In celebration of the 10th anniversary of ARC MarketPlace, ARC product marketing analyst Jenna Harvey has been conducting interviews with travel agents across the country, inquiring about up-and coming destinations, travel trends and advice for new travel advisors.
Agents weighed in on the latest trends shaping the industry and shared some of their favorite experiences to book for clients. Agents echoed the value of ARC MarketPlace in planning memorable tours for travelers, as well as meaningful touches such as private transportation to and from airports or cruise ports of call. They also mentioned the ease of sending tour ideas to their clients to gauge their interests.
See excerpts from the Agent Spotlight series below. To see all Agent Spotlight posts throughout this year, visit the ARC MarketPlace blog.
Ashley Orth grew up around the travel business with her mother being a travel consultant, so her love for travel started at a young age. She spent 10 years in the United States Air Force and had the opportunity to see parts of the world she never thought possible. This further fueled her passion for travel and desire to enter the travel and tourism industry.
Do you have any advice for new travel agents? “Organization is a key. Never think you know all the answers—reach out for help or use lifelines. In our office, we have a lot of agents with different experiences, so I often turn to them as a resource. It’s also helpful to take classes and webinars to continuing to learn about various destinations and travel experiences available, along with happenings going on around the world, so you can best serve clients.”
Ben Preston has loved travel since a young age. He grew up vacationing in Hawaii and has traveled there at least 20 times. Preston began selling travel because it was the family business. His mother was a manager at International Tours of Clinton, and now, he and his mother are co-owners at the agency.
Do you have a story about a positive travel experience for one of your clients? “I had a couple that eloped over New Year’s. I had already planned their eight-day Chile trip, and it ended up turning into their honeymoon! I used ARC MarketPlace to book everything. They came back raving about the trip, saying how magical it was.”
Emily Hunsicker has been in the travel business for over 40 years. It all started with a work study project she did in high school with a local travel agency—she’s been hooked ever since. Planning travel is her passion and Hunsicker has been fortunate enough to make it her career.
Is there a trend you’ve seen in the market that you think will impact future travel? “A general trend I’ve seen is that people want to go to more exotic places. It seems like everyone has been to Europe, so that’s not the big trip anymore. They now want to go to the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica or a place other people haven’t been. This sometimes poses a challenge when booking, because of the more remote the destination, the less travel infrastructure there is. It’s a whole different way of life. For example, a remote hotel in Scotland may not even have a website so you may have to wait days to hear back.”
Meetta Simpson has been in the travel industry for 25 years. She started working at the Travel Center of Lexington when she got out of school because the owner was a friend of the family. Her first role involved printing airline tickets and hand delivering them to corporate clients. In her downtime around the office, she began training herself by listening to agents… and eventually, she got the opportunity to start selling travel on her own!
Have you ever been on an ARC MarketPlace tour? How was it? “Yes! I booked a fishing excursion through ARC MarketPlace for a vacation that my family took to Riviera Maya in Mexico. It was a half-day fishing charter. On the outing, we ended up catching a barracuda! That was the one part of the trip my family still talks about.”
Ann VanderWyst was working part-time at a real estate company when she decided that she wanted to change careers and get into planning travel. She attended travel school to become a certified travel advisor. Twenty-eight years later, she has not looked back.
Do you have any advice for new agents? “Educating yourself is very important. I recommend reading travel trade magazines to keep up-to-date on things that are changing and new developments. As a travel agent, it is essential to keep learning and not be stagnant.”
Valerie Berry was working part-time for a pharmaceutical company when she realized that she could be turning her love for travel and researching vacations into a career. Valerie heard about Travel Planners International from a friend and joined them to start planning travel part-time while homeschooling her children.
What is your greatest challenge as a travel advisor? “I haven’t been able to personally travel to all the places that my clients want to go, like Europe and China, because my kids are young. That’s why it is so important to have resources to turn to, such as ARC MarketPlace, to fill those gaps. Being able to read reviews that provide real feedback from people that have been on the tours helps me trust what I am booking for my clients.”
To learn more about ARC MarketPlace and how your agency can leverage its travel planning resources and commissionable travel experiences, visit the website. If you are an ARC accredited agent, you can immediately start booking using your ARC Number. Otherwise, it’s quick and easy to sign up for an ARC MarketPlace ID. For the latest updates on ARC MarketPlace, trending destinations and more, check out the blog.