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Every good business relationship is built on trust, and travel consulting perhaps more so than most. Rather than a linear, transactional retail paradigm, modern travel sales is about establishing a relationship with the client, analyzing the customer’s needs and making recommendations based on the expertise of the travel consultant. The best practitioners in any field of expertise exhibit a set of characteristics that can be studied, learned and emulated. By looking at the habits and attitudes of top travel consultants, we can set out an agenda for expanding and enhancing our own skill set.  

Top travel counselors understand that the very nature of “sales” has changed. The internet has forever retired the retail paradigm of travel sales. The best in the field now treat themselves not as travel agents, but as travel counselors or travel consultants. This is not merely semantics, but a real difference based on the role of the travel professional. No doubt in each travel planning episode a sale is taking place. Actually, two sales are taking place. The travel supplier is selling travel. The travel professional is selling consulting services. No serious travel consultant should confuse or collapse the two sales initiatives, because to do so is to lapse back into the retail paradigm with the attendant problems of price shopping and a transactional relationship with a customer rather than a consulting relationship with a client.

Spend some time contemplating the nature of your business relationships. If you find yourself mentally emphasizing transactions over relationships, a psychological adjustment is in order. The perspective from which you approach your clients, transaction or relationship, will impact the quality of your client encounters.

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Here is a sample listing of possible strengths for a travel agency:

• We have exclusive access to vendors and contractors worldwide that we have earned having built a...
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