the travel agent community
By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

Surrounding yourself with successful people who inspire you is important no matter what industry you are in, but in the travel industry, it is critical.

The reality is that most travel advisors are working from home. Alone. They don’t have a team of people to just stop and chat with when they are working through a problem or have an idea they are tossing about.

They are also in charge of everything: marketing, sales, customer service, accounting, troubleshooting, and so much more.

That’s why it is critical that travel agents who want to be successful and run their business instead of it running them have a community of people they can lean on.

One of the things I often tell people who are considering joining the travel industry is that in many ways it is a very “weird” industry. I say that with love because I do really love this industry, but there are some very strange things here. If you are new to the industry, you don’t know what you don’t know. You can’t make decisions about how to build a business when you don’t know the playing field.

It’s like begin an amazing basketball player and then trying to play baseball without knowing the rules.

What’s the best way to learn what you don’t know? Surround yourself with people who do know. People who have been doing what you are trying to do and succeeding!

I must insert a word of warning here. There are many Facebook groups full of travel advisors who offer a lot of advice. Unless you know the person who is giving you advice, how do you know that they know what they are talking about? I have seen many answers to questions that may have worked 20 years ago but not now, and others that are just plain wrong. Sure, there is more than one way to accomplish many goals, but sometimes there are strategies that make sense and others that don’t.

That’s why it is important to surround yourself with a community of people who not only know what they are talking about but will help you learn and grow. Not all travel communities are like that. Some are populated by people who have been in the industry for a long time and deeply resent “newcomers.” They want you to suffer and learn the hard way – like they did – rather than giving you a hand up.

How do you find a community like this? For many advisors, it is their host agency. This is one of the reasons that I think travel advisors who attempt to go completely alone are less successful than those who affiliate with a host agency – they don’t have a community to support and inspire them.

For others, it is a consortium that they are actively involved in, or it may be a community of advisors that have joined together to support and encourage one another.

Whatever form it takes, you need a place to not only get practical advice and guidance but inspiration as well. This is absolutely what makes the difference between travel advisors who struggle and those who soar. If you don’t have a community like this now, I strongly encourage you to find one. It’s worth it!