will think you are a miracle-worker!
Even when you do all the right things in the booking process, travel arrangements can often go awry. Airlines are delayed, bags get lost, and travelers can get sick. Just because an incident is not your fault, doesn’t mean you show no compassion. Be your client’s advocate whenever you can. Use your experience to take up their cause with airlines and travel insurance underwriters. If there is truly nothing you can do, offer your best suggestions and your genuine empathy. Be a listening ear and make them feel heard and understood.
Do you agree? What qualities would you say make a successful travel agent?