Do you find yourself looking at your bank statements and wondering how you are going to make ends meet?
Do you have thoughts about yourself that sound something like this…
“I’m doing okay. I know Rona has severely affected the travel industry. I don’t deserve to make more money right now when our industry is in turmoil. I’m lucky just to have a job.”
Does that sound familiar? Even prior to 2020, the travel industry was one of the lowest-paid professions, yet it wasn’t for lack of great talent.
A big part of the reason I decided to leave my corporate job was that I felt handcuffed to my salary. And worse, I saw a team of highly intelligent, exceptional salespeople, earn far less than what I believed they should earn – because it was the industry standard.
This is in no way a dig at my employer at the time. They advertise job postings as…” We pay competitively” and they aren’t wrong. I didn’t work for a bad company. I looked around and many similar companies had similar compensation packages – give or take a few thousand dollars.
In a recent study dated January 2022, the average salary earned by a travel advisor in Canada was $38,611 plus bonuses and commissions but before you go thinking the average travel advisor was popping bougie bottles of Krug with every meal in celebration, the average additional earning for bonuses and commissions landed between 5 to 20 additional K.
Not exactly an attractive profession if you are the type that prefers to carry a Birken, or for that matter anything that doesn’t have a red clearance sticker on its tag.
I chose to work in a grossly underpaid industry for most of my life because:
- I was/AM totally not bougie – in fact, I’m sitting in my sweatpants and a messy bun as I write this and…
- I was/AM completely enamoured with travel. And I loved what I did so much that I would do it for free and…
- I always figured that I would find a way to break through the status quo. I didn’t know how initially, but I knew I wanted to try.
- Somewhere in the back of my head was a small voice that said, “ Rich people are assholes. They take advantage of others. They push their grannies in front of trams to earn an extra buck.” Of course, that is flawed thinking, but it was the soundtrack playing in my mind from years of conditioning during my childhood.
It was the battle between my inner critic, who kept poking at me saying…” Who do you think you are to be so special?” vs. The strong warrior princess who thought…this is bullshit. Why is this industry this way? The two entities would slug it out on a daily basis. I was resentful on some days…and filled with pure gratitude on others.
I’m guessing, unless you are making well over the industry average, you share many of the same thoughts I once had. You probably got into this industry because you love to travel, and you love helping people.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
To the travel advisor working at a travel company
If you are currently an employee of a travel company, I’m not suggesting that you leave. There is nothing wrong with making $38K as long as you like your reasons. And I can appreciate that there is a sense of comfort from being able to collect a paycheck every two weeks, regardless of external conditions. Of course, one thing covid taught us is that there is no such thing as job security.
What I am suggesting is that you ask yourself, are you being reasonably compensated based on the value you bring to your position? Keep in mind that no company pays you for the time you put in, but rather for the results that you achieve.
Large travel companies typically operate under razor-sharp conditions. As such, there isn’t a lot of room for them to compensate handsomely, even if they wanted to. The Expedias of the world sell travel like a commodity. And when you sell a commodity, people pay commensurately.
So you have to decide, as a travel professional who doesn’t think they are earning to their full potential, do you want to stay safe and secure and cap your earnings, or are you willing to branch out and bet on yourself?
And to the independent travel advisor
Are you making the money you want to be making? Or have you crafted a story in your head that tells you that people aren’t willing to pay you for your expertise?
I don’t know why the travel profession should be any different from any other profession. There will always be the type of client who prefers to DIY their holiday planning. But I am suggesting that there is a growing number of people, especially post 2020, that need help! They are willing to pay for your advice. And that’s a good thing because you have “advisor” in your job title.
Are you charging booking fees?
If you aren’t charging booking fees yet, or if you are but not enough, what’s up with that?
Don’t sell yourself short. I know some agents will argue that they don’t believe their clients will pay booking fees when the agent down the street doesn’t charge fees. But if they’ve nurtured their clients through their weekly emails and demonstrated their expertise, clients won’t question the fees. And if they do, they weren’t your client, to begin with.
And don’t be afraid to state your fees with confidence. Think about the last time you went into a boutique to buy something extra fancy, maybe to treat yourself. When you asked the salesperson how much the dress was…did he immediately become uncomfortable? Did sweat start to bead on the top of his brow? Did he avert his gaze and try and change the subject?
No… He told you the damn price. The price was the price. Your decision if you wanted it or not. He had zero drama over that exchange.
That’s how you need to look at quoting your booking fees.
Are you offering discounts to get the booking?
Discounts are a definite non-starter for me. You are worth your fees full-stop. And here is the interesting thing to note about discounting. As soon as you give a client a discount on your services, they will often begin to treat you like a clearance item. They won’t value you. They may not return your calls, pay you on time or seem like they appreciate your help.
Never be afraid to lose a booking. The secret to succeeding as an independent travel advisor is to make as many offers as possible. The more offers you make, the sooner you’ll find your people. These people will be more than happy to pay you for your services.
And you will get some ‘no’s along the way, and that’s okay. The more practice you get explaining your travel advisor role in their vacation booking process, the more confident you will sound, the better you will get at convincing your clients that they’d be fools not to work with you.
Yes, we are in the midst of a global pandemic, but…
Before anyone accuses me of being tone-deaf given current travel restrictions…might I suggest an alternate story to the one you may be telling yourself? People are still travelling every day.
The entire industry has been flipped on its head. Travel advisors are no longer limited to selling inside their postal code. Consultations are done over Zoom. Your clients could be in Scotland, Jamaica, Costa Rica or Spain. Maybe your friends and family aren’t currently travelling so perhaps it’s time to extend your fishing net.
Travel agents today can make sales with just their phone and their laptop from anywhere in the world. While this has been true for a few years now, having gone through the lockdowns of the pandemic era has cemented this truth and made it more mainstream.
Our ability to earn is largely determined by our thoughts.
Believe me, I realize that the idea that our thoughts create the size of our bank accounts sounds like something straight out of a self-help book. Speaking of which, I love Jen Sincero’s book You Are a Badass at Making Money. Jen does a great job of illustrating how our childhood thoughts on money impact our earning potential.
Again, there is nothing wrong with making a salary of $38K if that’s what you want and you like your reasons.
But…if you aren’t making the kind of money that you know you can make, let me help you. I bet there are several places where you are leaving money on the table. I can show you how to connect with your ideal client. And I can help you uncover distractions that are getting in the way of your full earning potential.
Book a discovery call with me below and allow me to walk you through my process.