Webster’s Dictionary defines a specialist as “one who specializes in a particular occupation, practice or field of study”. Wikipedia defines expert as “a person who has comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area”. Calling yourself a specialist or an expert is more than just taking a training course and printing out your own certificate. Doctors don’t watch a YouTube video on how to take out an appendix and then call themselves a surgeon.
Becoming a specialist or an expert in the travel industry is similar. One trip to an island or city does not make you a specialist. While you have obtained knowledge about the destination, the distance from the airport to the hotel zone, what there is to see and do, and it still may be more knowledge than your client has, but don’t go changing your business cards just yet! If you visit that destination 4-5 times a year, stay in different areas, eat at different restaurants, go sightseeing to some place new each time, chances are you are a truly a destination specialist. The same goes with destination wedding travel. If you handle five, ten or more destination wedding groups a year, chances are you can feel pretty comfortable calling yourself an expert!
Education is the key to success. You can have the newest technology, the most charming sales pitch or the best prices around, but if you don’t know what you are selling, that other stuff means nothing. There are dozens of educational opportunities for travel advisors. Niche specialties, basic introduction to the travel industry, sales and marketing, technology training and more. That’s why this course will not only show you the basics of the travel industry but teach you how to market and sell to romance travel clients. As with any training you are making an investment in yourself and your business.
Making the time is key. For those new to the travel industry, it can be a matter of cash flow and choosing what training will benefit them the most. Paying for education is expensive! Just ask a parent with school age or college aged kids! Education is an investment in yourself and your business. Travel advisors new to the industry must realize that this is a business, not a hobby. Well, if they want to make money or get paid, they need to treat it as a business. With hobbies you usually don’t get paid money. Gardening is a hobby. Golf is a hobby, but when the golfer makes the pro tour, then his or her hobby is now his business.
Romance Travel is the new term that encompasses honeymoons, destination weddings, vow renewals, anniversary trips, babymoons, proposal trips, buddymoons and other romantic getaways. Choosing this niche will allow you to focus on one specific area of travel. There is what I like to call “a niche within a niche”. If you focus on South Asian destination weddings, LGBTQ weddings or marriage enrichment weekends, you are carving out a more focused area of romance travel.
Being a generalist in today’s travel industry is a monumental task. Today’s consumers are highly educated because of the internet. They are spending hours researching, reading blogs and then come to you with questions that you may not be able to answer. It’s a little unsettling when the client knows more than you. Thirty years ago when I started out, there was corporate travel agent who handled the business traveler or you were a generalist, selling everything from cruises to theme park vacations, all inclusive resorts to group tour to Ireland.
When you target a niche market, you will not only focus on that specific training, but your marketing efforts will also be just that – targeted! A travel agency owner and industry veteran once told me “fish where the fish are”. So when I started focusing on romance travel, doing bridal shows made sense. For someone who puts together golfing trips to Scotland, participating in a consumer golf show or advertising at the local country club is a no brainer!
Focusing on a niche will also allow you to spend your educational budget on specific training. Romance Travel has become such a popular niche in the travel industry that an association was formed to support and educate travel advisors. I know, because I’m the co-founder of DWHSA – the Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialists Association.