You Are Not a Specialist | TravelResearchOnline

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You Are Not a Specialist

Susan Schaffer“I specialize in all cruises, all-inclusive resorts, honeymoons, escorted vacations, Disney, Europe, Alaska, and much more.” Or how about, “I specialize in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.” Until there are multiple planets we can ship clients to, specializing in Planet Earth is not a specialty. And you cannot specialize in “and more.”

If that, or anything similar, appears on your website or business card or is part of your elevator speech, you are not a specialist. You are generalist. If a doctor said he specialized in ophthalmology, orthopedics, pediatrics, geriatrics and more, you’d seriously wonder about what he really specialized in. In reality he’d really be a General Practitioner, not a specialist at all. The same applies to travel professionals.

Yes, we can BOOK all kinds of travel, but specializing refers to the ONE OR TWO areas that you are an expert in, that you are passionate about, and that makes you stand out from other travel professionals. If you specialize in Disney, you can still book honeymoons elsewhere. However, you will want to emphasize and market to your target market about what makes you THE expert to contact when booking Disney.

So what would be a specialty? Here is a partial list (but don’t limit yourself to only what I list here):

  • A single country (not a whole continent even, unless it’s Australia… it qualifies as both)
  • SCUBA diving travel
  • Wine tours, which can be narrowed down even further; how about Italian wine tours?
  • Whisky tours: narrow it down further, Irish (or Scotch) Whisky tours
  • All things Disney
  • Honeymoons & destination weddings: this can also be narrowed down further by throwing in a destination like St Lucia or Bora Bora
  • Christmas markets in Europe
  • European river cruises (instead of generic “river cruises”)
  • World War II History
  • Faith based/Pilgrimage tours
  • Cancun All Inclusive Resorts

The point of specializing or having a niche, is to laser-focus your marketing budget and your marketing message. If you become the go-to expert in your niche, you may not have the time to book any other types of travel (and this is not a bad thing). You can also make sure that your client base understands that even though your expertise is Disney, you can help them with their non-Disney related travel plans.

And I really do get it. We worry about passing up business. Many travel professionals don’t feel they can financially take that risk of missing out on business. But you can find an effective way to communicate that you can book many types of travel although your specialty is XYZ. When you’re networking you can modify your elevator speech like “I can definitely help you book many forms of travel, but my passion is helping couples celebrate honeymoons and anniversaries.” You are focusing on your true passion, and the clients you prefer to work with, while still getting the point across that you won’t turn away other forms of business.

It is hard for many of us, and I count myself in this group, but if you are going to say that you specialize, then really specialize. If you are too concerned that you might be passing up business that you need financially, then don’t pass yourself off as a specialist in everything.


Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com), she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at susan@shipsntripstravel.com or by phone at (888) 221-1209.

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