Big Fish, Little Fish – Which One Are You? | TravelResearchOnline


Big Fish, Little Fish – Which One Are You?

Virtuoso was a leader long before it was cool. Formally known as API Travel Consultants, the organization was made up of agencies that specialized in luxury or “the carriage trade” as it was then commonly known. Even though there are many organizations that specialize in it, when you think “Luxury Travel”, you think Virtuoso right?

But specializing in luxury travel or cruises is not enough to set you apart from every Tom, Dick, and Costco out there. You need to find your niche by drilling down even deeper. From cruises, down to small ships, to expedition to polar adventures. There is a strong market for this and the customers will seek out a specialist or expert to assist them.

Here is the five-step process I share with my students to help them choose a specialty that works for them. Take your time and do your homework.

  1. It’s all about you. You are probably committing the rest of your professional career to the specialty you pick – so choose wisely.  Focus on your core interests and passions, something that will hold your attention for the long haul. What is it people would say you do really well, and ask your advice or opinion about.
  2. It’s all about them. What problem can you solve better than anyone else? Who are your potential clients? What are their pain points? It’s a fact that clients buy destination first and product second. I suggest specializing in a region or destination and a couple of products that serve the area. Find a market where people are as passionate as you are.
  3. Show me the money! Can your interest or passion be monetized. Who is currently in your desired space and can you (really) do it better or differently? You don’t have to be the best, just the better choice. Is the market sizable enough to sustain a profitable business and, finally, is it an evergreen market like culinary travel or simply a passing fad. You would be surprised how much people will pay to work with someone who shares an interest or passion.
  4. Test the waters. Look for advertisers presently focused in your niche and do some research to determine if they are actually selling their product or just spending money on advertising (because unlike you, they didn’t do the research). It’s not hard to find out, Google makes it easier. Important to note: If there is no one currently in your chosen space, this is a pretty good sign it is not sustainable. Find a successful niche such as small ship, river cruise, or family travel and stand out by being better or more unique.
  5. Make a choice. Life is about the choices we make, and this is one of your biggest professional decisions. Once you have done all the research, and determined if you can you build a sustainable and profitable business around the niche, either go for it or start the process over until you find one that hits on all cylinders.

Do you want to be a small fish in a big blue sea or the giant fish in a small lagoon?  Like I said, you have to make a choice.


Very few achieve success without help from experienced coaches and mentors. If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve financial freedom and become the Wealthy Travel Agent, visit or send me an email at

Dan Chappelle is a professional business advisor, sales consultant, author, and speaker. His personal development and consulting firm helps develop sales oriented business leaders and entrepreneurs, His best-selling book, Get Your S.H.I.P. Together: The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales, is available on

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