Working from home is challenging enough. You have to ignore those dishes in the sink and dust bunnies in the corner, sit down, not click on that amazing J.Crew sale email and get to work. But clutter can make your workspace even more distracting. Here are a few tips for spring cleaning your workspace for maximum productivity:
Paper is the number one clutter culprit. As an independent travel agent, you undoubtedly still work with a lot of paper--clients’ itineraries, brochures for the most amazing resorts in Mexico and Caribbean, an informational packet about that new European bike trip--but it’s time to organize it all. Take stock of what you have the most and create a filing system. If you’re like us and you hate filing cabinets and endless folders, try a compact document scanner like this one from Brother available on Amazon.
Maybe you love to make a traditional to-do list each day (who doesn’t love to check off those items?), but you also need a calendar for long-term projects, planning marketing initiatives, following up with clients and more. How do you do this? You can sign up for a small business-friendly Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like Insightly or Base. You can implement an inexpensive email marketing campaign with MailChimp. And then you can start putting everything on a Google Calendar, which can integrate to all your mobile devices as well and keep you on track for achieving the most possible!
Why do people love to travel? Who are you helping? Your workspace should explore these things so that you feel empowered to do more for your career and for your business. Maybe you love framed art from places you’ve been (or want to visit!) or inspirational quotes. Either way, surrounding yourself with some beauty will ultimately help motivate you every day.
The best way to stay organized is to keep your eye on the prize. Set a few goals that you can complete by the end of summer and put them in a prominent spot in your workspace. Look at them every day and take small steps to achieve them. Incentives help, too! Try assigning a reward to achieving each goal. For example, if you book 10 cruises by August 30th, you’ll book a trip for the holidays for yourself.
How did you desk get so cluttered in the first place? Do you tend to jot down notes on loose sheets of paper while on the phone with a client and then throw it in a drawer? Buy yourself a notebook! Do you come home from a meeting and discard all of your business cards into a drawer? Get a card holder and a catch-all. Notice your tendency to collect clutter and assign an organization process instead. It will take a few weeks to get into your new habit, but your desk (& your workflow) will thank you for it!
What are your best tips for organizing and maximizing productivity as a work from home travel agent?
For many, spring marks a season of fresh air and beautiful blooms. For independent travel agents, it’s the perfect time to do some spring cleaning for your business.
Here are our top spring cleaning tips for independent travel agents:
Go through your past and current client list.
Likely, throughout the past year you’ve interacted with clients through a myriad of methods and have stored their info in a range of places. Comb through all of the client information you’ve compiled through the year and decide if the client is someone that would be great to follow up with in the upcoming weeks or if it’s a client that could be placed in separate file to retain the info, but not to follow up. Once you’ve ran through your client list, gather all of the client info into one neat destination whether that be in a file cabinet, on an organization app or even in excel.
Pro tip: offering new promotions or discounts is a great way to reach out to past clients that could potentially be ready to partner with you again for another vacation.
Clean out your inbox.
As an independent travel agent, you’ve likely found yourself flooded with emails on a daily basis. This can make it difficult to stay on top of everything in your inbox, but this spring, take some time to do some spring cleaning of your inbox. Flag any action items you may have lost track of in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Delete emails that have no relevancy to you anymore or store them in a separate folder in your email. Print out any important emails and store them in a file folder.
Organize your contacts.
Whether it’s through business cards, email signatures, texts or in-person meetings, contact information accumulates quickly especially when you’re an independent travel agent. This spring ensure your contacts are up to date and that contact info is easily accessible.
Pro tip: If you don’t like filling up your cell phone with a large contact list, use a Google spreadsheet to organize contact names, numbers, email addresses and any additional info you have.
Compile a list of current travel industry trends.
Taking some time to refresh yourself on new travel trends will help you stay on top of the best practices and ensure you’re always promoting the most current information to your clients.
Pro tip: participating in travel Twitter chats is a great way to stay on top of current travel industry trends.
Generate new goals.
Spring is not only a good time to clean out junk mail and organize your office, it’s also a good time to refresh your thinking and goals. This spring, make it a priority to set new goals for yourself while also making sure you clear out any negative business thoughts you’re still holding on to or unmet goals that you’re beating yourself up over.
As a travel agent, you may hear often that you should be attending networking events. But, with the hustle and bustle of life your time is limited, so it can be hard to decide if attending a networking event is worth it.
Here are four reasons you should attend networking events:
1. It will help you perfect your pitch.
The more you speak with others about your services, the more you’ll learn to be concise only say the things that will really peak others interest. Once you’ve perfected your pitch, you’ll easily be able to talk to anyone about what you do and being to receive genuine interest in your services.
2. It will help you learn the different reactions to working with a travel agent.
Not everyone is a fan of travel agents and not everyone knows exactly what it means to partner with a travel agent. Because of this, it’s likely that you’ll face some strange reactions ranging from, “oh, I don’t need a travel agent” to “oh, I didn’t know there were any real life travel agents left”. People’s reactions to your services can be a hard pill to swallow. But, by attending networking events you’ll quickly learn the best way to respond to these types of scenarios and in turn, more easily be able to identify your ideal client.
3. You’ll connect with key influencers.
Whether you’re attending a networking event for your industry or a general business networking event, there will likely be key influencers amongst the crowd. Connecting with these influencers will allow you to learn from the some of the best.
4. You’ll increase your visibility.
Every networking event you attend will allow you to mingle with a throng of people making it one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your name out there. You’ll likely leave with a handful of business cards and have given out handful yourself which means every networking event offers the opportunity to double the number of people who know about your services.
Bonus: by partnering with Outside Agent Link and joining our independent travel agent program you can get access to exclusive Travel Leaders networking events!
As an independent travel agent, you’re right there in the mix with other entrepreneurs yearning to grow their business. But with Outside Agent Link, you won’t be left scrambling to grow your business by yourself. With 24/7 support, webinar trainings and invitations to Travel Leaders meetings and events, we work hard to set you up for success. To help you on your entrepreneurial journey, here are tips for how to network successfully.
After you’ve searched for networking events in your area that you’d like to attend, do some research on each event. Does the event have guest speakers? Find out the industry the speakers are in and anything else about their background. Does the event happen monthly or weekly? If so, you may be able to find recaps about past events. By researching the event, you won’t head into it blind. This will help your confidence level and give you some insight into how you’ll want to handle yourself while at the event.
Make a personal plan.
Speaking of not heading into the event blind, you’ll also want to prepare yourself. This means think about things like your strengths, your skill set and your background. Ultimately, decide how you want to present yourself to others and how you may be able to help those you network with.
Pro tip: Write everything down as it comes to you, then create a few very basic scripts to practice. You don’t want to stick exactly to these scripts when talking to others at the event, but it will help calm your nerves and give you the confidence that you’ve fully prepared.
This may seem obvious, but connections are key to networking successfully. Don’t just try to make connections because you need to increase sales. Make connections because you genuinely want to help others in any way you can. This may mean that your services aren’t necessarily a good fit for what a person is looking for, but you may have just spoken to someone else at the event that could help them or may know someone in your circle that would gladly reach out. If so, take the time to introduce them. In the long run, this will create more meaningful connections and down the road, you just might get an awesome referral.
Did you know that a typical sales process requires about eleven points of contacts before close?Following up with someone can be a game changer, especially if someone gave you their business card and asked you to reach out. Make it your top priority to email each person that gave you their business card to let them know you loved speaking with them. If you promised to connect them with someone else in your circle ensure that you make that happen. By following up you’re letting others know your word is good and in business that’s a great feature!
What are your networking tips?
At Outside Agent Link, we know just how overwhelming starting your travel agency can be which is why one of our number one goals is providing you with a ton of support along the way. Our blog is full of helpful travel tips and overall feel-good travel posts to keep you inspired. Once you’ve perused through our posts, check out some of our other favorite must-read blogs for entrepreneurs.
Motivation Grid is all about providing knowledge, experiences and positivity to keep you moving towards the goal of self-improvement. As an entrepreneur it’s so important to focus not only on your business, but yourself as well. As you develop in a positive way, you’ll see your business grow with you!
Seth Godin is an author of a dozen books about entrepreneurship and marketing. He updates his blog every day (yes, every day!) with inspirational thoughts and short nuggets of wisdom. His posts provoke thoughts and motivate growth in your life and business.
Planet of Success is a blog dedicated to inspiring you to live a life full of happiness and purpose, with strategies on how to be the most successful you. As an entrepreneur, many responsibilities lie on your shoulders, but with a daily dose of motivation and happiness, you can accomplish anything!
Michael Hyatt is a best-selling author that has transitioned his successes and knowledge into an entrepreneurial blog that focuses on business growth, self-development and productivity. He also runs a weekly podcast that focuses on living more passionately and working with more focus.
For Entrepreneurs is actually a blog focuses on providing strategies and advice for entrepreneurs and startups. Whether you’re looking for sales tips, marketing advice or business models to follow, you’ll find it all at For Entrepreneurs.
At Outside Agent Link, we’re eager to help you grow as an independent travel agent. Luckily, you’ve also got a lot of other big time influencers in your corner too! By adding these must-read blogs for entrepreneurs to your weekly to-do list, you’ll find yourself aspiring to greatness.
What are some of your favorite blogs to help you stay motivated?
Experienced travel agents are well acquainted with how tough it can be to stay positive during the months after summer when the travel industry is at its slowest. Many people have just returned from big trips they’ve taken during the summer and are settling into the back-to-school slump, which means you’re likely to see a slump in your sales as well.
But don’t get discouraged, as this is the perfect time to work on reenergizing your marketing plan, so that you can make enough money during the rest of the year to ride out the slow season!
Look at your website, social media channels, and even your home office to determine what you’ve been doing, what’s working, and what can use some improvement. With extra time on your hand, you can focus on beefing up your website so that it contains more helpful information for current and potential clients who come searching for you. Look at what some of your competitors are offering on their sites and determine what would be of value to your clients and try to put your own spin on it.
Many people choose agents based on the agent’s demonstrated knowledge and expertise in the travel industry. Use this time to either start a blog or get ahead on blogs for future months when you are busier and might not have as much time to devote to content creation.
Plan out the rest of your year based on what promotions you know will be coming available later in the year, what holidays people might want to take advantage of, and other dates of interest. Plan out the kind of content you want to post, that way you won’t have to spend as much time on it later on.
Do some research to see what trade shows and conferences are happening during your slow season so that you can network and learn more to help your business succeed. If you can’t afford to travel to trade shows, consider taking online webinars to expand your knowledgebase.
Going on a trip this year? Get ready ahead of time by downloading these helpful apps that will save you a lot of time and help you discover some hidden gems on your vacation!
Free, iOS & Android
Great for finding the quickest driving routes so you can avoid traffic, one-way roads, construction, or other hazards. In addition to being available in pretty much any language spoken on earth, you can also download fun voices (previous voices have included Morgan Freeman and a boy band that sings at you) to make getting directions from your GPS even more fun!
Free, iOS & Android
Compile all of your travel documents, schedules, and info in one convenient place. Simply forward all of your travel emails & confirmations to the app, and it will keep you organized!
Free, iOS & Android
Not sure how to order your favorite meal or ask for the nearest bathroom? Simply ask Google to translate for you! You can even take photos of signs in order to receive instant text translation.
Free, iOS & Android
Does the thought of using public transportation or walking around in an unfamiliar city intimidate you? Citymapper is here to help you out! It’s available in over 30 major cities worldwide, and will help you compare all of your transit options.
Free, iOS & Android
Not technically a travel app, but great to have! Decide whether or not a restaurant is worth eat at with this helpful app that brings in a number of reviews from real diners! You can also get helpful info like hours of operation, atmosphere, whether you need to dress up, how expensive it is, or you can just download the menu or make reservations straight from the app!
Working as an independent travel agent has a lot off great perks: working from home, being your own boss, setting your own hours, etc. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! This career challenges you in a number of ways, one of which is having to find and sell yourself to clients looking for travel agents.
Like with any service-based job, you’re competing with other skilled workers in your same industry, so you have to work hard to differentiate yourself. There are quite a few ways you can do this! Here are a few:
Treat yourself as you would any other business! Your success depends on it!
No matter what kind of job you have, you’re certain to have some days that are more productive than others. We took a look at our most productive employees and asked them for their best tips for accomplishing more during the day. Here are tips for being more productive, whether you’re working at an office or working from home:
What are your best tips for staying productive?
Working as an independent travel agent can be a rewarding and profitable experience, if you do it right. One of the biggest questions we hear from our agents is “how do we market ourselves?” This is a very important question, and there’s not a one-size-fits all answer. But for those of you just getting started, we’ve put together a list of the top things you should be doing to market yourself.
We've all heard the phrase "work smarter, not harder," but sometimes it's easier to quote an adage than to implement a process to make it happen. Our outside agents work from home selling travel, so they often find that being uber-organized helps them get a lot done in a shorter amount of time. Then they can focus on other things--like their families, pets and home projects.
Here are three ways our independent travel agents save time during the work day:
1. Start with Self-Analysis
This tip comes from Angie in Oklahoma. She knew she had to start saving more time in her work day when she was juggling a lot of clients and home responsibilities. She started with herself. "I tended to feel burnt out after lunchtime and I would end up perusing the Internet instead of focusing on my tasks at hand." To combat this, Angie woke up a bit earlier to knock out more in her to-do list and then started walking her dog right after lunch to get her energy levels back up.
Anthony from New York took a similar approach. "I found that the most productive times for me were early in the morning and in the evenings after dinner, so I shifted around my schedule to take care of personal things mid-day and work during the times that coincided best with my internal clock."
2. Make a Plan
Sonya, an outside agent located in Illinois, says that her number one tip for saving hours in the work day is to create a plan at the end of each day for the next day. "The tricky part is sticking to it." She says, "Try not to get side-tracked with emails that come in or non-emergent requests. Instead, put it on your list and knock out everything before it. It has saved me a lot of time because I'm not trying to multi-task a million things at once." It also sounds like basically nothing would fall through the cracks with this system, too!
3. Educate Friends, Family and Clients about your Process
Rachel, working out of Maryland, says that she found that the number one thing clouding her productivity was other people, saying, "I could make a list all I wanted, but if I was constantly shifting focus to other people, I found a lot of my time was wasted." Therefore, Amber educated the people in distracting her in her home, in her email and on her phone that she had a new system. She encouraged them to indicate high priority in subject lines of emails. "If there's no high-priority listed, I get to it within a few hours." Clients use text to ask quick questions that might not necessitate a call. At home, her husband did not disturb her until lunch and after 5pm unless it was "high priority."
What are your tips for saving time during the work day? Share them with us!
Working from home may seem like a breeze: you're in your pajamas sipping your morning coffee, listening to the birds and occasionally typing on your computer. But in order to be a successful home-based travel agent, you need to have a routine and a focus. Here are a few tips from the working-from-home experts:
1. Clean it up first.
You would be surprised how often, when you work from home, you'll be tempted to get up and clean the kitchen counters or fold the laundry. In order to best stay on task, it's important to have the rooms in which you work be clean before your work day begins. You'll be a lot less distracted when the dust bunnies aren't staring at you from behind your bar cart.
2. Make a to-do list.
Staying on task while at home can also be difficult. There is probably a TV somewhere in your home which is begging to be watched, a fun website link from a friend that is begging to be clicked, or perhaps your dog is just begging to be pet. Never fear. Having a daily to-do list can help you stay on task (and feel incredibly accomplished with each square you check).
3. Take short breaks.
If you find yourself hitting a wall or unable to solve a problem, get up from your workspace (whether it be a desk or your dining room table) and take a few minutes. You can walk around your neighborhood, make a cup of coffee, or simply do some stretching. Since you're in your own domain, your options are pretty great. These short breaks can help you re-energize and refocus on the tasks at hand (but this is not the time for cleaning).
4. Listen to some music (but not your favorites).
Listening to music can help you focus, but if it's songs that are familiar, you might get distracted by your jams. Looking for something new? We love Spotify "mood" playlists. You can choose from nature sounds, classical music, soothing tones, and more instrumentals that will help keep you focused.
5. Dress the part.
Sure, pajamas or workout clothes are comfortable, but maybe they're too comfortable. Getting up in the morning and dressed with a purpose helps put you in the mind frame of working. That's why it's important to go ahead and put on real pants, a shirt and even some shoes. It also helps to shower and primp as though you were going into an office. As you introduce a stronger routine, the more productive you will be.
There’s an adage that says, "Advice is what we ask for when we know the answer but wish we didn't.” That’s because you generally know what’s best for you—the next move to make—but you resist trusting your gut. You seek the advice of others.
Here’s some great advice from successful entrepreneurs that may go against the grain of what you normally hear, or maybe it’s something you've already told yourself. That’s the funny thing about advice: its meaning changes depending on your circumstance and what you need to hear.
If you’re looking to start your own home-based travel business, then these pieces of advice might be just what you need:
(This blog was written by Outside Agent Link and originally posted on NeoTravelTips.com, but we've had the following info requested so often by current and potential OAL agents, that we've decided to host it here as well. Enjoy!)
If you’re anything like us, given the opportunity, you’d stop whatever it is you’re doing and go traveling at the drop of a hat. The most formidable obstacle standing between you and an endless vacation is that dreaded four letter word: cash. But have no fear! There are tons of ways to quench your insatiable thirst for a life on the road. Call it a "long-term workation,” or call it "professional traveling,” but whatever you call it, know that with a little ingenuity and the right prep work, you can make your dreams of endless travel come true!
Here are the 4 best ways to hit the road and stay there:
If you have a computer and a job that allows you to work remotely, just make sure that you never stray too far from internet access or a power outlet, and you’ll be good to go! Working on the road is perfect for freelance writers, travel agents, and other independently contracted entrepreneurs who need to meet people and learn about new cultures in order to excel. Online travel agencies like Outside Agent Link are a great way to take your work on the road (and do some field research while you’re at it!)
Not only is chronicling your adventures worthwhile in its own right, but it could also help you reel in some serious green! Full disclosure: not everyone is cut out for the life of a professional storyteller. However, if you think you’ve got something unique and compelling to say about the places you visit and the people you meet, then monetizing your wanderlust just might be feasible. Consider writing a regular blog and seeking any and all advertisement opportunities, or film and photograph your experiences and license them to tourism boards and stock image companies like Getty and ShutterPoint.
Mingle with the natives
Let’s be honest, the point of traveling is not to be cooped up 24/7, huddled over your computer screen in a lonely hostel room. Getting out and about enriches your life and can also lead to part-time gigs that will help supplement your income while on the road. Cutting hair, giving music lessons, teaching English—the list goes on! Join an organization or get entrepreneurial and go it alone!
Tours on tours
At some point during your own personal tour of the world, you might want to consider hunkering down and spending some time showing other people what you’ve learned! If you’re outgoing and gregarious, many established tour guide companies would love to have you on board. Helping other people explore new cities, trails, and beaches can be spiritually rewarding and lucrative. Certification is typically not required (though, depending upon the company, you might want to consider acquiring a work visa first). So, what are you waiting for? Start traveling. Even if you don’t become a permanent nomad, these tips will help you take extended adventures and memories that will last a lifetime!
Working at the beach can be fun—if you’ve got the right tools! Whether you’re on vacation and need to sneak away for a couple minutes to send out e-mails, or you’re lucky enough to have a job that lets you work from the beach full-time, you know that it can be difficult to focus while sitting in a canvas beach chair. But we’re here to tell you that, with the right gizmos and gadgets, you can be just as productive underneath a striped umbrella as you were underneath those wretched white Styrofoam ceiling tiles.
Here are the 5 must-haves for anyone who wants to sneak in a little work while at the beach:
Phone – Use whatever you’re comfortable with, but make sure that it has the ability to connect to data at the beach you plan on visiting. Both Samsung and Sony make great water-resistant mobile devices that are worth looking into.
Laptop/iPad – Outfitting your laptop or iPad properly is crucial! Make sure you’ve got a Lifeproof case (or similar) to prevent those pesky seashell scratches! Also, if you’re anything like our ambitious travel consultants, you’ll want to make sure you don’t drop connections in the middle of work, so be sure to pick yourself up a 4G laptop stick.
Charger – Now that you’re all hooked up to the internet, how are you going to keep it that way? With power, of course! The Mophie Powerstation Pack is a great option, but there are tons of others, so do your research! Of course, you could always kill two birds with one stone and pick up a waterproof, solar backpack from Solar-Go Productions that will not only charge your devices, but also haul them around too!
Workstation – Wet swim trunks and TPS reports don’t mix. Make sure your laptop, phone, and important files find a home atop a water-resistant lap-desk.
Headphones – Seagulls are loud. Stay focused on the task at hand with some noise-cancelling earbuds. Make sure they’re waterproof! H20 Audio makes a great pair.
There you have it! Once you’re all stocked up, it’ll be time to lather up the sunscreen, hit the beach, and get to work. If you’re looking for a job that not only gives you vacation days, but encourages you to work from vacation destinations, then get in touch with us! It’s time to start makin’ waves.