If you are passionate about travel and enjoy helping others, becoming a travel agent might be the right career path for you. In this post, we will explore the steps you can take to become a travel agent.
Travel agents play an important role in the tourism industry. We help plan more complex trips and experiences that go above and beyond the packaged vacation you can buy online. This holds especially true when it comes to honeymoons or multi-city experiential trips that have a lot of moving parts — coordinating tour companies, transportation, or resort stays for groups and families. On the corporate side, there are regular business trips, conventions, extended stays and much more.
A travel agent is a professional. Our job is to reduce the time guests spend having to research a destination and help curate trips and vacations for busy families and executives. We also reduce stress and anxiety associated with big journey’s and are there for our guests even during their travels. It’s also true that we generally cater to an upscale, higher income market than the backpackers, bargain hunters and deal seekers.
To start in the travel industry, no particular work experience is required. However, you should have some customer service experience, be a people person, have attention to detail, be willing to sell and truly enjoy traveling yourself.
Before you dive into becoming a travel agent, it's important to familiarize yourself with the travel industry. Learn about the different types of travel agents, including those that specialize in cruises, adventure travel, and luxury vacations. This will help you determine which area of focus you are passionate about. Try reading a few travel publications, attending trade shows and conferences, and talking to experienced travel professionals. By doing so, you can get a better understanding of the market trends, the types of clients you could be working with, and the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.
In the United States there is no specific degree or certification required to become a travel agent, however it is highly recommended that you get some training or a certification to increase your credibility and marketability. There are two ways to go about this. Either you find what is called a Host Agency, like the Trip Concierge Travel Network, that will provide you with the licensing, training and administrative framework to build a successful travel agent business. Or you can approach organizations that offer travel agent certifications, such as The Travel Institute and the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). These certifications require completing a course of study and passing an exam.
The benefit of working with a host agency is that many of the burdensome licensing requirements are taken care of, the cost is significantly less than taking a course, and you have access to mentors that will take the time to help you grow your business.
The reason why the host agency model works so well, is because to succeed as a travel agent, you need to have a deep understanding of the travel industry, have hundreds of supplier relationships and the ability to provide excellent customer service. To build this from scratch takes a very long time measured in years and to shortcut this process, you can start by working in the travel industry even at a part-time level, through a host agencylike Trip Concierge Travel Network. This can give you hands-on experience in the industry, including using reservation systems, dealing with customer inquiries, and booking travel arrangements. It’s also fair to note that it takes some time to develop a customer base that is sufficiently large to have an annual income that supports your lifestyle.
To differentiate yourself from other travel agents, consider developing a niche. This could be a specific type of travel, such as adventure travel or luxury travel, or a specific destination, such as Hawaii or Europe. Some agents also specialize in brands like Disney or Royal Caribbean. By specializing in a particular area, you can become an expert and attract clients who are interested in that niche. It can however be somewhat limiting.
As a travel agent, your network is your biggest asset. Aside from gaining experience in the industry, it is essential to build your network of contacts. Start by focusing on your personal contacts, friends, family members and then expand that to Facebook friends, social media contacts. Networking at business events, your local chamber of commerce and using co-op marketing dollars from travel suppliers can help to further expand your network.
Independent travel agents work on commissions and service fees. They do not earn a regular paycheck. That is one of the big challenges of getting into this business. Cash flows can be seasonal and highly variable depending on your client base. And building that client base takes time. Most successful travel agents start in a part-time capacity until they earn enough recurring commissions to be able to quit their day job and focus fully on travel sales. Depending on your efforts, an average income for a travel agent can be anywhere from $65,000 to $150,000 per year. The added benefit is that you are considered self-employed which allows you to write off a lot of business expenses towards that income, greatly reducing your tax burden. Agents that start without a host or a mentoring program tend to make only $25,000 in their first year working. This is why there is tremendous value in working with the Trip Concierge Travel Network.
Once you have gained experience and obtained the necessary certifications, it is time to set up your travel agency. You can work as an independent contractor, join a host agency, or start your agency. Make sure you have a business plan in place, and you have obtained any necessary licenses and insurance. In conclusion, becoming a travel agent requires a combination of formal training, experience, networking, and certification. With the right skills and knowledge, you can turn your passion for travel into a rewarding career. If you are unsure of what it takes to get started, feel free to reach out to us.
For more information on our Trip Concierge Travel Agent Network and becoming part of our Host Agency, please contact leanna @ tripconcierge.co
As a Travel Agent you can earn anywhere from $65,000 to $150,000 per annum in commissions. Your income is directly related to the amount of sales effort and whether you work part-time or full-time. It is important to note that almost all of your income is derived from commissions.
Travel Agents receive many benefits including discounts on most travel related bookings, travel insurance and many perks, incentives and complimentary offers that are tied to your sales performance.
A Highschool diploma, and experience in hospitality or customer service is required. Attention to detail and love of helping others is incredibly important.
Trip Concierge is a US-based independent travel agency, providing corporate and luxury leisure travel and related concierge services. The Company is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada with additional offices in Miami, Florida and is an Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) and IATAN accredited travel agency; and licensed travel insurance producer.
At Trip Concierge, we don’t just book tickets and make reservations, we help our guests experience the world. Unlike many traditional travel agencies, we are technology forward and give you the ability to use the full power of the Internet, Social Media, marketing materials and direct marketing campaigns.We work in a goal-oriented environment, where you will be frequently coached as our commitment to help you develop world-class consultative skills. We want extraordinary Travel Advisors who can surpass our guest expectations by creating travel experiences of a lifetime.