From Kerry Dyer, Director of Talent Development, Brownell
A recent ASTA study shows that the number of consumers booking through travel agents is the highest it has been in several years with projected continued growth. As the desire for personalized service and customized travel itineraries increases, what is the profile of Travel Agent 2.0 and how do we find them?
Travel Agent 2.0 is an advisor, not an agent. They go beyond a simple, transactional approach and have deep relationships with their clients, offering counsel along with expertise. With the support and technology from their agency, they can work from anywhere in the world, and their earnings are competitive with other top service providers like attorneys, architects, and financial planners. Many 2.0 Advisors choose to be Independent Advisors (ICs) who have the benefits of a host agency with the freedom to run their own firm.
The first, and most often overlooked, step to recruiting new talent is a well-defined training program and a culture that is attractive to prospective travel advisors. Brownell has been successful in recruiting through our award-winning training programs, and the business development tools that help ICs grow their business. It’s important to be able to show advisors a clear path for raising their income, and on average our ICs have seen sales increase more than 100% within two years of joining Brownell – plus, they earn four times the industry average.
Looking outside of the “traditional travel agent” box to attract the Travel Agent 2.0 is key. Brownell has focused on entrepreneurial professionals from a variety of industries who are eager to create their own companies yet want the tools we offer to help them avoid the pitfalls of start-ups. Many of these have come as referrals – friends, family, and former colleagues of our successful ICs and our travel partners. Among our top producers are several former attorneys, professors, Fortune 500 executives, and a former White House Press Secretary.
So you have found them, now how do you keep them? Keeping your advisors engaged and learning is that works for their learning style. We do that through live, recorded, and online materials as well as opportunities to attend industry events and to travel, often with other Brownell ICs. With our technology, our community can work together and share information, and, as a result, our team experiences success together. Development is also very personal, so we offer one-on-one business development and marketing sessions.
As we look to the future of the travel industry, one thing we can be sure of is that we must be ready and willing to adapt. From becoming the first Virtuoso host agency to developing our wildly successful Mentoring Program, Brownell has adjusted our model as the industry changed, and those innovations have impacted the growth and success of the travel industry.