many of their daily work tasks tedious and boring.
Their unhappiness permeates most of their thinking. They live with a certain amount of anxiety.
They are, in effect, searching for a way out.
Those in the Careerists group (33%) also like to
travel, and they enjoy being part of the industry. But
their distinguishing characteristic is that the business is their chosen vocation, and they feel that it is
a good occupational choice.
They are highly focused on making travel a financially and personally rewarding career. They enjoy
most of their daily activities, and they expect to increase their revenue and profits over the next few
years. Their sunny outlook includes a belief that the
demand for their services will grow in the future.
They like being a travel agent as much today as they
did when they first entered the field and have no
intentions of seeking another career.
They also state that operating as a travel agent is
no more difficult or demanding than the tasks required of persons in other occupations. And they
don’t believe that what they do is boring or tedious.
All in all, they believe it’s a good and rewarding
business to pursue and feel they made the right
choice in entering the field.
Overall, these findings point out that about two-thirds of travel agents are happy in what they are
doing (Contenteds plus Careerists), in spite of the
difficulties facing agents today, while one-third
THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION:
By Michele McDonald
would like to get out of the field (Searchers).
These conclusions vary by work situation, however. Among agents working in traditional retail
offices, the largest number falls into the Searchers
category (37%). For home-based agents, the biggest
group by far is the Contenteds (44%), followed by
the Careerists (35%). Only one in five (21%) are
classified as Searchers.
Thus, nearly four-fifths (79%) of home-based
agents express satisfaction in their work (
Contenteds plus Careerists), while that number drops to
63% among those in traditional retail offices.
A question immediately arises: Does the unhappiness of Searchers carry over to their work environment to make them poor employees or unproductive workers? The answer is mixed.
In traditional retail offices, Careerists are more
prominent in the highest-producing offices, but
Searchers outnumber Contenteds.
Among home-based agents, Searchers produce
more in annual sales than the other two groups.
Each of the groups includes experienced agents,
but the Searchers have been in the field the longest
( 18 years on average vs. 15 years for Contenteds and
16 years for Careerists).
Although women dominate this group of travel
agents (76%), the Careerists group counts 22%
more men than the Searchers and 33% more men
than the Contenteds. Careerists are also somewhat
more likely to operate in management positions.
Differences in domestic (U.S.) vs. international
revenue are not great between these groups. Overall, domestic sales dominate by 53% to 47%. How-
You can pick them out of the crowd at any
travel trade show.
The Contenteds are greeting old friends,
sharing highlights of their recent travels.
The Careerists are comparing notes on
their latest technology deployments.
The Searchers are carrying the weight of
their career choice on their shoulders.
Jen Halboth, manager of channel marketing for the Globus family of brands, isn’t surprised at the travel agency survey’s breakdown of
personality “types” among travel agents. She recognizes them.
“Careerists are a big part of the future,” she said.
“They’re the strategists, and they’ve seen how big
some agencies are in terms of dollars.”
Most of the Careerists she sees are on the corporate side of the industry, but “they could come over
to the leisure side in the future,” she said. “There’s a
lot of money to be had there.”
ever, the leisure vs. business/corporate sales shows
As shown in Figure 2 (Page 18), Contenteds focus much more on leisure sales (79% of total sales),
while Searchers have a higher mix of business/corporate clients. That raises the question of whether
dealing with the often last-minute and changeable
demands of business travelers, along with a less
personal relationship than is true in booking leisure travel, tends to make this group unhappy to
ATTITUDES TO MATCH
The negative attitude of Searchers carries over to
how they view their business environment. Figure 3
(Page 18) summarizes the important events travel
agents say impacted their businesses in 2006.
Overall, the top three items were selected by about
half of agents (Internet competition, increased costs
of travel and security/terrorism fears), but much
more so by Searchers. Thus, their negative view of
their work leads them to see world events impacting
their business more than do the other groups. The
Careerists group expresses the least concern about
these trends and events.
A similar finding is evident in Fig. 4 (Page 18),
which summarizes agents’ views about what events
are likely to have a negative impact through the next
three years. Searchers are more concerned about the
potential impact of each of these possible events,
especially the rising costs of travel, security and terrorism concerns, and Internet competition.
Continued on Page 18
Contenteds may not always be the biggest producers, but “they are our ambassadors,” Halboth
said. “And they make sure that we love what we’re
doing. I liken them to someone who does yoga and
then becomes a yoga instructor.”
And while Searchers may not be as dynamic or as
much fun as the other two groups, they should not
be written off, Halboth said.
“The average age of agents is higher,” she said.
“Many of them have done it for so long, and the
industry has changed so much.”
They may lack the business acumen of the Careerists, and they may have lost some of the spark
and passion of the Contenteds, but “they can sell a
lot,” she said. “And they can do it in their sleep.”
Jack Mannix, president and CEO of Ensemble
Travel Group, was glad to see a high percentage of
Careerists. “It tells me people are serious about the
business,” he said. “It’s not just a hobby.”