Why Some Agents Make the Top 10 List and Others Don’t
By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

Every travel agency has a list of top agents – those agents who sell the most. But in most agencies for every agent that makes that top 10 list there are more – sometimes many more – who not only aren’t on that list, but aren’t even close to making it. Why? In some cases, it is simply a matter of time. It takes time to build up any business and a travel business is no exception.

While no one starts a travel business and ends up on the top 10 list in the first few months, sometimes new people do come out of the gate with a roar and never look back!

Then there are some who have been around for quite a while who really want to grow their business, but they don’t have the success they want. Why?

Back in 2019 I took a deep look at our top 10 list and came up with four common traits among the advisors who were on our top 10 list. I think these same reasons would apply to many other agencies’ top producers list too.


  1. They understand their value. That sounds like a simple enough concept. But I am often surprised when I talk to travel advisors and ask them, “Why should a client book with you instead of booking direct or booking online?”, and they can’t answer the question. If they don’t know why they are valuable, how will their prospective client understand their value? More importantly, why can’t they answer that question? Our top producers answer that question with confidence, and they use that knowledge in their marketing. It isn’t about marketing a vendor or destination, but they focus on the value they bring their clients.


  1. They understand their target market. Not only do they understand what they have to offer a client, they understand what that client is looking for. They can describe their ideal client to you. They know what’s important to them. They have a very clear picture of this client, and they use this in their marketing to speak to the client in a way that connects with them. They don’t make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. That does not work.


  1. They run their business as a business. What does that mean exactly? It means they understand that at the end of the day, this isn’t a hobby. It is a business. And when you are running a business, you must pay attention to the money. They make decisions based on sound business practices and don’t apologize for it. They charge professional fees because they know they are worth it, and it is instrumental to their profitability. They look at their numbers and see what’s working and what isn’t. And they make changes based on that data. Sometimes that means they stop working with a vendor or change to another vendor with better yield.


  1. They understand the importance of consistent marketing. Marketing is a constant in business. It isn’t something that you undertake when business is slow to drive immediate business. Marketing is a process and has many components. Business owners understand that. They have to find what works for them to reach their target market, but first they have to understand who that target market is and where they hang out. The focus of their marketing has to be on their business and what they offer clients. Not on their vendors. Not on destinations. But on what they can do for their target market. And they do this consistently.


So, can you be successful without doing all these things? I don’t think you can. You can have bursts of success, but travel advisors who don’t do all these things tend to work a lot more and make a lot less. I have talked to agents who feel like they are successful because they are busy – sometimes working 60 hours a week. But when you start talking numbers, they are putting very little money in their pocket.

There isn’t a magic bullet to suddenly transform a business from struggling to profitable and successful. But there is another option: you have to make the commitment to being a business owner – not just a travel advisor. That’s not everyone’s thing. But if you want to have a successful travel business, you have to be a proactive business owner. If you don’t want to deal with the business side of your travel agency, that’s OK! Find someone you admire and respect and be an IC with them. You’ll be happier and they will be happy to have you.