You might hear from the naysayers and negative nellies of the world that travel agents are a thing of the past.
That it’s not a lucrative profession and you’ll never make any money….
….and I’m hear to tell you that is a lie!
Successful, professional Travel Agents are very much alive and well and prospering in businesses that they LOVE.
One of the reasons I love doing these Outstanding Agent of the Month interviews so much is because I’m passionate about getting the word out and helping travel agents succeed!
Sure, the business of being a travel agent looks different than it did 20 years ago – WAY different – but that doesn’t mean it’s dead, it just means that in order to succeed you have to do things differently.
We have travel agents in the Travel Expert Marketing Academy who have been at it for 10, 20, 30 years, and they still have successful businesses because they’ve kept up with the changing times.
October’s Outstanding Travel Agent of the Month is Linda Hedges.
I just loved interviewing Linda. Her warm, friendly personality shines through in everything she does. It’s easy to see why her clients love working with her!
This interview is a wonderful little bit of encouragement for new, and seasoned travel agents – a reminder that it’s YOUR time and you do have what it takes to be a great, and successful Travel Agent.
Hello, I’m Heidi with the Travel Expert Marketing Academy, and today I want to introduce you to our Outstanding Agent of the Month Linda Hedges with Beacon Travel. Welcome, Linda!
Hi Heidi! Thank you!
So, Linda has been awarded our Outstanding Agent of the Month. She’s been an Academy member for about five months, and I’m really proud of her successes so far.
So for those that don’t know you, Linda – and we have a combination of both travel agents and prospective travelers watching our interview here today – so tell us a little bit more about your travel agency and the type of clients that you serve.
Ok, well, I am here in Colorado. And I am a travel agent who specializes in helping busy people, whether they are couples, singles, or families, plan their unique all-inclusive vacations. Land or sea. When I work with people I’ll have conversations with them and find out exactly what type of vacation they are looking for, then hopefully, I can find what they want and get it booked.
My husband and I actually love all-inclusives. We go at least once a year because for busy people with big lives like what we have it is so nice to be able to just go somewhere and be a hundred percent taken care of. You don’t have to think about anything.
For those watching that are unfamiliar with all-inclusive, it literally means ALL-inclusive so you just pay one amount and then when you get there all of your food, drink, accommodations – everything’s included so you don’t even need to carry a wallet around. You just have people serving you and waiting on you 24/7 and coming to your every need. It is the most rejuvenating vacation in my opinion.
And then for people with kids, they actually take your kids to these fun lands with these people who love children and will entertain them all day for you included.
So Linda, I’m assuming you help people find the right all-inclusive because being an all-inclusive traveler myself, I know that there are big differences – there’s the family ones, the adult-only ones, the party ones, the luxury ones. And so you want to make sure you get at the right one. So if you’re looking for a rejuvenating trip, you don’t want to be at the party place.
And there are all-inclusives that throw in the culture of the place that you’re visiting as well. They’ll have a guide assigned especially to you and your group. And they will take you out and introduce you some of the local traditions and food and stuff like that. Yeah, there are so many different kinds of all-inclusives. I love it!
Oh, that’s just fantastic! So what is one of the personal mantras that you have or that you’ve developed with your time here in the Academy for just keeping yourself really energized and inspired?
It’s the time to be who I am and what I’m meant to be here on this earth is now. I mean, it’s taken me a while to get here, but it is now. So that’s my biggest mantra. Then one that I tell myself – which may be more of an affirmation -several times a day is that I do possess the ability to be a professional travel agent and be extremely good one with service. I do possess that. I can do it and my business can thrive. So those are my two biggest ones.
Yes, hence why you’ re Outstanding Agent of the Month. And you’ve definitely proven that! Over the last five months so far in the Academy, what’s one of your biggest “aha” moments that you’ve had?
Following your modules step-by-step as I did. And I think you just mentioned this last week. I did go off a little bit different direction because I wanted to put my website up so I can have my scheduler all ready for people. And next thing I knew that was the direction I was going, and I ended up skipping over modules. Not on purpose! When I was getting clients and getting emails I realized, oh my goodness, I don’t have my scripts ready to respond to these people. I want to because I know I got off in a different direction. I got to follow your module step by step. I can’t say how important that is.
So one of the things that we show agents in the Academy is how to systematize their processes so that the client is always getting a really consistent experience. And the travel agent is able to deliver the best possible experience in the least amount of time because they’re able to be really really efficient. So the customer wins because they’re getting this consistent, beautiful experience – all the I’s are dotted all the T’s are crossed.
And then the agent gets the benefit of being able to just have things flow in a system. So that they’re not having to reinvent the wheel every day. They can take on more clients. They can do more for each client that they take on. So that is what Linda’s referring to. That’s an awesome “aha” Linda! Thank you for sharing that!
And if you’re a traveler watching, you’d be lucky to work with an agent like Linda because you are gonna get that consistent experience. Because she’s taking the time to really hone her skills and be a good, proficient business owner so you’re working with a real professional. So that’s fantastic Linda!
Now if you could message yourself back when you’re first starting out as a travel agent and tell yourself anything, what would it be? What would you call yourself and tell your just-getting-started-self?
Hang in there and get over your lack of self-confidence so to speak. When I was first starting out, I guess I just wasn’t sure of myself as a travel agent and what I could offer. You know – how to look at trips, how to do quotes. I think just hang in there have confidence in yourself.
I think the biggest obstacle I had, of course, was the whole research fee deal. And I either read it in one of your posts in the Academy or you may have said it, and it’s just remember that your dream client will not have a problem paying the research fee because my time is valuable. And I am confident with what I can offer and step-by-step procedures to make the whole process as smooth for the clients as possible. So I just hang in there and be confident.
Yes, and as a travel agent, more times than not, you save the client way more money than that research or planning fee. You know, I actually have a story – a good friend of mine and her husband and my husband and I did a couples trip at an all-inclusive. We were there for a week. We ran into some friends that she knew that she didn’t know were going. They actually came on the same flight as us. They were there the same days and everything. And we had booked with the travel agent and they didn’t. And she’s like, oh my god I’ve spent hours researching this and like all this. And we just told our travel agent what we wanted, got it booked, and for our trip we paid $250 less per person than what they paid.
So the research planning fee is nothing because we still saved triple, quadruple. I think the planning fee we paid was like $250 total for the four of us to go on this trip together. And we saved $250 per person, and we didn’t do any of the work. And there’s so many story after story after story after story like that because travel agents do have access to deals that the general public just simply don’t. And so you can be very confident in charging that research planning fee even when the client doesn’t make it back. Which is more times than that they make it back multiple times over again.
It ends up – they have to look at what their time is worth and for most people going on these types of trips, they’re in a job where their time is worth at least you know 30, 40, 50 dollars plus an hour. And so does it really make sense for them to spend 10, 15, 20 hours researching a trip?
Oh, yeah, with all of the different options – exactly! I think just to plan one trip, even if you find the one that you want right off the bat. It is an average of 4 hours, I think it is. So if you want to explore options on where to go, it’s about 20 hours, easy. So let us do it! Let travel agents do it for you!
On that note Linda, tell our viewers where they can find you online.
So I have my website BeaconTravelLLC.com. And then I also have a Facebook page with is @ BeaconTravelLLC as well.
Great! So if you’re looking to book an all-inclusive, definitely check out Linda. She is our Outstanding Agent of the Month for a reason. You’re gonna get a professional experience with her because she’s taking her business seriously and rocking it out here inside the Travel Expert Marketing Academy. Well, thank you so much for being here, Linda.
Thank you Heidi for everything! You pointed me in the right direction. I was lost for a couple of months when I started out. I found you and I’m happy about it. And my accountability people as well.
Awesome! Yes, that helps. My pleasure, Linda! And I look forward to working with you for years to come.
Yes, definitely! Thank-you!