Travel as a Second Career
by Dolores Samms, MCC
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As a student, you will be encouraged to attend travel shows, go on ship inspections, and guest speakers will come in to acquaint you with their products and/or destinations. You are now on your way to learning what you need to do to satisfy your state requirements to become a travel agent (and, also, what instruments will be necessary to start a Home Based Agency).
I've also suggested that you contact someone you have booked travel with to see if they will become your mentor. Your instructor will have or will suggest magazine subscriptions to you. Read them before you extend yourself financially. Whatever you decide to do, take it slowly until you are sure travel is what you want as a second career.
My best advice to everyone is to look within to determine if you have the dedication, perseverance, patience and most of all the personality -- being able to accept the word "no" without being offended -- before you spend the time, energy, and money to become a travel person. Sometimes, rejections can be very disappointing and depressing after a presentation; however, your projected clients may tell someone else who will contact you for planning their travel. Never give up, always back up, prepare, and go to the next presentation with great expectations. Remember the three Ps I mentioned above, and they will make the difference with your success or failure.
Your travel classes will prepare you with excellent skills, when to listen and when to ask leading questions to qualify the prospective client. The more presentations you do, the more comfortable you will become and hopefully acquire the clientele you are seeking.
I am trying to introduce the land-locked individuals to cruising. This is difficult because most individuals will focus on the days at sea as boring days without anything to do -- but that's not so. If you can stay focused for 18 hours per day, the Ship's Program Director will have something planned for each one to do. I save my daily programs to show the various activities that are planned for days at sea, and also to show the deck plans of the ships for my prospective client to see locations and activities. I find myself competing with the bad publicity from the media, but I have gotten a few land lovers to take a short cruise and they have truly enjoyed their cruise.
You will be encouraged to join community organizations and/or become more visible in your current memberships -- but be careful, because you can go into overload and not get the travel commitments that you are expecting from these groups!
Dolores Samms serves as director of the OSSN Miami (Fla.) Chapter. She can be reached through OSSN's Chapter Directors page at www.ossn.com/chapters.asp.