The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Travel Advisors

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Travel Advisors

As featured on Offloaded

Michael Gazal (General Manager) and Tania Myles (Marketing Manager) recently recorded an episode of the The Travel Community Hub’s Offloaded podcast. Our discussion was so detailed it became a two-part release, going through the 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Travel Advisor.


As travel advisors, our clients look to us for guidance and expertise in creating a great holiday experience. We believe that success isn’t just about booking trips and turning a profit. Rather, it’s about supporting each of our personal travel managers (PTMs) in following their passions so that they can provide every client with exceptional service while building their picture of the perfect business.

Our network of home-based PTMs are among the most exceptional travel advisors in Australia. These are the habits and principles that elevate their craft from merely booking trips to orchestrating unforgettable experiences.

1. They have a clear vision and a matching plan

In travel, in business, and in life, one important question offers the key to success: if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know how to get there?

As a travel advisor, having a business plan that incorporates both parts of this equation is essential to creating a business that reflects your individual concept of success. To put it in travel terms, a detailed itinerary is required if you want to reach your chosen destination.

It doesn’t even have to be complicated – a simple one-page outline can be enough to set you on your way. Set down all the details that define your picture of the ideal business: your area of specialisation, your financial goals and your parameters for a good work/life balance. This may feel a little overwhelming if you’re new to the party, but it’s all part of the journey. We have a team of experienced Business Partnership Managers (BPMs) who help their PTMs with business planning and coaching sessions, whether they’re just starting out or many years in.

2. They know their stuff

It’s never a dull moment in the travel industry. There are huge areas of opportunity, with new products and experiences always emerging: success is yours for the taking. Whether you choose to focus on corporate or cruise, luxury or adventure, a specific destination or style of travel, success demands a constant commitment to being on the pulse and up with the play.

An effective agent is full-service. They will look after everything from start to finish and they understand the risks associated with not taking on elements of a booking. If you tell your client you “won’t do the air” for example, then you need to ask yourself what other business you are turning away.

Obviously you can’t be an expert in everything. But a community with whom you can collaborate can help you to deliver value in all areas. We’ve seen the law of reciprocity unfold within our own network, where PTMs have helped one another win business or upskill. Airfares gurus helping cruise novices, cruise experts helping corporates, and everything in between.

3. Customer service has the WOW factor

There’s a saying that “clients don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. The most effective travel advisors deliver on this concept with every single client, through all the things – little and big – which they do to wow their clients.

The key is to truly understand each client’s needs, which comes from knowing the right questions to ask at the outset and throughout the consulting process. It falls somewhere between science and art, but doing it well is the difference between a good holiday experience and one that is truly outstanding.

Sometimes it’s when things have gone wrong that the WOW factor really comes into play. When a client needs their help, an exceptional travel advisor leaves no stone unturned – even working in the dead of the night to put things right. Whether it’s replacing a damaged passport the day before departure, or helping to reunite a client with their forgotten false teeth (and we know you have stories of your own too), those are the times that a client will truly appreciate their advisor’s expertise and dedication.

Partner suppliers are also often able to provide an additional layer of on-the-ground support – that’s just one of the many reasons we value our supplier relationships so highly.

4. They know their worth

For many travel advisors, fees used to be something of a dirty word – they felt uncomfortable even mentioning them to their clients. An effective advisor knows how to approach this essential part of the advisor-client relationship with confidence and a strong sense of self-worth. When an advisor clearly articulates their value, clients usually respond positively; in fact, the common response to a conversation about service fees is “I don’t know why you didn’t do this sooner” – you’re worth every cent!

When a new PTM joins us, we always ask them to consider who they want (and don’t want) to work with. Everyone has a different take on this, but the one constant response is: “I don’t want to work with people who don’t value me for my time and expertise”.

Learning how to say no to people and businesses which don’t align with their goals, or don’t value their time and expertise, is an important part of every new PTM’s induction training.

5. They dot their i’s and cross their t’s

Effective travel advisors are masters at risk mitigation, and ninjas when it comes to attention to detail. They combine transparency with clear communication, always working to ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises for their clients.

For a client who’s hit with unexpected overseas medical expenses, having the right travel insurance could mean the difference between being fully protected and needing to remortgage their house. A great travel advisor will always ensure that their clients understand the importance of appropriate travel insurance, and they will explain the relevant terms and conditions – their own and those of service providers – as part of that conversation.

No advisor wants to have to tell their clients they’ve lost money in the case that a supplier becomes insolvent. Our PTMs (and their clients) benefit from TravelManagers’ ‘Peace of Mind’ practices, which provide what we believe to be the most comprehensive and transparent financial protections in the Australian travel industry. In addition, our Accounts team provides PTMs with wide-ranging guidance on financial risk mitigation, compliance, T&Cs and accounting.

6. They are masters of time and discipline

A career in travel is a labour of love, but when business gets a little too busy, your time can become consumed by taking care of tasks that bring you no joy. An effective travel advisor knows how to outsource the tasks that take up too much time, that they don’t love, or that they don’t do well – whether that means taking on an employee or hiring a virtual assistant.They also understand the importance of scheduling time to work ON their business – not just IN their business.

As well as providing support at an individual level, our BPMs organise regular catch-ups with PTMs groups. These provide an informal, judgement-free setting for sharing problems and solutions with colleagues who act as mentors, buddies and confidantes. You have to take time to make time. It can be painful upfront, but that investment does pay off.

7. Relationships are everything

One of the most important skills in an effective travel advisor’s toolkit is the ability to build strong relationships. From partner suppliers to local communities, from networking groups to the network of hundreds of PTMs across Australia, the key to success is connection. There’s a multitude of different strategies you can employ to build client relationships, whether it’s scheduling regular phone calls to chat about upcoming travel plans or hosting a travel expo that showcases your specialised area of interest.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not the most outgoing person in the room – you just have to be in the room. As home-based consultants, our PTMs thrive on a culture of camaraderie and community. There’s literally no-one in the organisation that you can’t call on for help, advice or a friendly chat. And if they can’t help you to resolve an issue, they’ll connect you with someone else who can.

Well, we got to seven and realised we had one more! It can’t be left out, so this list comes with a bonus …

8. They are opportunity seekers

Within their communities and networks, the best travel advisors are always on the lookout for opportunities to grow their business, adapt to change, and add value to their clients’ travel experiences. When it comes to planning client trips, they are thinking beyond the next one, often creating a five- or even ten-year road map which their clients absolutely love! A heavy workload is an opportunity to be embraced, rather than a problem to be feared, because it offers a chance to scale their business.

Having belief in yourself is fundamental to all of this. An effective advisor knows how to sell themselves, ask for business, make new connections and ask for testimonials. There are many incredible advisors out there who know their products and their systems back to front – they just need to get out of their own way.


For more information on how TravelManagers can help you develop the skills and attributes to take your travel business to the next level, talk to one of our Business Partnership Managers.