Betsy’s travel career began in 1999 when she joined Uniglobe Travel USA as Franchise Sales Coordinator and Contract Administrator. Since then she has also worked in Industry Relations and Home-Based Agency Sales. In 2009 Betsy became Vice President of Uniglobe Travel Center, the home-based agency division of Uniglobe Travel USA. She oversees all aspects of the hosting program and new agent recruitment.
Betsy is the Vice President of the Professional Association of Travel hosts (PATH) and the President of her local ASTA Chapter.
TRO: What was your most fond travel memory you can recall?
Last year I took my mom to Ireland. We did a Globus tour and it was her first time outside the US. She had always wanted to go to Ireland to see where our Ancestors came from and I am glad I was able to experience that with her.
TRO: What is your role at Uniglobe?
BG: I am the Vice President of Uniglobe Travel Center, which is the HOST DIVISION of one of the most respected names in travel. It is my responsibility to make sure our program runs smoothly. That includes having strong supplier relationships, outstanding support and technology, and making sure we are on top of industry trends.
TRO: Tell us about Uniglobe’s mentoring program. How did it originate?
BG: We started our mentoring program in response to another host agency that was taking on new agents with no experience and offering them an opportunity to be a Travel Agent. Unfortunately, their program focused more on these new agents recruiting new agents instead of travel. We saw that many of those new agents really wanted to learn the industry but there was no easy in. Most host agencies at that time only accepted experienced agents. We created a hands-on program that offers both practical coaching and technology training as well as mentors that will talk to them about how to get clients and manage working day to day from a home office. All of our training sessions are done live over the phone and because of this we are able to customize the sessions based on the new agents previous experiences.
TRO: How is this program structured? How does it work?
BG: When a new agent comes on board they have two dedicated coaches. Both are UTC employees with over 30 years of experience in the industry and both started out as frontline Travel Agents. One coach works with them on the practical aspect of the business; how to set up their home-based business, travel industry best practices, how to follow the leisure sales cycle, and how to do a marketing and business plan. The other coach focuses on the technology; how to use our internal system, how to make bookings, how to work with suppliers, and how to talk to and qualify their clients. We will even do live client calls with the agents so they can hear how it is done. We have mentors within our program that will share some of their experience, and we have supplier mentors that can teach new agents how to work with them. We realized early on that it takes a village to teach and nurture a new travel professional.
TRO: How have agents taken to this new program?
BG: We have had the pleasure of working with some great new agents. They are enthusiastic and eager to learn. The agents that understand that a new business takes time are often the ones that end up being most successful.
TRO: What are the successes you can speak of from this program?
BG: We are still early on in this program but we are seeing many of new agents grow their businesses. We even have an agent that came through our mentoring program on our advisory board.
TRO: Who are the mentors?
BG: The Mentors come from all areas of the industry; our management team, other successful agents in our program and some of our preferred suppliers.
TRO: Do you have any advice for travel agents that may be struggling obtaining clients?
BG: It takes time. In the beginning you need to focus on learning and being able to talk about travel confidently. Get out there, hand out your business cards. Leave brochures with your contact information at your Dentist’s office and Dr’s office. Leave your business card with your tip at restaurants. Tell people what you do! Have your one-minute elevator speech polished and memorized. With a little patience and time the business will come.
TRO: Is there any new and exciting news or happenings on the horizon for Uniglobe?
BG: We are currently rolling out a robust new cruise booking tool that we are excited about. In 2014 we will be doing more ‘virtual’ training events that will focus on what is hot and in season. We have also launched monthly mentoring calls for our new agents and experienced agents that feel they need some guidance. We are working on putting our 2014 conference agenda together which will be held in June in New Orleans.