To specialize or not to specialize… that is the question | TravelResearchOnline


To specialize or not to specialize… that is the question

The topic of specializing is one that gets thrown around travel industry conferences and events like a beach ball in a giant stadium.  While I think it’s great that this concept is always a hot one, I don’t agree with how it’s taught.  The greatest mistake I see people make is picking a destination or supplier as a specialty and thinking they are done.  Next.  Now what?  In my humble opinion…

  1. That’s the wrong way to pick a specialty and …
  2. It’s incomplete.

Should you specialize?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Every single person who sells travel should specialize.  Why should you specialize?  Plain and simple, because experts make more money.

The business model for travel professionals has changed.  When you don’t specialize, you function as a travel agent.  With the ease and speed of online booking engines, the world does not need a traditional travel agent anymore.  But there is a giant population of consumers who are hungry for travel expertise.  Just take one look at the growth in popularity of and you will see how much demand there is for an opinion when it comes to travel.

Specializing is how you transition from functioning as a travel agent to a travel expert.  There is a thriving and sustainable business model for travel experts.  The travel AGENT business model is almost dead.  If it’s not dead yet, it will lead you to a very expensive hobby. 

So HOW does one specialize?  The best advice I have is to start on the inside.  Take inventory of your non-physical assets—your gifts.  What is your brilliance?  At what tasks are you gifted?  Each one of us came to this earth to contribute in some way.  Another way to look at this is that we each came equipped with a specific medicine.   There are people who WANT and possibly NEED your medicine.  But not everybody does.  What is your medicine?  Who needs it?

For example, your medicine might be knowing how to bring the romance and passion back to relationships.  There are people who desperately WANT and NEED that medicine.  But not everybody wants or needs it.  This is a great place to start for your specialty.  Own your brilliance and build a specialty around romance travel. 

But here is the critical step.  Don’t stop there!  You now have to MARKET your specialty and the place you begin is by crafting a core compelling message.  A core compelling message is how you articulate your specialty to prospects and clients.  Broken down pretty simply, a core compelling message is what you do (benefits and solutions) and why you do it (your story).  It is NOT how you do it.  Most people just want to jump straight to explaining how they do what they do.  But that is not magnetic.  It will not work from a marketing perspective.

Thus, when crafting your core, compelling message (which is how you magnetically articulate your specialty to prospects and clients), focus on what and why.    Here is my favorite short cut formula for a core, compelling message: 

“I help X do Y so that Z.  I do this because I once (Before) which caused me to have this Conflict and lead me to this Discovery which gave me this Result.  My life has been so changed by this Result that I built a business around others getting this Result.”

Your Assignment:  If you haven’t picked a specialty yet, make it priority.  Do it ASAP!  If you have, make sure you have gone through these steps sequentially, finishing with your core compelling message.  Once you have that established, then get on to marketing your business.

Meredith Hill, ex-President of Hills of Africa Travel, founded the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) to empower frustrated and struggling travel consultants who weren’t getting the marketing support they needed. As the fastest growing industry organization dedicated to marketing education for travel professionals, GIFTE’s mission is to revolutionize the way travel advisors market and grow their businesses.  GIFTE’s products and programs provide all the tools, resources and support travel professionals need to reach a whole new level of success in travel – one that includes making more money while making a difference in the lives of their clients. Learn more at, or visit and “like” GIFTE’s Facebook Fan Page at


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