Travel is a multi-billion industry that should explode after over two years of restrictions because of the global pandemic. Travelers plan to catch up on lost time, but they need help to navigate tricky waters created by this crisis. The expected increase in travel is a tremendous opportunity for people to join the profession.
If you consider getting on board, I will show you how to become a travel agent. It is simple and doesn’t need a college degree or years of training. However, marketing, tourism, or business education would be an asset. Also, if you are a travel enthusiast with loads of experience, you are well on your way.
Table of Contents
- You have three options for becoming a travel agent.
- Employed by a travel agency
- Start your own travel business from scratch.
- This is how to use a host agency to become a travel agent.
- Travel agent training.
- How much money does a travel agent earn in a year?
- What are the work hours of a travel agent?
- Do travel Agents travel for free
- If I become a travel agent, do I need to specialize?
- How do I get clients?
- How do travel agents get paid?
- Where can I find a suitable host agency?
- Red Flags to Look for when choosing a host agency
You have three options for becoming a travel agent.
- Work for an established travel agency.
- Start your own travel business from scratch.
- Become an independent travel agent using a host.
Employed by a travel agency
Working for someone else is easy. You don’t have the responsibility of running a business. There is always a boss or coworker to run to when you are having problems. You are not on your own to figure things out.
They send clients to you; there is training, support, and a salary. If the company fails, you find a new job. If you are new to the industry and don’t have the confidence to run a travel business, working for someone is a good training ground.
Learn all you can, and build relationships with suppliers so it will be easy to branch off.
Working for a boss takes away the freedom that most people want. So it is not for everyone.
Start your own travel business from scratch.
Starting your agency is one way how to become a travel agent. First, you have the freedom to do what you want. Then, you decide when and where to work.
With freedom comes great responsibility. Failure and success are in your hands; you have no one to run to when things get tricky. Also, you might be responsible for others.
Apart from the enormous responsibility of running a business, the overhead cost will be high. Worse if you have a brick and martyr agency.
If you take it online, getting registration and approval will still take time and effort. Good contracts with suppliers might also be an issue. Training for you and the staff is also an additional cost. You will also need a license to sell travel in some states in the US. Click here to learn how to get one.
The initial start-up might be great, but it is better in the long run because you control your business.
This is how to use a host agency to become a travel agent.
Using a host agency to start your travel business is a good option. The start-up cost is less, and you don’t have to worry about inventory. In addition, some agencies partner with suppliers to get discounts and benefits to pass on to your clients.
You don’t have to worry about getting a license and the different credentials needed in the travel industry. Some even have liability insurance that extends to you.
You can start your travel business in a few days, and it could cost less than $1000 to set up.
Although getting started is easy and cheap, you need to be cautious. Many new host agencies are popping up, some with predatory contracts. So before signing on to a host, read the fine print.
Travel agent training.
Anyone can enter the travel profession, but to succeed, you need training. First, educate yourself on how to market and run a travel business. Most suppliers offer product training, but learning is up to you. To more knowledgeable you are, the better it is for your client.
American Society of Travel Advisors is the industry leader in advisor training and certification. They offer courses that will improve your skills. If you are on a budget, save and do their training as soon as possible. It will do wonders for your business. Sign up for ASTA verified travel advisor certificate here.
Apart from doing certification programs, you attend travel conferences and trade fairs. That’s where you make contacts and learn about happenings in the industry.
How much money does a travel agent earn in a year?
In a year, a travel agent in the USA earns an average salary of $44,690. At the lower end, they earn $23,360 and $69,420 at the upper end. Based on the 2019 statistics from the US Bureau Of Labor.
A Canadian travel agent earns an average of CAD$38,533 and up to $51,000 annually.
What are the work hours of a travel agent?
The working hours of a travel agent depend on several factors. If you are working for a brick martyr agency, it would be your typical nine to five. An online agency working hours may vary depending on your role and the type of service they offer, but you will work within a set time.
If you are an independent agent running your own online business, work hours are 24/7. A client may call at any time, asking for your assistance. Booking an emergency flight or finding accommodation at a particular location are some requests they might make. If clients often travel to different time zones, expect to get calls at strange hours.
Do travel Agents travel for free
Travel agents do not travel for free they have to pay. However, they can travel at a discounted price because of points accumulated on airline and fam trips offered by hotels. Fam trips are not free but heavily discounted. It is an opportunity for agents to learn about the product to better service clients.
Some resorts offer goodies for agents who book a certain number of rooms with them, in points, free stay, or cash rewards. Being a part of the industry, you will know where to find deals to take advantage of.
If I become a travel agent, do I need to specialize?
You don’t have to be a specialist, but it would be wise to become one. You can specialize in weddings, honeymoons, sports, adventure, cruises, and many others. Also, you can focus on a particular destination, for example, Africa, Europe, South America, Asia, or the Caribbean. You can choose any niche you want. Clients trust you with their trip when you are a specialist because you will have in-depth knowledge. Your offerings and service will be much better because you can focus on one area.
How do I get clients?
The good thing about travel is you don’t have to convince anyone. People are already traveling, but you need to find them and offer your service. The internet makes it easy for anyone to make reservations. However, travel agents do more than make reservations. Show potential clients how you will improve their trip and save them money.
Brand yourself as an expert in the field, provide exemplary service, and you will get referrals—proper marking targeting travelers in your niche. Use social media travel influencers to promote your service. Some people prefer to book travel with someone they know, so use your network. If you are a part of a community group or religious organization, let them know what you do.
Get a website and use google AdWords to advertise your service. Facebook advertisement for brand promotion, but you will get more conversions from AdWords.
How do travel agents get paid?
Travel agents get paid by commission whenever they book with a supplier; you get a percentage of your client’s money. Commission ranges from 5 to 25 percent of a trip. For example, if you make a reservation for $3000, the supplier will deduct a portion for tax and other charges; they will calculate your commission and the balance. Let’s say $2700 remains; the commission might be 10% which is $270. Using a host agency, they might get a 70-30 split; you will get $189.
A travel agent can also charge clients for their time preparing their packages.
You can also get bonuses from suppliers for booking with them.
Where can I find a suitable host agency?
It is easy to find a host agency there; many out there. Please do your due diligence and make sure their policy matches your need. Find a host agency here. These are the top agency in the USA for 2020.
Red Flags to Look for when choosing a host agency
Avoid agencies that operate like a pyramid scheme and focus more and getting recruits rather than selling travel. They offer no support for your business, and only those at the top make money.
Meeting a sales quota to remain with your host is like having a boss over your shoulder; stay away from them.
A commission slit below 70% is not a good deal. Instead, find a host that offers 70% commission or more.
Tricky contracts make it challenging to collect your commission if you decide to switch hosts.
A host agency that pays 90% of the commission usually gives no support, or their monthly payment is high.
Entry into the travel industry is easy; choose which option fits your need and start working. It is so satisfying to help people plan their dream vacation, and the compensation is reasonable.
If you are going to go on your own, educate yourself and get a solid business plan. Know the laws that apply to your business.
The travel business is dynamic, so stay current. Avoid the pitfalls. Many people become overwhelmed after the first few months. Get support from the start.
Woking with a host is the simplest way to start; choose carefully; not all hosts are equal.