The idea of an agency: Have a “concierge” to qualify clients: Travel Weekly
Bon Voyage World Travel Experts is putting together a new team of three people; he recently added the second member. But these new hires are not travel counselors. Kari Mullikin, owner of the Wisconsin-based agency, is putting together what she calls a vacation concierge team.
With around $ 5 million in sales before the pandemic, Mullikin was already planning to create a separate team to hold the initial consultation with customers before passing them on to a travel counselor. But as travel restrictions increased during the pandemic, along with paperwork, and sales declined to around $ 1.5 million, Mullikin decided now was the time to get the ball rolling.
The idea behind the Vacation Concierge team is that all clients have two travel professionals working on their behalf. The concierge “will interview the client, assess what interests them, make sure we are a good fit and explain our service, then schedule an appointment for the travel counselor,” she said. “Once the trip is planned, the travel advisor will return the file to him to do all the documentation of the trip and research the protocols and then meet with the client to make a final delivery.
Members of the concierge team will not replace existing staff. “These are new positions, as sales are increasing again,” said Mullikin, who noted that no advisers were made redundant during the pandemic, although some have retired.
A team of two
“Travel counselors are far too dispersed these days; they need time to do what they do best,” Mullikin said. “You need a great deal of knowledge when you send someone overseas, and that way they don’t have to be 100% up to date with all the protocols. They can be safe. to get the information absolutely correct. “
The new janitor candidate, already hired and ready to board, approached Mullikin rather than the other way around. Looking for an opportunity to learn the travel industry, she researched local travel companies that had good social networks and positive reviews from customers and applied for a job.
She had a passion for travel and sales training, as well as “incredibly good attention to detail and excellent customer service skills.”
Like all potential Bon Voyage recruits, she went through a multi-step process that included observing existing advisors. While some agency owners are concerned that this gives too much inside information about their business, Mullikin believes it’s a small risk compared to being able to watch candidates interact with existing staff, and vice versa, before. to hire them.
“I think our team of vacation concierges is unique in the industry,” she said. “Other agencies have support roles, but we’ve developed that into a branded way of doing business. “
Generally speaking, because they are not trained in travel, members of the concierge team will earn less than counselors, but Mullikin sees it as a career path to becoming a counselor for those who want it.
Still, she said, “Some people have no desire to be a travel counselor; they just like to educate clients. But for those who do, this growth opportunity is available, maybe two years more. late.”