What I Wish I’d Known  

There is no better mentor or coach than a peer. One of the things we like best at The Travel Institute is listening to all of your great ideas and practical tips! Last year, we asked you to think back to when you were first starting out and give us your best practices, practical tips, and helpful advice.

Thank you to all who sent in their spectacular advice and were willing to share and inspire their colleagues. 
 
Here are the questions we asked, along with some of the insightful responses:

–What advice would you give to those who are interested in launching a new travel business?

  • Hire (yes, hire) experts to do the things necessary for running your business that you cannot do: an accountant and – very important for me – a good tech person. When your computer doesn’t work, you can’t work. –Kate DeLosso, CTC, Kate DeLosso Travel LLC
  • Stay organized! Know the laws in your area for starting a business. Be thorough and learn all you can; find a mentor if possible. Read everything, but don’t get overwhelmed by it all. Figure out your business plan and stick to it. Don’t jump in with no plan at all. Failing to plan is planning to fail! –Kaytee Fisher, Malihini Travel
  • I would tell anyone interested in going into the travel industry the one most important thing: Join the Travel Institute! The resources to be found there are invaluable in obtaining the skills you need to become successful at your trade! –Carol Young, CTC, Experience Travel
  • Having a passion to travel is just one small part of being a travel business owner.  You also need to have a passion to want to be a business owner. When you combine these two passions, the possibilities are limitless! –Mary Yohannon, CTA, Life Is Better Traveling
  • Ask yourself what personality or characteristic traits you possess that coincide with the Travel Industry. Decide what type of travel service you want to provide. Then build your brand and knowledge-based around your service. –Nicole Alford, Blacksapphir Global Destinations
  • Talk to travel advisors. Talk to as many as you can, follow them on Instagram/Facebook, ask them their “pain points” and “high points,” compare the answers! Start researching and asking if it’s there’s an area you’re feeling specifically nervous about. And get some formal education under your belt in this field (i.e., from The Travel Institute). –Heather Christopher, CTA, Heather Christopher Travel Consulting
  • The best place to start when considering launching a new travel business is to interview travel agency owners. Ask them:

          … to give you a realistic job preview
          … how they manage their time while juggling numerous clients                   and responsibilities simultaneously
          … whether their agency is part of a larger host agency or                           consortium–the pros and cons
          … for their recommendations on reputable business coaches,                  Facebook groups, and industry organizations. –Jennifer L.                  Walker, CTC, Jennifer Walker Travel, Inc.
 
–What are the key items you wish you had known when you were first starting out?

  • Take/do the CTC courses for more reasons than just the actual information – knowing what you DON’T know is important. –Sandra Croson, CTC, Independent Travel Consultant, FROSCH
  • Ask yourself: What is my specialty? Travel is too large an industry; you can’t be all things to all people. –Carolynne Desimone, Group Travel Unlimited
  • “Document, document, document” was a mantra from one of my bosses. Keep records of everything – even when you think you won’t need it – somewhere down the line you will. –Michelle Damadeo, CTC, Camelot World Travel
  • I wish I had known: how to pick a host agency; how to develop an effective business plan; how to work with on-sites and reps from hotels, airlines, etc. to increase my business. –Phyl Anderson, CTA, Blackhawk Vacations
  • It is beneficial to travel advisors to take supplier and destination courses – knowledge is power! –Nanci Cairns, CTA, Incanto Travel
  • You can start out by doing your own group and market it with everyone you know. Be excited about your group. Ask lots of questions from experienced agents, suppliers and listen to what they say. –Brenda Punchak, Cruise Time Plus
  • In starting a new business, you need to know all the regulations to set it up: license, bonding, insurance, setting up a checking account, LLC or corp., etc. –Paul Herron, CTA, Travel To, LLC  
  • Have a door on your home office and close it when you are working. That makes family think twice before they approach you. –Mary Misinco, Travel Experts Inc.
  • Don’t shop with your own budget. Just because you wouldn’t spend that much on a vacation doesn’t mean your client won’t. Don’t be afraid to show them high end options. –Anisha Harper, CTA, Affinity for Travel
  • As travel advisors, we always should be honest and knowledgeable as to where we are sending our clients and always be willing to listen to what they are not saying. –Connie Slauenwhite, CTC, CS Cruises & Tours Inc.
  • Building relationships with suppliers is beneficial in growing your business – their advice can be invaluable. – Michele Cartwright, CTA, Destinations by Design

For more tips like these, take a look at The Travel Institute’s Launching a Travel Business: The Entrepreneur’s Checklist.