The Dirty Little Secret of the Travel Business

You may have heard that adopting a successful mindset is a major factor to your success. Perhaps it’s the only factor since your mindset drives everything else. But what does that really mean, to lead with a successful mindset? In the day-to-day of life and business, how does one maintain a successful mindset?

I spent a long time as a professional travel advisor living a dirty little secret. My husband knew, but I didn’t want to share it with my friends, neighbors, or family. I certainly didn’t want to share it with colleagues in the business. I thought I was alone. I wasn’t. In fact, I was far from alone. And it’s only getting worse in the industry.

What’s the dirty little secret? I wasn’t making any money.

From the outside, I was working hard enough and long enough and with a decent amount of clients to look like I had a somewhat successful business. But it wasn’t successful. I couldn’t support myself, let alone my family on my income, even though I was devoted full time to my business. What nobody’s telling you is that there are a lot of ways to go broke in the travel business. Maybe you have stumbled upon a few of these paths.

The good news is that there ARE ways to be successful. By successful, I mean, there are ways to work as a professional travel advisor, work with great clients and make enough money to support yourself, your family and your never ending appetite to travel.

You can go from making $30,000 in commissions per year to $300,000 in commissions per year. How? The answer is one word.


Here are the ways you must apply commitment to your business to see a dramatic change in results.

1. Commitment to your numbers.

It doesn’t take a brain scientist to realize that an average commission of $250 per booking is not a great return on your investment of time and energy. If you want to get to $100,000 per year in commissions, and your average commission per booking is $250, then you will need to book 33 trips per month, or just over 8 per week.That might be doable for an online booking engine, or an agency with multiple agents, but NOT doable for 1 individual. Human beings are not computers and that’s a huge amount to handle for one travel advisor. So, get committed to your numbers. Here are some ways to get committed to your numbers:

A) Get clear on how much you want to make in a 12 month period. Establish a goal for yourself. Understand WHY you want to make that goal.

B) Know your numbers and TRACK them! Here are some critical numbers you should be tracking:

  • Average Commission Per Booking
  • # of Bookings Per Month
  • Total revenues per month
  • Total expenses per month

C) Establish boundaries around what business you will work on and what business you will turn away. For example, several years ago, I decided I would no longer work for clients spending less than $5,000 on their travel. The easy way to turn away business, when I knew they were spending less, was to tell them that I had a $350 service fee and that I would be happy to help, but if their budget was a big priority, maybe this time wasn’t the time for them to use my services. I always referred them to some great online sources where they could get started planning it themselves.

2. Commitment to an expertise.

I feel like a broken record here, but I will put it out there again. One of the most common paths to going broke in the travel business is the generalist route.

Today, commit to being an expert at something. Just claim it. Your expertise does NOT have to be a destination. Pick a segment of the population you want to serve and pick one problem you can solve or one dream you can deliver and get known for it.You don’t need to wait for someone to give you a certificate that says you are an expert at XXXX. Just claim it.

3. Commitment to doing whatever it takes.

I see a lot of people being willing to do what’s convenient. And not so ironically, these are the people who are struggling. Successful people are willing to do whatever it takes. As a business owner, you should be spending 50% of your day on marketing activities. Yes, you should be allocating 4 hours a day to marketing. Whether that means writing a weekly, electronic newsletter, sending emails to secure a monthly speaking engagement, reaching out to your best clients with a personal note, or jumping on a plane to attend a workshop where you will learn more about building your business. Stop making excuses for why you can’t jump at an opportunity and be committed to being successful.


There are many more ways to apply commitment to your business, but the 3 in this article are the greatest blind spots I see travel advisors making. Make a commitment today to become aware of your numbers, establish goals and track. Then go claim your expertise and get out there. Last, be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Find a way, no matter what.

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