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Success Stories focus on how veteran advisors achieved success. Here’s a look at Claire Schoeder, an independent contractor for Atlanta-based Elevations Travel.
How did you get your start as a travel advisor?
I started in travel when my husband changed careers and joined a company that often transferred employees. I was a high school teacher and would have to re-qualify each time we moved to a different state. I worked doing corporate training for a while but was not happy. I saw an advertisement for a travel school in Omaha Neb., enrolled and got stared on my career.
How did you build your business/niche over the years?
I had an excellent mentor in Paula Clark at Travel and Transport when I began my career. Her guidance set me on the right path to build a successful career. I attended educational seminars as often as possible.
And I traveled. My husband is from Luxembourg so we regularly travel to Europe to visit family and friends. I was very familiar with the ins and outs of international travel when I started in the industry, which gave me a strong base to build on.
I taught geography for a number of years, which was also a big plus for me. We also cruised, traveled domestically and to the Caribbean so that I became familiar with that type of travel as well.
I began specializing in travel to Scotland and England. I traveled to both places as often as possible and had also studied British history while at university. My knowledge of history, combined with personal visits there, made it a good choice for my specialty.
What characteristic make you a successful advisor?
I treat each client like my only client. I listen and hear what they are saying. And I offer my advice and am willing to tell clients what they want may not be what they really need on a vacation.
What have been your greatest challenges been?
This is more difficult to answer as many challenges are unique to individual travelers. The biggest challenge for me was learning to work with luxury/high-end clients. I had to change my mindset and begin to think like these clients. And learn how to keep my thoughts from coming through in my voice when I began my more luxury-focused career path. I worked with a couple of agents who taught me excellent ways to present options to my luxury/high end clients.
What have your greatest accomplishments been?
My greatest accomplishment is that I have a career that I love and that I excel at. I have been recognized by national publications and have been regularly quoted in various industry magazines. I have clients of many years who rely on me for their travel and refer more clients to me. I think career satisfaction is one of the best things in life.
What tips can you provide advisors new to the industry?
Learn as much as you can. Travel – and not always on fam trips. Do things as a regular traveler and see what your clients experience. Learn – take seminars, attend meetings, ask questions. Seek out an established advisor as a mentor. Do not be afraid to ask for advice. If you don’t know an answer, admit it and research the information.
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Claudette Covey is managing editor of AGENTatHOME
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