More than three years ago now, I distinctly recall reading somewhere that experts predicted it would take between two and four years to emerge from the pandemic. With everyone’s world upended, businesses closed, unable to visit our families and bombarded with news of nothing but COVID-19, I remember thinking it would be only a matter of months before my sanity abandoned me.
Yet, here I sit (still in possession of most of my marbles), in what really does constitute a whole new era, given all the changes made to the way we Americans live and work. Working from home almost instantly became essential for many businesses, and was no longer the realm of a privileged few. Nor is it now considered unusual or presumptive for staff to request remote working status from their employers.
A new work-from-anywhere culture has taken hold, enabling many people to pick up and move to less congested and more affordable cities or states. It has also allowed new waves of workers to take up the so-called digital nomad lifestyle, cutting their ties to any one place in particular, and traveling the world while fulfilling their work obligations on the go.
Of course, it’s worth remembering that the intense upheaval of everyone’s existence also caused multitudes of Americans to lose their jobs and suddenly find themselves faced with starting afresh. Some “pivoted” into an entirely new field, changing careers mid-stream.
The gig economy has been growing steadily for years, but the normalization of businesses operating without brick-and-mortar offices led more people to start working for themselves. And, among them, were plenty of future travel advisors who were keen to translate their own love of travel into a new career—one which offers the flexibility and independence we all seem to crave these days.
And, with studies indicating that travelers are more likely to use travel advisors for their vacation-planning needs in the pandemic’s wake, the number of would-be travel advisors out there continues to grow.
I found myself wondering if there were certain similarities among the people who are finding themselves drawn to joining the ranks of today’s travel advisor community. Might there be a discernable demographic or certain characteristics shared among those who find the prospect of becoming a professional travel advisor alluring?
“I would say it is more of a shared ideology versus a shared demographic,” Skip Fortier, Vice President of Network Expansion at Avoya Travel, told TravelPulse. “People are eager to take control of their own lives and destinies, and being a small business owner has always had that potential. Owning something of your own is very empowering. When you take that into account and the continuing surge in the travel industry, it is no wonder to many people are eager to get into this dynamic industry.”
James Ferrara, President of InteleTravel, said that one of his company’s core values is a dedication to attracting new blood after a long period during which travel advisors seemed to be aging out of the industry. “That is reflected in an average age of our 80,000 advisors of just 40 years old—which had surprised some,” he said. “However, what’s hidden in that average is the trend of the last few years, which skews even younger. We have seen our strongest growth in the 25–35-year-old range with more than a third of advisors.
“During the pandemic and after, younger people were the first and most enthusiastic to accept the cultural shift to work-from-anywhere. And as a generation, young millennials and Gen Zs value travel above nearly all else,” he explained. Ferrara also reported that women constitute over 70 percent of new advisors, which is consistent historically with industry patterns.
“We are also seeing more professionals—teachers, financial professionals, and healthcare workers like nurses,” he revealed. “For some, it’s an opportunity to add another income stream to their existing job. For others, it’s a more fundamental change seeking a better quality of life.”
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