Get Us in Your Inbox
The travel advisor profession needs major help recruiting and training the next generation of agents, according to a recent survey conducted by TravelAge West as part of its Need to Know research series. Seventy-eight percent of the more than 300 advisors in the study say there are no agents under 30 years old working at their agency. Only 15% report between one and five young advisors.
And the numbers only get worse from there.
Eighty-five percent of respondents say their agency has no program for hiring new-to-the-industry advisors — while 65% have no training for these young agents and 68% do not have a mentorship program.
Two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed say the industry has not done a good job attracting people to the profession.
This seems especially frustrating because the overwhelming opinion is that it’s important for the industry to create programs that attract the next generation of advisors — with 64% saying it is extremely important and 32% saying it’s somewhat important. Only 4% feel that it is not important at all.
“I think there’s a lot of interest out there, but not a lot of information on how to obtain the skill-set to have a career as a travel advisor,” said Tina Salloum, owner of Tina Knows Travel and a participant at TravelAge West’s Future Leaders in Travel Retreat. “One problem is that there are currently people in their 20s who don’t even know that travel advisors still exist. First and foremost, we need to educate people on what agents do and the value of using an agent. By doing this, we are promoting our business and showing people that this is a potential career choice.”
Sarah Johnson, an independent contractor (IC) with Paper, Ink & Passports Travel/ Largay Travel and a participant at the Future Leaders in Travel Retreat, had a more positive experience when she entered the profession.
“I’m grateful to be an independent affiliate with an agency that provides not just a six-month mentorship program, but one that also requires additional training through Virtuoso,” she said. “Largay Travel also encourages organic mentorship, offers a vast amount of support for all ICs and hosts a wide range of internal training and open discussion on everything from Client Base to how to market group travel."
On the bright side, most respondents (55%) feel they had adequate training when they were new to the profession. They also think that help is coming from other organizations. Nearly two-thirds (62%) say consortia and host agencies are providing new advisors with the proper educational resources.
“All of us need to make the process of becoming an agent more accessible,” Salloum said. “We have to show people that becoming a travel advisor is a legitimate career path. It’s not enough to just offer the programs, we also have to make them readily available. There were numerous times in my 20s when I wanted to pursue a career as a travel advisor, but always fell short because there was so little information on how to do this.”
“Need to Know” is a weekly research series from TravelAge West that tracks the responses of advisors as they relate to various travel trends and topics. This survey recorded the responses of 314 advisors across the U.S. Click here to see more Need to Know stories.