Written By: Jackie Friedman, CTC, CTIE, President – Nexion Travel Group
There are a plethora of personality-based tests out there, from Meyers-Briggs to StrengthsFinder to the Enneagram. In fact, there are a multitude of ways to explore your personality and figure out how to best use your natural strengths. I need to tell you, though, that there isn’t one type of personality that is best suited to becoming a travel advisor. INFPs, ESTJs and all Enneagram numbers can make fine travel professionals. It’s not so much about your specific personality type as it is about your general personality traits.
Over the years, I have had the chance to observe lots of travel advisors and there are some common threads that the best all share. The first is an ability to listen. You have one mouth and two ears for a reason. The successful travel advisor knows how to actively listen to current and future clients. This means understanding what is right for them: their budget, their desires, their non-negotiables and more. Anyone in a sales profession can tell you that it’s in the small moments of conversation that you can discover the best ideas of what the client truly wants. And in order to do that, you need to stop talking and start listening.
The second trait is passion. If you aren’t passionate about travel, why should your clients be? I certainly hope you went into this business because you love it. Figure out how you can convey that passion to clients. Find a topic that intrigues you. Use stories to express your feelings. Be your authentic self with your clients.
Integrity is another top trait. Everyday, opportunities can arise to act without integrity. You could pressure a client towards a booking that offers you a high commission, but it is one that you know isn’t right for their needs. Sometimes travel advisors, unfortunately, cross the line into criminality by taking their clients money fraudulently. In big or small ways, you need to act with integrity at all times. Without it, you will fail.
Always seek knowledge. Since I started in travel, the industry has changed hundreds of times, and thriving travel agencies have sought out learning opportunities to keep up with the changes. Learning about new booking tools, regulations and laws, and marketing tools, like social media, will only help you. A travel advisor that doesn’t learn is a travel advisor who will be left behind.
Practice kindness. This trait may seem superfluous, but I assure you it is not. All the best advisors I have known are people who have an aura of kindness and compassion. They know that they can have the best sales skills in the world, but what will motivate their clients to return to them is that they are pleasant to work with and are good people. Kindness can be shown in a variety of ways, and I encourage travel advisors to explore that, whether it means sponsoring the local Little League, remembering your clients’ important events, or reaching out if you hear they are in a difficult situation. As Aristotle once said, “It is the characteristic of the magnanimous man to ask no favor but to be ready to do kindness to others.”
In the end, it’s not about your personality type—successful people can rarely be boiled down to that. But having a base set of traits means that no matter how outgoing or introverted or analytical or whatever you are, success can be within your reach.