As the owner of a specialized travel company servicing India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, I often reach out to other agents who can assist with trips for my clients outside of my umbrella. For many years, this arrangement has worked beautifully. The clients were appreciative of my ability to connect them with a specialist, and the receiving agent was the beneficiary of a sale and subsequent referrals. However, recently I have been disappointed and discouraged with several agents when mutually planning proposals or even campaigns. There is a very clear tone of, “How does this benefit me and only me?”
As agents, it is our common goal to generate and maintain a clientele; to educate and advocate; to build referrals; and to treat every customer with respect and kindness. However, this philosophy should also extend to our peers and colleagues in the travel industry. We should strive to return telephone calls and emails on time; speak kindly of one another; make promises you can keep. And better still, under-promise and over-deliver.
Let’s speak candidly. We already know that travel agents often don’t have the most glowing reputation. We are still struggling, at times, to overcome the stigma of being overpriced and uneducated about the destinations we serve. Many of us have worked very hard to build our businesses, launch new products, and demonstrate the value of our services to travelers. Together, we continue to transform our identity as agents and create innovative ways to share, sell, and showcase our brand. I hope we will remember that there is strength in numbers, and collectively we are responsible for our success as an industry.
Perhaps I am naive to believe that we can serve the client, each other and ourselves when the opportunity presents itself. If we continue to conduct business based on the scarcity mentality, we will fail. The scarcity mentality, in this context, refers to the belief that there are not enough leads to convert to sales, and therefore we must trample each other for the business. I ask that you take a moment and remember those times when you were a client, not an agent. I ask that you remember the times you were just starting out in the industry, and would appreciate assistance from fellow agents. The golden rule was never about dollar signs and personal gain. I firmly believe my own success has been built on this principle of collectivity and not singularity.
Why did you become a travel professional? For many of us, it was because of our love of travel and excitement to share our knowledge and passion for the destinations we serve. As a community, we will thrive when our roots and intentions are re-planted in our initial love for travel. Let’s keep it that way.
Allison Sodha is a Certified India Destination Specialist and the owner of Sodha Travel, a company that specializes in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. She has also written features for Little India, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various travel publications. For more information, visit www.sodhatravel.com or blog.sodhatravel.com.