Five Minutes With ... Lisa Watson
With 19 years of travel industry experience, Lisa Watson has worked in various areas, from student group tours to corporate travel, meetings and incentives, leisure, host agencies, travel associations and education. Throughout her career, she's gained valuable insights and skills while working at companies like BCD Travel and ASTA.
Today, Watson is the proud founder and owner of FyndTravel, an independent platform that aims to create a close-knit community of travel advisors from all types of affiliations with a goal of giving travel advisors and travel agency owners more options and control over the suppliers they choose. Watson is always looking for ways to help travel advisors succeed and thrive. We caught up with her to learn how creating FyndTravel has allowed her to do just that.
ON FYNDTRAVEL AND CHANGING THE GROUP TRAVEL LANDSCAPE
At FyndTravel, we are focused on providing travel advisors/agencies with a centralized platform that offers valuable information and resources to help them grow their businesses. While our platform isn't specifically tailored to group travel, we've noticed a shift in the industry towards more travel advisors selling group travel instead of FITs. To support this, we've created a group travel directory that includes a variety of companies, resources and educational materials that travel advisors can easily access to navigate the group travel landscape.
Our goal is to empower travel advisors to make informed decisions and connect them with the right resources, whether they're looking to expand their group travel offerings or explore other areas of the industry. By offering a range of directories, including top DMCs, industry events, local sales reps, educational programs and various suppliers, we make it easier for advisors to find the resources they need to succeed. We believe that by providing these resources and tools, we can help change the industry landscape and support the growth of travel advisor businesses.
One of the challenges facing the travel industry today is managing the high volume of travelers and the resulting strain on the supply chain (airlines, reservation centers, etc.), as well as the surge of new travel advisors entering the industry who need credible education and certifications to achieve industry standards. If the professional standard isn't met, it can impact our entire travel community.
I see several opportunities, one of the biggest being "revenge travel." People are eager to get out and explore the world again, which presents a significant opportunity for advisors/agencies and suppliers who can provide unique and engaging experiences. Additionally, I see a growing appreciation for the value that travel advisors bring to the table, with travelers realizing the importance of having a knowledgeable and experienced advisor to guide them. This has led to a surge in demand for travel advisors—a trend I believe will continue.
ADVICE FOR NEWCOMERS
Every newcomer should be aware that the industry is constantly evolving and requires a strong commitment to ongoing learning and professional development. It's essential to stay up to date on industry trends, destination knowledge, supplier offerings and technology tools that can help you succeed in this competitive field. Building relationships can also be crucial in establishing a strong foundation and expanding your network. Finally, it's important to always prioritize your clients' needs and expectations, providing personalized service and attention to detail to create unforgettable travel experiences that keep them coming back. At FyndTravel, we're committed to supporting industry newcomers by providing educational resources, directories and tools to help them grow and succeed.
Edited by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the Jul/Aug '23 issue of Groups Today.
Photo Courtesy of Deb Knoske.