Travel Agent Talk: Daniela Harrison

ASTA’s Young Professionals Society travel agent Daniela Harrison shares how social media has changed the way she does business and provides tips for forward-thinking travel agents

Born and raised in Dusseldorf, Germany, Daniela Harrison moved to New York after high school and worked in broadcasting, child care, pharmacology and the restaurant industry before becoming a travel agent. These different jobs helped her develop fantastic customer service skills as well as learn how to network and form relationships with clients and suppliers. Last year she organized her first fundraiser with AmaWaterways.

Harrison found her calling specializing in customized European travel with a concierge touch. Having lived in Europe and knowing the area well makes her the perfect fit for this niche. She takes care of all arrangements, from airport transfers and hotels to tours, suggested activities and even restaurant recommendations and dinner reservations.

In 2011, Harrison was one of Travel Agent Magazine’s 35 under 30 travel agents, and in 2012, she was chosen as a runner-up for the TravelAge West Trendsetter Award. She serves on the Steering Committee for the Young Leaders Conference.

Why is the travel agent profession a good career choice for young people?
It’s a great field to grow in. The industry is so supportive of young people and the learning opportunities are endless. The industry constantly changes and evolves, and is becoming what agents make of it. Also, the hours are flexible — most agents are able to create their schedule.

What made you want to join ASTA’s Young Professionals Society?
It’s great to belong to a group with the same goals and obstacles. We all network with each other, ask for advice, offer support and have fun together. It’s a great time to get involved, connect with other members and see how they advance in the industry.

What tips do you have for attracting a younger clientele?
Make yourself available to the clients you want to attract. I work with and support a lot of local non-profit organizations, advertise on campuses, attend community events and much more. Consider mentoring sorority members, be active in your local chamber, organize meet-up groups, embrace social media (and learn how to use it to your advantage) and network, network, network.

What are some tips you have for booking multi-generational travel?
I do a lot of family reunions and multi-generational travel to Europe. It’s important to think about all members of the family and offer a wide variety of options that everybody can enjoy. You want people to bond and enjoy the same activities, but grandma moves at a different speed than her grandson. It’s vital to realize the needs of all travelers and create an itinerary that doesn’t point out one traveler’s weakness, but strengthens the relationships of the entire group. If this is done successfully, you earn yourself not just one client for life – but an entire family.

In terms of the future of selling travel, what predictions do you have?
I think it’s only a matter of time before traditional storefronts are a thing of the past. People want a personal touch that works with their own schedule. I think in the next 10 years, agents will have to be flexible enough to meet their clients all over town and work on a much more virtual level. Social media is already taking on the role of traditional email. More and more of my clients prefer to meet over lunch, dinner or coffee at a local restaurant or in their own home.  It puts them at ease. They are much more relaxed and more likely to embrace an open exchange.

Name the specific ways in which you use social media to grow your business.
I use social media to stay in touch with my current clients and have them share feedback on their recent trips. I also share my travel experiences, current specials, destination information and what’s happening in our office. 

What are some business goals that you have?
For the near future I want to expand my field of expertise and grow my client base. I love selling travel and interacting with my clients. I want to start a mentoring program within my consortia and expand my professional network as well. 

What are your dream destinations?
Australia and New Zealand

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