If you’re someone who loves travel, careful preparation, and helping others have a great experience, consider becoming a travel agent and also starting your own travel agency. Becoming a travel agent can be very cheap, as business projects go, and you can also get away with a small staff and low upfront costs.
That said, success depends largely on finding the right niche in a ferociously competitive market, given the rise in online direct to consumer travel booking sites. So, if you want to be competitive, you’re going to want to concentrate a lot of your attention on your market analysis, branding, and marketing. You’ll need to know who wants your services — your target market — and what they’re willing to pay for.
Despite the advent of digital booking systems that help people schedule holidays, travel agents are still useful for planning trips. Travel arrangements, down to company and budget, always need a personal touch to ensure that clients get the best value for their money. Travel agents will provide advice on holiday destinations and make travel plans for their clients. This article explores what a travel agent is doing and how to become one, including answers to commonly asked questions about this profession.
What does it mean for one to become a travel agent?
Before we can learn more about becoming a travel agent, we need to understand what all this entails as a career. Travel agents are a collective of individuals who represent their clients in about every type of travel. The ‘agent’ is the person who will provide information and advice. Depending on the degree of freedom offered by their clients’ agents, all travel packages can be arranged. Agents can book tickets, rentals, and hotel rooms if necessary for an entire trip or case. They can also cater to both general-purpose services or niche travel destinations. To sum up, travel agents evaluate their clients’ budget and prepare to get the most benefit out of their trip.
What does a travel agent do?
Saying that the travel agent “books holidays” is very much a simplistic description of what the work really requires. In addition to an individual having expert knowledge of the areas and destinations in which people are booked, travel agents get to know their clients and gain a sense of what they really enjoy and can afford. A couple looking for honeymoon destinations want something different than a family of four. Healthy travel agents are not just salesmen; they are creating relationships.
The aspect of salesmanship is, of course, essential. Travel agents also sell their clients on what they consider is their dream holiday, and they will also try to make the best of their contacts in the tourism world to bring their clients to a great offer. This may be more expansive of a challenge than one could realize. After all, holidays are not just for lounging around; you need to sell your clients to the right restaurants, attractions, and excursions.
When a travel agent has persuaded their client of their destination and has hammered out the specifics, it is their responsibility to organize anything. Book your hotel or spa, excursions, and everything else in your holiday package. You should also be very well acutely aware of the weather and the climate at the time of your holiday and have back-up plans ready to go to your client if anything happens. This is a lot of juggling, so let’s hope you’re good at spreadsheets. You balance the client’s budget and time all at once.
Visiting places is a lengthy process in itself. Building close relationships with hoteliers, resort owners, and other businessmen in the region are important. Go to the establishments to see what you think will be a pleasant excursion to suggest to your clients.
A travel agent helps clients make travel plans or discusses various choices for travel packages. They may recommend various resorts or destinations or help their clients plan a travel itinerary. Travel agents may also book tickets, hotels, or reservations for their clients.
Before travel agents may make travel plans, they must learn crucial details about their customers, such as their budget, schedule, ideal vacation, and desired travel arrangements. For example, a travel agent who discovers that a client is afraid to fly may recommend a cruise instead. Popular day-to-day duties a travel agent may expect include:
- Negotiation of hotel rates for clients
- Helping clients to build travel plans
- Determining travel expenses and helping the client find ways to save money
- Advising clients on events in the region they are visiting.
Essentially, a travel agent also ensures that clients receive a customized travel schedule that focuses on their needs and desires. This form of personalization and experience is why many people still prefer travel agents to automated booking systems.
The average salary for a travel agent
Travel agents receive an average of $43,220 a year, although this amount may vary depending on the level of education, location, and experience. Additional certifications can also make it easier to negotiate a higher salary.
Ways to become a travel agent.
Being a travel agent needs a certain level of education and training, and some will need to be licensed professionals before they can even begin their careers. If you consider a career as a travel agent, follow these moves.
- Pursue education
- Research trip-planning and money-saving techniques
Develop your communication skills
- Grow your knowledge of the travel industry
Many travel agents must receive at least a high school diploma before beginning their careers. College degrees are not mandatory for a career in this field, but taking classes or earning at least an associate degree will help you gain important knowledge in areas such as tourism, best business practice, foreign relations, and marketing. You will need detailed information to provide your clients with the best travel plans to suit their needs in all these fields.
There isn’t really a “travel agent” bachelor’s program with a college degree, but a program that demonstrates that you have an understanding of one of the most critical elements of the work. Some college degrees are more explicitly linked, but others may also be important. These majors and programs can include:
- Business Administration
It is true that some of these programs in four-year universities will cost quite a lot. A lot of community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools also provide travel planning instruction.
In addition, certain credential programs are available for those with minimal experience to learn more. The Travel Institute, which provides travel agent training and research, offers a Travel Agent Proficiency Test or a TAP Test to test your basic knowledge. The test costs $95 to register but is also offered at the end of a variety of entry-level programs by the Travel Institute.
Certification that shows both clients and prospective employers may also pursue your knowledge. The Travel Institute provides a Travel Agent Proficiency Exam that you can take to show that you have the expertise and credentials you need to be an experienced travel agent. After a few years of training, you can take additional tests with the Travel Institute or similar organizations to earn more specialized certifications.
Develop your communication skills
Part of a travel agent’s success depends on the ability to communicate with others, whether by phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. Communication skills using these resources will allow you to attract and keep loyal customers, who will be your key source of revenue. Keeping your clients happy is extremely important if you’re planning to work independently and not with an organization.
Communication skills, such as follow-up on questions or communication of changes, can also help you negotiate more effectively with hotels and similar businesses to get the best offers for your clients. The more you associate with those companies, the more likely you are to establish relationships with them. This could, in turn, make it easier to get better travel deals in the future.
Research trip-planning and money-saving techniques
As a travel agent, your clients count on you to help them save as much money as possible while they’re on the road. This is why it is useful to study offers on nearby hotels, cruises, flights, or activities that might offer unique rates.
If you work for an agency, you will likely receive on-the-job training that reveals how to easily find the best offers for clients and make the best value reservations. It could be useful to acquire this experience before starting your own company.
Grow your knowledge of the travel industry
Vacation spots and the itinerary preferences of your clients can change over time, so it is useful to keep up-to-date and growing awareness of new developments in the sector. It can also help to continue to take courses explicitly designed to help you develop a deeper understanding of the tourism industry.
In addition to the TAP exam, the Travel Institute provides courses in subjects such as geography and itinerary planning that will equip you with the expertise to plan unforgettable trips for your clients. These courses can be particularly useful if you’re planning to specialize in one field of travel.
Determine Your Preferred Work Environment and Gain More Experience
Another thing to consider as you sort out your game plan is whether you want to work inside a travel agency or take the risk of starting your own travel agency. Someone with a degree of business interest in travel may feel inclined to start their own business, but beginners may also be more likely to find a support group to improve their skills first.
Using the experience you have in getting a job, or strive to acquire more if necessary. Degrees and qualifications can go a long way, but what about real travel experience? If you’ve already decided what you want your niche to be when it comes to travel, it helps you have Experienced there. Do you want to be trained in one region of the world? It’s a big plus to have been already. Are you looking to be a cruise-specific agent? It would be a great boost to be able to list all the experiences you’ve had in a cruise ship interview.
How to Become a Disney Travel Agent
Disney Travel Agents are the best among the best when it comes to Disney awareness and holiday planning. Agents eat, sleep, and breathe Disney so that when it’s time to book a holiday, they know all the benefits Disney has to give and which package is ideal for the family.
Most Disney travel agents also book vacations to any place in Disney, including hotels, amusement parks, and cruises. These vacations will also include airfares and car rentals, if necessary.
It is important to remember that Disney travel agents are independent contractors. That means you’re finishing work for a company, but you have control over when and how much work you’re doing, and you can quit at will. You can spend enough time to be a full-time Disney travel agent, or only book family and close friends vacations; it’s your choice.
Disney travel agents are not necessarily necessary to have a degree, but experience as a travel agent is beneficial. If you know within you that you are not a travel agent yourself, you may need to register with the Disney Certified Vacation Planner. A large number of companies are available that do not need any kind of monetary requirement to register. Most agents recommend that you have experience traveling to different locations in Disney, not just one single hotel or amusement park. The more variety you’ve got in your Disney journeys, the more you’re going to appeal to all types of families and needs.
Many Disney travel agencies require you to complete Disney’s College of Knowledge online after applying for and accepting their business. The course covers sales and marketing principles, the features and benefits of several Disney resorts, and Disney vacation booking details. It’s self-paced, and you get to finish at your own pace and time. Disney travel agents are paid on a commission basis, and the percentage of the commission you receive depends on the travel agency that you register with. Most agencies receive a regular 10% fee on vacations they book. Of that 10%, you may be entitled to a 75% fee. For example, if you book a $3,000 holiday, the company will receive $300, and you will gain $225 of their commission.
You would have a lot of flexibility as an independent contractor. You’re working from home, which means you can work anywhere in the United States, even when you’re on holiday.
You’ve probably already got everything you need, including a computer, internet access, a private work area, and a phone.
While you have the advantages of working from home, becoming a Disney travel agent can mean very early hours, getting up to sign up for a quick passes family as soon as the booking window opens. Alternatively, you can have late nights trying to find out the best plan for each family.
Years of Experience
Your commission percentage is more unlikely to change as you gain more experience, but the number of clients you have is likely to increase, which means more commission opportunities.
When you gain experience and book more holidays, you will have the ability to receive additional travel agent certifications, which will open up more discounted travel for your family.
Your awareness of Disney and travel possibilities also grow with time, giving you a deeper insight into each family’s best holiday.
Job Growth Trends
Employment growth for travel agents, in general, is diminishing as travelers book their own holidays on the internet, but opportunities in this field are better for agents specializing in particular areas such as Disney. As a travel agent for Disney, people can continue to check out your expertise and experience.
FAQs on becoming a travel agent
Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions on becoming a travel agent:
Do travel agents work for themselves?
Some work for a corporation, but many others become highly skilled in their field of expertise and start up their own companies. If you plan to work for yourself, consider selecting a specialization that will stand out from the competitors in the industry.
What Kind of skills do I need as a travel agent?
Soft skills, such as verbal and written communication, will help you find great offers when planning trips and booking flights and hotels. Time management skills are also important in this profession as you’re likely to be dealing with several itineraries or clients at the same time.
Do I need to specialize in any particular area of travel?
Although not inherently needed, it can give you a competitive advantage if you choose a specialty as a travel agent. For example, you might concentrate on planning trips to one specific area or specialize in a certain form of vacation. Gaining experience in a particular field may also help develop a loyal client base.
What are the long term popular career prospects of a travel agent?
As described above, travel has become more convenient than ever before. People around the world fly more than ever before. Americans alone spend trillions of dollars on travel, whether on family vacations or business trips. Finding a professional can make a difference between an enjoyable experience and a nightmare. Despite having technology and expertise, people are willing to pay a little extra to be healthy. This is particularly very true when it comes to their families. Travel agents will remain important for a very long time.
How hard is it for one to become a travel agent?
It’s not that hard to become a travel agent. But there are certain characteristics that are important for us to be one. Character is the most valuable tool here. Being an agent allows you to be in regular contact with your clients. Some personality traits are key tools for gaining the trust of the customer. They are adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, positive, and hopeful. As a specialist, the recommendations must be superior to those made by the ordinary consumer. You must be able to persuade clients of that so that they can encourage you to make a plan that is tailored to them. You’ve got to be able to communicate with them openly. They have to be relaxed around you, too, so that you and the client can come to a proper understanding.
You’ve got to be professional with your attitude. Once you have reached some sort of performance, other businesses will contact you and ask for your services. The better the impression you make of them, the better your credibility would be.
The other great skill you need is the ability to plan on the fly. You can be approached at any time by a client asking for a change of plans. A significant part of the job is able to respond to the whims of the client. In this line of work, versatility is important.
What Is a Travel Agent’s Work Schedule?
Many travel agents, whether in the workplace or at home, work full time. But it can transform into a 24/7 work in several respects. Clients may also see travel agents as part of a concierge, part of a financial advisor, and if anything goes wrong, you might be the one they contact-regardless of the hour. Booking vacations for your customers during peak travel times and seasons, particularly if you’re good enough to have a lot of good clients, can also mean a lot of long hours outside the 9-to-5 day norm.
The value of a travel agent
As a service provider, their value is just as high as the needs of their customers. Nowadays, high international trade and communications travel agents can be busy all year round. However, there is a marked rise in demand during the holiday season. They stay in close contact with customers via phone calls and the internet while they are on duty. To provide them with the required details, change vacation plans as appropriate, as well as act as a salesperson for various package tours.
Travel agents carry out regular research on travel and luxury destinations. They also look at prime resort locations and pre-arranged holiday packages. They can contact various tourist centers to collect data and keep up-to-date with the latest information. Some agents also fly to these destinations and collect data on-site. All of this is kept organized in their folder. Skilled agents will discover new destinations on their own.
If the agent is able to have a high degree of control in the tourism industry, several businesses may contact the agent. Companies may add the services of the agent to the database and even pay a certain commission to do so if it also means promoting their business. In reality, many tourism companies rely entirely on travel agents instead of advertising. Some surveys indicate that travel agents receive up to three times as much from fees as from customer service charges.
A good agent must provide his or her customers with valuable and accurate information before, during, and after the journey. Knowledge on-site such as car rentals, accommodation options, maps of public transport routes, visitor guides, etc. There are also travel agents that are independent contractors. They’re doing their legwork to bring in new customers. Sales and marketing skills, as well as knowledge of geography, are beneficial. As mentioned before, much of the information on tourist spots is now accessible online and publicly. It is necessary to be competent on the internet to gather information to stay ahead.
Formal schooling is not all that. Having interpersonal skills and proper self-presentation can help to build long-lasting relationships. It will help to please the customer. You are often suggested to other people by a pleased customer. It’s hard to act on your right from the get-go for autonomous action. Instead, work in a travel agency to gain respect and seek their approval first. Then you can set yourself up. Staying with high-level travel companies has the ability to provide access to better sources and connections.
Dedication to this line of work is crucial. Customers need to see this through active listening, proper conversation, and clear communication. It is also critical that you put together travel packages to meet your customers’ unique needs and be vigilant in meeting deadlines.
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