Enhance Your Selling with a Targeted Development Plan
written by: Jackie Friedman
Feeding your curiosity and learning new things will always be valuable, especially for travel professionals. In this industry, we’re expected to be worldly people with extensive knowledge about different places on earth and how to traverse them. And we should be! But learning just for the sake of learning doesn’t do much to advance this goal. Something we have always tried to emphasize at Nexion is the importance of having a targeted personal development plan for your specific area of focus.
What you want to avoid is becoming an “education junkie,” someone who feels the need to take every course under the sun. It’s okay to be selective! In fact, it can be advantageous. Here’s a helpful analogy: Imagine your auto mechanic has extensive knowledge about the history of Sicily during the Middle Ages. That may well make for a fascinating discussion, but it doesn’t tell you much about whether they’ll be able to fix your car. Travel Advisors, by the same token, are specialists. We’re expected to have keen insights about specific things that will help our clients get what they want.
So, with that being said, how can you tailor your education and training to enhance your specialized knowledge and skills? Fortunately, you have a lot of options! Always start by thinking about what you really want to sell, then identify what you need to know to be able to sell it.
Supplier trainings and destination trainings are precious opportunities, as well as the always-valuable soft skill trainings that allow you to sharpen your interpersonal abilities. Additionally, industry certifications from various associations in the industry (i.e., The Travel Institute, ASTA, CLIA, etc.) are a great way to show that you have specialized knowledge of a certain area.
If you are new to the travel industry, I encourage you to complete Host Agency Reviews’ Seven-Day Setup. This provides a great overview of how to launch your business. You may also want to check out Travel Leaders of Tomorrow’s virtual campus or individual learning programs.
Industry conferences and trade shows, like the ASTA Global Convention in San Francisco this August, or Cruise World in Ft. Lauderdale this November, may also be good opportunities for advisors to find their niche, or learn more about the one they’ve chosen. Nexion offers a variety of these, including CoNexion, Regionals, and Boot Camp.
Private social media groups where you can connect, collaborate, and learn from more seasoned advisors can also help you develop your area of expertise, as it’s a great way to see what is or isn’t working for others in the field.
Finally, always ask yourself if you are using all the best tools and technologies that you have at your disposal. Mastering new hardware and software can be intimidating, but it can make your work far more efficient than it would be otherwise.
It's important to note that you want to do this to compliment your business, so don’t overdo it. If you’re new to the industry, having a focus or a niche is an excellent way to sell your business to selective clients who are looking for expert guidance, not just general knowledge.
If you take just one thing away from all this, it should be that continuing education and training should be a supplement to what you already have as a Travel Advisor – knowledge of the industry, real-world experience, and soft skills that help you find and retain clients. Enrolling in a new course or signing up for a new training will cost you time and money, so make sure that it is a well-spent investment in your business!