modern travel agent
Business of Travel

Time To Say, “Hello” To the Modern Travel Advisor

There has been a lot of talk recently regarding the changes that will be necessary in the travel industry, but frankly there hasn’t been enough of it.

Our friend, Richard D’ambrosio, business coach and content marketing consultant with his own firm, Travel Business Mastermind, recently wrote this article for Travel Research Online where he points out key areas that need to be addressed for Travel Advisors to survive this pandemic.

At KTA our entire mission is built on this principal – that it’s time for the next chapter of travel advisor. One that is digitally savvy, business savvy, and marketing savvy. Otherwise they won’t survive.

It will be awhile before traditional networking opportunities are opened back up, and it is our opinion that those opportunities will be forever changed. So let’s talk more and add to the discussion, shall we?

These are no longer going to be a dime a dozen opportunity; suppliers and advisors alike need to be more deliberate about choosing what FAMs to go on, for example.
Let us repeat for those in the back: No more just going on FAMs for the sake of discounted travel opportunities. If it doesn’t align with your business model, appeal to your ideal client, and have a clear business objective, the answer needs to be “No.”
Richard hit the nail on the head. Education needs to be more about being a modern digital business owner versus ingesting every supplier webinar on the planet. Advisors need to get very specific on their ideal client because as a service based provider in an industry with elastic demand, we need to rise above the noise and be magnetic to ideal clients, otherwise we are just “bookers”. The “booker” model will not survive, as is already proven – the booker cannot compete against Expedia.
Industry conferences
Very similar to training, conferences can no longer be about a list of features (patronizing at best), but needs to be about being successful digital entrepreneurs. We need to take cues from outside industries to up-level our game in digital marketing and digital operations. Rather than spewing facts about ships, suppliers can sponsor the best educators on these topics to teach advisors. In the past most industry events were driven by supplier sponsorships to promote a brand. This doesn’t nothing to up level the average advisor, and by extension the industry as a whole. We need to do better.
Independent Contractors
I honestly question the longevity of this model. California luckily made an exception for travel agents in their new AB5 legislation; however, with states/federal government paying for unemployment (PUA & UI) for ICs that have not paid into the system, other states may look into outlawing ICs as well. Until the US can come up with some sort of universal social security / heath care system that is not dependent on employers, I am not sure how long ICs can exist.
Time to step in to the 21st Century
I would also love for suppliers to update some of their antiquated systems.
  1. Don’t ask for faxed or mailed documents;
  2. Don’t ask us to email you clients’ PII (payment info, etc) via attachment in unsecured emails. There’s a Bazillion software programs out there that can automate all these functions in a secure way!

We need to function digitally now!

Step up the efficiency and work strategically

Most entrepreneurs in general get stuck on the hamster wheel of busy work, and find that by the end of the day they really didn’t accomplish anything. It’s time to start teaching people how to be smart business owners versus purveyors of travel. Travel as an idea doesn’t really need to be sold. But my brand and travel services does. All goals should be working towards highlighting that endeavor. Focusing on becoming a savvy business owner with systems in place that help move the needle are far more effective than wanderlusting through some dream vacation itinerary research for clients you don’t even have yet.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done if together we wish to step into the next chapter of the travel industry. Otherwise we will become just another small business casualty of 2020. Already too much of the business casualties of 2020 have gone in favor of big businesses. Allowing that to happen in the travel industry will cause us to lose our personalized touch, and it’s the personalization and small things that make travel meaningful to begin with.

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