Things Travel Agents Wish They Knew When Starting Out

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Looking back at the experiences of their younger selves, agents relate those crucial bits of knowledge and advice that they wish they had heard sooner.
After someone has been in a career for some time, they often look back at their younger selves and wish that they were given a particular piece of advice from someone who had walked the path before they did. Maybe that piece of advice would have made their job easier or completely changed the direction they were going.

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 When Elizabeth Loftus, business development manager of Travel Planners International — Luxury Trips, was a newbie in the industry, she says that it was easy to get overwhelmed by all of the travel options that she could present to her clients. “Not only that, my clients were coming to me with requests to visit countries all over the world, most of which I had never been to,” she says. “After speaking with some industry veterans, they taught me how important it is to find trusted tour operators who specialize in specific destinations to help.”  She wishes she had been told about tour operators beforehand, but says that the company she was ultimately referred to, Alluring Africa, was very helpful in making her job easier. “They made me feel so much better about helping plan my client’s trip,” says Loftus. “I’ve learned so much from them and they’ve helped me become an Africa specialist. It really expanded my portfolio of the destinations I sell and can sell with ease.”

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She also says that she wish she knew about other experts who are located in the U.S. and in the same time zone as she is, so she could have called them with questions. “They have direct access to availability, rates, and first-hand knowledge of the world’s best safari destinations and even more beyond that,” she says.  

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Sheelagh King, co-owner of J.W. North Signature Travel and Luxury Incentives wishes that someone had said to never offer to do a client's mileage air tickets and had given a few other pieces of advice too. “Never presume their budget is your budget,” says King. “Look for the best quality product, but at the best value, and be candid with the client, even if it is not in your best interest financially. Travel and educate yourself as much as possible in your chosen specialty. Invest some money to do that. Clients like first-hand experience. Send your reps a thank you card or gift when they go out of their way to assist.”   Learning from the veterans is a great way to succeed in your industry.

A few years ago at a commencement speech, Richard Branson said, “The best advice I could give any graduate is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life,” writes the Virgin Group founder. He says if your degree is focused upon one particular area, you shouldn’t let that stop you from moving in another direction; and if college hasn’t worked out for you, don’t let that put you off. “Virgin’s expansion into so many different areas is borne out of my insatiable curiosity to enjoy new experiences and pursue fresh challenges.”

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