How Successful People Navigate the World   

By Brian Robb, CTIE, Chairman, The Travel Institute
This article first appeared in VAX Vacation Access Compass on April 30, 2019

How often have you seen intelligent people who are unable to leverage their high IQ or advanced technical skills into career success? I know I have. Those folks have the necessary knowledge and technical skills, but somehow, they fall short in their careers. Most often the cause lies in limitations of their so-called soft skills. Don’t let that happen to you.

Soft skills are traits and interpersonal skills that characterize one’s relationships with others. In the workplace, soft skills complement required hard skills. Examples of soft skills critical for travel professionals are:

  • Clarity of Communications
  • Collaborating with clients, suppliers, and colleagues
  • Active Listening as a fundamental communications skill
  • Adaptability to industry changes in technology, regulations, and travel trends
  • Conflict Resolution as various forces create issues for travelers
  • Critical Thinking and problem-solving
  • Teamwork to accomplish a common aim
  • Accountability for decisions and results

Much of the research on soft skills has been done from the perspective of employers and what they should look for in hiring. As the Stanford Research Institute and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation point out to recruiters, 75% of long-term job success depends on soft skills while only 25% on technical skills. How does that apply to you?

I believe that every time you interact with prospective customers or current clients, you are, in effect, interviewing for a job. They are seeking someone to be their travel advisor, and you want to work for them. You had better have effective soft skills!

Although some people naturally demonstrate these skills, researchers and business leaders agree that people can and should work to develop better soft skills. It requires a strong understanding of what it takes, a desire to improve, and a commitment to practicing those skills. If you’d like to look into it further, there are several excellent books on the subject, including The Hard Truth about Soft Skills by Peggy Klaus and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, which includes a link to an online test to gauge your emotional intelligence. A little closer to home, you’ll find Drew Daly’s book, Selling Fun, a direct hit on using soft skills to effectively sell travel.

You also may want to consider one of several course offerings and webinars at The Travel Institute, including the Certified Travel Associate (CTA®), Certified Travel Counselor (CTC®), and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE®) programs. Each provides a rigorous approach to the soft skills travel professionals need.

How do you stack up? Make it your mission to cultivate soft skills so you can build trust, grow relationships, and develop long-term clients. That would establish a great foundation for your career.

For more learning on developing the soft skills you need to succeed, register for Brian Robb’s webinar, Emotional Intelligence, on May 20 at 1:00 pm EDT.