So often people are envious of travel agents, because they believe that if you work in travel - life can be one big holiday. But, like many other industries, there is plenty of hard work and late nights involved before a travel agent can enjoy the best rewards of their job.
When the line between work and pleasure is as blurred as it often is in travel, and the demand on your time is high, it’s important to find a balance. Whether you would like more time with your family, or time to explore other passions - like that photography voucher you received for your birthday - there are strategies travel advisors can use.
These tools will help you be more productive during the day, and switch off work and enjoy your downtime after. As a result, you can be more present and fulfilled in both your work and personal life.
Start the day with a clear focus
Having concrete goals is an important first step when it comes to getting things done. One of the best task management tools is a pen and a piece of paper, which you can use to write lists that keep you motivated and focused.
The trick to writing good lists is to be task oriented, rather than goal oriented. Sometimes, factors outside your control can get in the way of goal completion, which can be demotivating. Instead, write lists of tasks.
For example, “Close three sales” is a goal, and shouldn’t go on your task list. Instead set tasks that help you work towards that goal, such as “Make 10 phone calls to warm leads”. The latter is the kind of doable and productive task that will likely lead to goal completion by putting you closer to closing those sales.
Establish a flexible working space
There are many things about traditional working spaces that stifle productivity. Modern studies are starting to show that more flexible working arrangements are actually better for business, as they make workers happier, helping them to stay energised and put in their best effort.
For a travel agent, this might mean negotiating a different start time to avoid a busy commute, or working from home for at least some of the time. If your manager or boss isn’t prepared to negotiate on these kind of things, it might be the time to look at alternatives that offer more flexibility.
Have set work hours
Because of the way technology allows us to work everywhere, it can be tempting to keep working after the day is done. This can be counterproductive as it leads to more hours of less productive work, and means that you might actually be accomplishing less than if you were simply getting well rested.
Experienced travel agents will often set work hours and limit non-urgent calls and emails to normal business hours to maintain work-life balance.
This can be easier said than done, especially for someone working at a desk-based travel agency, where ignoring a call might mean that the sale you’ve been working on goes to someone else.
It’s important for travel agents to find solutions that facilitate work-life balance without the risk of losing commission, such as the Travel Counsellor’s 24/7 Duty Office, which offers expert and emergency support to your customers. Solutions like the 24/7 Duty Office allow self-employed agents to switch off while being certain that their customer is being fully cared for until they come back online.
Even though it can be important to switch off from technology, the life of any travel agent would be far more complicated without the tools that help organise and communicate.
Before you start subscribing to a bunch of different digital services, think about your specific needs so that you can find fit-for-purpose apps for travel consultancy.
The most basic things that most travel consultants will need tech to do are: Make it easy to plan your day Allow you to communicate easily with clients Give you an easy way to share itineraries Track calls with potential customers There are many different options available to you, so it’s important that you research to find the one that makes your life easiest. For example, it’s possible to track calls with sales leads in a spreadsheet, but it’s much better to use something that’s fit for purpose, like the Contact Centre which is housed within the Travel Counsellors unique technology platform, Phenix. Similarly, you can communicate with your clients and share itineraries through email, but long email threads can quickly get out of hand. Instead, use a solution like the myTC app, which makes it easier for you and your customers to share all the important information about a trip.
It can be tempting to put off exercise when you have a lot to do. This actually ends up being bad for work-life balance because exercise is the best way for the human body to produce endorphins and control the hormone that makes us feel stressed.
Because travel agents spend so much time sitting at a workstation, it’s easy to let your fitness levels slip. This means that it’s important to set aside time for exercise.
The Department of Health recommends doing at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, and says that you should be doing something every day. However, doing something is better than doing nothing. If you aren’t currently at this level, start out slow and gradually work up to the recommended amount, taking notice of how your focus improves as you develop a routine.
Review your day
How did you do today?
You won’t know if you don’t take the time to reflect on what you have accomplished and what you still need to work on.
Take five to ten minutes at the end of each day to go over your to-do list. Check off anything you have done. If you did something productive that wasn’t on there, write that down then check it off as well. This might sound silly, but it’s the kind of novelty that makes us feel good about ourselves because we’ve accomplished something.
Spending a few minutes at the end of each day lets you see where you can improve and give you an opportunity to ask for help where you need it.
This is the reason most people get involved in travel in the first place, so there isn’t much point doing all that hard work planning other people’s dream itineraries if you aren’t going to plan your own once and awhile.
A holiday for a travel agent has to be just that: a holiday. It’s as important to switch off on your holidays as it is at the end of the workday.
Work on your work-life balance so that you can work more efficiently and earn more commission, allowing you to take more holidays. Remember, people want to book their trip with a travel expert. Nothing says travel expert like a seasoned globetrotter that can tell them everything about their favourite destinations.
If you'd like to know more about the benefits of starting your own travel business, get in touch with our careers team on 1300 889 123 or fill in the contact form.