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How to Become a Travel Agent: Turn Your Passion Into Perks and Cash
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Raise your hand if you love to travel. Whether you’re often on the road or take a vacation just once a year, you’ve probably heard of travel agents. These folks help plan and book itineraries for you, eliminating a lot of the pain points when it comes to traveling.
These days many people skip out on a travel agent in lieu of booking their trip online, but if you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to become a travel agent yourself. Why? Because it can save you a lot of money — and may even earn you some in the process.
Let’s take a look at how to become a travel agent, why it’s something you may want to consider and the ways it can work for you.
Why become a travel agent?
Have you ever obsessively researched the best hotels in a city you’re planning to visit? How about checking seat maps on an airplane? If getting into the nitty-gritty of travel logistics is something you do in your spare time, you might also enjoy becoming a travel agent.
Not only do you get to plan trips for others, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of special discounts on many facets of travel.
This is true for your clients, but also for yourself. Travel agents have access to a variety of discounted rates on both airlines and hotels, even when booking travel for themselves.
» Learn more: How to get a refund from a travel agency
How to become a travel agent
Find a program.
Becoming a travel agent isn’t as simple as declaring yourself one. Typically, the first step is to sign up for a program that’ll teach you the basics of running your own travel business.
There are a variety of programs to choose from, depending on your interests and career goals. Most programs will teach you about the business side of being a travel agent as well as how to plan trips, so your courses in itinerary planning and travel insurance will be coupled with business ethics and customer service.
If you’re wondering how to become a travel agent from home, don’t worry. Many of these courses don’t have to be done in person; there are online programs that will teach you everything you need to know from the comfort of your living room.
Apply for certification
Once you’ve completed your coursework, you’ll want to apply for certification. Although there is no single standard that designates you a travel agent, there are a number of different identifiers that you can acquire. Some of the more common ones are:
International Air Transport Association, or IATA, which allows you to book travel on domestic and international airlines.
Travel Industry Designator Service, or TIDS, which allows agents to book trips with a variety of travel suppliers and receive commissions.
Cruise Lines International Association, or CLIA, which provides agents the ability to book trips on cruises around the world.
In order to access Marriott’s travel advisor rates, for example, you can use any three of these designations, along with a variety of others.
Each of these associations and identifiers have different implications for your business, so you’ll want to be sure you’ve fully researched them before applying for membership.
» Learn more: Do travel agents really save you money?
Save money as a travel agent
Once you’ve qualified as a travel agent, what comes next? If you travel frequently, becoming a travel agent can be a huge benefit to you, as it offers discounted rates and access to luxury travel options.
Travel agents have access to negotiated rates that aren’t available to the general public. The exact amount will vary depending on the business. Hilton, for example, will give personal travel discounts of 50% off at newly-opened hotels and up to 25% off at the remainder of hotels within Hilton’s portfolio.
Hyatt, meanwhile, will give you a discount on personal travel of up to 50%, but only during select dates of the year. And although not all airlines give discounts to travel agents, many do.
Regardless, these are some pretty spectacular savings, and if you’re looking to save money on your vacations, being a travel agent can help.
Becoming a travel agent isn’t only about saving money, however. It also grants you access to many hotel chains’ luxury travel programs.
If you’re big into elite status benefits, this is definitely something you’ll want to consider — especially since you don’t need any status at all to receive these perks, as long as you book through the hotel’s agent portal.
Most major hotel chains have these programs, including Hyatt Privé, Hilton Impresario, Marriott STARS & Luminous, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Belmond Bellini Club, Rosewood Elite, Mandarin Oriental Fan Club and Shangri-La Luxury Circle.
While benefits vary by brand, many of these offers include things like room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, early check-in or late checkout and credits for expenses like dining or spa services. General consumers aren’t eligible for these programs, but once you’ve become a registered travel agent, they become accessible to you; however, some programs — such as Hyatt Privé — are invitation only.
For the most part, booking rooms through these programs shouldn’t cost more than the standard rate you’d be paying anyway, so you have the potential to get big benefits without shelling out any additional money.
However, note that these numbers don’t take into account any other discounted rates for which you may be eligible, such as those offered to American Automobile Association members and veterans .
» Learn more: Uncommon tips for saving money on travel
Earn money as a travel agent
Of course, becoming a travel agent isn’t all about scoring discounts for yourself. If you’re looking to earn some money, being a travel agent can be a good way to do so.
Note that travel agents operate in a customer-facing role, so you’ll also need to be able to build client relationships and be comfortable with sales. Courses such as those mentioned above can help train you to do this and run a successful business.
If booking travel and organizing trips for others is something that appeals to you, there’s definitely money to be earned. Marriott, for example, gives agents a commission of between 8% and 10% for all eligible stays booked.
» Learn more: The pros and cons of booking through online travel agencies
If you’d like to become a travel agent
There are a few good reasons to become a travel agent, especially if you travel a lot. Although it takes time and effort to complete training and apply for accreditation, the benefits you’ll receive as a travel advisor can be significant. This is true whether you’re booking personal travel or have built yourself a client base. Either way, there’s money to be had — and saved.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
on Chase's website
1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
1.5%-5% Enjoy 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Unlimited Matched Cash Back Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.
on Capital One's website
2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.
75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
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Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Travel Agent
Here's what you should know before becoming a travel agent.
If you're someone who spends your days scanning flights , loves hotel rewards points, and in general, is a fervent traveler, you've probably wondered how to become a travel agent.
And, while it's true that living in the age of Expedia means travel agents are not as vital as they once were, people use them a lot more than you might think. Just because travelers aren't calling up an agent every time they need to book a quick flight doesn't mean they don't want to consult an expert for a big trip. This holds especially true when it comes to honeymoons or experiential trips that have a lot of moving parts — coordinating tour companies , translators, or multiple resort stays, for example. It's often easier to leave the logistics to someone else: travel agents.
You don't need a specific employment background to become a travel agent, so if you're looking for a fresh career start, that's totally OK. You have to start somewhere on your path to becoming a travel agent, and the sooner you jump in, the sooner you'll build your client base. On the other hand, if you're hoping to parlay your experience in a semi-related industry, be it marketing or hospitality, that can help because you'll have even more context for your new gig. Either way, this can be a rewarding career path (with some fun perks), so here's what you need to know to become a travel agent.
Formal Training Needed to Become a Travel Agent
While some four-year colleges, community colleges, and trade schools offer tourism certifications, it is not a requirement for those trying to become travel agents. Certificates of tourism can be very helpful, but so can previous training in marketing, hospitality, or even event planning. Ultimately, your knowledge of destinations, sales, itinerary planning, and booking software will be crucial for your career as a travel agent.
In terms of the training time you need to put in before becoming a fully-fledged travel agent, it depends. You could start your career right after high school, or you could put in one to four years to earn a certificate, associate's, or bachelor's degree in tourism. Of course, you could also change course from a related job, and morph your experience as, say, a destination wedding planner into a career as a travel agent.
Training Programs Available
You could take classes with a company like The Travel Institute to earn your certification. Not only will they teach you the basics of planning itineraries, but they'll also make sure you're learning about new cultures, world geography, and experiences you can have all over the world. They'll also help you decide what business route you want to take.
How to Become a Travel Agent: The Logistics
Becoming a travel agent will likely mean starting your own business . On the plus side, it requires relatively little overhead. If you're becoming a small business owner by opening a yoga studio, for example, you will need to rent a space, deal with permits, buy supplies, build a website, and pay yoga teachers and someone to work the front desk. However, if you're starting a travel agent business, you can operate from your living room and there aren't nearly as many upfront costs.
You will have to think about what type of business you want to become. Do you want to incorporate or become an LLC? Would you rather be a sole proprietor? Incorporating takes the most effort, and is often the most expensive. Becoming an LLC is a good happy medium because it can help protect you as a business entity without having as many associated costs. Small business owners typically become an LLC to protect their personal assets. If you get sued as an LLC, someone can come after your business holdings, but can't come after your house, car, or personal savings.
If you choose to remain a sole proprietor (which doesn't require any fees or legwork), you are essentially a freelancer or independent contractor. You can be an LLC and an independent contractor, too — they aren't mutually exclusive. If you want to be an independent contractor, it likely means you're working as part of a larger host agency, which is smart to do when you're starting out as a travel agent. Down the road, you can also own a travel agency franchise. Owning a franchise might come with more overhead costs, and that would be a reason to incorporate.
If you're an independent contractor, you should know that your taxes aren't going to be as straightforward as a full-time employee's might be. You may have to start keeping track of your business expenses, as you might be able to write them off. You also might not get things like health benefits from your employer. As you plan your new career, consider sitting down with an established travel agent to ask them some logistical questions: Where do they get their health insurance? How do they keep track of their income and expenses? Do they use an accountant to do their taxes? While meeting with the travel agent, you can discuss the pros and cons of working for a larger agency, too. If you're not sure how to get in touch with other travel agents, consider using social media, like LinkedIn or even Instagram.
What to Think About When You Become a Travel Agent
Once you've secured work as a travel agent, you'll want to think about how you can earn more money and distinguish yourself from other agents. Here are three things to consider as you start your career.
Making Commissions: If you're working for a larger travel agency as an independent contractor, how do commissions work? Make sure you have this conversation early on before accepting the position. When you're starting out, you want to make sure the commission rate you're receiving is similar to the industry standard.
Growing Your Client Base: How do you make more money as a travel agent? Clients, clients, clients. You want happy customers who will return to you every time they want to book a travel experience. You'll want to keep your clients happy by finding them great deals, curating unbelievable experiences for them, and simply being great to work with.
Establishing a Niche: This is by no means a requirement for becoming a travel agent, but as you establish your career, you may want to consider focusing on a specific niche. For example, perhaps you're someone who focuses on honeymoon travel , luxury travel, or adventure travel . Your niche can help you attract clients, and it can be anything in the travel realm, as long as there's a need for it.
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How to Become a Travel Agent—Because, Believe It or Not, the Industry Is on the Rise
By Scott Bay
There’s a reason “how to become a travel agent” has been a continuously trending search phrase on Google—it is a career path that offers a flexible work environment and schedule, ample travel opportunities, and an immersion into a supportive world-wide industry. It's a surprise to some in 2023: Once the internet became widely available, it was largely believed that needing a travel agent was obsolete. However, even though the brick-and-mortar agencies with punny names in strip malls have vanished, the career is on-the-rise .
New software options are making it easier than ever for people to make money planning trips, either as a side hustle or as a full-time business. That’s why Cherikonda, India-based stay-at-home mother, Maya Kapoor-Miller, decided to enter the professional world as a travel agent this year, at 31. “I knew nothing about the travel industry prior to signing up,” says Kapoor-Miller, who decided to use San Francisco-based booking platform Dreamport to establish her online travel advisor business. “It is my first business in life, and the only one that you can start with no investment.”
But there's also a rise in demand. When people ventured back into the world after the pandemic, travel agents saw an overwhelming amount of business . And that momentum hasn’t stopped—when travel is complicated, like it was in 2020 and 2021, travelers turned to professional trip planners to create a seamless vacation. For better or worse, traveling has remained complicated and chaotic, with new rules being implemented (like Americans needing to pay a fee to visit Europe in 2024 ) and airline strikes and staffing issues. Offloading all of the nitty-gritty details to someone else is more appealing than ever.
For those entering the field, there's also the age-old motivator: a love of travel.
Shelton Ellis, who is based in North Carolina, recently saw these opportunities and left behind more than 20 years in public relations and global advertising to turn his passion into a career. “I was born with a wanderlust that would wear Rick Steves out,” Ellis says. “I decided to take the leap and follow that lifelong yearning. Transitioning into this role was really about learning how to monetize what I'm passionate about.”
Whether you are looking for a new career path or a lucrative side-hustle—or simply curious about those taking the plunge—here’s how to become a travel agent, from the qualifications and education required, to anticipated earnings, according to those who have made the shift in the past year.
What exactly does a travel agent do?
Travel agents, or travel advisors (the term is mostly interchangeable), manage everything that goes into a trip for their clients: the flights, car transfers, accommodations, restaurant reservations, and more—they even inspire the itinerary. The reason people turn to travel agents, aside from having a helping hand during any travel chaos , is also to tap into the travel agent’s first-hand knowledge of destinations, and their industry partnerships, which often lead to perks such as hotel upgrades, ideal airplane seats, and experiences that can’t be found on a search engine.
“You have to remember that as a travel agent, you will be a guide for people during their happiest moments—family reunions, weddings , baptisms, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that people have dreamt of,” says Kapoor-Miller. “It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of being a travel agent. You navigate people, inform them, and help them choose.”
So, how do you become a travel agent?
There are many ways to become a travel agent, from joining an existing travel agency , to starting an independent business from the ground up. Others are opting for one of the buzziest start-ups in the travel industry, Fora . When it launched in 2021, the software company, which trains and provides search engine-optimized profile pages to advisors—at one point had a waitlist of over 30,000 people eager to begin a part-time gig. Travel photographer and Condé Nast Traveler contributor Amanda Villarosa is currently in the process of joining.
“I'm the person that friends and family come to for travel recommendations, tips and tricks, and general travel advice,” says Villarosa. “After discovering Fora and looking into it, I realized that it could be the perfect side-hustle, considering I'm already so involved in the industry.”
With additional flexibility, Villarosa was able to move from New York City to splitting her time between Denver and Los Angeles . She says that the sign-up was quite straightforward. “You're given a dedicated Fora email and have access to advising tools and fellow Fora advisors,” she says. “The training is in the form of Zoom meetings and videos, which you have the option to watch at your own pace. Once completed, you take a certification quiz and you're on your way to advising.”
The other ways in are slightly more involved. To begin an independent practice, you go about it like many other businesses. You will have to create an LLC, establish a business name, cultivate marketing materials, build a website, find clientele, and more.
Ellis found something in the middle, choosing to connect with an established travel agency. “Don't be afraid to reach out to an agency looking to take on new advisors and is willing to mentor," says Ellis. "I was fortunate to learn so much from Annie Chambers, the owner of Crafted Escapes , who has seven years in the business.” He now knows the ropes on everything from using itinerary-building software to destination-specific training, to the sales and marketing aspects of the trade.
Is there required education or qualifications?
Ellis says that there's no certification, per se, required to become a travel advisor, but there are countless training courses available like Departure Lounge ’s classes on navigating the industry through hotels and tour operators. He said it’s also important to stay on top of travel trends. Ellis recently completed travel agent training programs provided by premier cruise lines such as Virgin Voyages , Ritz-Carlton Yachts , and Cunard to help agents sell their products more accurately.
How much does a travel agent make?
What a travel agent earns depends on how many trips they successfully book for their clients. The entire model is commission-based, meaning agents earn a percentage of the total cost of the vacation they orchestrate. Many travel advisors choose to charge a flat-rate planning fee in addition to their commission, but balance is key—if you charge a high planning fee, it could lead to potential clients going elsewhere.
Fora ’s website states that “some of our full-time, expert advisors earn well into the six figures (or beyond).” So a lucrative career may be on the horizon, for those who are able to build a robust client base and excellent industry connections.
How much you make can also depend on where you live around the world. “I am being paid in dollars,” says India-based Kapoor-Miller. “So the currency fluctuations of the local exchange rate are not something I am worried about.”
What are the key skills required to become a travel agent?
“Travel agents need a mix of customer service, communication, destination knowledge, organizational, and problem-solving skills,” says Kapoor-Miller. “But I would say that adaptability, flexibility, curiosity, and cultural sensitivity top them all—you have to put yourself in other's shoes, and understand the requirements, hopes, and expectations of your clients along with any worries and questions they may have.”
It’s vital to have a passion for traveling, even the aspects of the process that aren’t as exciting, such as learning about new airline routes, train schedule updates, and industry news. “It can be an information-heavy hustle, and I believe it's important to be excited about it as that energy definitely transfers to your clients and partners,” Villarosa says.
Should travel advisors choose a specialization?
Many travel advisors have found success through becoming an expert in a few types of travel and destinations. “It's important to become an authority and learn as much as you can through personal experiences and continuing education,” says Ellis. “As a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community , an avid snow skier, and scuba diver, I know not only the popular destinations but others that are off the beaten path, equally safe and adventurous for all travelers.” This helps travel agents establish a competitive edge, and hopefully convince potential clients to choose them for their expertise.
What are the benefits of being a travel agent?
“Flexibility tops them all,” says Kapoor-Miller. “And the ability to start without industry knowledge. If you worry that you are too old for this job, the good news is that this is a job you can enter and enjoy at any age.”
Another great perk is the "Familiarization trip,” says Ellis. “Tourism boards and hotels invite agents to visit and familiarize themselves with a particular country and its properties. After all, any accomplished salesperson should learn everything they can about their products first-hand...even if they're in Bora Bora.” It's hard work, but someone's got to do it.
Travel Advisor Resources
Travel Agent Certification: Options and FAQs
The Modern Travel Agency
Fora Advisor Tori Petry
Wondering how to become a travel agent and trying to understand where travel agent certification fits into the mix? We’ve got you covered.
While traditional travel agencies make you jump through a number of hoops to obtain travel agent certification, Fora offers a much smoother process.
Interested in joining us? Learn more about becoming a Fora Advisor .
First, should I become a travel agent?
If you have a love for travel and a desire to share that passion with people, then absolutely!
But you probably have questions, like “ How do travel agents get paid ," “ How do you become a Disney travel agent " or “How do you even get started in the first place?” We got you.
Is travel agent certification necessary?
Not exactly. On one hand, many traditional travel agencies require some form of travel agent certification (like a Certified Travel Counsellor, or CTC, certification), but not in the same way that a nurse or lawyer has to be certified by a governing body.
In other words, there isn’t a universal travel agency certification, and travel agents aren't required to be certified — but specific agencies may require either some form of private or in-house travel agent certification.
But you do need an IATA number
On the other hand, you do need a IATA — or International Air Transport Association — number. While not necessarily required by law, an IATA number is used by travel agencies, hotels and other institutions all over the world for travel bookings (and signals to these companies that you’re the real deal).
How do you get an IATA number?
In most cases, you can only obtain an IATA number through a legitimate travel agency, and whether said agency requires their agents to have some sort of certification is, again, at its discretion.
How do people normally obtain US travel agent certification, licenses, etc.?
Traditionally, people have to go through a cumbersome and lengthy process to obtain travel agent certification for a specific agency. This might include expensive schooling, a degree in hospitality or something similar. (Don’t worry, we take a different approach .)
Are there state-specific requirements for a travel agent certification?
Some states and countries have special requirements to conduct travel bookings, usually at the agency level. We’ll help you navigate any relevant state requirements.
Can I become a Fora travel agent from scratch? Are there any requirements?
Fora Advisor Fallon Alexandria
Fora doesn’t require prior experience, a degree or expensive schooling before you can become an independent travel agent . Instead, we provide in-house travel agent training that covers contemporary concepts and everything you need to be successful.
Are there any travel agent skills I should hone before seeking certification?
Fora Advisors love travel, love learning and have an eagerness to help their clients live out their vacation dreams. Travel experience is always a plus — but don’t worry, you don’t need to be a globetrotter to become a great travel advisor.
What does Fora’s training look like?
When you join Fora, you’ll automatically receive our agency’s IATA number, so you can start booking travel from day one. Then, Fora’s in-house training will teach you all there is to know about booking travel in a rapidly evolving field.
All training is conducted online — an ideal set-up if you’re curious about how to become a travel agent from home — and our friendly advisor community is always sharing insider tips for how to be a successful travel advisor .
Do you need a different certification to offer specific types of travel, like cruises or specific brands?
Nope! But there might be scenarios where additional training could be helpful. For example, you might opt for Disney travel agent training to make yourself more appealing to clients (learn more about how to become a Disney travel agent for more info).
Similarly, if you’re wondering how to become a cruise travel agent , or how to become a luxury travel agent , there aren’t special certifications you must acquire first.
Have more questions on how to obtain travel agent certification?
Have more questions about how to become a travel agent , like “ How much do travel agents make per booking ?” or “ What kind of bookings do Fora Advisors do ?” We got you.
To learn more about what you'll get by joining Fora, watch the video below.
Ready to become a Fora Advisor today? Connect with us to start your journey.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
We empower anyone with a passion for travel to transform it into meaningful revenue. Sign up to become a travel advisor today.
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The Truth About Becoming an Independent Travel Agent
Travel Quest Network
It’s scary taking the first leap into the depth of self-employment without any clue on where to go from there.
The good news is, you’re off to a solid start.
You did the hard part: you decided to embark on a new career path.
Now, dig up that list of requirements for your “ideal job,” and it might read a little something like this:
- Flexible schedule
- Long-term career
- Helps people
- No cubicle!
- Supportive network
- Awesome travel benefits
This sounded crazy when you started writing it, but now, you realize this is actually achievable. These traits are basically a mirror image of the benefits you’d have in a career as an independent travel agent.
So how do you turn this dream into a reality?
It’s a challenge trying to sift through all the advice out there to find clear instructions on how to become an independent travel agent. That’s why we’ve filtered through the resources to provide you with the truth, challenges and all, so that you can take your next steps.
What is an Independent Travel Agent?
The perks of being your own boss are quick to entice, but before you start ordering your business cards, it’s important to understand the basics. We’ll start with one of the most important questions:
What is an independent travel agent?
If you break down the job title word-for-word, you can easily get a sense of what your role as an independent travel agent will be.
“Independent” refers to being self-employed. You are your own boss, akin to a contracted worker, and therefore are not technically an employee of any other agency.
Obviously, you work in the field of travel, creating customized itineraries for trips by offering the best recommendations for every aspect along the way. Travel agents can narrow the scope of this definition by specializing in a niche, like honeymoons, luxury, family, adventure, European, or multigenerational vacations.
As an agent, you are a trusted resource from which clients learn about travel and travel services. It is your responsibility to build relationships with suppliers around the world so that you can offer their services. Of course, a love of travel is a necessary passion to become an independent travel agent, but it will not be your defining feature.
More than anything, an independent travel agent is a salesperson. You will be working off of commission after all.
However, because travel is an intimate and expensive endeavor, your purpose will not be to get your clients to book as quickly as possible.
Instead, you have to provide them with all of the tools at your disposal to plan the best trip possible.
Are You Ready to Become an Independent Travel Agent?
One of the great things about becoming an independent travel agent is that it can be done from anywhere. That being said, it takes more than giving yourself the title to succeed.
As an independent travel agent, your clients rely on your experience and advisement.
Don’t worry, there is no need to start counting all of the stamps in your passport. While it is helpful to be well-traveled, it is more important that your travel knowledge is driven by your passion for it.
You are the expert, and you must convey your expertise through confidence in what you are selling.
Beginning with prior sales experience and an entrepreneurial spirit will get you far. Whether you served in a restaurant or worked in a retail store, those customer service experiences will all work toward your success.
If you don’t know where to start, try offering up your travel agent skills to the people you are already connected with. Become the one creating detailed itineraries. Learn to anticipate people’s needs. This experience will help build your rapport with future clients.
3 Major Benefits of Becoming an Independent Travel Agent
One word: Independence .
It is something everyone craves in their career, but few are able to experience completely while working as an employee.
As a contracted worker you have complete control over when, where, and how you conduct business. Whether you work from home or decide to rent a private office space, it is completely up to you.
You make the rules.
The freedom of being your own boss may have drawn you to learn how to become an independent travel agent. But it is not the only perk of this profession.
Here are a few more benefits that you can take advantage of:
- Steady income: According to Statista, revenue from travel agencies is expected to reach over $17 billion by 2020. There is a large earning potential for independent travel agents since your income is comprised of commission, service fees, and consultation fees. Also, as an at-home agent, you are eligible for tax deductions.
- Travel perks: Also known as FAM trips. These “familiarization” trips are provided at reduced rates by suppliers. The purpose is to use the trip as a learning tool to understand the supplier’s services and products. In addition, FAM trips will give you the firsthand knowledge to pass down to your potential clients and a chance to learn the tricks of the trade.
- Travel discounts : Travel agents also enjoy a wealth of discounts from hotel stays to renting a car. One way to start generating discounts is to legitimize yourself with an IATA card.
Among the tangible benefits, becoming an independent travel agent is also a fulfilling career choice. People are choosing you to plan one of the best experiences of their lives, and that is rewarding.
The True Challenges of Becoming an Independent Travel Agent
Be forewarned, though the benefits heavily tip the scale in one direction, there are challenges to becoming an independent travel agent just like any other profession.
One of the main hurdles is the investment of time and money you must make when starting out. There are start-up costs, host agency fees, and other upgrades you may need to consider.
As a contractor, you do not receive traditional employee benefits. The payment structure for independent travel agents may take time to get used to as well. It is commissioned-based, and often, those commissions are not paid to you until after your client returns from their trip.
It takes time to build your business.
Becoming an independent travel agent is a long-term endeavor, and if you are willing to put in the time, it can be your career for life.
What Becoming an Independent Travel Agent is All About
Independence does not mean that you are alone.
One of the common misconceptions about this career choice is that you will have no support.
However, the role of an independent travel agent is defined by their relationships. Relationships with your clients, suppliers, and most importantly your host agency, are all essential components of your success.
You can think of your role as an independent travel agent more like a consultant. Your clients, both new and returning, will rely on the recommendations you give them when planning their soon-to-be cherished experiences.
This relationship requires a large amount of trust, understanding, and openness. On your part, it is also about listening and reading people to provide them with experiences they will love. Fostering these relationships are what will secure your business.
The largest portion of your income will derive from booking with suppliers. Remember the FAM trips you took advantage of? More than anything, those trips are learning experiences.
Suppliers and independent agents work together to compile the perfect trip for each client. As an independent travel agent, it is up to you to understand what type of vacation packages you are offering so you can advise based on true experience.
Agent-supplier relationships are beneficial to everyone.
You will have first-hand knowledge to pass down to each client so that together, you can plan the best experience possible. Plus, the more clients you send, the more both you and the supplier financially benefit.
Host Agency Relationship
In your quest to become an independent travel agent, finding the right host agency is like finding the North Star. The right agency will work with you, guiding you through the challenges, and creating a clear path for success.
Host agencies are a key partner to help you become a successful independent travel agent. They help legitimize you as an agent, especially early on, and provide access to resources and their established network.
Host agencies can also provide marketing and promotional materials, training, recording keeping, and support along the way.
How to Build the Perfect Travel Agent/Host Agency Relationship
Now that you know the truth about becoming an independent travel agent, it’s time to take the first step: finding the right host agency.
While the importance of a fair commission should not be downplayed, it is vital to factor in other characteristics of your potential host agency that are just as important.
Not all host agencies are created equal.
They vary greatly in their size, benefits, and dedication to their agents. When researching the best agency for you, it is important to ask yourself:
- What size agency do I want to work with?
- Do they offer training?
- Are there marketing opportunities?
- What is the agent/agency relationship like?
Everyone has different goals. That’s why when you’re starting out as an independent travel agent, your goals should align with the agency you choose. When Travel Quest Network began hosting agents in 1998, they made sure that working closely with their agents to reach a common goal was the focus of their business.
Today, they continue to fulfill that goal by serving over 1,200 agents in the US. Travel Quest Network offers training, technology resources, marketing, and flexible pricing plans that range from 70-100% commission in the agent’s pocket.
So what are you waiting for? Get on board with your dreams and learn more about partnering with Travel Quest Network to become a successful independent travel agent.
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7 Reasons Why You Should Become A Certified Travel Agent/Advisor
Online training and certification, 7 reasons why you should become a travel agent / advisor.
- Be Your Own Boss - Work When Ever You Want! We Help You The Entire Way!
- Get Your Travel Advisor Certification In Just Days!
- Travel the World While You Work - Travel At Discounted Prices!
- Do This - Full-Time, Part-Time, Side Gig / Hustle, or Book Your Own Travel!
- Unlimited Earning & Growth Potential - While Helping Others With Their Travel!
- Travel Advisors Are In High Demand - Consumers Are Looking For You!
- No Sales Quotas - No Limitations - Do As Much Or As Little As You Want!
You are on your way to enjoying the high-earning potential, excitement, and discounts of the travel industry. Traveling and promoting travel is what travel agents and advisors do for a living. It's easy to get involved, and we will train you step by step on how to do it all. We have been training travel agents since 1988!
Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business, becoming your own boss, working the hours that suit your lifestyle, and determining your own income?
Do you want to travel the world and visit exotic destinations in Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands?
Do you have a desire to plan dream vacations for friends, family, or the general public, sending them on vacations, cruises, or escorted tours?
You can also go with them as their tour guide if you wish.
Are you ready to take control of your destiny and make these dreams a reality?
View this post on Instagram Developed by the innovators of the independent home-based travel advisor concept, our training is the most sought after online certification in the industry. Start your certification today! A post shared by Travel Agent Campus (@travelagentcampus) on May 6, 2020 at 1:15pm PDT
How Does The Program Work?
What is the process of becoming a travel agent from beginning to end.
If you are new to the industry, we’d like to share with you how this works. Our goal is to train you on what you need to know and help you get set up to become a successful travel agent / advisor from home!
- You decide on the Course / Certification you want to take based on your preferences and goals.
- You will learn this exciting material from the convenience of your home.
- Training is self-paced and a combination of blended online learning with textbooks.
- Immediately receive an email with your receipt and a downloadable "Welcome Letter" to start your training.
- Your textbook(s) will be mailed to you Priority Mail. They are not needed until after watching the video training.
- Start your training and complete it at your own pace. The average completion time is 3 to 10 days.
- Instructors can be available 24/7 if you need them by LiveChat, Email, and via phone during business hours.
- Finish your training and receive your Travel Agent / Advisor certificate of completion.
- After your name on your business cards and your website, you can add your certification credentials (TAC)!
- Your certification credentials will be emailed to you (with a special link to connect you to TPI) and copied to TPI.
- Directly connect with TPI: VOTED #1 HOST SUPPORT TRAVEL AGENCY by ASTA, with 30+ years in business!
- Subscribe via the special link to TPI (from $30 per month for full support and a 24/7 agent portal to make your Travel Reservations). (TPI requires an internet evaluation, an electronic agreement, a credit card for monthly membership fees, up to a 399 setup fee, must be a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, have a U.S. address, have a U.S. bank account, and a social security number to verify your identity.)
- Your home-based Travel Agency opens for business with full support from TPI.
- Get access via TPI to the IATA/ARC/CLIA number(s) to make travel reservations.
- Get access to the exclusive Travel Agent reservations systems to make travel reservations. Easy Point-n-Click systems and Professional GDS systems are available - Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo, and Worldspan.
- Start promoting travel (TPI has a dedicated marketing dept. to assist) and start earning up to 90% commissions.
- Tell everyone you are a Certified Travel Agent / Advisor.
- Work wherever and whenever you want. Make as much money as you want! No restrictions.
- Enjoy travel benefits and discounts.
- The entire process from beginning to end can be finished in a matter of 2 weeks.
Welcome to Travel Agent Campus where we will help you realize these dreams by providing you with travel industry training and prepare you to work with our host / support travel agency TPI.
Learn how to become a Certified Travel Agent at home and at your own pace with Travel Agent Campus, in partnership with TPI - Travel Planners International a Host / Support Travel Agency.
Because you are starting a new business in an unfamiliar industry, it is crucial to your success to gain the proper knowledge, skills, and abilities from an industry-specific training program. The Travel Agent Campus internet-learning program can be your passport to an exciting future as a Travel Agent. You can train quickly and conveniently from home and learn the skills you need to succeed.
With TPI, our Host / Support Travel Agency partnership, you'll be up and running selling travel as soon as you successfully complete our training. (TPI requires an internet evaluation, an electronic agreement, a credit card for monthly membership fees, up to a 399 setup fee, must be a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, have a U.S. address, have a U.S. bank account, and a social security number to verify your identity.)
Upon successful completion of your training, you will be directly connected to TPI - Travel Planners International. Before you know it, you will be selling travel and enjoying all the travel benefits. Start packing your bags!!
How Does The Program Work? What is the process to become a travel agent from beginning to end?
- You will learn this exciting material from the convenience of your home.
- Start your training and complete it at your own pace. The average completion time is 3 to 10 days.
- Subscribe via the special link to TPI (from $30 per month for full support and a 24/7 agent portal to make your Travel Reservations). (TPI requires an internet evaluation, an electronic agreement, a credit card for monthly membership fees, up to a 399 setup fee, must be a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, have a U.S. address, have a U.S. bank account, and a social security number to verify your identity.)
- Get access via TPI to the IATA/ARC/CLIA number(s) to make travel reservations
Call, Live Chat 24/7 or Email us for any questions. We are here to support you.
How much is it bronze - travel advisor course.
PAYMENT PLAN - OPTION FOR BRONZE COURSE
6 monthly payments of $145.83
Minimum Down Payment of $316.72, Then $145.83 / month for the remaining months. (includes a one-time book package fee $99.95, plan setup fee $49.95, shipping from 20.99, and optional upgrades. Upgrades can be removed by clicking on the X at checkout.
PAY IN FULL - OPTION FOR BRONZE COURSE
Was $995. NOW $300 OFF REGULAR PRICE- Only $695
(plus a one-time book package fee, shipping, and optional items/upgrades)
CLICK HERE FOR: Additional courses and certifications.
Do I Get Training and Certification?
You will receive your training and certification to become a travel agent from home through Travel Agent Campus. We are an approved TPI training provider and leaders in the industry who share a passion for educating and helping our trainees succeed. Our self-paced, blended online learning with textbooks makes it easy for you to learn about the industry and get involved — even without any prior experience!
Which Host / Support Travel Agency Do You Use?
We work with TPI, Travel Planners International, which has been in the travel industry for over 30 years. It’s the preferred Host Travel Agency that supports all your efforts!
TRAVEL PLANNERS INTERNATIONAL - HOST / SUPPORT TRAVEL AGENCY
What do I get when I join the Host / Support Travel Agency TPI - Travel Planners International?
- A hefty 70% commission on your travel reservations. 80% and 90% also available.
- 24/7 Access to your web-based Travel Agent Only Portal to do Travel Reservations for airlines, car rentals, hotels /resorts, vacation packages, and cruises.
- Ongoing Facebook Live / Live Stream training.
- Marketing / Promotional support.
- Social Media support.
- How-to training videos.
- CRM - Contact Relationship Management system - TPI Suitcase
- Back office accounting support.
- Mentoring and coaching from dedicated travel professionals.
- TRAVEL DISCOUNTS AND BENEFITS
*( TPI requires an internet evaluation, an electronic agreement, a credit card for monthly membership fees, up to a 399 setup fee, must be a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, have a U.S. address, have a U.S. bank account, and a social security number to verify your identity. )
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How to Become a Travel Agent and Work From Home
Author: Holly Reisem Hanna
June 1, 2023 Leave a Comment
Do you love to travel? Do you have wanderlust? Are you a master at finding great travel deals?
Becoming a work from home travel agent might be your ideal work at home career path!
Working as a travel agent might seem a little outdated in today’s world of Kayak and Airbnb, but in reality, many people still prefer to work with travel agents.
Experienced travel planners help travelers save money, time, and travel-related headaches.
Home-based travel agents generally work for a host agency (a company bonded and accredited by the Airlines Reporting Corporation or the International Airlines Travel Agents Network) as independent contractors.
As a travel agent, you’ll earn a commission on the travel arrangements (flights, hotels, rental cars, travel excursions , and more) you book, and you’ll often have access to special deals and travel discounts. You can choose to work in a particular niche, such as cruises or business travel, or work with clients looking into a specific type of travel (adventure, Disney vacations, eco-friendly, budget, or luxury travel).
One of the great things about becoming a work at home travel agent is that it’s a relatively easy startup business idea, and the costs are low. With a basic home office (including an internet connection, a phone, computer, printer, and website), you can get started with a host agency.
So if you love to travel or if you love to help other people fulfill their vacation dreams, you may want to start a home-based travel agent business!
What Skills Do You Need to Be a Travel Agent?
The basic skills you’ll need as a travel agent include attention to detail, excellent research and communication skills, high-level organizational skills, and a knowledge of geography and travel destinations. You’ll also need to be tech-savvy and have a solid understanding of programs like Microsoft Office and Google Workspace.
If you’re working as an independent contractor, the host company will usually train you; some host agencies charge a fee, while others do not. While there are travel agent certificate programs that you can take, you may be able to break into a travel role if you have customer service, hospitality, marketing, or sales experience under your belt.
Getting Started as a Work at Home Travel Agent
According to Host Agency Reviews, travel agents with three years of experience make an average of $46,580 per year . However, there are some travel agents making six figures per year. It all depends on your experience, the number of clients you retain, hours worked, and commission and support from your host agency.
Agents who work in specific markets or on particular vacation types (like destination weddings or luxury travel) can become very familiar with their market and, thus, enjoy even greater success. Working in particular markets, like weddings or corporate travel, can also make a big difference regarding salary.
Remote Travel Agent and Consultant Jobs
If starting your own business seems intimidating, many companies within the travel and hospitality industry hire at-home travel consultants, reservationists, and planners for full-time and part-time positions. Best of all, many of these positions come with travel perks!
To start, you may want to explore:
- American Express
- Kemp Travel Group
- Vail Resorts
- Working Solutions
- World Travel Holdings
Exploring Host Agencies
Finding a good host agency is key to getting started as an at-home travel agent. If you’re just starting, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with host agency options to get a feel for what each can offer.
- American Society of Travel Advisors
- Cruise Planners
- Disney Vacation Planner
- Dream Vacations Advisors
- Dugan’s Travel
How to Select a Great Host Agency
When it comes to what they offer their consultants, travel agencies vary significantly. There are many factors to consider besides who offers the best commission.
For example, do you prefer a large agency or a small agency? Locally-based hosting can be easier for new agents who might need extensive support and training. On the other hand, national agencies may offer more flexibility and growth.
Carefully weigh your agency options and perform background research. Sites like Host Agency Reviews and Find a Host Travel Agency can help. They offer tips and ratings for finding the best travel agency that fits your needs.
Perks of Becoming a Travel Agent
Aside from being a fun business opportunity, being a travel agent offers some amazing perks .
If you enjoy travel, you might enjoy taking “FAM trips” or “familiarization trips” to various locales. Cruise lines, hotels, and tour guides know the best way for you to sell their services is for you to try them firsthand. So they offer perks, including complementary and deeply discounted fares, as well as opportunities to use their services and explore all your amazing options.
You can also save big on your own travel with great discounts! You’ll score awesome deals before anyone else even hears about them. As a travel agent, you’ll have access to discounts because, of course, the more you travel, the more business experience you rack up.
The best part? You can deduct those travel expenses from your taxes as part of your business! You can also deduct things like advertising and expenses related to your clients. This amounts to big tax savings for you!
Other Ways to Make Money in the Travel Industry
If you love the idea of working and traveling, but you’re unsure about becoming a travel agent or consultant, there are many other options available.
Traveling to another country as an Au Pair is a great option if you enjoy working with children. When you work as an Au Pair, you’ll live with a family, helping them with household chores and childcare. In return, you’ll get free room and board and a small stipend that you can use on your days off. Being an Au Pair allows you to experience life in another country for an extended period of time. Becoming an Au Pair does come with some fees you’ll need to pay, such as your flights, travel visa, and insurance.
Customer Service Representative
Customer service is an excellent way to break into the travel industry and work from home! Many companies provide full training for these roles as well as a host of benefits. You can work for airlines, hotels, cruise lines, travel booking sites, and other travel-related sites and industries. For these work from home positions, you’ll generally need your own device (laptop or computer) and a high-speed internet connection. Check out this article for a list of hospitality companies that hire remote customer service reps.
You’ve probably heard of being an online ESL tutor , but did you know you can travel to another country to teach English as a second language? Most countries require ESL teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. Like being an Au Pair, there will be fees for your flights, travel visa, and insurance. Depending on which host company you use and which country to travel to, your housing may be free or purchased at a reduced cost. How much you can earn will vary as well. For more information on traveling and making money as an ESL tutor, check out the resources below.
- International TEFL Academy
- Premier TEFL
If you enjoy working with high school and college students, consider becoming a local coordinator . In these independent contracting roles, you’ll work with educational organizations and programs to place and mentor students interested in foreign exchange programs. These part-time positions are a flexible and easy way to make extra money from home. Some programs also offer incentive trips and perks for their local coordinators.
- Education, Travel, and Culture – Earn $700-$1,600 per student
- International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES) – Average earnings are $8,000 a year
Social Media Marketer Specializing in Travel
Do you love to travel and you’re looking for ways to earn money from home, there are plenty of opportunities to take your travel beyond Instagram snaps and shares on Facebook… but if you’re really great at social media, you could also become a social media manager in the travel industry! Many of these positions allow you to work from home for a travel-based company, sharing posts and connecting with their customers.
If you prefer to create your own schedule and be your own boss, become a local tour guide! With this idea, you’ll need to be in the know about the food, culture, and history of the area you’re helping tourists explore. With apps like Showaround and Viator , you can create your tour, book customers, and make money from your travel expertise. You can also look at local tour operators and see if they have any openings for tour guides. Explore this article for more tips on making money as a tour guide .
Magazines, guidebooks, and websites are often looking for freelance travel writers to contribute their experiences and give readers recommendations. If you have writing and communication skills and you travel often, this might be an excellent option for you.
The income for travel writers varies greatly, but many writers make great money by documenting and sharing their travels. Travel writers, according to ZipRecruiter , earn an average of $76,474 annually, or $37 per hour. I think these numbers sound high, but I wasn’t able to find any other stats for how much travel writers really earn.
If you prefer to write and document your own travels, start a travel blog ! With blogging, you can make money with affiliate marketing, ad networks, sponsorships, product sales, and more! The great thing about blogging is it’s affordable and easy to set up, and there are many free ways to promote your content through social media. My friend, Julie Bonner, has a travel blog where she documents her family’s RV travels. In one year, she was able to generate $5,000 a month from her blog, all while traveling the United States and Canada.
Have you been documenting your travels on social media? Then make money while traveling the world as a social media travel influencer. Whether your specialty is Instagram , Pinterest, TikTok , or YouTube , you can earn good money through paid sponsorships, advertising, and affiliate marketing. Besides building an engaged audience of followers, you’ll need to become skilled at taking photos and videos, editing, and writing captions. How much you can earn as a travel influencer will depend on how many followers you have, your reach, your engagement, and which platforms you’re using. According to this article in Vogue , a travel influencer with 1-4 million followers can earn $31,000 per post!
If you’re a registered nurse, you can sign up to become a travel nurse. These nurses travel to areas where there are nursing shortages in work in a wide variety of settings. Nurses typically work in one location for 13-16 weeks, then move on to another location. Not only is travel nursing a great way to see the country, but it’s also lucrative. The average travel nurse can earn $56.49 per hour plus housing stipends. If you’re interested in travel nursing, check out these sites for assignments.
- Health Carousel Travel Nursing
If you have a passion for travel, there are many ways you can earn money working in the travel industry. From becoming a work at home travel agent to finding ways to document and share your own travel experiences—there’s an opportunity for every traveler out there. Explore your options and pack your suitcase! Check out this post if you’re looking for ways to make money while you travel the world!
Originally published February 25, 2009. Updated June 2023.
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About the Author
Holly Reisem Hanna
Holly Reisem Hanna is a former nurse who decided to start a blog to make money from home while caring for her daughter. Since its inception in 2009, The Work at Home Woman has helped millions of readers find legitimate work at home jobs and business ideas. Under Holly's guidance, The Work at Home Woman was named one of the best websites for your career by Forbes two years in a row. Holly graduated from the University of Texas and has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Woman’s World Magazine, CNN, and many others.