How to Become a Travel Agent

How to Become a Travel Agent

Becoming a travel agent can be a lucrative career option with plenty of opportunities for growth. Unlike other small businesses, this one doesn’t require a lot of legal red tape to get started.

Many community colleges and trade schools offer classes that focus on the industry. It’s also helpful to join industry associations and take advantage of professional resources.

Education and Training

Aspiring travel agents typically don’t need a bachelor’s degree or even previous experience in the field to find work. However, if you have prior experience in a similar customer-facing industry such as marketing or hospitality, that can help to build your client base faster.

Some schools offer courses in travel and tourism, though those are not necessarily required to begin a career as an agent. Instead, a high school diploma is generally sufficient. You can also complete a certificate program at four-year colleges or trade schools. Those programs can teach you the basics of sales, itinerary planning, and online booking systems.

Some states require travel agents to register with the state, which usually involves filling out a form and paying a fee. In addition, many travel agents purchase errors and omissions insurance. This type of insurance covers travel agents in the event of a mistake while arranging airline or hotel reservations. This can be an especially important consideration for independent travel agents.

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Licenses and Permits

Travel agents often work with customers to book travel packages. This requires a keen understanding of international destinations, airline policies, hotel accommodations and other factors that impact travelers. Travel agents should also be knowledgeable about the various types of insurance that are available.

Some state laws require travel agencies to register with the state. This typically involves submitting an application, paying a fee and receiving a registration number. However, this is not true in every state. For example, New York does not require a license to sell travel.

Those interested in becoming travel agents should consider taking classes that lead to a certificate or degree from a four-year college. This is especially beneficial if the individual is looking to establish a niche. For example, a travel agent with a degree in hospitality or marketing may have a greater chance of succeeding. Similarly, an individual who focuses on luxury travel will have a distinct advantage over other competitors.

How to Become a Travel Agent

Certifications and Licensing

Those seeking to become travel agents should consider completing an online program that covers everything from itinerary planning and insurance coverage to sales and marketing strategies. Often, these programs are offered by a variety of travel industry suppliers and can be completed from the comfort of your home.

Typically, travel agent qualifications and requirements vary by state. Several states have passed laws to regulate travel agency sales to consumers. Some states require all travel agents to be registered as sellers of travel while others may have licensing and/or consumer financial protections.

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Many travel agents start out their careers in retail travel agencies or tour companies before moving into a more senior role. Some travel agents also choose to work for airlines or cruise lines, or in corporate travel departments within businesses. A number of travel agents sell add-ons such as travel insurance or local internet connection packages for their clients. These can be highly profitable for travel agents.

Work Environment

Typically, travel agents work in an office setting and spend the majority of their day on the phone and computer. It is a demanding job, especially during busy times of the year when people are most likely planning their vacations.

Sales and customer service skills are key to maintaining a successful career in this field. Creating marketing strategies and branding, as well as gathering innovative ways to sell products, are also essential tasks.

Many community and vocational schools offer classes that prepare prospective travel agents to work in the industry. These courses cover topics like professional travel planning, reservation systems, and marketing regulations for international travel. In addition, employers often provide on-the-job training to teach new employees the ins and outs of their company’s specific reservation systems.

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