KHM Travel Group’s How-To Series: How to Change Common Perceptions of Travel Agents

As a travel agent, the way your customers
feel about you is important. The more you show you care about them, the
more likely it is that you will get repeat clients that will provide valuable referrals.
With that in mind, providing good customer service to your clients
should naturally be a major priority in your day-to-day schedule. It is important to develop a reputation to
live up to, and for many it all begins with breaking away from the perception and stereotypes
of what it means to be a travel agent. Your client’s perception of being a travel
agent can be different based on where they live, their ages, and their past experiences
working with travel professionals. For many, you may find that the perception
of the travel agent is someone who sifts through travel deals and websites behind a computer
for hours at a time, trying to locate the best price for clients. People may even think that what you do is
easy, and they could do it themselves. Especially if they believe they can save some
money. Your friends and family may perceive travel
agents differently, especially if they observe you traveling to exotic destinations for training
and site visits. However, this is where you will gain credentials
and first hand experiences that will set you apart from your competition. Your friends and family may actually believe
that you are always on vacation, and what you do is more of a hobby than it is an actual
career or business. Society in general may believe that all travel
agents do is book airline tickets and hotel rooms. Why? Because back in the 1990’s the storefront
travel agency did just that. They focused on corporate travel, where the
bulk of their business was airline ticketing. In fact, at that time, only about 20% of their
travel business was leisure travel or vacations. Many people also think that using a travel
agent costs more. That the commissions you were paid get added
to the total cost of their trip. You will need to help educate consumers on
the fact that your commission comes directly from the suppliers, and booking through an
agent does not increase the total cost of their trip. When you first become a travel agent, your
initial perception of yourself is that you need to be everything to everyone. Some new agents might fall into this trap
and actually become good at planning a lot of different types of travel, but not an expert
at anything. This overwhelming need to learn and do everything
can be a dangerous and slippery climb to the top, and generally the reward of success takes
much longer. To truly know how to break through all these
different perceptions of what people think you do, it is important to really understand
and appreciate the value of what you will actually offer your clients as a travel professional. That’s right. You really aren’t a travel agent – you are
a travel professional. So what does that mean? As a travel professional, you are passionate
about helping to plan memorable travel experiences for your clients. It’s a vacation they may have saved years
for that may even offer them a lifetime of photos and memories. You will be a part of making all of that happen
for your clients. You may help plan the perfect destination
wedding or honeymoon with all the amenities to offer exquisite romance. Or perhaps you may be sending a struggling
couple on a much needed vacation alone together to get reacquainted. You may be involved in planning a vow renewal
ceremony for a second wedding the couple will never forget. Or you may even help plan that affordable
summer vacation for a family of 7 that would have never been able to travel it wasn’t for
your help in making it happen. They say just one vacation can offer a life
time of memories, and you can be a part of all of that. What you do as a travel professional breaks
away from all the perceptions of what others may believe you do. And part of that process of living up to that
image of what you actually do for your clients starts with how you take care of them from
the very beginning until they return home. Remember, you are a travel professional, an
expert, and a consultant that helps plan unforgettable getaways. Not a KHM Travel Agent yet? Visit to learn more about
the training and support available to start your career as a home-based travel agent.

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