The customer may come first, but perhaps that isn't always a good idea for home-based travel agents.

By not putting themselves first, they can easily burn out, says Anita Pagliasso, president of the California-based Ticket to Travel host agency and a member of the Travel Institute's Professional Educators Program. In a Friday Five blog post for the institute's members, Pagliasso wrote about the need for home-based travel agents, particularly those who are independent and are running their own business, to take care of themselves so that they don't become cynical, stale and burned out on the job.

“As the marketplace becomes more and more demanding, the pace more and more relentless, it becomes especially important to bolster the renewal process,” she wrote.

Pagliasso's tips include finding a moment during the day to step aside and gather thoughts. It can be a coffee break at a local cafe or a walk. Or, a trip to the gym for a workout or finding a quiet place for a meditation session.

“Sometimes, a change of scenery does wonders to get your life back in focus,” she said. “All of a sudden, you will find clarity and order in the enormous task list as you sip your second latte and breathe in the fresh air.”

Doing some cleaning may also help home-based agents feel renewed. Shred paper and throw out files that aren't needed, Pagliasso suggests. “There is great merit in inducing a feeling of order and creating a fresh start.”

Make sure to take the time for industry seminars or workshops that give you a chance to meet and mingle with other travel professionals, she said.

Finally, she said, agents should reward themselves.

“Corporations spend millions of dollars on perks and incentives to boost employee productivity,” she points out, adding that independent agents need to do the same for themselves. It could be a spa treatment or a beautiful vase of fresh flowers.

“Care is what your customers want to see from you. If it shows that you take the time to take care of yourself, you will take the time to take care of them and that is why they will keep coming back to you.”

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