Not all teamwork happens in an office. Many travel agents work in environments that have been pared down to a small percentage of the original size. Even more agents work alone, out of a home office. There is often no one to turn to when advice is needed, for backup or in an emergency. However, the passion for travel that motivates travel agents is all the energy required to form quick and fast friendships across town or across country. Peer-to-peer relationships are important for the vitality and professionalism of travel agents, and there are many ways for a travel professional to seek out like-minded colleagues.
The reasons for working with and getting to know other agents in your area are many. I have argued before the other agents and agencies in your local community are not your competition. You compete with a far more difficult adversary: bad information. Too many consumers in your market do not know what a travel agent does. Far too many believe they can “do it themselves”. Many consumers think travel agents are dead. Banding together with other travel companies in your area to mutually educate the public on the role of a travel professional is smart business and one that you should undertake in your own community sooner than later. Together, all of the professional travel agents in your community have a real voice if you will only take the opportunity to use it.
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Agents often form mentoring relationships as well. While this sometimes takes the form of an older agent assisting a newbie, the situation is often reversed. One agent may be expert in cruising and another in Hawaii and a third in Europe. By assisting each other with knowledge and information, all become stronger.
In many larger towns and cities, there are local organizations of travel agents. ASTA has statewide chapters that I highly recommend you seek out and investigate. Participation in the larger issues facing the industry makes you a stronger, more insightful professional.
Finally, online forums like TRO’s own Community are an excellent way to participate with your peers. You will find very open discourse on every possible travel related topic, and a range of experience and specialties at your disposal. Knowing that other travel agents have the same interests, problems and situations that you face daily is a comfort. A community of agents provides you with the instantaneous support that might otherwise be lacking in your own work environment. It’s free, and it’s dedicated to professional travel agents. We invite you to participate.
Humans are social animals – we work best together. A real professional seeks out the assistance of peers, and provides that assistance in return when asked. Teamwork built on trust and respect allows everyone to be at their best as individuals.