Picture this: You are a successful travel advisor. You have worked hard and built up your client list by providing exceptional service and are continuously getting repeat business and new referrals. You have cultivated relationships with suppliers and honed your expertise by personally visiting unique places and having memorable experiences firsthand.
However, as your business continues to flourish, you are starting to feel like you’re reaching your limit and can no longer balance your existing clients, new inquiries, and your own travels (both business and personal).
It is difficult for many travel advisors to admit to themselves that they need help and actually take the next step and hire someone. However, scaling your business is an essential step in achieving long-term success.
This topic recently arose while chatting with GTN Top Producer Laney Sachs, founder of Ortensia Blu Travel Adventures. During this discussion with Vanessa McGovern and Meredith Calloway, these three identified and debunked the biggest misconceptions about bringing on additional help as travel advisor.
Misconception #1: “It’s hard to grow your business and remain profitable when you hire additional help.”
Hiring additional help can assist you in expanding your business and increasing your revenue.
Our Chief Visionary Officer, Meredith Calloway, said it best:
We’ve been coaching travel advisors for almost 15 years now, and we often see them “hitting a ceiling” where they don’t want to take on more sales because they want to travel. There’s almost an unspoken mindset that you can’t hire help, or if you do, you won’t be able to afford the cashflow long term.
What we see in our network when advisors have the courage to hire help is that not only can you pay the cashflow, but you can grow beyond to somewhere you wouldn’t be able to get to without the help. It allows you to travel and take those trips you need to take in order to grow your business. It’s such an important philosophy for scaling and moving past that pain point.
By delegating tasks to your team, you can focus on developing new relationships, creating new service offerings, and increasing your client base. This can lead to increased revenue and profit margins.
Misconception 2: “It will hurt my client experience if I don’t personally handle all the details.”
Providing exceptional service is the hallmark of any successful luxury travel advisor. However, as you take on more and more clients, it can be challenging to maintain the same level of service. Hiring additional help can ensure that each client receives the attention they deserve, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty. While describing her client process, Laney explained,
I take the client to deposit and handle the back and forth of putting the trip together. From there, my client care manager takes over. She handles the insurance and works with the supplier to ensure they have all the information they need… I’m copied on everything, and the clients are wonderful with her.
When you do make the decision to hire someone, there is one crucial thing to keep in mind:
You’re not looking for a “helper”. You’re looking for an employee who will represent your business, and your hiring process should reflect that.
A mistake we often see people make, said Meredith, is that they decide they’re ready to cross that hurdle and bring on someone, so they just reach out to that person who has been pestering them about hiring help or they reach out to the college student’s son who needs an internship.
Don’t hire the person who is just available to you. You need to create a job description and figure out what you need. Interview people and fill the position based on what you’re looking for.
Misconception 3: "My clients will only want to talk to me."
Most of our travel advisors started their business alone and have worked hard to build it into a successful one-person show business. So, down the line, when they are busy getting more and more business and logically know they need help, they worry that bringing on another person will push away the clients with whom they’ve cultivated relationships.
This is a mindset weed that must be plucked, explained Vanessa. You are an agency, and you can have good support systems and people in place to do the work that needs to get done.
Your clients understand that you are knowledgeable about all these hotels and destinations because you personally go out and experience them. Your referral and return business is a testament to the fact that your clients trust you with their travel plans, meaning they trust that you know how to run your business.
When talking about how she was able to recently take an extended trip to Italy, Laney said,
“Part of my job is to travel. It’s what we do, but traveling and running a business is hard. I was able to go away for two weeks because I have an amazing client care manager who was back here. My clients are familiar with her, and I can send her things to do. My clients know they can reach out to her with questions when I’m not around. Clients understand, they love you and want to work with you, and of course, they understand that you can’t do it all yourself."
Along these lines, there is a mindset weed on the client side that hiring an assistant will help you pluck for them. Laney experienced this issue with her clients before bringing on her client care manager.
I have clients who don’t want to reach out because they feel like they’re bothering me, even though I tell them that this is my job and they’re not bothering me at all.
No matter how often you try to tell them that you are always available and happy to help, there will always be clients who insist that their little questions and details aren’t worth “annoying” you with. Having an assistant available to them, who has been helping with the trip and is knowledgeable about all the little things, can help clients stuck in this mindset feel better about reaching out.
"If you have someone good who can help you, it makes you do your job better, it helps your clients have a better experience, and it also helps them not feel like they’re bothering you."
At the end of the day, scaling your luxury travel business by bringing on additional help is crucial for long-term success. By delegating some of your day-to-day tasks to an assistant, you can free up more time to take on more clients, put more efficient processes in place, improve your client experience, spend more time traveling yourself, and avoid overall burnout. While letting go of specific tasks may be challenging, delegating to a trusted team member can be a game-changer for your business.