How to Thrive as a New Travel Advisor

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new travel advisor
Ashley Metes-McCoy.

From Army Officer to Travel Mentor
Awarded the “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the ASTA Global Convention, Ashley Metesh-McCoy understands the importance of travel advisors, and will be using the award money she received to run Kinship Vacations, helping military spouses start their own travel agencies. An Army veteran, Metesh-McCoy has worked with Carnival Corporation, and it was there where she “became increasingly aware of the continued relevance of travel agents,” she says. “I learned that travel agents can still very much thrive despite the OTAs of the world.” Soon after, she joined the Gifted Travel Network’s Travel MBA program, and its host agency.

TIPS: She recommends new advisors “spend a good amount of time looking at host agencies— is great for this—to find a host that will provide adequate amount of support and training to get you started. You don’t start making a lot of money right away, so start off with a long-term mindset. Align with a supportive community, whether it’s with a host agency or an entrepreneurial community such as the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs. No one can do this alone.” She adds, “Take advantage of your gifts. If you are a good writer, write a lot of blogs and articles to cement your expertise and build your following. If you are really great in-person, exhibit at a lot of events to get that face time with potential leads. If you like to talk on video, do a lot of Facebook Live, Instagram TV, and send out regular vlogs to your growing list. Find what works for you, be consistent, and have fun with it.”

new travel advisor
Jen Cron.

From Dental Assistant to Travel Advisor
Jen Cron, vacation specialist with Dream Vacations, came from the dental industry. She says that, “Being a travel advisor is not a ‘get rich quick’ proposition, but if you are willing to put in the work, it can be a rewarding, profitable and fun career!”

TIPS: For those new to the industry, Cron says, “You can’t sit at home and wait for the phone to ring or depend solely on social media to grow your business. You have to get out into your community and talk to people about what you do and the benefits of working with a travel advisor.” Adding that, “If you are coming from a job or industry where you didn’t have to market yourself or find your own leads, it can be difficult to get out of your comfort zone, but you have to get yourself out there and educate people about what you do. The most important thing for a new advisor is to get out in the community, network and meet people. The more you do it, the easier it will become to share your ‘elevator pitch’ with new people.”

new travel advisor
Colleen Aaberg.

From Selling Insurance to Selling Travel
Colleen Aaberg, a former insurance salesperson, dove into the travel industry after realizing she felt “directionless career-wise. I dialed my friend, and travel agent of 13 years, and left a message saying, ‘this is random, but I need to sell again, and I wondered if there would be a spot for me on your team?’”

TIPS: Aaberg, who is an advisor with Acendas Travel,says, “This career is about so much more than booking air and lodging…it’s about understanding what your clients love, making that happen with elegance, and making every step of their journey enriched with the little things, be it a recommendation, a personal note while in destination, or just a little surprise while they are on their journey. Everyone wants to be cared for—and this is the way that I can care for others.”

She wants new advisors to know, “If you think you’re going to travel for free and that is your driver to get into this industry, you’re dead wrong. This is very hard work. What people see of me are the destination shots and amazing experiences I’m scouting. What they don’t see is me answering calls from travelers with an issue at 4 in the morning as well as working until 1 and 2 in the morning just to keep up. You need to be a salesperson in this role—period. You also need bits of marketing, accounting, operations, communications and a keen eye on customer service. You need to work long days, long hours, and it never gets shut off. If you have clients traveling, you’re on duty. You need to be smart, authentic and truly care about clients and vendor relationships and the time it takes to cultivate them.” She adds, however, “Set boundaries on what you help people with. Specialize, you can’t be an expert in everything to everyone.”