It can be tough, being that person at the desk by the entrance of a travel agency. One minute you’re being asked for Cancun, next it’s the Galapagos, and the next time it’s for advice on travel insurance.
Life is very different if you are a home-based travel advisor. You have more control over your business, and one sure way to get greater joy and satisfaction out of your life is to specialize.
It’s said, “The riches are in the niches” and it’s so true!
There are several reasons being a specialist is so smart. You don’t have to be an expert on everything, everywhere. You will be way more time efficient in closing and processing sales. And chances are you’ll get more referrals than the generalists do, while at the same time cutting down on the time and money it costs you to market your services.
There are several ways to approach the niche market:
. By destination: Become an expert on one part of the world, say, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean or South America
. By travel style: Luxury, adventure and FIT are three popular options here
. By activity: Sports (e.g. golf, ski); culture (history, music) and learning (cooking, language) are all trending these days
One of Vision’s most successful independent travel advisors specializes in the adventure market. A former adventure tour group leader, he says: “I wouldn’t have chosen this branch of travel if I did not absolutely love what I do: getting my clients the holiday of a lifetime every time and travelling myself.” He says he remains current in the adventure niche by constantly looking over new trip offerings, travelling with different operators and reading international newscasts first thing every day.
Another Vision advisor has chosen to specialize by destination, and says: “I love Europe and travel there as much as I can. I visit as many sights, museums, rural and urban areas while sourcing out local markets and special events. Also, I do site inspections of hotels that would fit in with my clients’ profiles. With this firsthand knowledge, I am better equipped to tailor and design customized itineraries for each client. And I take as many webinars as I can to keep me tuned into the current hotel scene.”
Another, who did work as an agency in a mall and discovered it really didn’t suit her, is now an active travel specialist. “Experiencing the destination makes all the difference – last summer I visited the 5 ‘Stans’ – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – and have already sold four or five clients there. I make a point of keeping in touch with my fellow active travel advisors and our key suppliers, and stay up to date with their offerings. I also work together with these suppliers on client evenings.” Specializing she says, keeps you more focused and lets you take advantage of travel trends – like bike-and-barge or multi-gen – as they develop. Virtually all of her business is repeat and referral, she says, making marketing quite painless.
Choosing to specialize doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your regular clients. It does mean, though, that you can derive greater satisfaction and higher rewards.
And isn’t that what a successful career is all about?
Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel, which has an ever-expanding and vibrant program for independent agents. With over 60 years in the Canadian retail travel industry Vision “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line.” Lynda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.