Back in fourth grade, I started my first “side hustle” that became my first legitimate business doing travel agency brochure rack labels in calligraphy by hand. By seventh grade, I was a full-blown geek after seeing my first computer, a TRS-80, in Ms. Tanner’s math class in 1980. That spring, I wrote a mail merge program at school (we didn’t have a home PC yet) so my mom didn’t have to type each welcome home letter by hand. She wasn’t feeling that machine at first. She worried clients would miss her personal touch, but eventually, she came around. It wasn’t until 1990 that they got AOL at their office.
As internet use became more common, people saying, “Travel agents are going the way of the dinosaur,” became commonplace. 1997 was the year I first heard, “There are still travel agents?” Now, I listen to it all too often. By 2003, consumers were finally “free” of their dependence on travel agents. They could do it themselves! Recessions, pandemics, technology, and even the internet have routinely threatened our livelihoods. Even recently, the global shutdown wiped out nearly half of the agents in the business. Now, in 2023, the industry is doing better than ever, and just yesterday, I was interviewed on NBC about how AI will affect travel.
They wanted me to say “Travel Agents Are Dead” (again). I won’t do that, ever, because each time we’ve faced our imminent demise, we’ve stood up stronger, smarter, and more determined than ever. That’s who we are and what we do. Travel agents are the most resilient, adaptable, and persistent professionals in the working world. And that’s a good thing since it’s that tenacity that will help us dig deep and embrace A.I.
Look, A.I. is powerful. It is, hands down, the most powerful thing I’ve seen in my life, more so than that TRS-80, the internet, or even Google. Yep, it’s that powerful. I asked it to create an itinerary for some actual clients. A.I. did it. Then I asked for three variations of the itinerary based on my ideal client avatar. A.I. did it. Then, I decided to stump the machine and asked it to write a book for new agents, and it did it! Was it perfect? No. But, wow, did the experience open my eyes to the power in my hands. In fact, I took the liberty of journaling my experience and showing you how to access A.I. for yourself in this mini-book on how to write a book, including how to get your own A.I. connection. Before you dive in, though, you need to see the power, feel it, touch it, and use it for yourself. WHY? Because you need to use it. Check out some fantastic ways AI can change your life:
16 different ways you can augment yourself with ChatGPT travel agent superpowers!
- Write emails
Are you one of those who spend too much time thinking about what to write in emails? Say no more! Give ChatGPT a simple prompt such as “Write a cold email introducing myself and my company and inviting someone for a meeting.” You’ll get a perfect snippet. Add some details to your prompt from your “About Us,” and you’ll get an even better snippet. You can modify your prompt little by little until you get the result you want to use as a foundation for that dreaded cold email. It is almost impossible for the model to produce two identical results.
- Create content
Content creators out there: ChatGPT can’t replace you! The output is only as good as the prompts. In fact, after just a few months, Fiverr has over 500 freelancers offering prompting services. Just ask the model to create content about the subject you want. Maybe the output won’t be exactly what you want, but it’s always good to have a place to start from. Be detailed and specific about your ideal client and the type of output you want as you practice asking the same question in different ways. You’ll be amazed by our friend, ChatGPT. It comes up with pretty good stuff to use as a starting point to create what you need. Even the so-so stuff is better than staring angrily at a blank page.
- Summarize and compare documents
Do you want to give a client a written summary of your trip proposal in bullet points or paragraphs? Try both. Don’t know which version of ad copy you should use? Compare them. Do you need to write a shorter version of an article you’ve been working on? Summarize it. If you think the summary misses any important details, just say in your prompt what you want it to include.
- Comment on your content and ads
This is probably one of the most mind-blowing things ChatGPT can do. Seriously. Ask it to comment on some ad copy or an article you wrote or saw. Ask it to comment on the style, persuasiveness, tone, content, sentiment, temperature, or just about any element of the copy, and boom, you have insights! I know it sounds like mystic voodoo, and it is (sorta).
- Incorporate your Ideal Client Avatar everywhere
All good agents carefully qualify their clients so they understand their needs. Eventually, they identify one or more Ideal Client Avatars. They use them to create, craft, and tune their messaging and marketing in a way that will be best received by that type of client. ChatGPT can help. Just describe the characteristics of your ideal client and that you want a blog/caption/tag written for them. Do it for multiple client types. This is amazing for repurposing content like the social media posts OutsideAgents.com provides in its giant media library. This will knock your socks off!
- Study efficiently
If you’re doing a lot of vendor training or participating in our Pro-Series Workshops, you can use ChatGPT for your own learning. Let’s say you’ve spent the entire afternoon studying Princess Cruises, Now you want to test your knowledge about cruising in Alaska. Ask ChatGPT to give you 10 questions about cruising Alaska with Princess Cruises that aren’t on the Commodore test. You can even ask it to expand on your correct answers and give you the right answers with explanations (shhh)!
- Evaluate customer reviews
Do you ever find yourself struggling to understand the meaning behind a lengthy customer email or review? Well, look no further than ChadGPT. This AI-powered tool can help you interpret the text and provide an objective opinion, along with some helpful suggestions. Say goodbye to the frustration of trying to decipher long and complex messages from your clients. ChadGPT can make your life easier by providing you with valuable insights and ensuring that you can respond to your customers in a way that meets their needs and expectations.
- Read faster
Did you forget to read important documents before a meeting? ChatGPT has your back. Copy and paste the document into the chat and ask the model to summarize the most important points for you. You can even summarize destination guides like the hundreds supplied by OutsideAgents.com to get the “Cliff Notes” on a new destination. No one would ever suspect.
- Create forms
So, you’re trying to be more efficient and want to use forms to streamline and standardize your client processes, but where do you start? ChatGPT. Ask it what’s important to clients for their agents to know. Ask what’s important for a travel agent to know about their clients? Ask what more agents should ask but don’t. Ask how you can consolidate questions to shorten the form. Priceless!
- Repurpose your best content
Did you post an amazing bio somewhere? Use ChatBPT to repurpose it as FaceBook and Instagram Bios. Seriously. Try different versions of your About Us page for different audiences. Just tell it who you’re talking to. You can even submit your ideal client profile and ask, “Do you understand?” After it says “yes,” ask it to rewrite your profile to be most appealing to that target. Seriously. It’s like having a linguistic gymnast at your fingertips. Seriously. Look, I only say “seriously” three times when it’s seriously important that you try it out and then try the new tool from OutsideAgents.com to make this even better. Talk about handy!
- Rewrite canned captions, hashtags, and descriptions
Have you ever wondered why your posts are so far down on your clients’ feeds? Duplicate content is almost always the culprit. Just ask ChatGPT to rewrite a few versions of the text you provide. Ask it to reword it for younger people, older people, active people, or whoever your ideal client is. Ask it which one it thinks is best and which is worst. Post the one(s) you like and watch them appear higher on those feeds!
- Plan itineraries
We always want to speak to our target and provide enriching information. Writing the same thing for different people, though, is hard. Ask ChatGPT for a detailed 6-day Tortola itinerary for an active couple in their mid-fifties. Then ask it to rewrite it for a foodie family of 4 with teenagers and include 2 locals-only diners on the south end of the island. Yep, it can do that! You can even ask it to compare two itineraries from different vendor web pages…seriously. It won’t provide quotes or extras, though.
- Explore your business
Ask ChatGPT to write a basic marketing plan for a travel agency in the Pacific Northwest with a startup budget of $192.61. Stand back and be amazed. Tell it to expand on one of the suggestions. Be amazed again. In no way does it replace a mentor or veteran business owner, but it is an amazing place to find and explore ideas, examine scenarios, and look for direction. Wow!
- Summarize itineraries from multiple vendors
Do you have a proposal with elements from different vendors, like a cruise with a pre, post, and tour? No problem. Just pull them up and ask ChatBPT to aggregate and summarize the information on the URLs with the information. You can even tell it to be more or less detailed!
- Discover what you need to learn
Ask ChatGPT what you need to learn after you complete the Princess Alaska program. We know how comprehensive that training is, and yet ChatGPT will crank out suggested next steps in your education in just a few seconds. Ask what the most important things you need to know about marketing and then expand on the answers that interest you most. You’ll be blown away.