Women as travel agents
I read an article once by Susan Spano of the LA Times about women as travel agents. She noted that (according to one study) 75% of all travel agents are women and pointed out what those of us on this side of the business (the home-based side) have known for a good long while: that the money can be very good.
Spano cited one home-based agent who grosses $3.5 million serving the Hollywood film community. Assuming an average 10% after the split (and if I were doing that kind of volume I’d insist on more than that!), that’s $350,000 a year. Not too shabby.
She also mentioned a part-timer who took in $50,000 on a single booking by rounding up 270 friends and family members for a cruise. (Wow! What an email list!)
So far so good, but I was disappointed — amazed is more like it — when the article started listing reasons there are so many women travel agents. Here were some of the reasons cited by Spano’s sources, who were all women and big names in the travel industry no less:
Travel agenting has traditionally been a low-paying profession. I guess they think women are dumb.
Selling travel is considered “fun.” I guess they think women are frivolous.
Becoming a travel agent is easy. I guess they think women aren’t capable of hard work.
Married women have time on their hands. Yikes! Where have these people been
It made me angry. And I’m not even a woman!
Here, then, are what I consider some of the real reasons women are so prominent in the travel business and why so many of them are succeeding big time as home-based agents:
*** Women Are Great at Relationship Selling ***
When I was a sales training consultant, I had the privilege of working with some very fine sales teams around the country. I was constantly impressed by the way female reps would hang in there to make the sales relationship work and bring in that big sale, long after their male counterparts would give up, muttering about what a jerk the customer was. They did it through relationship selling, which has two parts: understanding what makes the customer tick and designing a sales presentation that matches the product’s benefits with the customer’s needs and wants.
Travel products, especially the upscale high-margin products you should be selling, are ideal for this kind of relationship-based sales approach. Remember, a plane seat may be a commodity but a great vacation is like a great relationship. It feeds the soul and enriches the person who takes it. Women travel agents, I truly believe, understand this on a gut level and that’s what makes them such great sellers of the dream of travel.
*** Women Care About Their Customers ***
I’m not suggesting that men are callous, but us guys like to make the sale and move on. Women not only want to make the sale, but make the right sale. It goes along with what I was saying about matching the product to the customer. Customers respond to this, whether they are aware of it or not. And women are curious, truly curious, about whether the customer liked the trip. So they’re better at follow-up and those of you who have studied what I have to say about that, know what that means!
*** Women Care About the Quality of Their Lives ***
Guys may be willing to commute three hours a day to go bang their head against the corporate ladder to get ahead in a company that will dump them ruthlessly at the first sign of an economic downturn. But women want more from life than that. They see becoming a home-based travel agent as a strategy that allows them to work in a comfortable, supportive environment (home), on their own terms, make good money, and still have time for the things that really matter in life.
*** Women Are Smart ***
Don’t fool yourself. Women don’t become home-based agents because it’s easy to get started (which is true) or because they have time on their hands or because they’re just too dumb to do anything else. They do it because they can do the math and they know that when you add up the money to be made AND the great perks (travel, free time, time with the kids, and on and on) that this is one of the best paid jobs out there.
If you’d like to become a home-based travel agent while still being a full-time mom, read this.