Today is my first “diary” for TRO, and I am thrilled to have been asked to share my innermost secret travel agent thoughts with you! So ready or not, here we go…. I’ve been a travel agent (a term which I don’t really like), since 1982 when I attended travel school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I started back in the olden days, when an actual travel school credential was required to work in our industry. When we hand wrote tickets out of a OAG flight schedule, called hotels directly to book after choosing from a giant Hotel and Travel Index book, and GDS systems where just starting to become a staple in most agencies.
I currently manage and work for Destinations in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The best and probably last agency job I’ll ever have in this career. Our travel agency specializes in Honeymoons, Destination Weddings, and Luxury Travel. Over the past 30+ years I’ve been a travel agent, a travel professional, a travel consultant, a luxury vacation specialist, and now I am calling myself a luxury travel designer. All of these job descriptions are highly accurate, but don’t really do justice to what we do every day. We are mothers, fathers, doctors, psychologists, psychics, marriage counselors, and weather prognosticators to our valued clients.
Every day we offer up so much more to our clients than our “title” actually conveys. We do this happily, and with great pride in the job we love so much. We’ve spent fortunes to educate ourselves to give our clients the very best advice on the resorts, and destinations that we love. All of this to suddenly face continual conjecture that our industry is dead, that we are no longer relevant. Whoa, wait…someone forgot to tell those honeymoon couples I met with yesterday at my local bridal show, and the busy Mom who called today, and said she needs big help planning her family’s spring break in March. I am so happy they didn’t get the memo.
Speaking strictly for me, the Internet does not scare me, and it should not scare you. There are so many prospects out there that value you as an asset just like the internet. Maybe more so, because they are so confused by all the data and are overwhelmed. These are the ones you want to focus on, not the tire kickers, the ones who just want to bleed you dry for information, but don’t want to book with you. We all need to mentor each other, lift each other up on the tough days, and continue to professionalize our industry. Speaking of that fortune you’ve spent educating yourself, are you charging your clients for your knowledge? For what you know, for who you know, and for the value that you bring to their travel experience? I hope so, because you are worth it. I believe in you!
Tracee Williams is a 32 year veteran of the travel industry. She has extensive experience with both corporate and leisure travel agencies in Northwest Arkansas. She specializes in Honeymoons, and Luxury Travel. She is a CTA, ACC, Platinum CSS, and a Sandals Weddingmoon Specialist. She is currently studying to get her CTC. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her husband Darrell, and their fur babies, Callie, Annie, and Peanut.