How Lila Fox Became A Virtuoso Travel Advisor

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Making new friends in Thailand...

How To Build Your Book

Lila Fox switched careers to become a Virtuoso advisor. It was hard, but here are tips.

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... a shot from Le Sereno beach in St. Barth's ...
... and a majestic pose from Patagonia.

Lila Fox was a consultant engineer until a few years ago; on the side, though, she had maintained a travel and lifestyle blog. Travel was an important part of her life – "In the most general sense, I think travel makes you a better human being," she says – and she was flirting with the idea of making it a full-time job and actually selling travel. That would mean a jump from the known into the unknown, though.

Her blog eventually got her writing articles in local and national publications, and she increasingly saw the value of getting into the advising space. Through Century Travel advisor Cassie McMillion Deifik, she was connected to Michael Holtz and Erina Pindar of SmartFlyer.

"We hit it off talking about the exciting dynamic of selling travel today. I gave the idea some deep thought," says Lila, "and I decided to give it a go with their support."

The transition wasn't always perfect. Here are some of Lila's key tips:

1. The Balancing Act: She began selling travel while still having her full-time engineering job. "I had to wake up early and stay up late," says Lila, "and burn a lot of lunch breaks building a good client base." Within six months, the interest from travel clients was too great and she shifted to that full-time.

2. Building A Book: Many new advisors talk about the challenges of "building a book," or, essentially, having a roster of trustworthy, stable clients who will want to travel several times a year. Lila didn't necessarily see it as a challenge. "You need to start with family and friends, who are going to be more inclined to book with you," she says. "Once you do a good job for them, they will tell their circles. Word of mouth is huge; definitely in the beginning but even once you get more established." She also speaks to a notable trend, especially in travel: social media. "Be visible, interested, and interesting on social," Lila says. "People will notice and eventually want to book."

3. Learn: Try to be observant. If you see something that's working for other advisors, invest time in learning more about it. "I saw pretty quickly that customized itineraries gave my clients more value," she says, "so I went and invested time in learning the best ways to do that. It pays off." She also recommends the basics: read trade magazines, talk to colleagues, observe business trends, and try to attend several trade shows a year and/or give yourself the chance to be in front of hotel managers and tour operators. The more people that know you and trust your client base, the better off you'll be.

4. Realize the power: "When you’re able to drink wine or share a meal in someone’s home thousands of miles from your own to realize a connection in spite of any language, religious, or political differences," says Lila, "it will change the way you see the world. And there's power in creating that for people."

If you'd be interested in becoming a Virtuoso advisor, click below to begin the process.

What Can You Do For Travelers?

Quite A Bit, Actually
Look at Lila's quote at the end of this article. Pretty powerful, no? If you become an advisor, you'll harness that power as well. To see some real stories about what advisors do for clients, click through.