While you might think the internet has eliminated the need for travel agents, this is still a very rewarding career path. Many people still want help planning their vacations. If you want to learn how to become a travel agent, it starts with understanding this career option.
As a travel agent, you can enjoy providing advice for travelers heading to vacation spots. They can also help make arrangements and often can procure a better price for their clients.
If you’re considering a career path as a travel agent, you should know how to become a travel agent. It starts with a closer look at what you will be doing. First, let’s look at the job duties and the step-by-step plan.
Job Duties of a Travel Agent
As a travel agent, you will help your clients make arrangements for their vacation or another type of travel. You may provide a specific travel package for them to choose from. Often, you will provide advice on resorts, destinations, attractions, and more.
Travel agents will start by gathering information about their clients. This may include the budget, ideal vacation, how they like to travel, their schedule, and other important information. Then, a travel agent will use this information to create the right vacation for their clients.
Some of the common duties you will perform as a travel agent include:
- Creating trip plans for clients
- Negotiating hotel rates
- Advising clients on specific activities, dining options, and other attractions
- Working within your client’s budget and helping them save money
The main goal of a travel agent is to create a personalized trip plan and make it easier for your clients to go on vacation. You will take all the guesswork and planning out of the process for your clients.
How to Become a Travel Agent in 4 Steps
Step #1 – Get the Necessary Education and Training
Travel agents will likely need at least a high school diploma or equivalent before working in this career. A college degree is not always necessary but can be helpful. Getting an associate degree can give you the necessary knowledge to work as a travel agent. Taking courses in tourism, international affairs, marketing, and business can be very helpful.
You can choose to become certified as a travel agent, too. The Travel Agent Proficiency Test is a common option from the Travel Institute. This test will show you’re qualified to make travel arrangements for clients.
After gaining a few years of experience, you can gain even more advanced certifications from The Travel Institute.
Step #2 – Become an Excellent Communicator
Travel agents must become excellent communicators. You will be working regularly with clients and vendors over the phone, through email, and in in-person meetings.
Learn to ask follow-up questions, communicate changes to plans, negotiate with hotels, and communicate professionally in many different ways. Working in customer service is a great way to develop your communication skills.
Step #3 – Choose a Type of Travel Agent
You can choose to be one of a few different types of travel agents. In addition, it’s possible to specialize in a specific type of destination or area of the world. For example, some travel agents specialize in planning Disney vacations for their clients.
It’s also possible to focus your specialization on luxury travel or budget travel. You can become a corporate travel agent or a leisure travel agent, as well. As a corporate travel agent, you might handle the travel arrangements for employees headed on business trips.
If you become a leisure travel agent, you will work with vacationers. This is a more common type of travel agent, but you get to choose your specialty.
There are many other types of specialties, also. For example, you can work specifically with cruises or even choose to work with only airline travel. It’s also possible to work with a specific country if you speak the language.
Once you choose a specialty, you should do everything you can to learn about it. For example, if you decide to become a Disney travel agent, consider learning everything you can about Disney World, Disneyland, and other Disney destinations across the globe.
Step #4 – Consider Becoming a Virtual Travel Agent
As a virtual travel agent, you can run your own company from home. There are some travel agent companies that will allow you to become a franchise owner without any experience. They will train you to run a virtual travel agency online and even provide ongoing support.
Travel agents often work for themselves. With the way the world works today, you can easily work from home as a travel agent. Most of your job will be working online and over the phone.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Travel Agent
How much do travel agents earn?
The average salary for a travel agent is about $42K per year. As a travel agent, you can earn even more with experience and with a specialty. Your location and the employer you work for may also impact your salary.
Top travel agents can earn around $100K per year. Many working for top companies will earn $70K per year or more. The top-paying locations include Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston, and Las Vegas.
How do travel agents get paid?
Most travel agents get paid on commissions they receive from suppliers. For example, if you sell an airline ticket, you will get paid a commission from the airline for that ticket. Some travel agents charge a fee for their services.
Is it hard to work as a travel agent?
It depends on whether or not you enjoy travel and planning. If you love to plan vacations, you might not find it difficult to be a travel agent. However, in some cases, you may need to build up your clientele, which can take time and can be difficult.
You will also need to help when flights are delayed or canceled. Finally, you’ll need to be there to support your clients every step of the way.
What is a common schedule for a travel agent?
While most travel agents will work a typical 9-to-5 schedule, it might depend on your area of specialty. For example, if you’re planning to travel for a client overseas, you may need to be up early or stay up later to make plans.
It can easily turn into a 24/7 job, too. When your clients are traveling, they might expect to be able to get ahold of you at a moment’s notice. You will be a part financial advisor, part concierge, and part travel agent. They will be counting on you if something doesn’t go as planned.
Will I need to work for myself?
Not all travel agents work for themselves, but many do. For example, you might work for a company and help plan the travel for their employees. You can also work as a travel agent for a larger travel company. However, many travel agents go into business for themselves.
How do travel agents find clients?
After becoming a travel agent, you will need to find clients. Most travel agents do this through word-of-mouth and referrals. However, many also use social media and online marketing methods to find clients. Email marketing and social media marketing can be very powerful.
What type of benefits do travel agents gain?
Most travel agents can work from home. This is just one of the many benefits you can gain from this career. It’s also common for travel agents to become their own boss. In addition, you will likely gain access to travel discounts when you take a vacation.
As a travel agent, you will also have access to deals first. This can be a huge perk when you want to take a vacation.
Will I need a license to work as a travel agent?
In most states, you don’t need any type of license to become a travel agent. However, in some states, you will need to register. These states include California, Iowa, Florida, Delaware, Hawaii, and Washington State.
Make sure to check the laws in your state before you start working as a travel agent. You will want to register, if necessary, or meet any requirements your state might have.
How long does it take to become a travel agent?
There isn’t a specific timetable for becoming a travel agent. Since the education requirements are basic, you can become a travel agent rather quickly. Of course, you can also get a college degree and take two or four years to become a travel agent.
Becoming a travel agent is a rewarding career. While this career isn’t growing and has changed quite a bit over the past few decades, it’s still a good choice for many. If you love to plan vacations, this might be the perfect option for you.
As a travel agent, you can help families enjoy an amazing trip. They can count on you to help when things don’t go as planned. Use the steps above to become a travel agent and enjoy this rewarding career path today.
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