Written By: Mary Yohannan, CTA
Have you ever had a job where you stopped taking webinars, seminars, courses, or even reading up on the latest trends? Did you find that you just weren’t interested in learning anymore about the job? I felt this way at one point with my past career. I got to a point in that career where I just lost interest, and I will tell you why. Not much changed. When things don’t change, it becomes monotonous.
Great news, this doesn’t happen with the travel industry. There are always changes on the horizon. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming for a travel agent trying to keep up with all of the new resorts and cruise ships, regulations, rules, laws, and even ways to market your travel business. We are very lucky to have careers where suppliers educate us on their latest products via webinars, and organizations like Travel Professional News that keep us up to date on the latest rules, regulations, and laws for the travel industry. We also have various channels to learn how to better market or advertise our travel businesses. There are so many outlets to keep us educated and at the forefront of our industry, and it is an exciting time to be a travel agent.
When you educate yourself about your industry and remain knowledgeable of the changes, you become the travel agent who is at the forefront of their niche. You become the travel agent that other travel agents go to when they have questions. You become the travel agent that people want to work with because your clients are leaving reviews saying that you were “extremely knowledgeable” and “made their vacation amazing” and “they won’t ever use anyone else.” You become the travel agent who turned their yearly sales into monthly sales. All because you believed in educating yourself and staying abreast of changes in the travel industry.
So how do you know which webinar, seminar, professional development, course, etc is right for you? This is a great question and is relative. If you receive 10 to 20 emails a day like me, with invitations to take supplier webinars, attend meetings and dinners, propositions to take a course, or even listen to a sales pitch you find yourself deleting a lot of them. Taking everyone up on their offer would not allow much time for client interactions or time to work on your marketing. So how do you know which ones to take? I have learned there are a few things to take into consideration:
- Will the information that you learn be something that you can consistently pass onto your clients? For example, if you are a European Destination Specialist and 90% of your clients go to Europe you would benefit from educating yourself on things related to Europe and not Asia. If the education is not related to your specialty or niche, then pass on it.
- Will the information be something that will affect how you run your travel business? For example, some new rules and regulations come out and someone is giving a webinar on how it will affect travel agents doing business. Yes, this is something you would want to take. Staying educated on new rules, regulations, and laws will also help you from making costly mistakes.
- If the training is not from a supplier, how much will the training cost? I have personally found that many FREE trainings give you enough information to get you excited about their product or service, but not enough information for you to completely figure out how to implement it. When you pay for training you are putting skin in the game, and you are more likely to get usable and implementable information out of the training. All the trainings that I provide through the Travel Agent School Support Learning and Education or TASSLE (www.tassleprogram.com), are paid trainings. That is because I put a lot of high-content information in each training that is usable and very easy to implement, especially this year’s Quarterly Marketing Activators for Travel Agents 2018 series.
- Opt-in to take recorded trainings from your host agency and/or consortia. When I decided to make Life is Better Traveling a host agency I wanted to make sure that I offered a lot of different trainings to new agents who were coming on board including my How to Become a Successful Travel Agent Program™. All of these trainings are recorded for agents to view at their leisure but full of good information to help aid them in increasing sales for their travel businesses. Many host agencies offer trainings, make sure to take. Also, consortia’s also offer a lot of very good informational, recorded trainings, some free and some you may have to pay. When these trainings are available to you, your host agency and/or consortia are there to help you, so make the most of it and take advantage.
How do make sure to get the most out of your trainings? After you have decided if the training is a good fit for you, the best way to ensure that you take the training is by putting it on your calendar as an appointment. Many times, when you sign-up for a webinar the confirmation page will ask you if you want to place it on one of your calendars. Opt-in to have it placed onto your calendar. When a client calls to see if your available to talk you can simply tell them you already have an appointment at this time.
Make sure that you have no distractions during the training session including: turning off all cell phones, closing all email and all social media outlets, putting client stuff away, closing all programs that you don’t need, and making sure the kids are occupied. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but when you treat this as an appointment or part of your marketing hours for the week it becomes much easier.
It is a great time to be a travel agent and we have so many trainings available to us 24/7. With that being said, it is always good to make sure to learn from other experts in their respective fields as well. Taking a course on how to use social media for your business is something I highly recommend. Also, you may want to consider hiring a business coach, taking a web-site development course, or employee relations course if you plan to hire on some travel agent.
One thing that I have learned is that in order to make your business better you have to make you better first, and educating yourself is the first step.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.” ― Simon Sinek