We’re doing something different this week on Agent Insights and speaking to a Sales Rep from G Adventures to glean some pearls of wisdom from “the other side.”
The Travel Industry is as dynamic as travel itself, and there’s a lot of room to move around, whether that be interstate or overseas as an agent, or taking on a new role within the industry – such as moving into wholesale, marketing or repping.
So without any further ado, we’re excited to feature our first ever Sales Rep on Agent Insights, Dan Coleman!
He is an ex-Travel Agent – so he knows where you guys are coming from and what you guys need to kill it – and just one helluva of a nice guy!
Let’s hear it for Dan from G Adventures!
What exactly do you do and how long have you done it?
Since arriving in Australia four months ago a lot of my day is spent arguing with Tom-Tom, driving in circles and trying to decipher your parking rule signs.
The rest of my day is spent helping agents ‘discover more Passion, Purpose and Happiness’.
For the last seven years, in common parlance, I’d be known as a Sales Rep, but in G Adventures speak I’m a Global Purpose Specialist (GPS). I’m the smiling face of G Adventures industry sales here in NSW & ACT, and I provide support, training, probably too much chocolate! I’m also a ‘go-to person’ for our industry partners – retail, wholesale and home-brokers.
I’m also lucky to get to spend time with our end consumers, the adventurers, at trade expos and information evenings.
Pretend I’m a potential client for a moment. What do you do that separates you from the pack?
With 10 years+ in the industry, I would’ve hoped I would stand out, but after arriving in NSW it’s obvious the travel industry is in very good hands. I’ve met some fantastic agents and representatives, so standing out can be tough!
What I do have on my side is a genuine belief in the company and people I represent.
I’d be up there as one of the most enthusiastic and passionate industry visitors in a travel agents day, and this has shown to be infectious.
I have a background that includes retail travel sales so I understand and can relate to the unique challenges of the job. I recognise the ‘s**t has hit the fan’ face and can act accordingly; opening boxes of brochures, making cups of tea, helping to answer the phones etc.
Finally and also very relevant, I’ve been blessed with some amazing travels of my own, ticked off continent seven last year so all those scary places you can’t pronounce, I can help you with.
Let’s travel back in time. What do you wish you knew back when you started working as a travel agent? And what do you think some of the common mistakes travel agents make when starting off?
Submitting expense receipts from downtown bars in the wee-earlys will win you few friends with management or the bean-counters! My travel agent pals loved me for it though.
I’ve had some wonderful mentors and I’m very grateful to the people who took a punt with me, offering this upstart a chance to develop within the industry. And I couldn’t have met them if I hadn’t put myself and there and networked my butt off. There’s a lot of us, but the industry really isn’t that big. I guess I’m glad I made the effort to meet all the people who are a part of it.
So some advice for those looking to develop: attend every event you can and you don’t have to drink EVERY wine you can. This industry relies on it’s people and our relationships so get amongst it, get known and make sure it’s for the right reasons…
Have you ever managed to turn a customer complaint into something positive? If so, how did you do it?
No, G Adventures has never received a single customer complaint…
My ‘customers’ are the frontline travel agents, home brokers and wholesale staff and I treat any complaint and feedback given with that in mind. They’re often the middle person and I know that prompt and empathetic customer service helps to lessen the stress at their end.
What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
Navigation. Parking attendants. And I found a big spider in my house I’m not so chuffed with.
In all honesty my biggest challenge would be building a profile here in the NSW/ACT travel industry, trying to get my feet in as many doors as possible.
What are you doing to turn that around?
I’m building on some great work here done by previous ex-colleagues of mine so it’s not as tough as it sounds. I’ve got fantastic head office support and a great team behind me.
Just like when I started it’s just a matter of being available always, giving prompt assistance when required, asking for referrals amongst agents and knocking on every single door in the state… the enthusiasm and passion I mentioned early helps ensure the door is always open for the next visit.
Ok, last but not least: how do you see the industry evolving in 2016?
More and more Australians are getting on board with small group adventures rather than all-inclusive resorts and packages which is great. I’m looking forward to watching this evolve into more sustainable and responsible travel in even more destinations around the world.
G Adventures have just launched our small-ship river cruising adventures on the Mekong, Amazon, Ganges and in Burgundy, for example, and I love seeing the way this option provides greater access to local and cultural interactions, something people are actively seeking out.
The size of the vessels also allows for you to get to know all of the other travellers and the crew in a way large ships just can’t cater for. I think that’s the way the industry will head this year.
Great, thanks Dan! Where can people find you if they’d like to make contact?
Would you like to be featured on KarryOn’s Agent Insight series?
Drop me an email at email@example.com – I’d be happy to interview you, no matter whether you’re new to the industry or an old hat!
Before you leave, make sure you read some of our other interviews with other Agents, such as Ben Morgan from Flight Centre, Lorie Raymundo from Travel Counsellors, Ez Yiap from Student Flights and Sean Baldwin from STA Travel.
So what did you learn from Dan? Let us know in the comments below.
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