Happy 2024! We kicked off the new year with an exciting event on becoming a Fora Advisor — the very best new year’s resolution, if we do say so ourselves.
The event was hosted by Henley Vazquez, co-founder of Fora, who shared her inspiring journey in the travel industry and her motivation behind establishing Fora. With insights from two travel advisors, Amber Rose Powers and Timadge Berkhadley, plus a Q&A session with Henley, this webinar provided a roadmap for individuals looking to enter the travel industry as an advisor.
Ready to pursue your passion for travel? Sign up to become a Fora Advisor today. Or, learn more about how to become a travel agent.
Breaking barriers and saying "yes"
Henley Vazquez's frustration with the industry's exclusivity and lack of opportunities for newcomers led her to create Fora, a platform that says "yes" to aspiring travel advisors and provides a supportive environment for those who are new (and anyone, really) to the industry.
"Generally, the requirements of entering this industry have been: quit that job, do this full-time, hit really high sales targets," Henley said. "My feeling was there's so many people out there who know a lot about travel who aren't given access or opportunity. And some of them might want to do this full-time. Some of them might just want to do it part time. Let's see what happens if we build a company that allows more seats at this table."
Different backgrounds, shared success
Amber and Timadge, two successful Fora Advisors, shared their personal experiences during the webinar. Amber came from the fashion-design world. She's worked for Nicky Hilton and Reformation, she's designed custom menswear for pro athletes. In between design jobs, she was a personal assistant for celebrities.
Timadge comes from the banking, tech and consulting worlds. She's been in tech for the past eight years, and is currently consulting companies on re-strategizing, especially after all the turbulence Covid caused. And she's a mom of three, no less.
Both had established careers, and both were seeking something new. But with the right support and guidance, anyone can thrive as a Fora Advisor, as Amber and Timadge have. The supportive environment fostered by Fora, coupled with Fora's resources and tools, help make that success tangible and within reach.
The power of community, training & marketing
A key takeaway from the webinar was the emphasis on community, training and marketing as essential elements for success in the travel advisory business.
"Being team players is very much a part of it. It's about building relationships, building friendships, traveling together and helping each other," Henley said.
Both Amber and Timadge also highlighted the significance of Fora's supportive community, describing it as collaborative and essential for their professional growth.
"It just felt like the right fit," Amber said. "I became so excited to hop on all of the calls and have a community where it was not about competition, but collaboration."
Timadge called out Fora's destination trainings and certification programs for providing essential knowledge about the travel industry, starting with basics like how to become a travel agent and how travel agents get paid.
"Fora provides the trainings that you need," she said. "However, it's up to you to do that homework and research so you can leverage that and really feel confident when you're talking to your clients."
But Fora's community is an extremely valuable resource for building that confidence.
"That's why having access to the Fora community has been so pivotal for me," Timadge added. "If I have a question, I can always post it in our community Forum. More often than not, an advisor will have a suggestion or a recommendation, and it would save me tons of time."
Henley touted the benefits of Fora's tech resources and tools, which enable advisors to avoid much of the traditional headaches involved in the travel-advising world. For instance, Fora takes care of invoicing hotels and chasing commissions.
"That's what our finance team is there for," Henley said. "We do all of that so that our advisors can focus on doing the fun part."
Passion, creativity & continuous learning
To truly excel as a travel advisor, passion, creativity and a willingness to learn are essential qualities. Amber and Timadge both emphasized the importance of a genuine passion for travel and the desire to create unforgettable experiences for others.
"If you love travel, if you love helping people have great experiences, if you have that expertise or you want to learn to have that expertise, just give it a shot," Amber said, later adding, "Have faith in yourself."
Timadge's personal journey involved reflection and strategic planning, illustrating the importance of aligning one's career with personal values and goals. But it can be scary to pivot careers. It's scary to try something new.
"There was a little bit of imposter syndrome that took over me," Timadge said. "I was nervous. I was scared starting on my own. I was just thinking to myself, 'Can I really start my own business? What am I doing?' Because for so long, I was always working for others."
Nonetheless, she dove in — and she's thriving.
"When I did actually take that leap of faith, it's really been a wonderful opportunity," she said.
Her advice? Start with people you know.
"It actually started off very, very slow for me. My first client was my sister," she shared.
But her sister referred Timadge to others, and word quickly spread. Timadge also networked with people she knew from the tech industry.
"From there on, it was really kind of a drip effect," Timadge said. "And that allowed me to gain more confidence."
Creativity also emerged as a common theme, with Amber stressing the significance of building relationships and providing excellent customer care.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm in a tug of war with the multiple roles that I'm doing. But then I look at it and I'm like, 'I get to be a part of people's milestones, when they travel, and help create really incredible experiences," Amber said. "That is what fuels me more than anything."
She thought back to her career in real estate.
"I could sell a couple-million-dollar house, and make a great commission, but it may not provide the same excitement as planning something that really added a core memory to someone's life," she shared. "Know your worth, have healthy boundaries, take a risk: you can do this."
Ready to turn your love for travel into a fulfilling career? Take the leap and join the ranks of successful travel advisors who are making dreams come true, one trip at a time.