Thursday, December 8, 2022
HomeEducationSpecialization, Support & Education Drive Success for First-Year Travel Advisor

Specialization, Support & Education Drive Success for First-Year Travel Advisor

Krista Schroeder spent her time talking to people on their worst days. As an insurance claims adjuster, she spoke to people who’d been in car accidents or had their homes damaged by storms. It was neither exciting nor fun.

Since I switched to a career as a travel consultant, it was quite the opposite.

“It’s something people want to do and they’re super excited about it. It also makes me excited,” she told Travel Market Report.

It’s also rewarding in a way that a loss adjuster wasn’t. And it gives her the freedom to spend time with her young daughter.

Like other recent entrants to the travel advisor community, Schroeder started her travel agency during the pandemic. It was also not long after the birth of her daughter.

“We decided that I would transition to stay at her place,” she said during a sit-down interview at CoNexion’s 2022 annual conference. “I wanted to have something that was mine, that I could put my energy into, not just being a mother.”

Schroeder considered a number of options, but kept coming back to travel.

“I’ve got trips planned, our personal trips, and I’ve got notebooks that I’d write down, like, if we ever go here, this is what we’re going to do, this is where we’re going to stay… maybe I could convert this into something where I can take these with me and help other people use them too.”

In addition to her own travel planning, she’d used a travel consultant before, for her honeymoon and for cruises, so she knew that was an option.

Schroeder didn’t jump right in. She took her time, did some research, found a host agency she felt comfortable with, did their training program, and did it slowly and steadily.

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Leaning to the familiar
Schroeder’s slow and steady has resulted in $150,000 in sales in her first year in business, $20,000 of which was in the air alone. She has done it by focusing on building a clientele among her family and friends and developing a specialty in a style of travel she already knew: all-inclusive resorts.

“I’m from Wisconsin. People want to escape the cold, so that’s what a lot of people in my area, my clientele are looking for, a lot of Caribbean, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica… been helpful just because I can apply it right away.”

She also embraces a small FIT specialty, especially national park trails.

“There is so much from coast to coast. I don’t feel like I always have to push all inclusive or get out of the country. There are also many opportunities here.”

Her current clientele is mostly friends and family, although her circle grows slowly as they are referred.

She also leans on social media, which she knows very well as a 27-year-old. But she keeps her focus narrow and mainly sticks to Facebook.

“At first I was like, I have to be there all of them, but after a while it got really overwhelming. So I narrowed it down and chose to do Facebook… Most of the people reaching out came from my Facebook page. For now, that’s what I’ve focused on and I’ve stayed very consistent with it and it’s generated more leads.”

Keeping it personal
Schroeder tries to keep it casual and personal on Facebook, with lots of photos of the resorts and destinations she sends clients to or learns about.

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“I’ll post ‘just booked’ with a picture of Jamaica Beach in the background or ‘I got this couple on honeymoon, they’re going to be in a swim suite’… Someone will get in touch, ‘Hey, I saw you post, which resort was that?’”

Other posts include tips and tricks to bolster her travel expertise.

“Just building that trust between someone who might be about to work with me, and those messages help in the sense that they’re believable.”

But her overall strategy is to keep it personal, “so they know they’re working with me as a person. If they feel like they know me, they feel more comfortable and are more likely to contact me.”

Personalization is also important to her interactions with customers, she added, attributing much of her success to that one tactic.

“Travel is a personal experience. I really want to get to know these people because you can say ‘I want X, Y and Z’, but I listen to you talk about what you’ve done before and what you liked and what you didn’t do… it’s watching completely different for each customer. It’s not a cookie cutter, you want an all inclusive or I’m just offering you the same three resorts I’m offering to everyone. While that has an advantage because you can really get familiar with products, I think it gets more personal if you take the time to research them and find out exactly what they need.”

Support System and Education Key
Despite being on it for less than a year, Schroeder comes across as confident in her role as a travel consultant. When asked if that trust comes naturally, she told TMR that having a support system, of other advisors acting as mentors and coaches, and the ability to stay on top of what’s available to her clients is essential. been in its development.

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‘Do not get me wrong. I’ve definitely dealt with imposter syndrome where I’m like, I’m really qualified to do this sort of thing. But only the support of the people around me…”

She completed Nexion’s Travel Leaders of Tomorrow training early in her career and continues to do coaching sessions with one of the instructors. Another Wisconsin travel consultant took her under his wing and made her available for any questions.

“It’s knowing that I have the support behind me and that if I come across something that I don’t know what to do, I know I have people I can turn to who will help me through it.”

Just as important is the education she has benefited from.

“Doing the Travel Leaders of Tomorrow program was another confidence boost. It guided us not only through destination information, but also through the background [of selling travel] and various tools, and do you know the actual business side of things I wouldn’t have known. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today because I’d still focus so much on those kinds of things instead of actually working with clients.”

Of course, getting repeat customers has also been a confidence boost, she added.

“The most important thing is that I already have repeat customers in my first year… that has really been something for me. So I can keep doing this. It’s not that I just made this one random trip for these people and that I’ll never hear from them again.”



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