Do you genuinely enjoy organizing trips? Does planning itineraries excite you? Does helping other people plan their trips give you a sense of satisfaction? If so, read on to learn how to become a travel consultant; this career may be for you!
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In recent years, the boom of the travel industry and the improvement of technology has created not only more job openings, but also to new online job opportunities.
Aside from travel bloggers who share their personal travel experiences and actually earn through sponsorships and ads, travel-focused professions like booking agents, cruise marketers, and airline customer service jobs (among others) are now being offered as work-from-home opportunities.
That is, being a travel agent is no longer the only way to break into the travel industry and make money.
Today, we look at how to become a travel consultant: what they do, what the job entails, how to start your own travel consultancy business, and where to find travel consultant jobs to benefit from their training and experience.
What Does A Travel Consultant Do?
The main responsibility of a travel consultant is to create an exceptional travel experience for their clients.
To do this, you’ll need to pay close attention to each client’s likes, dislikes, travel background, hobbies, and interests.
Of course, it’s also your job to listen to what your client wants and needs to accomplish for each trip, whether it’s for business or pleasure.
You can then create a proposal with options for transportation, accommodation, tour packages, and other aspects of a particular trip, including the pros and cons of each option.
When your client has decided, it’s then your job to make all the necessary arrangements and reservations.
Plus, you need to be ready to assist your clients with any concerns or questions they would have before, during, and after each trip.
Building strong relationships with your clients is the focus of being a travel consultant, as repeat business and referrals through positive word of mouth are more valuable than one-offs.
While both are legitimate travel jobs, you might think a travel consultant is the same as a travel agent, but they’re different from each other.
Travel consultants offer a more personal service, as they create itineraries and book accommodations, facilities, tours, and experiences based on their clients’ preferences and personality.
They are more involved in decision-making, and they usually go the extra mile to make sure each travel experience is tailored to each individual client.
On the other hand, travel agents are usually tasked to book reservations for a customer who more or less already knows what they want.
Rarely any collaboration happens between a customer and travel agent and rarely is a travel agent asked for input in travel decisions by that customer.
You can also think of it this way: Travel agents book what their software says is available, while travel consultants book whatever would make their clients’ travel a pleasant, memorable one and go beyond expectations.
If you’re already a licensed travel agent, you might want to learn how to become a travel consultant. Not only does being a consultant pay more, but it’s also a more fulfilling, rewarding career choice.
Travel Consultant Job Requirements
Since you’re going to be working from home, you’ll need to set up an office at home, ideally somewhere quiet with minimal background noise.
An up-to-date computer or laptop, high-speed internet, a noise-canceling USB headset (performs better than wireless or Bluetooth ones), and a high-definition web camera for video calls are the basics you need to have in our home office.
Aside from your home office setup, here are the requirements to become a successful travel consultant.
- A website – It’s always a good idea to set up a website as your portfolio and a means for people to contact you. If your time permits it, posting on the blog would provide you organic traffic from keywords like “travel planning service” or “(place) itinerary.”
- Extensive knowledge in the travel industry – You need to know the ins and outs of the travel industry, including when to score low-priced airline tickets, a wide range of accommodation options beyond 5-star hotels, and other travel-specific considerations.
- Real-world travel experience – While the job is mainly conducted online, either through emails or a hosted platform like UpWork.com, you still need to be well-traveled and not just on popular destinations. Having first-hand experience allows you to plan and recommend properly since you know how much expenses are “really” locally, or have been through popular and unpopular destinations.
- Excellent communication and negotiation skills – Most itinerary planners also negotiate deals with hotels, travel agencies, and other companies. Of course, you’ll have to make sure you profit more from the deal to sustain your business.
- Connections with the travel industry – This doesn’t just involve big hotel chains, airlines, and cruise companies. You’ll have to expand your connections to be able to bag deals, especially those that require prior booking.
- Advanced marketing skills – Freelancing is tough, so it’s important to learn marketing techniques in this modern world. Aside from your website, you should also have an online presence on social media networks, forums, and more.
- Technical skills – If you were born after 1980, you’re likely to be tech-savvy already. Bear in mind that you’re going to be working online and using different types of software, applications, and systems to book travel essentials.
- Certifications – I know I said being a travel consultant is different from being a travel agent, but for you to be able to book certain accommodations and flights, you’ll need to have some travel agent certifications. Besides, it improves your credibility a lot. Check the programs offered by American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Once you have your business set up as a sole proprietor, you can then apply for your International Air Transport Association (IATA) accreditation so you can book flights.
How Much Can You Earn As A Travel Consultant?
Generally, the average travel consultant salary can range between $27,000 to $47,000 per year, with the usual rate at around $30,000 per year. The biggest perk with this job is the number of travel deals you can receive, which you can either use personally or sell for extra income. However, because freelancing is a very fluid thing, this income could either go up or down, depending largely on the effort, time, and capital you plan to invest in this profession.
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In some cases, you can charge a fixed amount per itinerary, or base your fees on the travel budget of your clients. The great thing about freelance travel jobs is that you have total control of pricing your services unless, of course, you apply for a full-time home-based travel agent job with a third-party company.
If you’re willing to invest in marketing your services, you can earn more by targeting potential clients through Facebook Ads, Reddit Ads, or even Google search.
How To Become A Travel Consultant
Being a freelance travel consultant can be broken down into the following steps.
1. Gather your requirements.
Setting up your home office and honing your communication, technical, and sales skills are the first steps to being your own boss.
Don’t be afraid to get some training if you think you need it. Whether it’s learning about geography and international travel, or improving your communication skills, you’re likely to find free online courses on sites like Udemy or Coursera.
2. Decide how you can provide the most value.
The most successful travel consultants are those who know exactly where their strengths are and what they can offer their clientele that no other travel consultant can provide.
The travel industry is huge; there are plenty of niches and sub-niches. It’s a matter of finding your own.
Some examples of different types of travel include corporate, leisure, luxury, budget, sports, adventure, sightseeing, foodie, student, backpacker, seniors, singles, couples, small families, etc.
3. Get some experience.
Despite the availability of training courses and programs online, nothing will prepare you for becoming a travel consultant than actually doing it.
Activate your social network and offer your services at a discounted rate to your family, friends, acquaintances.
Even better, apply for a job to companies offering travel consultant jobs. Get paid to train and practice, and you may even get some of your certifications for free. See the next section to find out where to apply.
4. Promote your services
When you feel you’re ready to start your business, build your website where your services are emphasized.
You can also add a blog with articles documenting your previous travels, providing useful travel tips, and listing the top places to visit in a city or country. The goal is for your website to show up on search results of people who are looking for what you’re offering.
You can even set up an appointment system on your contact page, in case casual browsers end up interested in your services and want to set up a conversation over the phone or through a video call.
Your social media should also be active in promoting your services and directing your followers to your appointment page.
Where To Find Travel Consultant Jobs
As I’ve mentioned, having plenty of experience as a travel consultant gives you more of an advantage when you start your own business.
Here are a few companies currently hiring travel consultants.
Enchanting Travels is an award-winning tour operator providing customized trips based on their customers’ interests and preferences.
They continually have openings for remote travel sales consultants who talk to clients, find out what their ideal destination and experiences are, and create tailor-made proposals based on their knowledge.
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2. Robert Half
Robert Half is a recruitment and consultancy company with plenty of remote job openings.
They are currently recruiting a
remote travel and lifestyle consultant to handle clients that take luxury trips multiple times a year, whether it’s for business or pleasure.
The catch is that while this is a remote position, you’ll need to reside in the San Francisco Bay Area.
If this position is no longer available, try to search for “travel consultant” in their job boards to see what comes up.
This site is a job board that specializes in travel and hospitality jobs.
They currently have multiple openings for travel consultants: corporate travel consultants, luxury travel consultants, and travel sales consultants are just some of the openings currently available.
ADTRAV prides itself on developing travel programs for their clients and providing excellent customer service.
They continually open remote full-time travel consultant jobs, especially for those who can work nights and weekends.
If searching in the above companies doesn’t pan out, I highly recommend going on FlexJobs and doing a job search there.
Each and every company that has a job opening posted on FlexJobs has been thoroughly checked and verified, so you can rest assured that you won’t be scammed here.
The Bottom Line
Planning other people’s trips can be a challenging yet fulfilling profession.
What’s interesting about becoming a travel consultant is that since you combine blogging with freelancing for work, you won’t notice that you’ve been building a self-sustaining blog in the long run. And since people can make a full-time income with their blogs, it’s a win-win having both a passive income-generating blog and quick-cash-making freelance job.
Does working as a travel consultant appeal to you? Or do you think being a travel agent is a better fit? Weigh in on the comments below!