1-1 Interview

Chad Burt, Owner, Outside Agents 

Chad is fortunate to be a natural born entrepreneur as he’s been a terrible employee historically. Starting his first business in 4th grade, Chad had been a serial entrepreneur until finding a true home with his cousin when they founded OutsideAgents.com. Chad is now thrilled to share his passion and insights for small travel agencies with big dreams. Chad also loves playing with his kids, spending time with his wife, and racing anything with a motor. In his spare time, he does a little juggling and standup comedy.

Important: MBA, 30 years in C level Marketing, IT, and Business Development. Notoriously curious. Disdain for the inauthentic. Recent activities: Fraud Prevention Program, Marketing Engine for Travel Agents (powered in part by TRO), Integrated AI, Prosper Circle Small Group Agent Incubator, and a Parent/Sub agent program to connect small agency owners and their staff with industry experts.   


Travel Research Online (TRO): Hi Chad, how’s the new year treating you so far? 

Chad Burt (CB): This is the exact opposite of the way Q2 started in 2020.  Revenge buying is fueling experiential multi-generational and bucket list travel like crazy.  We already have more million-dollar producers this year than we did in 2022.  What we hang our hat on, though, is the per agent and per transaction revenues which are both through the roof. 


TRO: Outside Agents has fantastic reviews everywhere I researched. Including at our friends over at Host Agency Reviews, where it got a 5-star rating. How do you see yourself personally, as co-owner, contributing to this continued success? What about your team? 

CB: Luckily, this isn’t about me or we’d be in trouble.  It’s about the crew.  It starts with Steve and I, Yin and Yang. We disagree on everything, but we do it well, meaning that we always find a way to blend our perspectives.  It’s almost always a better outcome than if we did it alone.  Joey, people must disagree.  They must look at things from different perspectives and be willing to incorporate other points of view into their own.  The trick is to do it with heart.  For us, heart matters more than anything.  Steve and I are cousins, and these are part of our family’s values, so it comes naturally to us.     


TRO: A lot of those reviews mention how well your company keeps up with supporting enrolled agents. One agent talking about a quick response to a question at 6 am, and others about how much they learned from the training. Has OA invested heavily in keeping up with customer support? 

CB: That was Allison in accounting…she’s amazing.  We didn’t ask her to do it but she did it because she knew the agent was leaving that day.  So, absolutely, we pride ourselves on supporting our partners.  Like with most things, though, we take a different approach.  Sure, we have a help desk and extensive knowledge base.  And, sure, we have the most awarded Learning Management System in the host industry.  What sets us apart though is that we’re focused on the long term, trying to build businesspeople rather than order takers.  That takes a certain mindset that’s different for everyone.  We help our agents find their mindset for self-empowerment and success and give them the tools to take action.  We don’t want them to be dependent, we want them to be independent and successful, so we give them everything they need to confidently build their business, not just transactions. 


TRO: Outside Agents is a host agency that offers a wide array of services to help agents succeed like the beforementioned support. What other important tools do advisors get access to when signed up? (Education is next question) 

CB: Marketing has been a major push for us.  We recently deployed our new Marketing Center featuring 1000’s of posts, images, captions, tags, and more to deploy your own custom marketing campaigns fully branded as you.  More importantly, while it contains lots of vendor promotions, much of the content is designed to feature the agent’s brand and value propositions.  Most importantly, the Marketing Center empowers our agents to build their brand their way.  In fact, we just implemented an AI tool that creates custom offers and posts based on what we know about you!  Your brand, your tone, your way with a little help from AI.  We didn’t stop there… 

In addition to the features listed on OutsideAgents.com, we added a fraud protection program, a duplicate content eliminator, Pro-Series training with industry leaders, and one of the most robust FAM programs in the industry today with over 50 FAMS in 2023 and 70 in 2024. 

Joey, the best advice I can give an agent when evaluating the toolsets of their hosts is to call them.  Many, like us, have lots of tools.  What is important, though, is identifying the tools that are right for you.  A quick call can help distill all the options out there and understand which of them are best suited to your goals. 


TRO:  Education is essential for new agents to learn the ropes, even veteran agents could possibly learn a bit from basics again. How does OA work with the Agent in furthering their knowledge of the travel industry? 

CB: My grandpa told me “Knowing tomatoes are a fruit, son, that’s knowledge.  Not putting them in a fruit salad, no that’s wisdom.”  Knowing what to do is great.  Knowing why you’re doing it, though, is the wisdom you need to grow past your peers and even your mentors.  Knowing why allows us to make money rather than just earn it.  So, to answer your question, we provide agents with foundational as well as experiential learning opportunities.  We show you what to do, and then why.  

It’s the “why” that’s the toughest and most rewarding aspect of agent education.  It is tough because we’re asking you to think for yourself and improve on our foundational step-by-step guides and instructions.  It’s rewarding because agents can wisely create their own workflows and processes to set them apart in the marketplace.  Remember, we can train a dog, but we can only educate (from the Greek “educer “meaning to bring out) committed humans that are ready to put in the work to succeed. 


TRO: Artificial Intelligence has become a huge trend as of late. Does Outside Agents plan on implementing this into their systems? 

CB: Joey, AI is just a fad, just like the internet.  I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it unless you want your business to thrive.  Who wants that?   

Ok, all sarcasm aside, AI is the most important thing I’ve witnessed in my life.  We are all-in on this technology that will change our lives at least as much as electricity.  Joey, in 200 years, we’ll reference time as BC, AD, and AA (After AI).  Google will be mentioned parenthetically as a foot note in the history of the new world.  With this in mind, OutsideAgents.com  will lead the industry in the adoption of high-quality AI tools designed to augment agents rather than replace them.  In fact, the NYT and NBC picked us up because of our unique approach of crowd sourcing prompts and AI tricks from our nearly 9000 agents and then tuning them a little at a time over time for optimal results.   

This has already started to pay off as we’re seeing agents using our AI outperform those that aren’t.  These initial results are so powerful that we’re currently deploying an agent suggested tool to generate itineraries and other communications in the agent’s brand voice.  Then, we got a little crazy and made it so that when the itinerary is generated, it automatically creates a follow-up email sequence and related Facebook posts, in your brand voice, to share you and your client’s journey with the world.  Joey, it takes less than a minute and the results from this kind of collaboration are incredible. 

Now, here’s the kicker regarding AI:  We don’t know what we’re doing.  Nobody does.  So, like FDR did after the Great Recession, we’re performing a “Great Experiment” with nearly 10000 agents to find the prompts, methods, processes, and techniques needed to be AI’s master and thrive from all it offers.  This is going to be the ride of our lives, and I can’t wait. 


TRO: I see that you are performing standup comedy these days. I have dabbled myself; it can be a tricky type of marketing on stage, to get a laugh from an audience. Do you think doing standup has helped you with the more professional aspects of marketing, or vice versa? 

CB: I love the comparison of stand-up to marketing.  The analogy is perfect.   

Both professions are in the business of emotion.  Both the comic and the marketer have to touch their audience and resonate in a fundamentally human and authentic way.  All I had to do as a comedian and have to do as a marketer, is make people feel what I need them to feel so they do what I want, be it laugh or purchase.   

Also, both professions rely on empathy to gauge the sentiment of their audience and must react and improvise in near real time.  If I “float a brick”, I have to feel it before I see it or the crowd will shred me.  If I make a bold post promoting my business and I sense it may have been too bold, I can tune my message on the fly.  In both cases, I’ve rely on my throughline or sense of direction more than scripts.  I may forget a word or two but, if I know where I’m heading, I’ll get there, be it on stage or in marketing.   

On a side note, I was also juggled, though not exceptionally well at first.  So, luckily, I had to improvise, so I learned to pick up balls with my toes.  The audience loved the authenticity of the bit as I picked it up with my toes, tossed it up and continued juggling without so much as mentioning it.  The same is true in marketing.  Not the toes part so much as the authenticity and improvisation part.  I’m proud to say that OutsideAgents.com relies heavily on innovation through improvisation, and authenticity as one of our core brand values. 


TRO: Does Outside Agents have any big news or announcements coming up, that we haven’t covered here? 

CB: Well, naturally our growing partnership with TRO is a big deal.  Lot’s of cool stuff on the horizon! 


TRO: Chad, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. I hope you have continued success in your endeavors, and laughs on stage. 

CB: Thanks! 

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