A travel agent’s job functions may vary from assisting with booking/selling reservations to referring people to travel booking sites, where an agent receives commission.
Here are some steps to help you become a successful travel agent.
Research Travel Institutions and Education
The minimum educational requirement for individuals who want to become travel agents is a high school diploma. Computerization and technology have increased training needs and most employers prefer applicants with a higher level of education such as a post secondary vocational award.
There are vocational schools that offer full time travel agent programs as well as weekend and evening programs. Travel agent programs are also offered in community colleges and universities.
There are colleges that also offer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in tourism and travel. Although there are only a few courses that directly relate to travel and tourism, college degrees with background in world history, foreign language, communication and geography are often preferred by employers.
The American Society of Travel Agents features a correspondence course that teaches the basics of travel industry. Most travel agencies offer on the job training programs for their employees. Continuing education is critical, as the proliferation of online travel information has resulted to an informed consumer who wants only the best travel agent.
Be a Certified Travel Agent
Certifications will enhance your reputation as a travel agent and will show clients that you have met the professional standards set by an institution in the industry. The travel industry features several certifying organizations that are widely recognized today.
Experienced travel agents can take advantage of study courses from the Travel Institute that leads to a Certified Travel Counselor professional designation. The Travel Institute also features sales/marketing enhancement programs and destination specialist programs that provide a detailed knowledge of regions like:
- Western Europe
- The Caribbean
- North America
- The Pacific Rim
Cruise Lines International Association or CLIA offers various certification programs that are recognized and respected in the travel industry.
Get a Travel Agent Job
Find a travel agent job with an agency or partner with an agency to help you run your own travel counseling business. Try to work with an established agency.
There are also travel agencies which will allow you to work from home. Find a host company that will help you in establishing your own travel agency. A host agency provides travel agent services, back office support, travel suppliers, marketing support and access to reservation portals.
Become a Registered Travel Agent in Your State
There are states that require travel seller registration. This type of regulatory requirement helps protect consumers and ensures that agencies are legal. Don’t forget to check with government offices for local regulations.
Become a Part of Travel Organizations
Joining travel organizations is a great way to stay up-to-date on trends and news in the travel industry. These societies also offer continuing education and updates to their members. If you expect to be booking online airline tickets, become a member of the International Air Transport Association or IATA.