In a fast-paced industry with many moving parts, it’s all about finding a balance between client services, professional development and self-care. For Miriam Lyon, experience in yoga and meditation has not only helped her to manage the overwhelm but it also guides her core values as a travel professional.
For Miriam Lyon, her quick path to prosperity in the travel industry is rooted in an unlikely foundation.
Based at Merit Travel Kingston, Lyon has led yoga and meditation workshops for the past five years – experience that has been central to her success as a travel advisor, in more ways than one.
Firstly, she had an advantage when she began her career in this new profession about a year and a half ago – a prospect list 500 names long – because of the community she built with said practice. But just as important were the principles of yoga and meditation, which have been central to her approach to business.
“The principles are a culmination of many spiritual paths and the values of many incorporations,” Lyon explains. “It’s fun because yoga and meditation are such passions of mine, so working in this industry, I wanted to marry them. It’s working really well so far.”
She references the “eight limbs of yoga,” one element of which is ahimsa – kindness – which Lyon says to be “fundamental in caring for our clients, building loyalty and being successful.”
Moderation, discipline and surrender (brahmacharya, tapas and ishvara pranidhana, respectively) are other principles, reflected in the way she manages time and gives inquiries away “so I can take good care of the clients I have”; her commitment to studying and learning; and “surrendering to ever-changing information.”
Prior to her career as a travel advisor and in addition to her business in yoga and wellness, Lyon has a background in research psychology – experience that has proved invaluable as she finds her stride as a travel advisor. For example, she says, being a skilled researcher helps her suggest the right vacation for clients, and in effect, allows them to feel comfortable with every step of the process. The job also honed her interview skills, which she naturally applies when qualifying her clients. In fact, from the moment Lyon meets a new prospect, the inquiry process begins.
“From the get-go, if they call or walk in the door, I’m going to be asking them a lot of questions,” Lyon explains. “I’m going to be asking them their likes, dislikes, their history. Plus, as things come up in conversation, I make notes – when their birthday is, their anniversary, something on their bucket list.”
It’s all about personalization, she says, which in turn, leads to loyalty. And communication is part of this personalization – rather than blasting out deals or events to her entire list of prospects, she communicates with them individually or in small groups and only when she sees a potential fit. Snail mail (“old school but people love it,” she says), in-person meetings before a trip, and phone calls upon a client’s return are also part of her MO.
All important, but what might be the clincher?
“Getting excited with them,” Lyon says. “That’s one of the principles I learned when I took a life coaching course: really celebrating someone else’s dream and, of course, getting to play an integral part of making it come true.” The numbers show that whatever she’s doing is working: Lyon had the highest sales of all Merit’s new-to-the-industry employees and was 40 per cent over her yearly target before the end of her first year.
Initially, Lyon saw the travel advisor position as an opportunity to supplement her income from the yoga and meditation business. Since, she’s found a way to combine the two in terms of her client facing approach, and looking ahead, hopes both passions can intersect in practice as well.
“I want to know as much as I can about wellness travel,” she says. “I would really love to focus on yoga and wellness and have more groups going on those types of trips.” Lyon has also completed the Signature Travel Network Luxury Training course, and regularly participates in webinars and other educational sessions.
“They’re all helping me build business,” she says. “I think if you want to have a successful business, you have to have a business plan. Even though it’s within a big business, I’m thinking: What’s my plan? Where am I heading? What education do I need in order to get those clients? What marketing strategies do I need to be following?”
Regardless, Lyon believes none of that really matters if she doesn’t put herself first, above all else.
“We work in an incredibly fast-paced, multi-tasking industry and I think the first principle, ahimsa, is really important and comes into taking care of ourselves too,” she says. “I’ve had to increase the amount of yoga and meditation I do... I have aroma therapy stuff at my desk and I go for walks, all so I can remain balanced and not let the stress overwhelm my system. “I think it’s so important for people to focus on self-care; that’s how we can take care of people around us – by taking care of ourselves.”