Written By: Joanie Ogg, Editor and Co-Founder – Travel Professional NEWS
As independent travel agents continue to soar, the Travel Professional Community has established its role as the online venue for resourcing almost any topic through the growing network of vetted peers. In September, we welcomed our 15,000th member. Tom and I began the community in 2008 and are absolutely thrilled to share that it has hosted more then over half a million discussions among you the travel professionals who are members.
We are so humbled by the gifts of knowledge and willingness of the community to share with one another and so grateful to all of our members for helping to make this the place where agents go to share and learn. It truly is an invaluable resource for travel professionals selling travel.
The community has a mission to be the place that travel professionals can share information and experiences with one another. It is free to join and participate in this community and it is open to all professional travel agents. Suppliers are not accepted to the community and agents are vetted before being given access to the discussion boards.
We reached out to some of the members to ask what the community has meant to them and to share their thoughts on the value that it offers.
“What the Oggs have built is a multi-faceted travel agent community providing a full blueprint of how to become a successful travel agent and the fact that the 15,000 members of the community are supporting and rooting for the success of every other member. It truly has become a family to me and I have developed a number of long term friendships within the community,” said Geoff Millar, active member and co-owner of Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel.
Sandy Elson, owner of Your Cruise Concierge LLC, was member number three back in 2008 and she continues to use the community as a valuable daily resource. Additionally, Sandy has served as a one of our most valued administrators for the community and she has helped and aided in the success and growth since day one.
“The Travel Professional Community is a vibrant, dynamic collection of travel professionals who are always very generous with their time, experience and expertise. It allows us to ask questions and share information about every conceivable topic. I have never seen a question go unanswered, no matter how obscure the subject. Someone in the Community knows the answer to every question. We all share and all learn, all the time! I have been a travel agent for almost 35 years, and I still learn something almost every day through the experience and generosity of our members,” she said.
Sandy Elson, like so many of today’s successful travel professionals, made the transition to a home based environment several years ago. This community helped ease that transition. “Having worked in both a brick and mortar agency and now being home based for 15 years, the thing I notice the most is the isolation. In a brick and mortar agency, I could turn to the other agents and ask for help with various issues in the travel world. Now I can still do that, but to an audience of over 15,000 agents instead of the four who used to sit in the brick and mortar agency. The Community is a great networking opportunity and a place to have fun connecting with fellow travel advisors across the country and around the world. It truly embraces the best parts of being in a globally connected industry,” she shared.
The global nature of the community is evident in the variety of conversations currently underway. Today, the top discussions highlight destinations including Mexico, Caribbean, Egypt, Israel, Cuba, Costa Rica, Greece, US cities including Fort Lauderdale and New York.
Beyond destinations, the agents share so many issues. For member Geoff Millar it is the exchange of ideas that is so incredibly valuable. “The board is monitored and participants are vetted so they are participants that are serious about selling travel. There are no suppliers allowed on the board so agents can speak freely. There is a great mix of newer and more experienced agents which creates some great learning experiences and discussions. I feel a fantastic philosophy has developed within the group that there is enough business for everyone so let’s support and help every agent within the community.”
In addition to the extremely active chat board, the community also hosts private discussion groups, Tuesday Afternoon Chats, video and picture libraries, extensive member profiles, training programs, webinars and more. Most often you will find Tom Ogg moderating some of the liveliest and thought-provoking Tuesday Chats with 100’s of members all logged in and sharing information and knowledge with one another.
“The webinars and chats that are put on in the community are invaluable as both educational opportunities and a formal platform for participants to exchange ideas. The community even has a library of forms that are available for use by all members. Another very popular part of the community is the specialty section where members can start specialty groups, from product specialties to various market specialties and every specialty in-between, and have discussions with other members interested in that particular specialty,” member Geoff Millar said.
As the travel agency community continues to grow and change and evolve its variety of business models, the Travel Professional Community will naturally evolve with them.