It’s a sad truth: the love of travel does not make you successful in the travel industry. So why is it that some people jump into travel – an industry they are brand new to – and achieve success, while others struggle? There are a lot of factors, but it has much more to do with the business of travel than product knowledge.

One of the things travel industry suppliers do really well is provide training on their product. Almost every supplier and destination have a training program to help you know them. But does this knowledge equate to success selling that product? Sadly, it does not.

When you first jump into travel it is natural to think you need to take every training course that comes along because you have to know that product or destination to sell it, right? Yes and no. Of course, it is harder to sell something you aren’t familiar with or have just a little knowledge of. But that doesn’t mean you need to take every course that comes along.

Instead, focus on learning marketing and social media to build your client list. If you have a prospective list of 20 people you are wasting your time on product training because you don’t have enough people to market to! Remember, this is a business and not a hobby, and you need to run it like one.

Marketing is at the heart of launching and growing a successful travel business. Many people jump into travel thinking it will grow organically (“all my friends and family will book their travel with me, right?”) and then they find out that isn’t significant enough to support a business. They jump into social media posting every amazing vendor special they find and wonder why their business does grow. Successful agents know that they should be marketing themselves, not vendors and destinations, and they learn how to do that.

So, if you are new how do you learn all this? First, start with a travel agent training program. Of course, I am a big fan of the Travel MBA program offered by Gifted Travel Network, since that’s who I work for. We teach agents about how to build a travel business with content we created. We don’t just refer them out to vendor programs.

Another way to learn is by seeing what other successful agents do. Surround yourself with people you can learn from and who will help you. The host agency is typically where people find this network of people. Agents who are new and try to go it alone are rarely successful and even if they manage to keep their business going, they aren’t making as much money as they could.

There is A LOT of opportunity in the travel business. You can absolutely make enough money to replace a professional salary, but you have to know what you’re doing. And if you are new you absolutely need a path to follow for that success. If you don’t have one now, get one ASAP! And if you are already successful, help someone just getting started. That’s how we keep the travel industry vibrant.