What is a travel coach and how is it different from a travel agent?

What is a travel coach and how is it different from a travel agent

When you hear the term “Travel Coach”, you may initially think it means a “Travel Agent”.  I can completely understand why. Travel coaching is a newer concept. When I started my wellness travel coaching business over 4 years ago, there was little to no one talking about it.  That doesn’t mean that no one was doing it though.  I have countless people throughout the years who have said that they have been a travel coach for years or that they were doing it but just didn’t know what it could be called.

Since travel coaching has grown tremendously in the past few years, especially after the pandemic has shined a bright light on the value that travel has on our personal and work life, I have come to learn that there are several definitions of what a travel coach is or does.

Some of the definitions that I have heard are people who coach travel agents or simply, someone who still just plans and books trips.

But that’s not what a travel coach means in the TCN.

A Travel Coach and a Travel Agent are two very different careers within the travel industry.

Let’s start with a travel agent.  Pretty much everyone is familiar with the term “travel agent”.  When you think of a travel agent, you think of going on a vacation and sipping pina coladas on a beach on a Caribbean island for a week then returning home and back to your usual daily routine.

When you hire and pay for a travel agent to book a trip for you, you are letting them do everything for you including the research, booking of flights and accommodations, and more.  You are depending on their research, knowledge, and work to (hopefully) provide you with a marvelous trip.  

You will most likely pay a pretty penny for hiring the travel agent which may refrain you from traveling as often as you may like.  In addition, once you return from your trip that the travel agent booked, you are left in the same position on the lack of knowledge on booking your own travels so you may resort to hiring and paying for another travel agent because you just aren't sure on where to go, how to find deals, or anything else that you leave up to the travel agent to do for you.

Travel agent work is traditionally transactional. I know that that has been changing over the years with travel agents changing their names to travel advisors, which is what the American Society of Travel Agents changed to.

You also hear about travel designers, travel consultants, travel concierge, travel counsellors, and more.

But their main goal is still to plan itineraries, ease the process of a trip, and deal with the bookings.

With this evolution of the term travel agent, it goes to show the changing needs and desires of the traveler. They are looking for more control, more of a purpose, reaching certain goals, truly personal and unique experiences that change them in some way, a transformation, certain outcomes and feelings, and more.

Travel professionals must be able to provide tools and guidance at each stage of the traveler journey while adding a human-centric approach

bonnie smith, GM at FCM Travel Solutions South Africa – (quote) “Travellers will demand more from their travel agency. Forget transactional booking agents, travel management companies that are able to support their clients at every stage of the traveller journey, providing them with all the information and resources they need, will have a distinct advantage in the future.” (end quote)

She goes on to say:

(quote) "Soft skills like empathy, communication and the ability to listen are more important than ever," says Smith. "Travel agents need to be engaged and responsive (especially when things go wrong), and willing to go the extra mile. Grit, adaptability, flexibility – the list goes on. The travel agent of the future is an expert, a specialist, a therapist and someone to lean on." (end quote)

You must consider the entire journey.

Amadeus- (quote) “Travel consultants now need to act as ‘personal travel assistants’ who are partially data scientists, partially lifestyle gurus and who move away from providing information to offering personalized guidance.” (end quote)

The industry as a whole is recognizing this need for change in how the travel experience is done.

Travel coaching is all about helping people set intentions for their trip. It is about putting control back into the hands of the traveler.  A travel coach inspires, empowers, educate, supports, and guides you on the best and most effective travel information and how to use that information, resources, and tools to not only travel more often but also how to use the power of travel to help you as a person, your life direction, and your career path.

Because every traveler is unique and knows and loves something different about travel, that makes travel coaches and their areas of focus vast and personal.

Travel coaching is about helping people make less excuses about not taking that trip, it’s about helping people suffering from trauma use travel to heal, it’s about empowering people to learn how to plan and book travel on their own terms and budget, it’s about helping to stop those limiting beliefs or those mindset barriers, it’s about getting to the roots of WHY someone truly wants or needs an escape and using that travel experience to help them transform their life and reach their goals.

Travel coaching is what YOU as the travel expert want to make out of it because the sky is the limit on what is possible, who you can, and how you can make a difference in the lives of others through the power of travel. 

Hear more from the TCN founder Sahara Rose, on the TCN Podcast! 

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