I have always considered myself a lifelong learner – ready to take in a seminar or tune into a webinar if I think it will be useful for my business. Lately due to the social media craze it seems like a lot of programs are popping up discussing “finding your passion” and “niche marketing.” What I have noticed is that many agents I interact with in these situations confuse “finding your niche/passion” with the logical decision of which subcategory of travel will reap the most monetary return on their investment. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make money – I think choosing a niche based on that actually misses the point.
This was brought home to me this week as I made an observation about my very own daughter, who, as a young woman has created a successful theater company against many odds because she had the passion and drive to overcome the doubts and detractors. I saw her choose what she wanted out of life and then proceeded to find a way to make it happen – even when it went against conventional wisdom.
In a way I fell into the logical trap myself. When I first began selling travel, I founded All Together Now Travel with an emphasis on family travel. I came to that decision out of sincere desire and passion to help families reconnect through the shared experience of travel – a passion that was born out of a volunteer position I had held working with broken families that had lost their way. I had a direction and a purpose for my travel planning that went way beyond the logistics of getting from place to place and I felt fulfilled. Then the economy tanked and my families weren’t traveling – so I had to find a way to stay afloat.
I made the logical decision to concentrate on the bridal niche as I figured people would still be getting married; and I began working with a proprietary honeymoon focused agency. I liked the market, but never really flourished with that agency, as I felt a little inauthentic since the premise was that we specialized in honeymoons and romance travel – period.
What I really wanted to be able to do was to grow with my couples – do not only their honeymoon and anniversaries but also move them into the All Together Now Travel side of my agency and get to do baby’s first trip and eventually all their family travel. By doing that I would really be able to fulfill my dream of helping to create healthy families – and friends – which is where my passion lives.
So, from this, Romantic Journeys™ was born as a romance-brand division of All Together Now Travel, and I found my authenticity again! My clients know from the get go that my heart lies in not only helping them plan their honeymoon; but to become a trusted friend they can return to time and time again. In just the short time since this change, my repeat and referrals business has skyrocketed. The growth is not because I got any better at doing my job – but because I found that part me that was passionate again—and people can sense it and are are drawn to it!
So how about you? What is your mission and your passion? Are you working in a niche that leaves you feeling good at the end of the day?
Barbara Oliver is a 8 year veteran of the industry operating two independent travel companies All Together Now Travel and Romantic Journeys (both currently being redesigned) in the Los Angeles Area. In addition to her agencies she is theLos Angeles director of NACTA as well as a regular attendee and frequent panelist at many trade shows. She has her CTA from The Travel Institute and her ECC from CLIA.