Ever since the pandemic, there has never been a greater need for travel advisors.
The desire to travel continues to grow, and while many post-pandemic hurdles have been erased, travel remains more complex than it was in pre-pandemic times, and travelers are demanding more from their vacation experiences which makes travel advisors even more valuable in this new era.
Following the “Great Resignation,” many people continue to seek new careers, particularly ones that provide an opportunity to work from home or enjoy a flexible schedule. For ambitious entrepreneurs, becoming a travel advisor can be an ideal way to distinguish themselves.
“Becoming a travel agent today is more important than any time in our history of travel,” said Tammy Levent, president of TASK.
For those interested in starting a career selling travel, there are many different paths to accomplish this goal.
Where to Begin
Education is going to be key, and there are many options available to individuals who are just getting started.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is an organization that unites travel advisors and travel professionals through education and advocacy. ASTA offers an online education course to promote careers in the travel agency industry and to help new advisors.
“As anyone in the industry will tell you, working as a travel advisor is a fun, rewarding and potentially lucrative career path,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s president and CEO. “Our new Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor will help folks get started down this path toward a true dream job.”
ASTA’s roadmap will guide prospective advisors through several topics, including an in-depth overview of the travel industry and its constituent parts; a guide on how travel advisors make money; and tips for finding a job or starting their own business.
There’s a lot to learn for those just getting their feet wet in the travel industry.
The Travel Institute offers the TRIPKIT introductory training program. TRIPKIT Online is similar to a one-year college education that includes real-world agent experiences and explains industry terminology, key areas of travel such as air and ground transportation, accommodations, tours and more. Course information also includes information on cruises, marketing, geography and advice for a successful independent contractor business.
TRIPKIT is available fully online and features an interactive, self-paced study plan with immersive and flexible learning options. The Travel Institute also provides advanced certifications to travel advisors.
Aspiring advisors who want to really kick-start their entrepreneurial success can go even more in-depth in their training.
One way is via TASK, the Travel Agent Success Kit, developed by Tammy Levent, founder of Elite Travel, an award-winning national travel agency. Levent shares her secrets of success as well as advice from experts through her in-depth training program that gives advisors the hands-on experience they need to successfully run their own businesses.
Levent has her finger on the pulse of the industry and is able to share her knowledge and success to help those new to the industry or who are looking to start independent agencies.
“The travel agent today will have to not only learn of what to book, but know about giving that secure safe experience to clients,” said Levent. “Therefore, they need to be knowledgeable not just on the destination but what does the destination have to offer, how can I make this a unique experience even though they are going to the same destination. This is how they are going to set themselves apart.”
There are many facets to TASK including a do-it-yourself video series; TASK Prep, hands-on training program; TASK Live, a travel agent mastermind event teaching already seasoned professionals specifically how to grow their business; TASK Consulting, which helps agents dive even deeper into creating a successful business; and more.
Host Agencies and Franchises
Depending on how entrepreneurial a budding travel advisor is, they can decide to go it alone or partner with a host agency. Host agencies can streamline the process of becoming a travel advisor by providing in-house training, assistance with marketing and even live leads.
In the most basic terms, host agencies work as a partner for travel advisors, providing resources such as marketing, training, access to software and sales assistance in exchange for a split of commission. Franchises are more of a “business in a box” where franchisees receive 100 percent of their commission but pay fees to the franchiser.
Host Agency Reviews (HAR) is a good place for new advisors to start to learn the ins and outs of host agencies and franchises. The website connects advisors to host agencies, franchises, consortia and industry events, as well as provides important information on the travel industry through its blog and podcast.
New travel advisors can start with HAR’s seven-day Setup Challenge or scroll through its extensive directory of host agencies, franchises and consortia.
One advantage to partnering with a host or purchasing a franchise is free education. Many host agencies and franchisers offer their own education platforms that train them on their in-house tools as well as provide industry education.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Travel Advisor?
As far as new careers go, becoming a travel advisor can be accomplished fairly quickly.
According to Levent, travel advisors should give themselves at least six months to get up and running.
“This is the time to get their corporation in place, marketing and advertising and to decide what they will they sell and develop their brand and their niche,” said Levent. “All this takes about six months to acquire to become an independent travel agent. To start, they can join ASTA and CCRA for updates on vendors and join industry events that they have nationally.”
After undertaking initial training, there are many options for travel advisors to further their education with advanced certificates offered by the Travel Institute, training on products and destinations from Travel Agent Academy, courses from Cruise Lines International Association and more.
Travel agents can earn advanced certification from The Travel Institute, including recognition as a Certified Travel Associate, Certified Travel Counselor and Certified Travel Industry Executive. With ongoing educational opportunities such as those offered through Travel Agent Academy, advisors can gain continuing education units, learn how to generate more bookings, receive access to special loyalty programs and become specialists in their chosen niches.
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By firstname.lastname@example.org (Janeen Christoff)