The Gift of Clarity | Travel Research Online


The Gift of Clarity


Tor Hagen, founder and Chairman of Viking Cruises, once said, “We are focused clearly on what we are and the number of things we are not.”

If you ever wondered why Viking is so successful, I think this statement sums it up nicely. Clarity will help you to stand out among the plethora of available booking options. Ask yourself, “What do I really want to be known for?”

This is powerful and more important than ever. If a company as complex as Viking can figure out exactly who they are, why is it so hard for travel advisors to gain this clarity?

Several years ago, I solo-hiked a 70-mile section of the Pacific Coast Trail. After this COVID thing clears up, I plan to do it again. As any seasoned backpacker will share, the most important piece of equipment is their boots. A poor fit can cause considerable pain. Many a hiker have abandoned their trip due to blisters or worse.

So, what do hiking boots have to do with selling travel? Funny you should ask!

I know that I can purchase my boots cheaper from a number of online vendors but, like others serious about the sport, I seek out Pete Smith who has been fitting boots at REI’s Flagship Seattle store for over 25 years. Pete is well known throughout the Pacific Northwest for his ability to match hikers and climbers with well fitted boots for their specific hiking needs.

Pete is a star in the hiking world, but he didn’t start out that way – in fact he began selling fly fishing gear. He quickly moved to footwear and found his niche as REI’s premier boot fitter. Customers seek him out and will wait for hours (speaking from personal experience) to have him fit their new boots. As REI has grown, he gives back by teaching the skills to the next generation of boot fitters.

So, what do you want to be known for? What is it that you are so good at or want to be, that people will seek you out?

The key: Less is more. Pete doesn’t sell tents or sleeping bags, he sells boots. Twenty years ago, you could get away with specializing in a niche like cruising or all-inclusive resorts, but not today. There are so many options that you must have a deeper understanding of segments within these niches to establish your expertise in specific brands or regions.

Virtually every travel magazine publishes a “World’s Best “list. It’s not the best travel agent list. No, it’s the “World’s Best (fill in the blank) Specialist” List. Those who are selected are well-known for their expertise of specific products and destinations.

My company is “The Wealthy Travel Agent Academy.” I am very clear on who we are and who we serve. As such, our business coaching and training programs are sought out by both individual travel advisers and some of the biggest brands in the industry.

Take a lesson from the Viking playbook. Get crystal clear (no pun intended). Know who you are and the audience you serve. Just as importantly, know who you don’t serve and you will have no problem standing out from the thousands of other travel agents.


Dan Chappelle is the leading authority on sales performance in the travel and tourism industry. His best-selling book “Get Your S.H.I.P. Together – The Wealthy Travel Agent Guide to Sales” is available on Amazon and Audible. To learn more about his High-Performance Sales System and onsite training programs. visit

© 2020 Dan Chappelle / CCI, Inc.

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