Many travelers today are weary of booking their own trips. The novelty of researching and planning travel has worn off. They’re overwhelmed by all the information and options online. They want an expert to make sense of it all. So savvy travelers are coming back to advisors. And as a result, savvy job-hunters are contemplating a travel advisor career.
Why the turnaround? People crave the personalized service they can only get from an expert. If you partner with a consultant, you’ll travel with more confidence and peace of mind before, during and after the trip. Travel advisors provide advice, access, advocacy and accountability. That combination is impossible to find online.
More people are returning to travel advisors. That means travel agencies aren’t just surviving. They’re actually thriving – and growing. But to make the most of these sales opportunities, they need more staff. And they’re having trouble finding them.
Many people looking for a career, including recent graduates and those unhappy in their current profession, may not know about the opportunities travel advising provides. Some aren’t even aware that the profession still exists. If they do know, they don’t see the travel advisor career as viable. In fact, for the right applicants, a travel advisor career can be rewarding – and lucrative.
To spread the good news about the need for consultants and the benefits of a travel advisor career, Virtuoso surveyed 179 of its U.S.-based agencies. The results are loud and clear. Lots of opportunities exist in a healthy, growing industry. Here are 8 reasons why a travel advisor career is a great choice.
Travel agency sales are strong
The luxury travel business is thriving. Of the agencies surveyed, 82 percent expect sales to grow in 2016. Not one agency expects a decrease in the year ahead. This shows a remarkable optimism, as it’s rare for such a large percentage of businesses to anticipate growth.
Sales are growing for many reasons: better marketing, more referrals, closer relationships with travel partners, and clients who travel more.
Travel agencies are hiring
To handle all that growth in sales, most agencies plan to increase their staffs. Two-thirds of them are adding new advisors over the next year. Those agencies expect to increase the number of advisors by 10 percent on average.
The 67 percent of agencies that plan to hire this year is far higher than the U.S. average. According to CareerBuilder’s 2016 Jobs Forecast, only 36 percent of employers plan to hire full-time permanent employees.
Agencies are having trouble finding good candidates
The greatest challenge to adding new advisors? Finding people with the needed skills. A full 84 percent of the agencies named that as their top hurdle.
Another roadblock: agencies say many people don’t know that a travel advisor career is an option.
Among the one-third of agencies that don’t plan to hire, their top reason is also the difficulty in finding good candidates.
You don’t need industry experience or education for a travel advisor career
Travel agencies say the three most important qualities for new advisors are:
1. A desire to serve customers
2. Enthusiasm for travel
3. A comfort level with selling luxury products beyond their personal budget
Agencies are looking for self-confidence, the ability to problem solve, communication skills and experience with client service. You don’t need travel or luxury sales on your resume.
They’re not necessarily looking for a proven sales record, lots of contacts or geographical knowledge. There’s no specific degree or training you need to start your travel advisor career, either.
People new to the travel advisor career can expect a quick ramp-up
It takes about three years for new travel advisors to reach an average income for the profession. This is a relatively short period of time, since those years of investment can lead to a fulfilling career that often spans decades.
Agencies provide new advisors with the help they need to learn the business. Virtually all offer consultants the chance to meet in person with visiting travel suppliers such as hotels, cruise lines and tour companies. They’ll learn more about the experiences those suppliers offer. And they’ll forge personal relationships that will help them in their travel advisor career. Four out of five agencies also offer mentoring programs, so newcomers can learn from veterans.
A motivated, talented new advisor can enjoy incredible success. Some new consultants are transforming into million-dollar producers by the second year in their travel advisor career. Virtuoso’s number of top producers is also growing rapidly. In the past five years, the number of advisors selling more than $2 million each year rose 363 percent.
Advisor compensation can be generous – and is on the rise
Compensation is solid for most people in a travel advisor career. And it has the potential to be very high once a new consultant ramps up.
Sixty-two percent of top producers clear more than $75,000 a year. And 36 percent of top producers earn over $100,000 annually.
Agencies also report compensation growth has been healthy. More than half of advisors have seen their wages increase over 10 percent during the last five years.
Most advisors on staff at agencies will receive most of their compensation in salary. Often, they’ll also receive commissions as well as consulting fees, profit sharing and bonuses.
The travel benefits are great – and the other perks are nice, too
Love to travel? You’ll love the benefits that come with a travel advisor career. More than 80 percent of agencies offer professional and personal travel opportunities. Most advisors can also expect traditional perks such as paid time off and employer-subsidized health insurance.
Travel agencies are stable businesses with longtime employees
Most luxury travel agencies are well established businesses. Among those surveyed, 90 percent have been in business more than 15 years. This is especially impressive given the changes the industry has seen in the past two decades.
This stability is proof that people want the professional value a travel advisor provides. Many clients have long-term relationships with their advisors, and refer their friends and family to them as well.
Once an advisor gets settled in the business, they tend to stay. More than 80 percent have been in the profession for more than 10 years. Nearly one in four has enjoyed a travel advisor career spanning more than two decades. It’s a great choice for people looking for a more stable industry and profession in an up-and-down labor market.
Ready to start your travel advisor career?
Or just looking for more information at this point? Either way, Virtuoso.com has more on why a travel advisor career might be right for you. This infographic also sums up the benefits of being an advisor.