Training and digital nous have helped Shannon Waugh, 2019’s Young Agent of the Year, to stay ahead of the game.
With only two years’ experience as an agent under her belt, 20-year- old Shannon Waugh has already proved she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Since joining Brampton-based The Travel Team as an apprentice in 2018, Waugh has taken on myriad responsibilities, from heading up email marketing and keeping on top of GDPR to organising the ticketing and social media promotion of a local travel show, which attracted a slew of new clients.
These are just a few of Waugh’s feats, which earned her the title of 2019 Young Agent of the Year at the TTG Travel Awards last September.
“It feels amazing to win. People still come up and congratulate me,” she says. “It’s also helped business too. The local news coverage has brought us a lot of attention, which is great because we are a small team in a small town.”
At the age of six, Waugh already knew she wanted to pursue a career in travel, often seeking out far-flung holiday destinations on the internet.
This passion would continue when she chose to study travel and tourism. “After spending three months in south-east Asia, my love for travel grew even more, especially when I visited Cambodia. The scenery was beautiful, and the people were so kind,” adds Waugh.
This experience would prove vital for her most ambitious booking – a tailor-made holiday for two to the region.
“I used my knowledge to organise a trip through Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia for first- time clients,” says Waugh.
“They actually didn’t know where they wanted to go originally, but had a fantastic time and came back and booked several more holidays.”
Not one for complacency, Waugh regularly completes online training. The eclectic mix of suppliers and destinations she’s brushed up her knowledge of include Fred Olsen, Riviera Travel, Etihad, Shearings, Slovenia and Malta.
“I believe my product knowledge helped me stand out [to the judges]. I also try to keep up to date with the latest travel news whenever possible.”
To improve her customer service skills, Waugh also attended a two-day course in November 2018, which helped her generate social media content and attract new clients.
“I’ve helped increase our social media and digital reach – 30% of enquires now come through Facebook and email,” she says. “For example, a Lapland booking I posted on Facebook did well; we generated 12 bookings from it.”
This knack for digital strategy, combined with a penchant for providing excellent customer service, will no doubt see Waugh excel in her career.
Waugh’s advice for young agents looking to succeed in travel:
Love what you do: It really comes across well when you are passionate. Be yourself – your personality is very important.
Be determined: Complete product training in your spare time, as much as possible.
Customer service is key: When clients come in, make sure you are smiling, and that you are happy to help with anything.
Engage clients on social media: Reach out to customers with offers on Facebook and Instagram. Consider using text messaging to engage with clients too.