In my last article I shared a bit about me, and what I did before I entered the travel industry. Today I want to tell you more about my experience after entering the industry and where I hope to go.
After I returned from my honeymoon to Fiji we were relocated to a new base as my husband is still on active duty. I brainstormed on what I should do next. Given the fact that we still had a few moves, I decided to write down all the things I was still passionate about. Helping others has always been at the top of my list and travel was right up there besides my interest in fashion design (which I haven’t practiced in a long time). I couldn’t figure out a way to marry fashion design with travel, at least not in the selling travel, but I could marry my love for travel and weddings so I decided to explore a career in romance travel.
Figuring out what I wanted to specialize in was easier than finding information on how to get there! I Googled “how to become a travel agent” and came up with tons of generic answers. I Googled “travel agent school” and — nothing there either that looked worthwhile and legitimate. I did find a few places where I could pay $495 and all I had to do was book travel and recruit my family members (no, thank you very much). I started to wonder if I needed some sort of special security clearance to break into the industry. I emailed a popular honeymoon travel agent that I had seen commenting on many wedding blogs, she replied to my email with one word, the name of her host agency.
I stumbled across the ASTA website and their travel school directory. I researched most of them and ended up signing up for a reputable course I could complete at my own pace with live instructors giving me feedback. I needed more information on starting a travel business, so I decided to take my search to social media. I started tweeting and asking for information hoping that someone out there in the interwebs would help me. Finally, someone tweeted me back with the first and last name of my business travel coach. I called him right away! With the help of my travel business coach and the course I took, I was able to devise a plan on how to enter the industry.
Obviously I overcame the entry barriers to the industry, but I always wondered why was it so difficult. I now understand why some people may pay the $495 to become a “travel agent,” those that are truly interested in doing it the right way may never find the right information to do it the right way. I just returned from a FAM and one of my Facebook followers sent me a message asking me how she could do the kind of work I did. I made sure to set up a time with her to go over everything I knew and what I thought she needed to do based on my experience. We spoke for 45 minutes, she was very grateful that I had taken the time to explain how it worked and even offered compensation for the time I spent on the phone with her. I didn’t do it expecting a return or any compensation. I did it because no one did it for me. I hope I was able to inspire her to pursue a career in travel. What about you? Have you inspired or shared the role of what we do to others lately?
Brenda Llamas Young is the owner of Encore Romance Travel which specializes in weddings and honeymoons to exotic beaches to include the South Pacific, Asia, Australia, Indian and African Coast. Brenda entered the travel industry in 2009 and after two years of education, opened her own home based agency.