4 Qualifications and Steps to Become a Travel Agent
If you love travel, routinely look at new travel deals, love accumulating travel reward points, and/or are yourself an ardent traveler, becoming a travel agent and joining an agency might be just for you!
Although Expedia has taken a big dent out of travel agency business, more people use travel agents than you may think. After all, travel agents are experts at big trips, honeymoons, bucket-list trips, and more. If someone’s booking a trip with a lot of logistics involved, a travel agent is a great partner in coordinating a wide variety of things.
1. You don’t need formal training to be a travel agent.
A great reason to jump into the travel game is that there’s no requirement for formal education. Although there are college courses and trade schools out there offering tourism-related certifications, and although these can be very helpful, they aren’t necessary.
If you have a thorough knowledge of common travel destinations, some sales experience, and have worked with booking software, these are all assets that can help you land a job with a travel agency. Should you choose to pursue a formal education in tourism, there’s no shortage of programs out there to help in getting you the professional development you need.
2. Building your knowledge starts with the destinations.
Most people can fumble their way through a positive customer service or sales interaction, but what they can’t fake is knowing their stuff as it relates to the destinations. As a travel agent, you should have some knowledge about geography, some idea of the culture there, and would ideally be a well-traveled person.
If travel is a not a passion or if you don’t have an interest in geography, it’s going to be difficult to be a successful travel agent. As with any industry, customers want to know they’re with someone who knows what they’re talking about.
3. How long it takes to become a travel agent.
Assuming you don’t join someone else’s agency, you may want to start your own travel agency. Although you can, this is equivalent to starting your own business. The benefits are that there’s no overhead if you want to start from your kitchen table. That said, it also takes time to build clientele.
There are a lot of decisions that need to be made i.e. to become a sole proprietor, whether to incorporate or not, or if it makes sense just to join another agency. You may want to franchise under a travel agency banner. Needless to say, there’s a lot to go over here. Even though you can become a travel agent today, it may take weeks or months before your agency sees sufficient returns.
4. Your objectives as a travel agent are three-fold.
After securing work in your own travel agency or with someone else’s, the first and primary objective is always to make commissions. Ensure the commission rate you’re receiving is in line with industry standard and work hard to make it.
Secondly, you’ll need to grow your client base. After all, this is how you make your commission. It’s all about the clients. Keep them happy and they’ll return to you to book their next travel. Find them deals, curate experiences for them, and go the extra mile to make them feel like everything’s taken care of.
Thirdly, going after a niche market is a great strategy to be successful in the travel agency world. Some examples of niche travel includes honeymoons, luxurious travel, business travel, and adventure travel. The better defined your travel knowledge is, the more likely you will attract clients from that realm.
If you want to become a travel agent, you can start today. Join an educational program, apply to a travel agency, begin building your knowledge in travel, or start putting into place the infrastructure you need to thrive as your own travel agent.