I know some people dream of travelling the world but can’t afford it so they turn to the next best thing – becoming a travel agent.
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A lot of people like to travel.
Like a whole lot.
Which is why the tourism industry is as huge as it is. But not everyone can afford to have their dream holiday, especially when work takes up so much of our time.
So if you can’t do, then you dream, right? Well, a travel agent can do both.
Travel agents get to plan and book dream holidays for their clients and every so often even get to go on those holidays themselves.
Because travel agents get to go on what is known as “familiarization” trips where they try out everything they might want to book for their clients.
This is still a job, though, and you probably won’t get a chance to go lie by the beach with a drink.
But it’s definitely still more attractive than sitting behind a desk for 9 hours a day.
However, if you’re really keen on leaving the desk altogether then you can check out these 15 ways to get paid to travel.
There’s definitely no better time to get into tourism than right now, which is one of the worlds largest industries and makes around $1 Trillion US globally.
So maybe you’re looking for a change or have wanted to know how to become a travel agent for a while now but weren’t sure where to start.
Here’s Why You Should Become a Travel Agent
Well, besides the benefit of having a decent paying job (that’s fun to boot), you also get to travel like you have the kind of money your clients do.
Some travel agents even receive special rewards or bonuses from partnerships they take on with hotels, resorts, or restaurants.
Some travel agents even incorporate social media into their business to show off the destinations they can offer their clients. Instagram is a perfect example of this and is used by many travel agents to get extra perks from hotels and the like.
So really it’s all up to how you want to approach it.
However, this is still a job and with that comes a few downsides that you need to deal with as well.
There’s a reason people would rather hire someone to book their vacations for them – and mostly it’s because it takes a lot of research, time, and effort.
You’ll also have to deal with a lot of people, which comes with its own set of headaches sometimes, especially from entitled clients.
You’ve Got to be a People Person
Like I said, travel agents have to deal with a lot of people and you have to be sort of a sales and service person wrapped into one.
It’s what you make of the relationships that you form with those people you meet that will determine where your career goes.
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Travel agents get to do with a lot of hotel reps, for instance, who try to convince them why they should send their clients to their hotel.
Building up solid relationships with some of these reps can come in handy later on when they’re looking for more perks for their clients or need to cash in a favor.
So it’s essential that you know you can work amicably with people (even when they aren’t being friendly) as well as be able to sell your travel packages when business is slow.
It also helps if you’re a pro at sniffing out amazing travel deals.
Become a Travel Agent Working from Home
When working for an agency, a travel agent will generally get a small base salary and work to get commissions.
The agency takes a big chunk of that commission though, which is why working from home and is a great option.
But most people don’t take this option because they don’t know how to start a travel agency.
Travel agents who work from home usually partner with a host agency who take a much smaller piece of the commission they earn.
Starting your career as a travel agent from home can be relatively cost-effective because all you really need is a computer, an internet connection, and a phone. Most people already have these readily available so there might even be no extra cost at all.
You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a travel agent from home, though if you want to work for an agency, they will likely prefer someone who has a college degree.
Here are the steps you need to follow to become a travel agent from home:
1. Find a Great Host Agency
This part will probably take the longest because there are a lot of things to consider and many agencies to choose from.
The host agency you end up choosing can have a big impact on how your startup business will grow.
I’ve already spoken a bit about the benefits of signing up with a host agency if you want to know more. So it’s important to make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the host agencies available to you and choose one that fits your needs.
Someone who has never worked in the tourism industry before may need an agency that offers training and more support at first, for example. Other things to consider include the size of the agency, whether they’re local or international, whether they offer marketing support, and what travel niche’s they cover. I’ll get more into specializing in a niche a bit later on.
I also found that this blog post has a detailed breakdown of what you need to know before choosing a host agency.
2. Create a Website for Your Business
There are many free and paid options for creating your own website.
If you have some spare cash, then you can even spring for a web designer. Though that’s completely optional and not necessary to have a great looking and functional website.
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Some great free website builders include Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace.
All three of these services also have paid options which allow you even more creativity and versatility.
But the free options are great to start out with as well.
They’re also genuinely easy to use and you don’t need to know anything about design or programming to get started.
3. Get Social
Marketing your new status as an independent travel agent will be an important step towards gaining new clients.
While a host agency might offer some help getting you off the ground, it’s mostly up to you. It’s therefore essential that you get familiar with the basics of advertising your services on social media.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you remove any potentially embarrassing posts or pictures, or just set your personal accounts to private.
Because in today’s world, you have to sell your digital persona as much as your real-life one.
So make sure everything people can see about you is “on-brand”.
Successful Travel Agents Choose to Specialize
There are quite a few niche categories to specialize in as a travel agent, and it’s widely known that any successful travel agent specializes.
This is because it helps you stand out in a smaller crowd, if you excel in what you do.
It’s much harder to be the best travel agent when competing on an international scale across all travel types.
But someone who specializes in one or two niches can become the best in what they do. This strategy has led many independent travel agents to success.
Some travel niches include: cruises, safaris, honeymoons, rural tourism, cultural and historical sites, theme parks, and luxury travel.
The actual list of niche options travel agents can choose from is very long.
But you can make your niche as small and specific as you want. It all depends on what you’re passionate about.
How much do travel agents make?
Travel agents based in the US had an average annual salary of $40,840 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though the income travel agents make depend on a number of factors like their region, chosen niche, experience, number of clients, the effort put in, and the host agency they chose.
This is probably the part you’ve wanted to see the most, which is understandable. We’ve all got to make a living after all.
However, there’s no real solid number to go on here. It’s also good to keep in mind that an independent travel agent’s main income is usually commission-based. So the more clients you have, the more you’ll earn.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a travel agent can be an immensely rewarding job.
You have the ability to create dream vacations that are personalized to your clients, giving them once in a lifetime memories. If that idea makes you excited, then you’ve definitely got a career as a travel agent in your future!
Now that you know how to become a travel agent, what niches are you most eager to specialize in?
Let me know in the comments!