How to become a travel agent and do what you love
Do you wish there was a way to make a living doing what you love? If what you love is travel, your dream career is totally within reach! This post will give you some tips and pointers and how to become a travel agent and grow your business.
Many predicted that the advent of the internet would mean an end for the professional travel agent. It has done exactly the opposite. The instant access to an overwhelming amount of travel information has caused consumers to seek out expert help when planning their trips. Using a travel agent is particularly popular among millennial travelers and the need for agents is projected to grow as Generation Z starts to earn enough income for travel. The travel agent industry has become more profitable than ever before.
Being a travel agent has its perks: the travel discounts, schedule flexibility, and the opportunity to sell something you’re passionate about. The best part is you can jump in without an expensive 4-year degree. While it’s easy enough to get started, there are a few steps you must take to turn travel into a successful career.
1. Get out there and travel!
If you’re looking for a job in the travel sector, chances are you’ve already spent some time traveling and love it! As you start your career, take some time to travel and look at your journey through a new lens. The best education for a travel career is experience. A successful travel agent looks at every trip as a learning opportunity, even if they are taking a quick stateside getaway with the family. Once you start working as an agent, you may have opportunities to take FAM trips (familiarization trips). This happens when vendors or travel suppliers offer you free or discounted travel experiences in hopes that you will sell their product. Still curious about what travel deals are available to agents? Here are 30 great ones!
2. Decide if you’ll work for yourself or for an agency
Once you decide that the travel industry is a good fit, you need to figure out what kind of business model is best for you. If you’re looking to go the traditional route you can search for a position within a well-established agency. If you’re looking for a more flexible schedule and lifestyle, you can go one of two ways. The first is to simply start your own agency from the ground up. The second is to become an independent contractor and work through a host agency. Becoming an independent contractor is a great route for those who want the freedom to set their own schedule while under the covering of a larger network.
3. Pick a niche
Today’s travelers don’t just want a mere destination. They want an experience. As they choose a travel agent, they’ll look for someone who can give them the “insider’s scoop” on their trip. When running a successful travel agency in today’s market, the goal is to be the expert in your niche. If all you’re doing is selling a cookie cutter travel package, your clients will eventually go somewhere else. Find an amazing idea you can get excited about and learn everything about it. Extreme sports in Asia? Mediterranean spa tours? The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. Here are some of the top travel trends dominating the market right now!
4. Get certified in your niche
Try to Google “travel agent certification” and you may find yourself confused and frustrated. There is no standard certification process or exam you must take to sell travel. This is where it helps to start out by working through a host agency. A good host agency should help facilitate your training and certification, matching you with programs that are most beneficial for your area of expertise. You can get general travel agent certifications such as CTA (Certified Travel Associate) or through CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). It’s also a great idea to get certified with vendors specific to your market such as Disney or Marriott.
5. Know your target market
You can’t build an effective business if you don’t know who you are targeting. Having the right niche should make it easier to figure out who your clients are. What are their travel goals? What are their biggest fears or concerns? Are they booking well in advance or last minute? What sources do they use for their travel info? Once you have a good grasp on who you are trying to reach, you can use this information to develop a focused marketing plan.
6. Build an online presence
In today’s visual society, it’s important to have a great online presence. This includes a visually appealing, mobile-optimized website and a solid social media strategy. Many companies mistakenly believe their product isn’t interesting enough for social media. If you’re selling travel, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media is one of the main motivators for today’s travelers. Focus on publishing content that is inspirational to your unique audience. If you’re selling adventure travel, curate an account that takes your followers’ breath away and keeps them longing for that adrenaline rush. If you’re doing food tours, post quality photos of diverse, drool-worthy cuisine. It’s best to use original photos when you can, but if you’re in a pinch, here are 7 free stock photo websites to check out.
7. Make money on airfare, sign up with Centrav
There are many myths about selling airfare, and because of this, some agents are reluctant to offer it. They feel clients can easily get it online or that it is too complicated to sell. By hesitating to offer airfare, travel agents are missing out on a huge opportunity to increase their revenue. They may even run the risk of losing their clients to another agent who is willing to offer them the full service.
Centrav provides travel agents with a powerful, intuitive solution to book airfare for your clients so you can make money off of every ticket. The average agent booking airfare on centrav.com earns about $100 per ticket. If you sell just two tickets a week, this adds $10,000 to your bottom line each year.