Success Stories focus on veteran advisors and how they achieved success. Here’s a look at Jessie Morris, owner of Richmond, Va.-based We Book Travel, an affiliate of Avoya Travel.
How did you get your start as a travel advisor?
Like many people, I started my travel agency as a bit of a side gig. I love to travel and had already been helping people plan trips, so I decided to start a business. Little did I know that this “side gig” would turn into something amazing!
How did you build your business over the years?
My host agency, Avoya Travel, does an amazing job of providing leads and that was where I gained the bulk of my clients in the beginning. I am eternally grateful for their support. As time progressed, I learned more and more about developing sources of business that allowed me to diversify my client base and to really focus on premium, upper premium and luxury cruise, resort and private guided touring.
What characteristic make you a successful advisor?
The most important ability is availability. My clients can depend on me being there when they need me most. People generally prefer to do business with people they like, so I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients on a personal yet professional level. Finally, I have cultivated a massive network of industry contacts that allow me to quickly get the answers to just about any question my clients have. I am not afraid to say that I don’t know an answer, but I can get it for them.
What have been your greatest challenges been?
When you start a travel agency, you are the agent, the administrator, the receptionist, the head light bulb changer and chief bottle washer. You do it all. But as time goes along and your agency grows, there are growing pains that come with it so you cannot possibly do it all. Transitioning from working in your business to working on your business is painful but also critical if you plan to grow and develop.
What have your greatest accomplishments been?
COVID was terrible and I hope we never see another event like it. However, it did allow me to sit back and answer the question, If I had to start over from scratch, what would I do differently this time?. I was able to shift and alter my business model significantly based on all the things I learned over the years and create new business plans to capitalize on. It caused my business to change and grow in wonderful ways!
What tips can you provide advisors new to the industry?
Mentorship is so valuable. There is a saying, “You cannot smell your own house.” This means you are too close to your business to objectively evaluate and see areas of improvement and growth. Having a mentor who can look at what you do and ask, “Why?” and help you to make better decisions will make you a much better advisor. It also means you do not have to reinvent the wheel as mentors have things they have learned over the years that they can share.
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