There are several travel agents and agencies facilitating journeys for people around the world. A few learn on the job, while others take to professional courses. Either route needs to elaborate on the process and requirements of how to become a travel agent. If this is your choice of profession/business, read further to know about the key areas that need your attention.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” - Saint Augustine
Who is a Travel Agent?
Travel agents connect prospective travelers to new and unexplored domains. They provide a human connection between two parties willing to explore their socio-cultural and/or socio-economical horizons. A travel agent could thus make necessary arrangements for the two contributing parties (viz., travelers and service providers).
The category of travelers may include individuals, families, or a group of professionals. The category of service providers or suppliers may include hotels, restaurants, airlines, trains, car rentals or taxis, and travel insurance companies. They may also include organizations that design personalized travel packages for individuals or groups.
A travel agent thus helps connect them and create the best traveling experiences online.
Types of Travel Agents
- High Street Level Travel Agents: They are traditional and can be found in mom-and-pop stores near your home. Their USPs are in-depth knowledge about destinations and exceptional interpersonal skills. But with numerous travel websites and portals coming up, their number is fast shrinking.
- Call Centre Travel Agents: The Travel and Tourism sector is picking up pace in the post-pandemic era. People are now dialing up for specialized services from renowned companies. Most travel companies provide the best grade of call-centre-based booking experiences over the phone or mail.
- Business Travel Agents: They liaison with various for-profit organizations or workplaces to provide customized travel packages. They deal in a group or high-level flying experiences and can be relied on to contact the city's best hotels and car rental services.
- Internet Travel Agents: They are also called online travel agents. They are like High Street Level Travel Agents, except that they are more internet-savvy and prefer the clientele received from digital media. They are the easiest ones to find nowadays.
Why Choose a Travel Agent Career? Benefits of Being a Travel Agent
Here's what a travel agent could gain from this:
- It’s an easy job for anyone with good interpersonal and negotiation skills.
- Business always booms twice a year- during summer and winter vacations. If these seasons coincide with a major festival, you could count on a significant upside.
- A travel agent may enjoy better discounts or even free trips (as sponsored by airlines or hotels).
- If you are proficient at your daily chores, you can work from home.
- You can make bookings from your cellphone and earn even when you are on the move.
- You learn about new & exciting destinations, and travel experiences.
- By providing the best deals and more cost savings, you could win more customers.
- You would always help people learn more about new cultures and places.
- You are your own boss, and you can decide your working hours.
Most importantly, people always remember you with a smile if you did your job well. As a Travel Agent, one may expect to diversify oneself into the following professionals over time:
- Travel Coordinator
- Train or Airline Reservation Agent
- Tour Operator (Personal or Business, Single or Group-Based)
- Tourist Guide
- Travel Consultant (Families and Corporate Offices)
- Tour Coordinator
A qualified travel agent may also liaison the following industries and avail exciting commissions:
- Airlines or Railways
- Car Rentals or Taxies
- Hotel Concierge Services
- Insurance Companies
Post the successful completion of the training, one may open one’s travel agency and start working.
Who can be an Online Travel Agent?
Technically, anyone could become an online travel agent.
A travel agent should be someone who loves to travel and connect with people. They should have a passion for helping other people connect with service providers and thus help create the best experiences for both parties. This includes executing a synchronized action plan with respect to allied parties like hotels, car rentals, and insurance companies.
Becoming a travel agent is not enough, one should have backups ready in case of an emergency. For example, one has arranged a trip for a family to a sea beach. In that case, the person should have enough foresight to know the expected weather, contact number of emergency services, and alternative accommodation facilities. The logistics should also be dealt with in a calculated manner.
How do online travel agents differ from their offline counterparts?
The world has long switched to a digital equivalent of every service, and the world of travel booking isn’t any different either. Both online and offline travel agents operate in the same competitive domain, and they may be identified with a few basic traits. Those working offline usually have a smaller and niche market (usually limited to their locality). So, they rely on one-on-one interaction and thus may focus on educating the client instead of providing them with the greater options. Online travel agents have many advantages over their offline counterparts. Here are the most important ones that help online agents offer better to their customers.
- A large number of prospective travelers are savvy internet users. Online presence is the best way to reach them.
- Online travel agents have access to more opportunities that can be tapped on the world wide web.
- They often work with multinational brands and thus excel in providing cheaper and discounted rates.
- They can leverage the online networks to enable easy customization of services.
- Most of their responsibilities are borne by an internet-enabled booking system, which makes them focus on improving their services.
How to become an Independent Travel Agent?
Becoming an independent travel agent means considering all points in the section above (who can be an online travel agent). While you could be good with all the maths, we recommend a technical course with comprehensive knowledge of processes. Such a course would help you learn more about selecting destinations, creating personalized packages, time-sensitive itineraries, liaising with hotels (preferably three, four, and five stars), and car rental services.
You could draw immediate and sustained positives from pursuing such a course, especially when offered by seasoned professionals. The latter are qualified experts who can help you understand the nuances of the work and help you derive an advantage as a qualified and experienced travel agent. They would also offer you practical training as many real-life examples and scenarios to help you create the best user experience.
Become an independent travel agent in 8 easy steps
Here are the steps you should follow to become an independent travel agent:
Step 1: Focus on a specialty
It is always best to carve out a niche for yourself before you even decide to be a travel agent. It is always best to focus on a market segment and be oriented towards a specific group of buyers (or customers).
Step 2: Select a name for the agency
What is in a name, you would ask. But this is not some 16th-century Shakespearean tragedy that we are talking about - it is your business. People would always distinguish you for your services, but the only way they would remember you is through a relevant and unforgettable name.
Step 3: Define your company’s USP and structure
Just being a travel agent is not enough- you would also need to provide reasons why people should choose you instead of another provider. Two smart ways to offer differentiation are knowing your target audience and offering the best deals online.
Step 4: Register your company
It is important to secure your business and identity. People would trust you more when they know a regulatory authority has your back. It would also help them refer you to their friends and family members who might need your services someday.
Step 5: Setup the financial processes
Your capital would determine how far you would go, especially during a financial crunch or an emergency. It would also streamline your regular operations and help you hire more staff or infrastructure for a subsequent expansion.
Step 6: Connect with a host agency
A host agency has connections with hotels, restaurants, cab operators, and insurance agencies. It thus makes perfect sense to align yourself as a travel agent with a host agency. It would open you to a wide range of synergies from different disciplines and help in proper functioning. One of the best host agencies would be TBO.com as it offers its travel partners a range of products and services, from air tickets and hotel rooms to packages and cruises, and everything in between. However, there are many more agencies that one may choose from. We recommend doing your research and aligning with the one the best host agencies that fulfils your requirements.
Step 7: Gain knowledge of ticketing tools
The world is going digital, and Information Technology is the key to it. One could opt for a desktop-based, software-enabled booking system. However, it would only work as long as one has a PC or laptop. It is thus best to naturally extend your services using a mobile-based app too.
Step 8: Launch your business
Once you are through the above prerequisites, you may safely launch your business. You should always stay humble to your customers and be willing to help them. It would also help to invest in launching your services through multi-channel advertising, especially through social media.
Independent Online Travel Agent: Requirements and qualifications
There are always two sides involved in running a travel agency: updated knowledge about all the variables (destinations, travel media, and costs) and interpersonal skills. It is important to learn these disciplines from professionals who have qualified and demonstrated expertise in the domain.
1. Educational Qualifications
There is no educational prerequisite for becoming a travel agent, and people can choose from various online travel agent certification programs. People can opt for a 4-year degree in Travel & Tourism Management, complete a certification program with a recognized tourism body, or start without any formal certification.
Remember that your love and knowledge of travel would make all the difference. This effect could be bolstered by your ability to curate itineraries, effectively use booking tools, offer value propositions (customized selling), and retain customers. It’s also suggested that people should choose to stick to a particular forte, master it, and continue to focus on it.
Tip: Being a travel agent is synonymous with being an online travel agent or an independent travel agent.
2. Best Online Travel Training Course
People interested in becoming agents should consider TBO Academy for professional online travel agent training courses. It is the best online travel learning platform dedicated to travel agents globally. You can learn about destinations, hotels, airlines, cruises, travel attractions, and everything associated with traveling. It also teaches making a customized itinerary, shortlisting the best-suited restaurant according to your clients’ needs, and making logistical arrangements for a family trip.
And even if people want to learn how to enhance their business or manage conflict in the workplace, TBO Academy is the place to begin your travel education. They have one of the best online travel agent courses available today.
3. Thought Process
As a qualified and certified online travel agent, you should always think about delivering some earmarked results, such as:
- Growing Your Clientele: No business can survive without a great deal of consistent and paying customers. Therefore, you should provide exceptional services at minimum prices to improve your cost-to-quality ratio.
- Your Revenues (Or Commissions): Being ambitious is one thing and being greedy is another. If you deliberately suggest an ‘inferior’ destination to your client to get more commission, they may find out about it and spoil your reputation online.
- Improving Your Knowledge: You should focus on improving yourself with each passing day. You should also stay alert and take decisions proactively if you find any issues, especially after the client has left for the trip.
Special conditions: Pandemic and war zones
This is an important consideration to make. The world was not prepared to absorb the implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, nor was it ready to overlook the rising fuel prices due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Such events might not make you redraw the world map, but they surely could affect the trajectory of your business.
Your clients may cancel their booking overnight and repaying them could hurt you financially. The worst may happen if local governments place certain restrictions on creating no-fly zones. It is thus important to focus on how soon you can launch a Plan B and offer safe passage to your clients.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
Q1. How to become a Cruise Travel Agent?
A1. To become a Certified Travel Agent, you should preferably be conversant with more than one language. You should know popular cruise destinations and have some qualified experience in the travel industry. You may take some training classes or a professional course for the best results. Showcasing these results will help you build on a well-paying clientele.
Q2. How long does it take to become a Travel Agent?
A2. You can become a Travel Agent immediately after completing your basic education. The travel training duration before you become a Travel Agent will vary from individual to individual and is completely dependent on what skillsets you want to develop before starting off.
Q3. How to become a Travel Agent for Disney?
A3. You can start by working with those selected Travel Agencies that Disney has reserved for itself. Then, sign up for a one-year contract and take its one-year online course. This will help you know the basics of making bookings and claiming your commissions.
Q4. How to become an approved Umrah Travel Agent?
A4. It is important to first apply for a religious tour permit from the Saudi Ministry of Hajj to become an approved Umrah Travel Agent. It is usually in the form of a code given by the authority. You should have a valid IATA membership. Post that, you should guarantee at least SAR 2000 and then submit all these documents to the Ministry of Hajj. After completing the same, you would be given a set of credentials (Username and Password) through which you may make bookings online.
Q5. How to get your Travel Agent License?
A5. To get your Travel Agent License, you must: Fill in the application forms of the Authorized Government Body and pay the fees. Ensure that you meet all the required guidelines and satisfy all criteria. Register with the Government Body. Consider IATA Certification. Join a Host Agency. Preferably target a Niche Segment. Enhance your knowledge of destinations, hotels, airlines, cruises, and travel experiences.
Q6. How to become a Qualified Travel Agent?
A6. To become a qualified travel agent, you should have proven and qualified work experience. You will need a customized software suite to accept and make bookings (including login credentials for the host agency) and a secure payment gateway. You would also need to promote your services online using attractive marketing campaigns, and thus help answer the customers’ needs in a cost-effective way. Being proficient at suggesting destinations and making itineraries will be a plus and being internet savvy will certainly help.
Q7. How much does it cost to become a Travel Agent?
A7. There is no set cost for becoming a Travel agent globally. It differs from country to country and depends on several factors. The best way to assess the cost of becoming a travel agent in any country requires research and effort. One must find a suitable course or certification depending on one's career goals. Look up the fee for the program/certification. If it is a residential program or requires you to move base, add relocation and living expenses as well. You may connect with current students on online social communities to know more. After completing your course/certification, you may set up your own travel agency, or join an existing agency as a destination/booking/travel specialist.
Q8. Which is the best Travel Agent Course?
A8. The best Travel Agent Course may be chosen depending on the gap between your goals and your existing skillset. Based on your objective, choose an academy/school that ensures that you learn from the best professionals who have qualified experience in Travel and Tourism. Focus on the curriculum and ensure that it includes all the technical and soft skills you aim to learn.
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