Travel agents find their clients the best deals and handle all the stressful aspects of planning a vacation for people looking to take a holiday. If you love planning trips and want to do that for a living, then this guide on how to become a travel agent is for you.
What Is a Travel Agent?
Travel agents help people with their vacation travel arrangements. They work with a person’s budget to get them the best deal and offer advice on things to do and sights to see.
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What Does a Travel Agent do?
A travel agent’s job is to help people set up travel arrangements for their vacation. They work with a person to find hotels, resorts, tourist attractions, airlines, and more. They work within their clients’ budgets to make sure they can afford their vacation.
Types of Trips They Book
When going through a travel agency, you can choose from various types of vacations. Here are some of the types of vacations you can book:
- Beach vacations with resort bundles
- Destination weddings
- City vacations
- Hiking trips
Types of Travel Agencies
Travel agencies can do general travel bookings, but some may specialize in a certain section or region of the world.
- Corporate Agencies
- These travel agencies only work with businesses to make sure that their business travel needs are met for trips.
- Specialized Niche Agency
- These agencies specialize in certain regions of the world or certain types of vacations. For example, they can specialize in beach vacations, resorts, Asia, Europe, South America, etc. They find you the best deals for the regions you choose.
- Online Travel Agency
- With the Internet being used more and more everyday, there are travel agencies that do everything online. This gives clients a chance to look through vacation plans and destinations without having to go to an office. They can still work with agents over the phone and through email to be able to communicate what they are looking for.
Essential Skills of a Travel Agent
Being a travel agent requires good interpersonal skills. You must have some of the skills listed below to be a successful travel agent.
- Good computer skills
- Knowing a different language other than English can be helpful
- Excellent customer service qualities
- Be able to sell
- Listen carefully and be thorough
- Great communication skills
- World geography skills
Travel Agent Salaries and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a travel agent in the United States can make an average of $40,660 per year.
Travel agents also make a commission on the vacations they sell. So, your salary can vary depending on your commission rate. When looking at joining a travel agency or a host agency, look at what the commission split is so you know you are getting the best deal to make more money.
The job outlook for travel agents is not very good. It is estimated that available positions will fall six percent by 2028. This is due to the fact that the Internet has made booking vacations, airplanes, and hotels much easier to do.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Travel Agent?
It takes about 16 weeks to become a travel agent. You would go through a trade school and take classes. It could take longer if you decide to go to a four-year university first.
How to Become a Travel Agent: A Step by Step Guide
Step 1: Go to a Travel Agent School
Being a travel agent only requires a high school education. After graduating, find a trade school where you are able to take travel agent classes. This would take about 16 weeks to complete. You will then be a certified travel agent.
Some travel agencies may require you to have some sort of degree. They’ll either want an associate or bachelor’s degree in a business field.
Step 2: Gain Travel Experience
After completing your classes or obtaining your degree, you are now able to look for jobs. You are able to get internships with different travel agencies or get jobs in any area of the travel industry. This can be done by working for a cruise ship, an airline, or a hotel.
Step 3: Join a Travel Agency or Start Your Own
If you do not want to join a travel agency, you could start your own. To start your own travel agency, you must have business experience.
You can specialize your agency for the type of travel you want to offer your clients. You could offer corporate travel and focus strictly on business travel, or focus on leisure travel for people who just want to have a fun holiday. How you run your agency is up to you.
If you do not want to start your own agency, you can become a contracted, independent travel agent and work with a host agency. They work for themselves and technically have their own business, but are partners with the agency.
Should You Become A Travel Agent?
Being a travel agent can be a great career for people who are interested in the travel industry. Although fewer people are using agencies to book travel due to the Internet, there is still a good amount of people who use agencies to scope out the best deals.
FAQs About Becoming a Travel Agent
Go to a trade school and earn a travel agent certificate.
Yes. You basically have to sell vacation plans to clients who are looking.
Yes. If you feel like you have gained enough experience, have a solid business plan, and know what you are doing, you can start your own agency.
No. You just need to graduate high school to attend travel agent classes.
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