To empower is “to have the authority or power to do something” and also “to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.” That one word really carries a lot of weight! Empowerment can come from yourself, your boss, and even your client when they give you the authority to make travel related decisions on their behalf. To be empowered is to be confident! As you can see empowerment could come from others, but most importantly it must come from yourself.
If you think in terms of work-related tasks, there is a lengthy list of “to do” items that you have authority over. Clients do give you a lot of authority to plan their time and spend their money, and we are privy to a lot of personal and confidential information. But is this truly empowerment? It appears the most successful business people are themselves empowered, and in turn, empower others – they breed confidence and encourage autonomy and risk taking. Here are a few elements to empowerment that could be useful in cultivating a thriving travel business and committing to work you enjoy:
Having decision-making power.
Every day you make countless decisions in how to work with clients, how to work with suppliers, and how you conduct your business. Evaluate the information, weigh positive and negative outcomes, and make the decision!
Having access to information and resources.
Just like our clients, we have access to a wealth of information and resources. More information is not better information; use the best-qualified resources that you have and quickly eliminate what does not work for you.
Having a range of options from which to make choices.
Meaningful choice is critical to work effectiveness and satisfaction. Remember you are never stuck with a client, a supplier, a problem, or a negative frame of mind. Get un-stuck, look at all of the options, and be creative and solution-minded. You have options — use them!
Sometimes you need to aim high, swing for the fences, or just do it! Being able to clearly state one’s wishes and to stand up for oneself is sometimes necessary. Being assertive and direct often prevents issues with clients and problems with suppliers or quickly resolves situations when they arise. Be empowered and stand up for yourself as a professional!
A feeling that the individual can make a difference.
Positivity and hopefulness are such an ingrained part of this business. We create and carry out bucket list wishes, honeymoons, and travel dreams. What’s not to like! Realize that you do make a difference and do make travel experiences better. We’re in the business of making memories, cementing relationships, and spreading cultural awareness. Never underestimate that positive impact you can have.
Learning to think critically; unlearning the conditioning; seeing things differently.
This is a very broad category and businesses often liken this concept to the case study. There is so much to learn from each experience, and it’s critical to take the time to review both successes and failures as it pertains to your clients and business practice. There is no set manual for our business to dictate how every client will interact or how every trip will unfold. Learn from experience not to repeat mistakes and what works for each client. There is a pattern if you just take the time to observe how your business interactions unfold. Being empowered means anticipating where things are going, both good and bad.
Not feeling alone; feeling part of a group.
Realize you are not alone! It’s not hard to find sources of support in our business, people are very happy to share referrals, resources, and advice. Use this amazing network! If you are experienced, seek out new agents to mentor and welcome people into the industry. Empowerment also comes from feelings of connectivity.
Changing others’ perceptions of one’s competency and capacity to act.
There will always be perceptions of what a “travel agent” is and what you do – and if you do anything someone cannot do for themselves. A shift is coming about and that’s very exciting, where the view of professional travel advisors is changing – but we all must be part of that change! The best way to bring about that change is to truly walk the walk and talk the talk. Act confident in your abilities, look professional, share success stories, and be that change that you want others to see. Always be respectfully ready to educate others about our network and profession, and articulate the benefits of working with professionals.
Growth and change that is never ending and self-initiated.
Lastly, and most importantly, empowerment is not a destination, but a journey. There is not a final arrival or completed point of success; to truly be empowered, change and growth are always evolving and you are always striving to better your business and yourself. Best of luck on your journey to becoming more EMPOWERED!
Marti Litwin is an independent Virtuoso travel advisor with En Route Travel in Southern California. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Marti shares her value of sharing unforgettable family experiences with her clients. In addition to travel, she enjoys yoga, health and wellness, her 2 children, and an adorable rescued Golden Retriever, Cookie.