Who Do You Think You Are?

Recently, a seasoned travel agent, rather passive-aggressively, told me that I shouldn’t be coaching other travel agents or providing products to help other travel agents because I am so “new”.

Of course, it hurt. It made me question myself. Imposter Syndrome took over and I was wondering to myself if she was right. Am I a fraud? Who do I think I am to try to coach other travel professionals?

Then I reset. 

First, I turned on some Abraham Hicks on YouTube, and as it always happens, what Esther Hicks said, was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. I remembered THE WHY. I remembered what is driving me. I remembered that when I am serving as a travel business coach, I feel like I am in my element.

I feel like I’ve found my true calling. In particular, I love working with other military spouses and veterans to find ways to monetize their passion for travel. I love working with other travel business owners to reduce the overwhelm of entrepreneurship.

I love helping business owners systemize, prioritize, and get more efficiency in their businesses. In particular, I know this last point is a topic of training/ education that is seriously lacking in the travel industry. 

There are tons of resources on supplier, destination, and marketing training, but little-to-no training/ education on running an efficient 21stcentury digital business. I know if there was a person like me out there when I first started out in the travel industry, I would’ve sought out her guidance in a heartbeat. I have the tools, knowledge, and passion to help fill this gap in the industry. After all, “God does not call the qualified. God qualifies the called.” 

The second thing I did after this travel agent passed unsolicited judgement on me was, I thought seriously about my qualifications. Yes, I have worked in the travel industry for five years – two years of that was with Carnival Corporation where I started their first Competitive Intelligence function. While there, I got to know the industry *very well*. The research and reports I did for the top-decision makers of Carnival Corporation would astonish most. But, more importantly, before I embarked on this career in the travel industry, I spent nearly a decade in the US Army and got a Master of Business Administration from a prestigious university. 

As an Army Officer, I passed (with flying colors) one of the most rigorous, comprehensive, and intense leadership courses in the world. As if that isn’t enough of a qualification, while serving I led hundreds of soldiers in and out of the combat zone.

I have mentored individual leaders, coached teams, managed/ maintained millions of dollars of inventory, developed and executed training, overseen human resource functions, and literally been responsible for the lives of other human beings. 

I realize the civil-military divide is the greatest it’s ever been in this country and that some may still think my military experience does not “translate” into civilian industries. (A topic that we could go on about for days.) However, these skills that I acquired in the military have more than set me up for success in managing a small business and helping others to do the same. In fact, I often laugh at how stressed other travel agents get over hiccups with their clients’ trips (flight delays, etc.). While we at Kinship Vacations take our clients’ trips very seriously and pay very strict attention to detail when it comes to logistics, we all have a slightly different perspective on it all. Whereas we all come from the military community and trained and experiences with real “life or death” workplace occurrences, we are able to more calmly handle comparatively small issues such as flight delays with less stress. (It’s all about your perspective.) The travel industry is fun! We GET TO help people do fun things! We are not dealing with serious/ scary things like we did in the military. 

To put it all into perspective, when I hear from someone that I may not have enough time or experience in the travel industry to teach and lead others, I have to remind myself of stories like this. (There’s many more where this came from.) As a 22-year-old Executive Officer of a Counter/Human Intelligence Company in Afghanistan, I was tasked with leading a convoy from Bagram to Kabul. It’s about one-hour from Bagram to Kabul, the capital city. (The most nerve-wracking part wasn’t so much the space between, but navigating the crazy city streets of Kabul, a place with an unorderly street naming and numbering convention and an overall higher security risk for me and my soldiers.)  This would be my second-ever combat convoy and I had never been to Kabul. I did my planning, I rehearsed, I established contingencies, I (over)communicated with my soldiers, I talked with people that had been there, and decided on the best routes. When it was time to go, a couple dozen soldiers got in their vehicles and followed me to a place I’d never been. They had faith in me. They trusted me. I had faith in them and trusted them. If I remember correctly, all of them were older than me. On this mission, they were all men. Several of them were much more experienced than I was – some with previous combat deployment under their belt. Yet, we trusted each other with our lives on a journey that we didn’t know the outcome, to a place I had never been. 

Me in Kabul obviously not taking my Convoy Commander job overly seriously.

Some people are born leaders. I was. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been leading people. Even from the time I was in 4thgrade leading my fellow classmates on a tour of the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence, Italy to see the David, to all the sports and clubs I lead in high school, to the honor of being the top graduate of my college ROTC class. I don’t need to prove that anymore, especially to that seasoned travel agent that questioned my abilities. 

If I can lead salty veterans in a combat zone where life and death is a real concern to a destination I’ve never been, I can lead passionate, talented, and ambitious travel agents along their entrepreneurial journey as well. 

So, who’s with me? Who wants to embark on this travel entrepreneurial journey with me? 

There’s a couple of ways you can do it:

1) Join my team! Check out www.milspousetravelagent.comfor details on our Travel Advisor Training and Mentorship Program with Kinship Vacations. I have to say; we are an awesome group of people and our collaborative and supportive community is like nowhere else I’ve seen.

2) Get clarity and direction on your existing travel business with Travel Prolific. Travel Prolific is a one-stop-shop for all your travel business’s efficiency and operational needs. We have a suite of products and services that will help you take control of your travel business, rather than its controlling you. Check it out at www.travelprolific.com.

If you stumbled upon this article looking for travel planning assistance and would like to work with me or one of my fantastic travel advisors, fill out our trip planning form to get started. 

In the meantime….  

Happy Wanderlusting!  

Ashley  

P.S. To get your free checklist on how to start a home-based travel agency, go to www.travelagentchecklist.com.

P.P.S. To keep receiving travel tips and inspiration and a FREE GUIDE, “10 Ways to Strengthen Relationships Through Travel” CLICK HERE 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Kara says:

    You are amazing! You have been a leader your entire life. Keep doing what you are doing! Many of us appreciate you and know we are fortunate to know you.

    Like

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