If you are someone who enjoys planning intricate travel itineraries for your trips, helps friends and family when they are planning their vacations, then the thought has possibly crossed your mind on how to become a travel agent. And while yes, in the digital age with sites like Expedia and Hotwire having a travel agent is not as popular as it once was, however, it is a lot more common than you think. Especially now, with all the new travel restrictions and regulations, working with an agent is something that people are deciding on to ensure they have all the protections in place should their trips get postponed, canceled, they get sick, etc.
One of the nice things about becoming a travel agent is that you do not need any special degrees or career backgrounds to do so. You just need to love travel, enjoy planning out details, and get access to the credentials needed to legally be able to book travel on behalf of your clients.
How to become a travel agent: The nuts and bolts
The first thing you need to think about before embarking on the agent journey is whether you want to work at an agency as an employee or own your own travel business. More than likely, you are going to want to own your own business. In my experience and professional opinion, the best way to do this is to sign up under a host agency. By going this route, you will have very minimal overhead and will have access to the credentials needed immediately to begin booking travel. The credentials I am speaking of are your IATA – International Air Transport Association and your CLIA – Cruise Line International Association. Now yes, these are things you can go out and get on your own but, specifically for your IATA, it is a very intense, lengthy, and pricey process. You will need to license your business, pay accreditation fees, obtain insurance, and much more.
By joining a host agency, all the paperwork is taken care of for you. You become an independent agent under your host agency and ultimately are owning your own travel agency. Down the line you can totally decide to get accredited yourself but, this is a great way to get started in the business and navigate the industry to see if it is right for you.
Through your host agency, you will also get access to amazing training. You can become a destination specialist in areas of your choice, become an expert in different types of travel such as luxury travel, adventure travel, health and wellness travel, etc. and much, much more. You will also be covered under their Errors & Omissions (liability) insurance with is a much needed and great perk.
What are some important things to consider when becoming an agent?
Once you have made the decision to become an agent, you will want to look deeper into the below areas.
- Establish your niche. What type of travel are you looking to focus on? I personally specialize in solo travel and luxury couples vacations. You can choose to focus on adventure excursions, cultural immersion trips, etc. Narrowing down your niche will ultimately help you discover and find your target customers.
- Grow your client base. How will you promote your new career path? Are your social media accounts set up? Do you have a Facebook business page? Is your website up to date and easy to navigate? What are your lead generation strategies? You will want to make sure you have all these in place to help grow your client base. Once you have clients your main goal is to keep them happy and help them experience the trip of their dreams so they keep coming back and they spread the word of your amazing service. Word of mouth will always be the best form of marketing. Another great resource to source clients is the app Thumbtack. Check it out here.
- Understand commissions. Commissions are the main source of income for agents. Understanding what each travel partner’s commission percentage is, as-well-as the percentage you receive from your host agency is very important. You want to make sure you receive from your agency 70-80% of the commission received. This is the industry standard.
What are some reasons why you should become an agent?
- Earn commission on your own travel bookings
- Partner with the top suppliers in the industry such as Delta Vacations, Club Med, and Apple Vacations
- Booking anything from flights to cruises to accommodations and excursions
- Earn an extra income while helping others travel the world
- Flexible hours – you are your own boss
- No quota + no inventory. = no pressure.
- Access to $1,000s worth of training so, no experience is needed at all
- Exclusive access to competitive rates for yourself, family, friends, and clients
- Join a group of like-minded travel lovers who all support your growth
- Work from anywhere – any time
So, now that you know how to become a travel agent are you ready? If so, email me. I can help you get started and share more details as to how you can become a part of this amazing industry and learn to travel smarter.