Please don’t get me wrong, I am sure you have lovely friends and your family is fantastic! But for most people, just booking travel for their family and friends isn’t enough to sustain a successful business. A hobby, yes; but not a business. So, while you are certainly going to start out marketing yourself as a travel agent to those who know and love you, you have to go further.

Here’s another problem with your friends and family: they don’t always book with you. You would be amazed at how many times I have heard from agents who are frustrated because they have been an agent for years, and they find out someone they are close to has booked a trip direct with the cruise line or (this happens a lot) Disney because they “don’t want to be a bother”. Does anyone say, “I sold my house myself because I didn’t want to bother you dear friend who has been a Realtor for years”? I doubt it!

So why do they do it to travel agents? In a lot of cases it is because they don’t fully understand what you do. They just simply don’t get it. Or, if you started out doing one thing (cruises) and they want something else (a trip to Italy), they think you can’t help them. That is a failure of your marketing and creating a core compelling message to drive it.

But let’s assume that every one of your friends and family members understands what you do and you book all their travel. First, congratulations! But unless you are connected with people who travel a lot more than most, it still isn’t going to be enough. You might sell $40,000 or even $80,000 in travel per year, but that’s not enough to live on.

And this is why having a strong understanding of marketing and what works and what doesn’t in the travel industry, is critical to success. You can be the most knowledgeable person in the world on a destination or type of travel, but that isn’t enough. You can post on Facebook every day, but that isn’t enough. You can have an amazing website, but that alone isn’t enough either. So, what does work?

First you have to understand what you are focusing on and who you are trying to reach. You cannot build a business by just taking whatever comes along. That worked back in the day when you had to go to a travel agent to have something booked and your most important decision was where to locate your office. Now that a great number of agents are working virtually, you can’t count on someone wandering by and stopping in. You must have a focus and understand what value you bring to people who want that type of travel.

Unfortunately, many people who are getting into travel think they should work in the industry for a few years and then figure out what they want to specialize in. That doesn’t work. You end up becoming a jack of all trades and a master of none. And all the while you are training your clients that your “specialty” is whatever you are doing for them. So, if you have a client who books a lot of cruises with you, and they talk to a co-worker who is looking for an agent to plan a two-week trip through Australia and New Zealand, your name won’t come up. All the while your secret desire is to focus on Australia and New Zealand! Frustrating, isn’t it?

That is why a key benefit of our Travel MBA program is the “Nail Your Niche” call with our founder, Meredith Hill. This is truly one of Meredith’s areas of brilliance. I’ve heard her on these calls numerous times and it is incredible to me how she can so quickly drill into a person’s passion and hear things they aren’t even saying. She can very quickly help you figure out the passion that you might not even be aware of!

Everyone knows that doing something you are passionate about is far less work than doing something you dislike. You bring not only physical energy to the job, but mental and spiritual energy as well. And together these make you attractive to people who are in search of the type of assistance you can provide. That’s why it is so critical to plan your business first and not just jump in anywhere and take what comes along. That attractiveness becomes a big factor in your success!

We see a lot of people in the industry who come to Gifted Travel Network and our sister company, GIFTE (Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs), who have been working in the industry for a few (or sometimes many) years and while they have achieved some success, they have lost their passion for it. Reconnecting with why they got into the industry in the first place and what they truly love about it, reignites that passion and their business takes off!

This is not something that people can usually do on their own. They need some sort of coaching and guidance. And that’s one of the key benefits to the Travel MBA program: one-on-one support from a skilled mentor and coach. You aren’t just given a series of videos to watch and figure it out, but you have a skilled guide to help you on your journey. And a cheerleader to celebrate your successes as you go!

If you want to start a travel industry career or re-ignite the passion for the one you have and make more money in the process, we’d love to talk to you! Set up a time to talk one-on-one with us and let’s see how we might be a fit for you.