“First of all, you’re in a great place,” said Schaier. “This is the most gratifying, wonderful field to be in.” She did warn that new independent contractors need to be patient in that it could take up to six months to get paid from their first booking. ICs don’t always necessarily get referrals from their host agencies, either, and that means you will have to build your business from the ground up. However, it’s more than worth the investment, she noted. “The payout comes from enjoying beautiful life experiences, from making your clients happy and from making new friendships.”
While these days Schaier is being very selective about the new clients she takes on to ensure she can service them fully, in the beginning she took on smaller bookings to build her business. That took time and in the interim she took a lot of educational webinars and as many fams as possible.
“Once you experience a place, you can sell it and you can get to know the tour operator who’s sponsoring the fam and how they work,” she said.
Another piece of advice on taking on new clients: With business so strong in 2023, many advisors are being much more selective than in the past in accepting new business. To ensure a relationship is going to be a good fit, Schaier takes an hour to vet potential customers. “I’ll meet them for coffee and I’ll get to know them on a personal level and see what makes them tick,” she said. “I’ll see what’s on their bucket list.” One of my favorite pieces of advice from Schaier? “I’ll see what they don’t like or ask about some of the bad experiences they’ve had,” she said. “That really helps a lot because then you’re able to create something more customized and curated to their needs.”
Limor from Embark Beyond concurred with all of the above and also shared that it’s important to ask questions of everyone around you when you first start out. “I was never afraid to ask,” she said. Some sage advice from Decter is to be honest and upright with everyone from the get-go. That helps build relationships. This is particularly true when working with suppliers who can be very helpful to new advisors who don’t know a lot about their products. And these relationships can last a long time, throughout an advisor’s career, in fact.
“These suppliers sometimes change brands and change positions and change roles, but the relationship that you have with them is just so crucial because they will always go to bat for you and they will make you shine,” said Decter. Newbies and seasoned advisors can keep their relationships with suppliers strong by always being honest with them and keeping them updated, she said. For example, don’t just go cold on them when a client decides not to travel.
“If the clients don’t end up confirming, get back to the supplier and say, ‘Thank you. At this point, the clients aren’t confirming. I want to thank you for your time and effort, and hopefully next time we’ll work together,” said Decter.
Both Alyssa and Limor marveled at how collaborative the luxury travel industry is. “Everyone wants to set you up for success,” said Decter.