A new survey from American Marketing Group reveals travel agencies are struggling to find and hire qualified advisors. The survey shows that most agencies affiliated with American Marketing Group networks are considering hiring advisors in the next year but are worried they won’t be able to find the right candidates.

The survey of TRAVELSAVERSNEST and Affluent Traveler Collection consultants points to one of the profession’s biggest current challenges: an advisor shortage. While 69 percent of agencies plan to or may hire advisors in the coming year, only 7 percent say it’s easy to find qualified applicants.

‘A Perfect Storm’
Of the agencies hoping to hire advisors this year, two-thirds are looking to fill more than one position. About one-third of the agencies that are hiring report that they would like to bring on as many good candidates as they can find.

“The travel industry is facing a perfect storm,” said AMG Chief Sales Officer Kathryn Mazza-Burney, in a press release statement. “Veteran advisors are leaving the field at the same time that travelers are eager to partner with them. As an industry, we have an obligation to attract new talent to get ahead of the huge demand our agencies are facing.”

The market for travel agency services is increasing as more travelers seek the expertise of a consultant, with an expected growth, according to Future Market Insights, of 11 percent over the next decade to $1.3 trillion. And, in fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that travel advisor positions will rise by 3 percent annually until 2032, with 8,600 openings each year.

That said, experienced advisors are leaving the business. The Travel Institute says 36 percent of agencies lost staff during the pandemic, and 56 percent of those haven’t replaced them. Also, two-thirds of advisors today are over 50, with retirement nearing. Only 6 percent of advisors are under 35.

Hiring Qualified Advisors is a Challenge

In their often-challenging search for advisors, agencies report using a variety of methods to locate candidates. The most common are referrals from others (64 percent), networking (35 percent), job listings (28 percent) and social media posts (24 percent).

Another issue hampering the quest for talent: lack of awareness. Nineteen percent of advisors surveyed say people don’t know the profession still exists.

When agencies do locate interested prospects, misconceptions about the field often disqualify candidates. Many underestimate the amount of work required to build a clientele while overestimating earnings. Some believe they will journey the world for free. Yet others lack the talent and background to be successful.

About half of the advisors surveyed say applicants don’t have the right combination of skills and abilities. Forty-four percent report applicants only want to travel for free. Forty-one percent say the pay isn’t high enough to attract qualified candidates, while the same percentage state that prospects aren’t willing to work hard to establish a book of business.

“We need to shout from the rooftops that travel advisors are thriving,” said Mazza-Burney. “We also need to educate prospects about the realities of the career. Yes, they need the right skills and training. Yes, they will work hard to establish themselves. But those who are a fit will enter a wonderful community of talented people in an industry with unlimited potential.”

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