Five years ago, I attended Virtuoso Travel Week, the world’s largest luxury travel event, for the first time as a journalist. It was overwhelming, in the best kind of way – hundreds of one-on-one appointments, thousands of enthusiastic travel professionals, and a surprise guest on stage at the opening session, Francis Ford Coppola.
But what surprised me the most? Realizing that “luxury travel advisor” is still an actual career – a thriving and lucrative one built on something most of us dream about and love to do: exploring the world around us.
I met young advisors who had left corporate positions to work in the travel industry. Some quickly became million-dollar producers and never looked back at their previous careers in law, healthcare, or real estate.
At the time, I was writing a travel column for Forbes. I’m a long-time editor at National Geographic Traveler and have written for Travel + Leisure, USA Today, and more – yet no article has ever struck a chord like the one I wrote after the event, Dream Job: How To Become A Luxury Travel Advisor.
Five years later, I receive at least one email a week, often two, from someone asking how to get started in this amazing industry. They come from all over the world – South Africa, Australia, Europe, and South America. A sample:
- “I’m ending a 25-year career in the service industry as a 911 police dispatcher and a registered massage therapist. I know what it’s like to provide emergency service to those in need, the art of multitasking and remaining calm – saving lives was of the upmost importance. My passion is travel and now I want to divert my education, experience, and knowledge into a field I absolutely love.”
- “Last night I fortunately stumbled upon your article. I was blown away by all the advice and leads. I worked as a lease analyst for a brokerage firm in Oklahoma and realized something was missing. I packed my bags and traveled to Malawi, Africa, for a few weeks. I fell in love. Yes, with Africa, it was beautiful, but mainly with the way traveling made me feel awake and alive for the first time in my life.”
- “I read the article and now I want to turn my passion into a career as a luxury travel advisor. I live in the beautiful city of Oaxaca, Mexico – you are always welcome!”
Why did this article resonate with so many people, years after it was written?
- The luxury travel industry is sexy – No matter what industry you work in, most of us love to travel, meet new people, relax in beautiful hotels, enjoy meals out, and find hidden gems in our free time. Now imagine if this could be your job – finding the most authentic, worthwhile travel experiences for clients who entrust their free time to you. People want to love their job. Diana Moon reached out to Virtuoso agency owner Kristen Pike after reading the piece. “Many of Kristen’s experiences resonated with mine and made my ‘dream job’ search that much more tangible,” she says. At the time, Moon worked in commercial real estate, but realized it wasn’t her “forever” career path. She saw that Pike was hiring, sent in her resume, and now works for the Atlanta-based agency. “My passion had always been in travel,” she says. “I wish I had figured out how to do it as my career sooner.”
- It offered useful and honest tips – There are certain things you can do to ensure success when you’re just starting out. Ideally, you have a potential book of business and a network of friends and family who are supportive of your new career move. As Virtuoso’s CEO Matthew Upchurch said at that conference: You must understand your own worth to project confidence to a client.
- People are intrigued by what a luxury travel advisor is – Even if you don’t want or need a career change, many people are curious as to what one does. This job still exists? Yes! As Upchurch famously says, “We’re the hottest thing that never went away.”
Witnessing travel advisors’ passion made me want to work for this company, and I now work on its Content team. We create content that inspires travelers to explore the world, focusing on human connection. We want to encourage families to raise global citizens, as travel is an irreplaceable education tool. It’s a privilege to help tell the stories of advisors and how they help others plan some of the most special, memorable moments of their lives.
Learn more about careers as a luxury travel advisor.