It’s the dream job for millions of people. Being able to book and experience travel all while getting paid. Sounds too good to be true? It’s actually not! There are thousands of travel agents out there booking clients travel whether it’s personal or business. And while it is nice that people are able to book all of their travel online, a travel agent can offer a client much more without having to charge them anything additional or more than what they would have paid on their own. So let’s take a deeper look at how to become a travel agent and how you can do it today in 3 easy steps.
A Little History
Before you become a travel agent, you’re going to want to know about the career itself and how it’s changed over the last decade. When you think travel agent, many people think of an office space in town where one or two people are working behind a computer just waiting for a walk-in. Even in the movies this is how travel agents are depicted. You also might think that travel agents charge fees for their service. Both are common misconceptions that we’ll go over.
First, travel agents have mostly moved from the brick and mortar scene to the independent, work from home scene. This is because most travel companies provide their services online. Thus the need for in-person meetings has all but been eliminated. Travel agents have access to everything they need from a single computer. In fact most book using only their laptop and cell phone.
Second, travel agents have actually moved away from fees for the most part. This is because companies including cruise lines, theme parks and resorts pay a commission to the travel agent. It’s a win-win for everyone. The travel agent gets paid to do the booking and the customer doesn’t have to pay any additional fees. In fact, most customer pay either the same or less when using a travel agent.
Today, there’s hundreds of industries to sell travel for including all-inclusive resorts, cruise lines, theme parks, hotels, transportation and excursions. In fact, the travel industry is still the largest in the world. So if you’re wondering if there’s enough work for you to do as a travel agent, the answer is yes.
Who Can Become a Travel Agent?
Almost anyone can become a travel agent these days. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, but it is much simpler in 2021 than it was in the past. There is no cookie-cutter answer to who can become a travel agent. Lots of people, from all different types of backgrounds book travel. People with sales experience, people who love to travel, teachers, nurses, firefighters, grocery clerks, assistants, receptionists, beauticians and so many more.
That’s the great thing about travel agents. The job itself can be done by almost anyone with the desire to sell. Of all the companies out there who bring on travel agents, Park Savers has the most modern approach:
Must be 18+
Reside in the United States or territories
Have access to a computer and phone
A quiet space to do their work
Are able to maintain confidentiality and trust with customers
As you can imagine, lots of people meet these program needs and that’s what makes being a travel agent nice. A lot of the work can be learned as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.
How Do You Become a Travel Agent?
So you’ve got the desire to become a travel agent but you’re just not sure where to start. We’ve broken the process down into 3 easy steps that allows you to get started right away if you want. We do encourage you to read the rest of this article to get the full picture.
Step 1 – Find an agency to join.
You can technically start from scratch and have your own agency but it’s expensive and has a lot of overhead costs. There’s no need to do that at this point. Instead, look for a Host Agency like Park Savers. They are registered with all the major travel supplier including cruise lines, Disney, Universal and websites like Expedia and VAX Vacation Access. This allows you to sell basically everything right from the start.
Joining an agency like Park Savers only takes a few minutes and you can be up and running with your online training in a matter of hours. It’s a very simple process and you can be selling to clients within a matter or days.
Step 2 – Figure Out Your Business
When you join a host agency you’re technically an independent contractor. Don’t let this word scare you. There are tons of ways to work as an independent contractor and it doesn’t mean you have to create a business. Most travel agents work as sole proprietors which means you and your business are one in the same. You throw your 1099 that you receive at the end of the year onto your taxes and you’re good to go.
Some agents like to register an LLC or Corporation and work underneath these. This allows them to deduct expenses but they also have to file a separate tax return. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Be sure to read about each one and if needs be, consult a tax expert to decide which one would be best for you.
Step 3 – Start Looking For Clients
If you thought that clients were just going to be handed to you, guess again. You are going to need to seek them out but it’s not as hard as you would think. Most agents find a lot of success on social media. Not even paid social media. Just simple posts letting people know that they can now book travel and they can reach out to you anytime. Or posting special offers that grab people’s attention.
Outside of social media, start with friends and family. Word spreads fast when you know someone who can book travel. Your sister or uncle may tell their work buddy who reaches out and they tell 2-3 people and before you know it you’ve got a whole list of clients. This sounds too easy but we see it happen everyday. Word of mouth is powerful.
You can also reach out to local businesses or community pages and let people know what you can do and how using your services is a great way to support small business. We think you’ll be surprised at how many people love to support small business.
Can I Specialize in a Certain Travel?
Absolutely. You may be a pro at cruising so that’s what you focus on. Maybe you’re the go-to expert on the Disney theme parks so you concentrate on Disney. Or maybe you just want to do it all and that’s fine too! There’s no wrong way to sell travel. It’s as easy as you do you.
What Kind of Travel Can I Sell?
We’ve already touched on a lot of these above but let’s dive into them a little bit more.
One of the biggest vacations people are taking these days are cruises. They offer guests an all-inclusive way to visit the world. They include food, drink a room, excursions and transportation all in one. This industry is growing significantly and needs more and more agents. Cruise lines like Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Norwegian, Celebrity and so much more offer cruises all over the world.
They great thing about cruises is that they are non-stop. They’re running year-round to the destinations that your future clients want to visit. Beaches, cities, islands, glaciers, habitats and so much more. There’s a cruise for everyone out there!
Disney travel has also become a big destinations over the last decade. By adding new lands like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, Pandora – The World of Avatar and Avenges Campus, Disney is hooking in new people all the time. Solo travellers, couples, LGBTQ+, honeymooners, families and more are making trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World every year.
Also included in theme parks is Universal Studios. They offer lands like Harry Potter and Jurassic Park and tend to have the more adventurous rides and attractions.
Companies like Sandals and Moon Palace’s offer some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the world. And people are clamoring for them as they don’t have to do anything but show up. Their room, food, drinks and entertainment are all at their fingertips. And best of all, it’s all included! Destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean offer warmer climates and amazing entertainment year-round.
Almost everyone needs a hotel when they travel. Being able to book one for anyone, anywhere is a great service to be able to offer. Whether it’s last minute or planned in advance, you can book it. This includes bigger companies like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG and more. Or you can book bed and breakfasts for the client who wants something cozy and personal.
Whether your client needs flights or a car or both, you’ll be able to book it for them. Grab car rentals with companies like Hertz, National and Alamo while being able to book flights with airlines like Delta, Southwest, United, Spirit and JetBlue. If all you want to do is focus on how a client gets somewhere, you can.
Joining The Right Agency
This is important because you want to join an agency who can offer you the most without requiring a lot. That sounds one-sided in favor of you and that’s how it should be. You want an agency who can allow you to be flexible in how and when you work. There are agencies out there who require you to hit minimums, charge monthly fees, require certain booking amounts each year, hold off benefits until you reach a certain level or require you to carry your own insurance.
Of all the agencies we’ve found online, Park Savers is currently the best one to join. They offer the following to their agents:
No monthly fees
No minimum booking requirements
Travel Agent benefits and discounts industry-wide
Seller of Travel in CA and FL
And so much
They also offer online chat and email to agents when they need it. They have a wide network of suppliers and allow agents to book almost anything in the industry. They do specialize in Disney travel but you don’t have to do just Disney if you don’t want to. Focus on any area you want!
Other agencies like Costco and AAA do hire travel agents but these are full-time jobs spent on the phone booking for members of each perspective club.
How Much Do Travel Agents Make?
There are some travel agents who work full-time booking clients and that’s their only job. There are also travel agents who book only part-time, maybe once or twice a month. Ultimately the amount of time you put into the job will determine how much money you make.
Agencies like Park Savers say their average agent is making over $1,500 a month. This comes out to about 5 bookings a month at an average commission of $300. Of course some bookings, like a family cruise, can net you over $600 in commission. So the type of travel you are booking also makes a difference.
Here’s what we’ve been able to pull from agencies around the web and how much their agent is making:
Full-time travel agents average $3,600 a month – about 40 hours a month
Part-time travel agents average $1,200 a month – about 20 hours a month
This is based on the average number of bookings an agent completes working either 20 hours a month or up to 40 hours. It also assumed the agent averages $300 per booking.
Do Travel Agents Receive Travel Benefits?
They most assuredly do. Travel agents can get access to some amazing perks like free cruises, tickets, major room discounts and more. Perks are determined by the individual supplier and can change from year to year but most stay the same.
Suppliers like Universal and Disney offer discounted tickets to the travel agent and their family plus a discounted room up to 50%. Cruise lines like Princess offer agents the opportunity to earn a free cruise or receive a major discount on one. Same goes for Norwegian and Disney.
Sandals Resorts also offers Travel Agent rates to help them save.
So why do suppliers offer these discounts? They want the travel agent to become familiar with what they are selling. There’s no better way to sell a resort than having experienced it first-hand. Thus Travel Agent incentives are offered. Of course you don’t just get the benefits without doing some work. Most benefits are earned by completing online training. Some can be done in a day, some take several.
Most require you to pass tests so that you actually study and learn the material. You’ll want to do this anyway to be helpful to your clients. So don’t look at them as being “in the way” of your benefits. The lessons should be taken seriously and completed.
The travel industry is a billion-dollar industry that sees hundreds or millions of people travel each year. There are many opportunities for travel agents to book and earn money. You don’t need to fit a certain criteria to become a travel agent. Mostly a desire to sell and work in the industry.
To get started, most agents just need a computer and a cell phone. This allows you to start booking online and speak to clients when needed. There is a certain level of trust that needs to be established with each client.
Agents who want to specialize in a certain area of travel can. Or you can just sell all over the map. Whatever works for you. Agents these days are paid commission instead of charging service fees. This is a win for both the agent and the client. Agents can find clients online through social media and word of mouth. Both are free and go a long way to establishing clientele.
Joining the right agency is important. You want to find one that allows you the most flexibility so you can book how and when you want.