Here are some words a travel advisor should never say

Jamie Biesiada

I would make a terrible travel advisor.

At least, that’s my takeaway from the latest episode of the Trade Secrets podcast, when my co-host Emma Weissmann and I posed as an advisor and a prospective client. I was the advisor, and boy, oh, boy did I use some wording that sounded like nails on a chalkboard to Travel Planners International’s Jenn Lee (though she did nicely point out that I’m still learning).

Lee, Travel Planners’ vice president of industry engagement and support, offered plenty of advice about the vocabulary advisors should be using. For all of it, please give the episode a listen, but I’m including some here.

For instance, when asked what I do, I said, “I’m a travel agent. I book travel.”

Lee’s take: “You don’t book travel and you’re not a travel agent, Jamie. Unless you work for somebody else, the correct response would have been, ‘Oh, I own a travel agency.'”

Positioning yourself as the owner of a company — which every independent contractor (IC) is — elevates you in the potential client’s eyes, she said. Starting the conversation with that knowledge puts a different lens on all that follows.

For those who aren’t ICs, but instead are travel agency employees, Lee recommended saying, “I’m a travel advisor with such-and-such travel agency,’ or ‘I partner with such-and-such travel agency.'”

Another mistake I made in my conversation with a “prospective client”: I said, “When you use an agent, you get perks you wouldn’t get otherwise, and we can also save you time and money.”

Lee did give me some props for mentioning special perks I can get for my clients. But I invited them, literally, to use me.

“You don’t use a travel agent,” she said. “You hire me. When you hire a travel advisor, when you hire one of our advisors in our agencies, here’s what you can expect.”

Overall, Lee said, communicating with clients is all about understanding what’s motivating them, and connecting with them.

“People buy on emotion and justify logically,” she said. “That is the key to all purchasing decisions. People buy emotionally, which means they connect with you emotionally … and then they justify logically.”

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