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Success Stories focus on veteran advisors and how they achieved success. Here’s a look Carly Heyward, owner of Alpharetta, Ga.-based Flight of the Educator.
How did you get your start as a travel advisor?
I actually started as a travel blogger! I was getting a lot of questions from readers about my trips, so I thought to myself, why not try and get paid for that? I always thought it was just going to be extra spending money to support my traveling, but after I started making some bookings, I really put my head down and worked hard at it. Here we are a few years later and I’m making enough to replace my teaching salary and was able to quit. It still blows me away that that was possible.
How did you build your business/niche over the years?
I started right before the pandemic, so I almost can’t count that. I really started seeing more growth the more I posted about my travels and became an expert. I originally planned to focus on all-inclusive resorts and cruises, as I thought that was what people most used agents for – but that’s not my style of travel. I realized I prioritize nature and wildlife on my trips and [clients with the same sorts of priorities] seem to fine me! I do a lot of adventurous things in exotic places, and that seems to resonate with people. I blew up my social media after Antarctica, and that slowly became my niche – and it’s the same with African safaris
What characteristics make you a successful advisor?
I’m an empathetic person by nature, so I apply that to my business and treat my clients the way I’d want to be treated. Sometimes clients tell you what they want but they might also not know about other options. I try and give a few options that fit their vibe and wants.I try to under promise and overdeliver.
What have been your greatest challenges been?
Well, I’d say the pandemic was everyone’s greatest challenge. Beyond that I was working full-time as a teacher. That career is a time suck, and requires a lot of time and energy, especially since students are always there. So, it was difficult to find time to deal with some vendors that only do business via phone. I prioritized vendors that made my life easier and let me see live inventory and take care of the booking online on my own time.
What have your greatest accomplishments been?
Personally,traveling to all seven continents! Professionally, I'm most proud of winning G Adventures’ G-Normous competition, which I’ve won ow for four years in a row, which is really exciting!
What tips can you provide advisors new to the industry?
I saw the most growth in my business when I niched down. I also saw more growth the more active I was on social media. People want to be inspired!
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Claudette Covey is managing editor of AGENTatHOME
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