Should Travel Agents Be Specialized?

Before a doctor ever enters medical school, he usually already knows what field of medicine he wants to specialize in for his career.  As an attorney graduates from law school,  she has already begun to look for a firm that specializes in the field in which she is interested.  Why is that?

The human body is a complex being that requires vast amounts of knowledge to understand all its systems and how they work.   Because our knowledge of the human body has greatly increase over the last 60-70 years, doctors have begun to specialize in specific areas and focus all their study and research on a specialty in order to become successful in that area of treatment.

The same can be said for the reason why attorneys focus their work in specific areas of the law.  There is so many different areas of law and so much to know about each area that it would be very difficult to be successful in multiple areas.  It doesn’t make sense for you to go to an attorney that specializes in criminal law to handle your divorce!

Having a specialty should be no different for travel agents.  Think about how big this beautiful world is and how many amazing destinations we have to visit.  How could I possibly know everything about all of them?  I couldn’t, if I wanted to be successful.

When I chose to start my travel business, one of the first things I was told was to have something you are known for and build on it.  I have always loved the Caribbean, warm destinations, beaches, and cruises.  I was good at planning those types of trips because I had done them for my family for years.  I knew I could be successful as a travel agent that specialized in cruises and all-inclusives, so that is what I chose to be known for.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t book a Vegas trip or a trip through Canada on the train if I feel comfortable enough to do a good job for those clients, but I want to be known as a cruise and all-inclusive agent because I know I can successfully plan those trips and make clients happy.

I love being successful at my job, and the way I am successful at my job is making my clients happy.  If a client comes to me with a request for a destination I am not very familiar with,  I may not be able to make them happy, and that means I am not being successful at my job.  For that reason, I may tell clients I would rather refer them to a fellow agent instead of handle their vacation myself.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Why would I give up my commission to another agent?    I would rather have clients be taken care of by a fellow agent who can do a good job for them than me do a mediocre job for them and lose their future business and any possible referrals.    I think my clients would agree with me.

I do a lot of training, but I focus it on the destinations and topics in which I have chosen to specialize.  I can’t be every kind of agent to every kind of client.  I would rather focus on making great vacations happen for some clients than be just a booking engine to the masses.

So what do you think?  Should travel agents be specialized?

Interested in a vacation?  Tell me about it.

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What a Difference a Year Makes!

February marked one year since I started my journey into the world of the home-based travel agent with my host agency, Montrose Travel.  It has been a very exciting year for me, but also very overwhelming as well.  I have learned a lot so far and still have much to learn, but I feel I have made a great deal of progress toward a fun a rewarding venture in the years to come.  Let me share with you a few key points I have learned in my first year.

1.  You can’t know everything about everything.

Most of my travel knowledge was based on all the cruises and all-inclusive trips I had done.  So I was fairly confident in my ability to provide quality service to a client requesting one of these trips.  Once I began doing training, I quickly learned that the world is a very big place, and in order for me to provide the best service to my clients I needed to have a focus.  I chose to specialize in cruises and all-inclusive vacations because I already had knowledge in those areas and those are what I love to do the most.  Instead of doing training on other areas like Europe or Africa, I focused most of my training on what I chose to specialize in.

2.  Friends and family may not necessarily be part of your client base.

I have had friends and family calling me for years, asking me for advice before they went on vacation or where they should vacation.  They did so knowing that I travel frequently and am good at researching and knowing about the places I travel to.  They would always tell me, “Gosh, you should start a travel business.” Or, “You should become a travel agent.”  So here I am…. Trisha May, Travel Agent.  Unfortunately, a lot of those people still don’t book their travel with me.  I am not sure why.  It would be nice if they were as supportive of me as I am of them, but it is what it is.  My point is, I started this business thinking that all my friends and family who travelled would book with me and support my business, and that was my mistake.  I have now learned to refocus my efforts of where I find my clients.  By the way, for those of you who have supported me, you are very much appreciated and I will be forever grateful.


3.  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

When I started on this journey, I had no business skills and no real computer skills other than what I had picked up along the way.  I had no idea how to make up a nice quote or invoice, track my commissions, or organize my business in general.  I was at a complete loss as to how to start.  But I have a great support team at my host agency and I have a wealth of knowledge in all of my fellow agents.  I have learned that I don’t have to come up with these thing s on my own.  All of these things have been done in many ways before and I just have to choose one way as my model and ask for help.  I still have not perfected my technique, but with all the support available to me, there is no reason to try to do it on my own.


4.  Training, training, training…..

When I first signed on with my host agency, they mentioned in the orientation that it is a good idea to try to attend at least 3 training sessions a week, whether they are through them or suppliers.  I thought that seemed like a lot until I started trying to learn everything.  Booking travel as an agent doesn’t have to do with just getting a confirmation number.  To be good at what you do you need to know how to match the best resort, location or ship to your clients.  You need to know how to effectively search for the best price and amenities for them.  You need to know how to book the vacation correctly.  You need to understand the supplier and the locations.  And the list goes on and on.  The more I know, the better I can serve my clients.  I have learned that I have to set aside time for training.  Fortunately, there are many trainings that are recorded and I can do them on my own time, but there are also scheduled webinars too that are beneficial for asking questions.


There are many aspects about this business I have learned in my first year.  These are just a few that have been at the forefront.  As I move into the second year, I look forward to newer and bigger training opportunities and a chance to set and achieve some new goals.  I hope you are just as excited as I am.  It’s going to be a great year!

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