Many people are attracted to a career as a travel agent because of the perks: discounts on lodging, transportation, and constant opportunities to see the world. They offer advice on travel, put together travel packages, research vacation spots and confirm arrangements. To be all travel agent, determine the skills you need, take advantage of educational opportunities and professional resources, and consider specializing in a particular type of travel.
1.Get a high school diploma
Typical for any job nowadays, a high school diploma is necessary to get started. This is the bare minimum for entry into an established business.
- A GED is fine. Whichever form you choose, it’s essential to get good grades and to learn computer skills.
2.Take classes in travel planning
Having extra, focused knowledge makes you a prime candidate when you walk into any office (or start your own business).
- Check out your local community colleges, vocational schools, and industry associations for classes. The classes should focus on reservation systems, travel regulations (both domestic and international), and marketing.
3.Get a degree in travel and tourism
Few schools offer on-site degrees in this, but it’s worth the research if one is in your area. However, loads offer classes online. If you plan to start your own travel agency, you will need business courses as well.
4.Get a business license
Depending on your location and business set-up, you may need a travel agent license (if you have a host, you may be able to use their license number). Even if you don’t live in an area that requires one but is planning to sell to residents of those states, it’s worth looking into.
These generally take two forms; both add to your credibility as a travel agent.
- Classes and training at an undergrad level and your IATAN (International Airlines Travel Agent Network) ID card.
- Supplemental training at schools like The Travel Institute and the International Airline Transport Association’s Training and Development Institute. Both provide training and professional development opportunities for experienced travel agents. Examinations for different levels of certification are offered depending on a travel agent’s experience.
- If you have a designated area of interest, certification from an organization such as the Cruise Lines International Association could never hurt.
- Beware of “card-mills.” For a relatively small fee, they mysteriously give you a “travel agent qualification.” It’s a scam.
6.Develop the personality
To be a successful travel agent, you must be worldly, confident, and one heck of a networker. Even if you’re working for a parent company, you have to convince your clients that you’re offering them the best vacation they could possibly have.
- Be adventurous. Part of the job description is willing to scope out and analyze different, sometimes dangerous, sometimes exotic areas.
- Hone your communication skills. When you’re not doing on-the-scene research, you’ll be behind a desk, emailing and talking on the phone. Your success rate is based on how well you can communicate.
- Zero-in on the details. Every person has a different ideal vacation—making sure everything from the curtains to the bus air conditioning system is beyond the standard is what makes a returning customer.
- Get organized. You’ll be dealing with dozens of itineraries simultaneously. Keeping things straight and meeting deadlines are imperative to success.
- Make connections. You’re going to need clients to make commission, so start talking. Be the go-to for all your friends and family when it comes to travel information and itinerary organization. Start networking today.
You cannot sell a product that you’re unfamiliar with. Getting out there or seeing it for yourself puts you in the client’s shoes and prepares you for unforeseen problems.
- Being able to dispense first-hand information is invaluable. Clients are more interested in hearing suggestions based on first-hand accounts of services, accommodations and geographic areas. This is the reason travel agents often receive discounts while traveling.
- Knowing a foreign language (or two) definitely helps!
8. Start networking
Whether you’re working from home or in an office, raising your voice is the only way to let people know you’re getting on the ground and running. Do the research and start making offers.
- Create a referral service with another travel agent or agents who can refer business to you in your specialty and you can do the same for them. You can sometimes work out a mutual-referral agreement with another agent in order to collect referral fees.
9.Join an organization
The quickest way to hone your craft is to observe and mirror other professionals in your field. Join an organization to surround yourself with similar individuals who may be a few years ahead of you.
- Professional organizations, further education and training opportunities, resources, networking opportunities, travel tools, publication access, evaluation services, invitations to seminars, expos, and summits, scholarships for students and salary tools.
- These organizations also give you access to job boards and travel school directories, if you’re looking for career rejuvenation.