Travelers Want Experts—So Become One

by Gloria Stock Mickelson CTIE, ACC
Director of Educational Services
Travel Leaders Network

In a Travel Weekly consumer study a few years ago, they said the vast majority—79%—of customers who have used a travel agent in past 12 months believe their agent is a specialist. This is no surprise to us at Travel Leaders, because we see it every day through our Agent Profiler lead generation program.

On Agent Profiler, our agents each have a profile that defines their areas of expertise. Currently, our members are offering 2,555 unique specialties, the exact specialties that consumers are searching for every day. In fact, we’ve learned that when a consumer chooses to contact an agent through Agent Profiler, the agent’s expertise is far more important than their geographic location.

But why is expertise so important? The truth is, thanks to the internet, consumers have become generalized travel agents. They can accomplish most of the tasks—mainly researching and booking—that a travel agent of the 1970s could. So when they do seek out a travel professional today, they are looking for a true specialist.

As a result, there’s a growing population of boutique agencies and ICs. This allows agents to become very successful by just focusing on one specialty—which was unheard of 20, 30 years ago. Even within a traditional brick and mortar agency, it is now very common to have agents specializing in different markets.

What makes the services of a specialist so special is the ability to fill a vacation with unique, tailor-made moments. And to achieve that takes experience and knowledge. That is why we have developed several specialist programs—to prepare today’s travel agents to become travel rock stars!

Currently, we’re offering the following courses: Active and Adventure Travel Specialists, Group Travel Specialist, Honeymoon and Destination Weddings, Leisure Travel Specialist, Luxury Travel Specialist, and, for our Associate members, Business Travel Specialist. Graduates of these programs know: it pays to be special.