Interview By: Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC, Co-Founder – Travel Professional NEWS®
Interviewing: Allison Carrow, Travel Consultant – Tropicallie Travels
As some of you may know, I have a wonderful relationship with Travel Weekly and am lucky enough to attend their GTM (Global Travel Marketplace) events each year as a consultant and friend. I love being a part of the working team there and getting the chance to meet so many amazing travel professionals. This past July I was able to spend some time with Allison and learn about her business and successes as a newer agent. We often feature experienced agents in the magazine who have been hugely successful in their travel careers. This month I thought it would be fun to share a story with you about a newer agent or as she refers to herself “ a newbie” who had grown her travel sales in a very short period of time. I found her story inspirational and enlightening!
How long have you been in the travel industry and can you tell us what motivated you to be a Travel Professional?
My love of travel stemmed from my career as a Flight Attendant back in the early 1990s. After becoming a mom to three boys under the age of three, I had to take a leave of absence from the airline industry but our family continued to travel extensively. While raising my boys and sharing my love of travel with my family, I always yearned to return to the travel industry, a sentiment echoed by my husband, who always said “You should be a Travel Agent!” After spending two decades planning adventure vacations for my family and friends, I finally took a leap of faith and became an IC with The Journey Group in 2018.
How did you hear about GTM and what prompted you to want to apply for the hosted program?
My wonderful agency owner and mentor, Laura Sangster told me about GTM and what an incredible opportunity it would be for me as a new agent. Once I read about GTM I knew I had to attend! No matter if you are a seasoned agent or a newbie like me, the suppliers and destinations represented at GTM not only enlighten you, but provide invaluable contacts that lead to immediate opportunities for sales! I have personally closed 3 trips to resorts previously unfamiliar to me and am working on several more opportunities with suppliers I met at GTM. I cannot speak more highly about this as a top industry event!
How important do you think continuing education is to the success of your business?
Clearly, continuing education is crucial to success in the travel industry. Even if you are a seasoned travel professional, the constant change within the industry is reason enough to keep striving to learn more. I am learning quickly that the travel industry is a combination of both who you know and what you know and continuing education provides both benefits to travel professionals.
You have been very successful in a relatively short period of time as an agent and I commend you on your achievements. Can you share three reasons why you feel that you have gained such momentum and success?
Thank you for that compliment! I often wonder myself how this happened because it is completely unexpected! I can tell you that before I was a travel professional, I spoke just as passionately about travel opportunities to my friends and family as I do now to my clients. I am SO passionate about the destinations I sell, and I always try my best to exceed my clients’ expectations by matching my clients to the perfect resort and destination and providing a high level of service. I also think that my past experience as a photographer and social media marketer has helped me reach potential clients outside of my home base.
What destinations or types of travel do you specialize in and what drove you to choose those areas of expertise?
Before I became a Travel Professional, I traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, gaining a fair amount of knowledge about many islands, so the Caribbean made sense as a specialty for me. Obviously, it’s easiest to sell what you know, but in addition to my specializing in the Caribbean, I have planned trips to Bali, Maui, Italy, Greece, Ireland, and Alaska! I look forward to using what I learned at GTM to expand my reach throughout Europe, Africa and Alaska!
Does Social Media play a role in your overall marketing strategy and if so, what areas of social media have you found to be the most successful?
YES, YES, YES! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of social media in my success! I started right off the bat as an IC with a simple website, and opened new Instagram and Facebook accounts with my branding. Both accounts are important for different reasons. Facebook allows me to present travel opportunities to my existing friends and family. Friends I have not seen in years (outside of the cyber world) have reached out to me to plan vacations because of my Facebook marketing. Conversely, Instagram has provided organic reach that Facebook does not provide. By utilizing hashtags, I’ve been able to reach a global market that would not be possible through Facebook. I have booked several trips for Instagram followers, including a destination wedding for 100 people!
What three things would you suggest to a new agent just starting their career in travel that might help them expedite their success as travel professionals?
Be passionate about what you sell. If you can tell a great story about a destination you love, your passion will shine through and your clients will see that enthusiasm and yearn for the same experience.
Be social early on! Be active on as many social media platforms as you can manage and engage with your audience throughout the day. I can tell you from experience, starting off is the easy part because once your business takes off you’ll have less time to spend on social media, so it’s important to have established accounts.
Be authentic. Start off by selling what you know. Craft your clients’ journeys with as much care and compassion as you would your own. Be there for them before, during and after travel and learn from their feedback.
Thank you so much Allison! It truly was an honor to share some time with you and to learn about your amazing journey. On behalf of our readers and travel professionals everywhere, thank you for sharing your story with us.