Travel insights from Rick Zimmerman, President & CEO, KHM Travel Group

Playing to Your Strengths – and Your Weaknesses

“What would you say are your biggest strengths?” is one of the most common questions asked by employers at job interviews.

Some might be tempted to answer in a way that closely matches the job requirements. However, that would be skirting around the real purpose of the question, which is to find out how well that person really knows themselves.

That’s why it is almost always paired with the question, “What would you say are your biggest weaknesses?”

For an independent travel agent, conducting a self-interview and answering these questions can lead to powerful realizations about the direction their business should take.

First of all, knowing how to determine your strengths and weaknesses takes practice. It also means being honest with yourself. It’s not easy to do, especially because it usually means confronting things we’d rather not dwell on. That’s why it might be easier to start with your strengths.

Consider the tasks and responsibilities of your job as a travel agent that come naturally to you. Which tasks do you look forward to, and which ones do you find the most rewarding? Another way to pinpoint your strengths is to ask those people closest to you. Ask for their honesty.

Take the same approach with your weaknesses. What tasks or aspects of your business do you struggle with? Which tasks make you nervous or frustrated? In the process of selling travel, where do you usually get held up? Again, ask a trusted friend or family member for their input. It helps to approach this feedback with a thick skin. You might not want to hear everything they are telling you, but keep in mind that these people want to do what they can to help your business succeed.

Let’s say an agent determines that she is very strong with research, organization, and numbers. She loves digging into the destinations that clients ask her about and has an established system for putting together quotes. She has no problem calculating pricing and interpreting sales reports. However, she knows her weaknesses are on the sales side. She just doesn’t feel confident talking about her business. If you know your strengths, lean into them. In the example above, this agent could use her skill with interpreting numbers to gain a better understanding of her clients’ booking trends. In turn, she can use these insights to start researching the up-and-coming destinations her clients may be asking about in the future.

When it comes to your weaknesses, you can do one of two things. You can work to strengthen your skills or knowledge in that area. Since this agent wants to work on promoting herself, she could sign up for an online marketing course or try out a marketing avenue she previously hadn’t considered before.

The other option is blending your strengths with your weaknesses. To do this, identify the specific details of that weakness. Going back to our example, she doesn’t enjoy playing the salesperson and speaking in front of people makes her nervous. Instead of relying on face-to-face marketing, she could develop a social media strategy that heavily relies on the research she does or create an email newsletter tailored to her clients’ travel trends. These tactics draw on the agent’s strengths to help balance out her weaknesses.

Determining what you are capable of starts with looking inward. Be truthful with yourself and be fair. No matter what your weaknesses as a business owner are, they should be just as much as part of your decision-making process as your strengths.

About the Author

Rick Zimmerman is the President of KHM Travel Group, one of the country’s leading host travel agencies. Rick joined the travel industry fresh out of college where he worked as a travel agent for a small agency in Cleveland, Ohio. After a 25-year career in the construction industry, Rick returned to his travel roots and helped found KHM Travel Group in 2005. Rick is an active advocate of the travel agent community and serves on multiple travel-related Advisory Boards.

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