Written By: Jesse Morris, Owner – We Book Travel, LLC
I started my agency just under 2 years ago and like so many in our industry, I had planned on it being a side gig. I wanted to add to my retirement and supplement my travel habit. I have an extensive background in sales and sales management. I also worked for one of the most service driven companies in the world. I quickly learned that sales cannot live very long without outstanding service. Taking all those experiences and merging them into one travel company proved to be a winning formula for me. In my first full year my sales exceeded $1 million and very quickly people began to ask “How did you do that?”
Some would say I have been lucky and perhaps that is true. As I got more into travel, my professional side took over and what I saw was a true business opportunity. My side gig has proven the saying, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Let’s be real, we all work hard even if you are doing it part time. What are the differences between someone who just works hard and those who see true success? To me, it’s the difference between being a hobbyist and a professional. So what is the difference between a hobbyist and a professional?
This is a question that when answered honestly and introspectively can help you to determine where you are with your travel business and what (if anything) you should do differently. In my opinion, there are four main criteria:
1. Are you being paid and turning a profit?
By itself this is not enough to differentiate between hobby and pro but if you are a professional then you should be able to consistently turn a profit and pay your bills with the fruits of your labor.
2. Are you an expert?
Do you know more about your chosen business than the people you’re helping? How much time do you invest in professional development and knowing all the nuances of your craft? If you are a professional then you should be consistently investing time and money in developing your knowledge and skills. Professionals know their resources and are constantly expanding their personal knowledge base. Professionals seek out information to add to their resources base and they seek out mentors who can help them become a true expert.
3. Are you performing “career” activities?
Do you spend time and effort around building your business into a career? If you are a professional the activities you engage in are pressing toward something that would create a long term and sustainable business. It can be the difference between building a client base and a transactional relationship. Creating a career means that the actions you take daily to build your business take priority over actions that waste your time. There are so many things that can take and waste your time and career oriented individuals, while not always successful, do everything in their power to remove the roadblocks between them and the end goal.
4. Are you engaging in “professional” behaviors?
Do you conform to standards of professional behavior? If you want to be successful you have to do what successful people do. If you are a professional you are building and leveraging resources and not depending on others to do the work for you. Professionals act as they must, not as they feel. Being a professional goes beyond just the single activity of booking a trip and builds into a sustainable process of relationship building. Being a professional means you consistently strive for excellence in providing accurate, timely and helpful information to your clients and your colleagues.
So are you a professional or a hobbyist? And to be clear, being a hobbyist isn’t a bad thing either. But are your expectations of success consistent with being a professional or a hobbyist? You shouldn’t expect to be a million-dollar agency without million-dollar behaviors.