Jamie Biesiada

Jamie Biesiada

Travel Experts, the Raleigh, N.C.-based host agency, turns 35 this year, and things are looking positively “rosy,” owner Susan Ferrell said.

“The general public is recognizing the value of a travel advisor,” Ferrell said. “They just can’t keep up with the number of requests they have and the amount of business they have. Our people are offering to hand things off to other people because they’re so busy.”

That shift in consumer sentiment has happened in recent years. Ferrell said consumers now recognize that leisure travelers need advisors, and so do corporate travelers whose companies have any kind of volume.

Asked what the next 35 years might hold, Ferrell said, “I think the future looks rosy for people. People are still wanting to get into the business.”

That, she said, is a sign that “travel advisor” is a career people aspire to and see as a lucrative business. 

Travel Experts was founded in 1989 after Ferrell read about a “rent-a-desk” concept that some travel agencies were employing. She felt that working with independent contractors (ICs) was the way to go.

As soon as advisors could work from home, when Sabre developed a product that could be used so long as a user had an Internet connection, Travel Experts’ ICs went remote.

ICs turned out to be a pretty sure bet, with their ranks growing and flourishing over the years.

Today, Travel Experts is nearing 600 people affiliated with the host as either an IC or a sub-IC/assistant. Ferrell said her aim has always been to grow slowly and organically, not rapidly; the host adds support team members when necessary.

And when change is necessary, Travel Experts is adaptive. Ferrell pointed to the host’s 2023 partnership with Sion, commission tracking and recovery software.

“Our emphasis is on supporting the ICs that we have, and we do it really well because our processes are so refined after 35 years,” she said. “We know what works and what doesn’t work.”

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