When you announce to your friends, family and prospects that you have become a travel agent, don’t be surprised if you get the reply, “I didn’t know travel agents still existed!”  The reason why is that visibility of the travel agent profession is gone.

Why?  In the past 10-15 years, thousands and thousands of traditional travel agencies have vacated “Main Street.” When the travel agent left Main Street, she also left the awareness of the typical consumer.

You don’t have to convince me that there are thousands of competent travel agents that add value, provide an excellent service, and serve a great need. But unfortunately, I am not the one you have to convince. It’s the general public and the fact of the matter is, the accurate understanding of your profession is falling under the radar screen.

When you become a travel agent, one of your first tasks will be to put your name out there and get visibility.  So how does one take on this task? By making a commitment to marketing.  And when I say commitment, I mean 50% of your working hours should be dedicated to marketing your brand and business.

The most common mistake is to market the old-fashioned, traditional way of marketing products.  Your suppliers will provide you with tons of free marketing collateral that is all product based, so it’s natural to want to use it.  The problem with it is that it’s ineffective.  So be tempted by all of the free collateral you are getting from your suppliers.

Learn to market YOU.  Claim your expert status and do what you can to get known for PROVIDING SOLUTIONS.  A travel agent markets products. A travel consultant markets solutions. Stop marketing your products and start marketing YOU.

My mother grew up as an only child and because of her father’s job, she moved frequently.  She attended 6 different grammar schools in 8 years. One thing she learned was how to meet new people when you are the newcomer. She recognized that you have to get yourself out there, even if it feels hard or scary or uncomfortable. No matter how much you don’t want to, you must push yourself to go to social events, get involved, and introduce yourself to strangers to meet new people and feel part of the community.

Marketing is no different.  It doesn’t always feel good. In fact, it can feel downright yucky. But it only feels yucky when you are chasing people. Whether you are aware of it or not, when you are pushing products and specials, you are chasing clients. When you DON’T specialize, you are chasing clients.

When you market your expertise authentically, by following the 4 legs: 1) Connect; 2) Inform; 3) Inspire; and 4) Call to Action, it doesn’t feel like marketing and it doesn’t feel yucky. People don’t feel like you are marketing either.

So when you become a travel agent and want to get your name out there, pretend you are a new kid on the block and step outside your comfort zone to market your expertise. Be sure to follow the 4 critical authentic marketing legs in every marketing tool you use: 1) Connect; 2) Inform; 3) Inspire; and 4) Call to Action.

For more information on how to get your name out there and market when you become a travel agent, check out Gifted Travel Network’s Travel MBA Program, www.getyourtravelmba.com