Skill-Stacking, Unique Abilities and Becoming the Best Advisor: Column

The best travel advisor in the world–what does that look like to you? Are they the best salesperson, the most knowledgeable about a given destination? Do they have the best people skills? It’s certainly possible they have one, if not multiple, of those traits. But, if you go by the “skill-stacking” axiom coined by Steven Bartlett, British-Nigerian entrepreneur, podcaster and keynote speaker at Virtuoso Travel Week this year, that travel advisor might have one or two additional, and rare, skills.

“Often we think to become the best in the world, or to be considered the best in the world, we have to be statistically the best in the world at that skill—and that’s not actually the truth,” said Bartlett. “When we look at the people that are considered the best in the world in any industry, it’s actually those that have rare and complimentary skills that don’t often exist in their industry.”

Matt Turner in St. Barth's
Matt Turner poses above Colombier Beach in St. Barth's, which is reached either by a hike or by boat. (Photo by Matt Turner)

He mentioned Steve Jobs as a prime example. He was a fine computer programmer, certainly not the best in the industry; he was a pretty good marketer, although he was never considered the best entrepreneur or salesman. But he was obsessed with typography and design, which is what set the iPhone apart from other early-generation smartphones.

“The takeaway from this is if you want to become the best in the world in your industry, it’s not often wise to go and double down on the skills that are popular in your industry. It’s to go and get the rare skills that are absolutely not,” added Bartlett.

Don’t know what your rare or complimentary skill might be? Consider looking at your out-of-work hobbies for some inspiration.

I recently spoke with Scott Largay, director of marketing for Largay Travel. He spearheaded and recently launched the agency’s new content experience platform; the portal of pre-built, white-labeled content can be instantly co-branded and shared by advisors with their clients through a partnership with Approach Guides and the implementation of artificial intelligence. It saves Largay’s team the time it would take to create all the branded content for its 120 independent contractors and it saves the advisors the time to write out personalized emails to their clients. And the more it’s used, the smarter it becomes.

Scott used his interest in tech—AI included—to want to create a program for his agency. That’s Scott’s rare but complimentary skill.

“I’m a tech nerd, so I’m always seeing what’s new and trying to stay up to date,” he told us. “I think that’s my true unique ability within this travel industry.”

Another option is to look at any jobs you may have had before becoming a travel advisor. Were you in finance, law, retail, a stay-at-home parent? Were you on the supplier side? Somewhere in the experience you’ve gained is the answer to your unique ability. And once you find that, that’s when things really get fun.

According to Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, your unique ability generates energy and invigorates you when you do it. “The ideal,” said Upchurch, “is to have complimentary abilities where everyone spends as many of their working hours in their unique ability as possible.”

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