As a travel consultant, you have already gone some way to fulfilling your passion and realising your calling in life, to work in travel and deliver experiences that your customers can fall in love with. But how do you take things to the next level? How do you step outside of the safety of a travel agency; to consult successfully on your own terms?
The tips below will help you utilize the skills you have learned as a desk-based travel agent - and apply them to grow your own business.
1. Build itineraries that speak to real desires
As a travel consultant, you are technically connecting customers with a product. However, this product is a little different to many others on the market. Travel is an experience. Travel builds memories that last a lifetime. Travel bridges the gap between adventure and a comfortable enjoyment of the world we find ourselves in. But, first and foremost, travel is an immensely individualistic experience.
You know this already. You already know how to be a successful travel consultant within a set framework. Now it is time to put that knowledge into action on your own terms. Who is your target demographic? What are their travel aspirations? Are you connecting your audience with convenient getaways or a once in a lifetime bucket list experience? You need to know exactly what your customers want, and you need to be able to source this.
It's unlikely that a customer will come to you with a detailed itinerary, leaving you with the simple task of booking. Instead, they are going to come to you with a desire, an online offer they’ve found and with a thin sketch of what they want. It is up to you to translate this desire and build something that will not only meet, but exceed, this expectation. It all stems from understanding that desire.
2. Be customer-oriented every step of the way
You're working with dreams, desires, and aspirations. In short, you're working with a broad mix of different human emotions. This means, as well as being a travel expert that people can routinely rely upon, you need to be in tune with the human side of customer interaction. You need to work with customers every step of the way to ensure that their needs are continually met.
Developing excellent interpersonal skills is key here. Not only must you be a good listener, but you must also be a good reader of people and nonverbal cues. This will position yourself perfectly to go above and beyond for your individual customers time and time again, based upon what you know about them and their personal aspirations.
3. Leverage modern opportunities to get your name out there
You have a wealth of opportunities to reach new customers and to raise your profile in the industry. To get the most out of these opportunities, you need to be constantly appraising and developing your skills. You need to be producing web content that builds your authority and makes you more visible to customers. You need to be pursuing the latest social media channels to place your voice at the heart of industry discourse. You need to be alive to the latest opportunities and products in the travel market, in order to keep on delivering your customers exactly what they need.
This means developing other capabilities too, such as finely tuned risk awareness and a high level of adaptability. Travel consultancy is a fast-paced market, and consumer trends are changing all the time. Will you be positioning yourself to meet these trends as they emerge, or will you be seeking out new opportunities to bring exclusively to your customers? If you choose to explore the second option, you will need a high level of risk tolerance. You need to balance the risk of a travel product failing this time around with the potential rewards both for you and for your customers.
4. Find Support
Having a support team behind you can make all the difference to your business. It will empower you to exert autonomy and manage your business your way, with the protection and support only a global business can offer. At Travel Counsellors we want to see you succeed no matter how big your vision is, and this why we offer:
Of course there is no doubt that you will succeed. But in those few instances where you may stumble, Travel Counsellors is here to offer support until you are back on your feet. At Travel Counsellors our ethos is to be the world’s most caring travel homeworking company. We deliver expert tools, technology and offer 24/7 support for our homeworking entrepreneurs, so that you can do what you do best – build a successful travel consultancy, on your own terms.