Do you want to learn what it takes to become a travel agent online? If YES, here’s a complete guide plus requirements to become a travel agent at home for FREE.
What is a Travel Agent?
A travel agent works for an agency, and is required to have a broad knowledge of the world, especially popular places. A travel agent can be defined as one who engages in selling and arranging of transportation, trips, accommodation, ship cruises, and tours for travelers.
Travel agents are individuals who sell products and services, on behalf of the suppliers. Travel agents give impartial advice as regards destinations, and help make arrangements on transport, hotel accommodation, car rentals, ship cruises, and recreational activities that would be undertaken by the traveler. They also give advice as regards tourist attractions, local laws and customs, conference and meeting places for business travelers, and the weather conditions of a client’s preferable destination.
Travel agents get most of their information on a first-hand experience basis by visiting hotels, restaurants, resorts, and other notable places, to evaluate the comfort, and quality of service. This is so that this can serve as a recommendation from clients, and other colleagues. They also give advice through depending on second hand information, by consulting various sources both offline and online on arrival and departure times, hotel accommodations, car rentals, tours, and other services.
Duties of a Travel Agent and their Job Description
- Booking-: A travel agent helps travelers to book flights, accommodations, car rentals, buses, cruises, tours, and other such services. They have direct access to most of these service suppliers and can provide a traveler with so many options. This is such that may not be gotten online.
- Apart from booking, a travel agent can help a traveler re-book- especially if issues that cannot be helped crops up. Rather than dealing with the inconvenience of calling, the airline, hotel, car rentals, and other places the traveler might have booked, a call to a travel agent if booking was done via this route, will save the traveler some stress.
- Customer Service-: Travel agents communicate with intending travelers, to determine their destination, transportation mode, date of travel, accommodation, and financial consideration.
- Also, travel agents have direct access and a relationship with suppliers. This means that a traveler gets better service as upgrade assists, and special requests are taken care off. A traveler could want to upgrade to business or first class, and without worrying about the fine details get the travel agent to assist; also special requests could be anything from the meals, to a specific room number.
- Computing Cost of Travel-: Depending on whether the traveler is going on a packaged tour business meeting, or a personal tour, a travel agent after conversing with the traveler and getting the preferred accommodation, flight, or cruise, and other requirements from the traveler, computes the cost and notifies the traveler.
- Payment collection-: After, conversing and computing the cost of travel, travel agents ensure that the payment for the destination, accommodation, and other services, has been collected.
- Maintaining Statistical and Financial Records-: A travel agent has the responsibility of maintaining statistics as regards the travelers who uses the agency to get the peak period for traveling; the preferred destination of travelers during holidays etc. The financial records entail keeping the records of all the financial transactions that occurred. Also, ensuring the agency knows about it.
- Promote travel incentives-: The travel agent plans, arranges and sells travel tour package incentives, plus discounts, or any other benefit that might be of interest to the traveler.
- Providing general travel advice-: They help first time travelers, by advising them on issues such as, getting a visa for their preferred destination, or their passports from their home country. Other advice would include destination places for different type of travelers like newly married, business, holiday goers etc.
Tools and Equipment of a Travel Agent
- Fax machines
- Ticket Dispensing Machines
- Special Purpose Telephone
- Photocopying Machine
Sometimes, especially during peak periods, travel agents are sometimes swamped by work. Online tools are needed for task management.
- Evernote-: This is an app that that allows users to save anything they find or stumble upon online. Evernote app, could be used by a travel agent to share important information with their client, or used on the social media platform to create content or market the agency.
- Cloud storage-: Cloud storage refers to a space online, where digital data is stored and is usually managed by a hosting company. There are storage devices like Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive etc.
- Flight Track 5-: This is a mobile app that allows a travel agent to keep track of all flight data and even track flights through the air.
- Social media-: The social media is a great tool for any travel agent, as it allows them interacts with potential clients. The travel agent can help answer questions, solve dilemmas, clear up the air, and generally post information that might be regarded as useful on social media.
- Buffer-: Buffer is great for travel agents who do not have the time to manage their twitter account, but want to share valuable information as well as, keeping their twitter accounts active.
How to Become a Travel Agent Online – A Complete Guide
Facts, Figures and Labor Market Situation
In United States
- As at 2012, there were 73,000 employed travel agents, with a projected decline of -3% from between 2012 to 2022; projected job openings from 2012 to 2022, stood at 11,100.
- About 12% of agents were self-employed, with 83% employed in the Administrative and Support services. The agents earned an average annual salary of $34,800.
- Four types of agencies exist in the United States; Independent, consortium, regional, and mega agencies.
- A high school diploma is the least that is required, before one can become a travel agent.
- US states have seller of travel laws.
In the U.K
- As 2012, there were about 105,000 travel agents employed as against 2009, where 119,800 travel agents were employed suggesting a decline. As at 2012, travel agencies and independent tours numbered about 6,654; as against 2009, where they were numbered 7,320.
- The average salary for a travel agent as at 2015 is £23,602.
- Three types of agencies exist in the United Kingdom; multiples, miniples, and independent agencies.
- London and Brighton paid the highest as regards travel agents in the UK
- Most travel agents work for between 35 to 40 hours between Mondays to Saturdays.
- Most of the graduates go into the profession as travel agent clerk (junior counter staff), and then move up after gaining experience.
- As at 2011, 23,800 of travel agents were employed; as against 22,609 employed in 2004.
- Employment for travel agents is expected to grow marginally between 2016 and 2017.
- The online vacancy level for travel agents is high.
- As at 2004, there were 2,640 travel agency services.\ Retail travel agencies accounted for almost three quarters of income generated by all travel agencies.
- More females were employed in 2004, with a 79.5%.
- Employment for travel agents is expected to grow slightly between 2016 and 2017, after a decline from the past 5 years.
- The vacancy for online travel agents is high.
- Due to the fact that it is a labor intensive industry, tourism’s job share in Australia was 4.5% between 2010 and 2011, greater than its direct economic contribution at 2.5%.
- As at 2015, travel agents earn an average salary of $30,993 per year. In Canada, there are about 14,000 travel professionals.
- As at 2006, 79% percent of travel agents were females. Average annual growth percentage between 2013 through 2017, is a -1.4%.
- The median age group for employment ranged between 25 to 44 years at 45.8%, with 84.2% being full timers.
- In Canada, travel agents are called travel counselors.
- A vocational diploma in travel sales is a requirement.
- Travel advisers as at 2012, had to have a certificate from the Office de la protection du consommateur.
- Due to a decrease in the commissions paid by air carriers to agencies, the number of travel counselors is expected, to decrease.
Is The Travel Agent Profession Growing or Declining?
Due to internet knowledge increase of travelers and regional airports, decrease in commissions paid by air carriers, and online travel agents, the demand for travel agents or counselors, isn’t growing. It is dying and while it might not be a saturated market, it isn’t going to grow in any time soon.
The travel agent industry might have to evolve into something else if they hope to still remain relevant. The demand for travel agent professionals is therefore said to be on the decline.
The Impact of the Internet and Technology on the Travel Agent Profession
- Travel agents make use of the internet to carry out their research and to stay updated.
- The internet has been used by travel agents to stay connected to suppliers and to get up-to-date information that will enable them serve their clients better.
- The internet has also been used by travel agents to communicate with their clients, either answering inquiries, or passing along vital information.
- The internet has brought about a fall for travel agents because most travelers now book their trips themselves.
- Travelers can also research about places they want to go to and make their decisions.
Career Opportunities That Exist Within the Travel Agent Profession
- Customs Broker-: This is an individual that is licensed by the custom authorities, to clears goods, through the barriers of customs, for exporters and importers.
- Loan Officer-: A loan officer is the representative of a bank, credit union, and other financial institutions, that help find, and assist borrowers, by ensuring that they are qualified to acquire loans.
- Tax Examiners, Collectors, and Revenue Agent-: This individual works for the government, (federal, state, local) and collects revenue for the government. They also determine tax liability, by taxing individuals and businesses, according to the prescribed law and regulation.
- Tax Preparers-: Tax preparers process tax returns, especially income tax returns, for someone else, that isn’t the taxpayer, and it is usually for compensatory purposes.
- Travel Guide-: This is one who assists travelers to travel through, or reach a particular destination, in an unknown or unfamiliar place by either accompanying the person, or giving directions.
- Advertising Sales Agents-: They are serviced based professionals, who sell advert spaces to individuals and businesses and also handle overall branding and marketing strategies for clients.
- Procurement Clerk-: This is an individual who compiles request for materials, prepare purchase orders, invites bids from suppliers, and make orders for materials, while keeping track of supplies and purchases.
- Brokerage Clerks-: Brokerage clerks assist brokers with contacting clients, taking orders, informing clients of changes that might have occurred, and processing paperwork.
- Loan Interviewers and Clerks-: They assist the loan officers by interviewing applicants for loan, investigate, and trying to elicit information that would determine their eligibility for the loan.
- Executive Secretary-: An executive secretary assists an executive in an organization.
Professional Bodies Within the Travel Agent Profession
- In USA
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)-: ASTA provides advocacy for its members (travel agents), the travel industry, and counseling and advice to the traveling public.
- In the UK
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)-: ABTA is a travel association that uses it members, to offer advice and guidance to the traveling public, as well as demanding high service standards from its members, through responsible tourism.
- In Australia
Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA)-: AFTA encourages and promotes travel and also advocates for the interest of travel agents in Australia.
- In Canada
Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA)-: ACTA is an industry led association that advocates and lobbies the government, on behalf of its members as well as ensuring that travelers get professional and meaningful travel counsel.
Benefits of Becoming a Travel Agent?
- Travel reduction expense benefit-: A travel agent gets travel reduction whilst traveling. The reduction can vary depending on the popularity of the agency. They also get to stay in hotels either free, or at a heavily discounted price. This is because, a satisfied travel agent, is likely to bring more customers to the hotel.
- Knowledge-: Being a travel agent allows one to research, read widely and gain knowledge. Travel agents know about places; its people, histories, laws and customs, and climatic conditions.
- Familiarization trips-: Travel agents get this FAM trips extended to them, because it is hoped that they create a personal attachment to destinations and properties from around the world. The trips provide only the best each participant supplier has so that an impressed travel agent could market the place or destination with excitement to travelers and clients. The trips are carefully selected in regards to the travel agent’s area of expertise.
- Mobility-: Travel agents are able to expertly apply their knowledge, and skills to nearly any destination, they find themselves in. Experiences gained in traveling and time spent abroad is usually regarded as assets by the agencies or clients and travelers.
- Booking your own travel-: It might sound laughable but travel agents that book their own travel agency, get dual benefits which come in discounts from destination places and commission from bookings paid back to the agent.
- Traveling for fun and work-: While a travel agent might travel to a spot for fun, it is not all about fun, as the agent also works and could get more education from the spots traveled to. This type of education can be used for industry certifications.
- Doing what you love-: A travel agent should be one that loves traveling, and knowing about places. Agents that are passionate about their jobs are able to project the excitement to clients and customers, than those who are just in it for the money.
Factors That Discourage People from Becoming a Travel Agent
- Lack of Job Security-: Travel agents are assessed based on performance, especially when they haven’t sold any product, or service to a client. This means that travel agents have to go the extra length in finding clients, and offering specialist services, that cannot otherwise be attained. This can act as a discouragement for those who might want to become travel agents.
- Uncertain Market-: The travel industry is vulnerable to swings such as currency fluctuations, security concerns, and economic melt-down. This is because fewer people get to book for trips, or travel during this period. And since travel agents work on based on commission; these swings affect their income, or their jobs. This can be a huge concern for those hoping to become travel agents.
- Salesmanship-: Apart from excitedly talking about destinations and places, this must translate into sales for a travel agent. Those who are great at sales will always find it easy to get a commission while those who aren’t, will hardly earn anything. This can act as a form of discouragement to intending travel agents, especially as this is a job that is based on commissions.
- Internet-: The internet might have made the job of a travel agent easier, but it also brought with it enough drawbacks as well. Many people can now book for their flight tickets online, make a reservation in a hotel, or pay for car rentals ahead of time. This has been a serious drawback for travel agents and could also discourage intending travel agents from becoming one.
- Ability to retain information-: Travel agents have to be knowledgeable about places, its history, people, and customs. For those who do not like to constantly research, read, and commit information to memory; this could serve as a huge turn-off for those intending to become travel agents.
How Much Do Travel Agents Earn Monthly/Annually?
- In the United States, as at 2014, the median wage per hour for travel agents was $16.73 and the annual wage was $34,800.
- In the United Kingdom, as at 2015, a travel agent earns £23,602 average salary per year
- In Australia, as at 2015, travel agents earn an average of $43,000 per annum.
- In Canada, as at 2015, travel agents earn an average salary of $30,993 per year.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Travel Agent?
- Apart from the pre-requisite, which is a high school diploma, some agencies also require a college degree in travel and tourism, hospitality, communications, marketing, and business. This will take 4 years.
- A certificate from a Trade travel school, takes about 8 to 16 weeks.
- A GSCE takes 1 to 2 years. An HND program takes 2 to 3 years, while a BTEC takes 1 or 2 years.
- A travel training school takes between 1 to 3 months.
- Even though the duration for the pre-requisites can’t be determined, Diplomas take 1 to 3 years, and Bachelor Degrees 3 or 4 years.
- A DCS takes 2 years. A bachelor’s degree takes 3 to 4 years.
Educational Requirement for Becoming a Travel Agent
In United States
- High School Diploma-: This is the basic entry requirement for any established business or its equivalent which can be a GED.
- Trade Schools-: This is a short term certification class, which could take between 2 to 4 months. These trade schools provide a practical experience of what it takes to be a travel agent, and they include instructions on airport codes and gate procedures, computer reservation systems, cruise and tour operations.
- College Degree-: A college degree gives an intending travel agent an edge over his or her colleagues in the same industry. The degree can be in travel and tourism, hospitality, business, communications, human resources, and accounting.
- Certificates-: Time spent either training or taking a professional course can help agents get a job quickly. Certifications can be from between a month, to two years.
In United Kingdom
- GCSE-: This is the minimum requirement, before one can become a junior level agent.
- Induction Course-: This is a course that will serve to enhance the selling skills of an agent, as well as the product knowledge, before they can be given customer responsibilities.
- BTEC/National Diplomas/HND and HNCs-: These are school degrees that could be taken by agents who want to rank higher during their entry into the industry. The diplomas could be in Travel and Tourism Management.
- Postgraduate Qualifications-: This is optional, and can be taken to enhance one’s educational degree or prepare for a management role.
- Travel Training Program-: This is an apprenticeship program, in which there is a combination of work placements, and structured training.
- Year 10, 11 or 12: This is the basic entry educational requirement, for travel agents.
- Certificate III/IV: This is a basic post educational secondary qualification that is used for further education and training, and usually doesn’t have a firm duration.
- Bachelor Degree: This is a standard qualification that is recognized, and takes 3 or 4 years to complete.
- Diploma, Advanced Diploma, and Associate Degree: Takes 1 to 3 years to complete.
- Diploma of Collegial Studies (DCS) in Tourism: This is a post-secondary qualification and is usually for adults of over 21.
- Bachelor Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management: This a degree that is to the advantage of the travel counselor, as it enables him or her go for management/supervisory roles.
Is a Professional Certificate Needed to Become a Travel Agent?
Yes, in most cases, a professional certification or training is needed before one can become a travel agent, or before one can advance. The certifications can either be done online, or in person and is to ensure that the person can put into practice, all that they learned in school. They are:
- In USA
Global Travel Professionals (GTP) Certification, this is a certificate that recognizes the development of core competence as regards the business management, needed to raise awareness about the industry.
- In the UK
Level 1 Certificate/Diploma, this is for those with little or no experience in the travel industry and wishes to understand and work in the travel and tourism sector. Entry requirement is 4 GCSEs.
- In Australia
Certificate III in Tourism (Retail Travel Sales), which is aimed at ensuring the student understands cultural expectations, and the wider functions of tourism. This is a 19 weeks program. There are no entry requirements, for this certificate.
Certificate IV in Tourism, this will enable the student work in a more senior role in the travel sector. Before one can take this course, he or she has to have been formally assessed through a training program, or have the relevant employment experience, in travel and tourism industry.
- In Canada
Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE), is for travel veterans and professionals, especially those who wish to go for a management, or leadership role. Entry requirements include, at least five years of travel industry experience, a notarized certification form.
To become a CTIE designate, candidates must pass a proctored test within a year, which is based on the program’s core institute, and must also submit a white paper or project, on an approved topic. The program runs for a year.
How Much Does it Cost to Get the Certifications to Become a Travel Agent?
- In the United States, the cost for a GTP course will cost $300 for members and $400 for non-members.
- In the United Kingdom, the Level 1 Certificate course will cost £1,200.
- In Australia, the cost for a Certificate III in tourism is $2,790, while that of Certificate IV in Tourism is $1,820.
- In Canada, the CTIE certification program costs $560
Can You Get a Travel Agent’s Training Online?
Yes, there are online travel agent schools and colleges that offer programs. Before anyone can become a travel agent he or she must have completed the prerequisites like high school diploma, school certificate, or equivalent. Also, the decision on what type of agent you want to be depends on whether you want to have an agency, be an independent agent, or a home-based travel agent.
This would determine the kind of courses to be taken, and to know if the online school has been accredited. In Canada, most of them offer only certificate and associate degree programs. After successfully completing a program, students can also obtain the, national travel agent certification, online. In Australia, diploma courses, and certification courses are offered online.
Career Opportunities Opened to a Travel Agent
- Event Organizer-: An event organizer is an individual who ensures that an event is scheduled, smoothly run, and reported. An event organizer is responsible for an event from the start to finish, and ensures that any difficulty is resolved.
- Customer Service Manager (CSM)-: A CSM is one who ensures that the needs of a customer or client are satisfactorily met by providing excellent service to customers. Also, they ensure that the organization they work for does it as well.
- Hotel Manager-: This is someone who manages the operations, in a hotel or any lodging related establishment. A hotel manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of the hotel and staff.
- Marketing Executive-: A marketing executive is an individual who coordinates the project of clients either in person, or over the telephone. His relationship with the client is very important, and must be harmonious for the good of the organization.
- Education Teacher-: Due to their knowledge in subjects like Geography, history, culture and government, travel agents can become education managers. An education teacher is a person who is responsible for the planning, organizing, and coordination of educational approaches, and strategies, as well as curriculum and resources, development.
- Outdoor activities/education manager-:This is an individual that is responsible for outdoor sports and activities like climbing, mountaineering, horse climbing, cycling, and water sports etc. They usually run centers that offer such classes and facilities.
Skills You Must Have to Become a Successful Travel Agent
- Service Orientation Skill-: This means looking for active ways by which people can be helped.
- Speech clarity-: A travel agent must speak to others in a clear way such that they understand the information that is being conveyed and then act on such information effectively.
- Active Listening Skill-: Travel agents must listen to clients, colleagues, and supervisors, to understand what it is they are being asked to do, or how best to reply to an inquiry.
- Persuasion Skill-: A travel agent must possess persuasive skills that will ensure that he or she can change a client’s attitude or behaviour towards an information, or idea.
- Judgment and Decision Making Skill-: A travel agent must have a good sense of judgment, especially when circumstances arise. Sometimes, a business client’s flight might be delayed, and a travel agent who has a good sense of judgment should be able to make alternative plans even before the client calls.
- Active Learning-: A travel agent must understand the implications of new information, either gotten online or sent by a supplier, so as to effectively apply, to both current and futuristic problem-solving and decision-making that might arise.
- Memory retention-: A travel agent must be able to retain the knowledge that has been garnered from various researches and bring them to bear, especially to a client who might be in need of such information.
- Organization and Coordination Skill-: A travel agent deals with dozens of itineraries. It is therefore imperative, that there is no mix up; and also that deadlines are met.
Tips and Advice That Can Help Advance your Career as a Travel Agent
- Networking-: No travel agent can get by without clients. It is through clients that agents are able to sell products and services. Networking is the expansion of one’s social and business contacts by making connections through individuals. Travel agents can start networking from their family and friends, by being the go-to as regards information as regards, travel, destinations, and places.
- Be well traveled-: Travel agents have to be well traveled, so that they could sell the idea to someone else and remain passionate while doing so. Being well traveled also means that they see things through the eyes of their clients and are also able to dispense invaluable first-hand information as regards services and places.
- Becoming a destination specialist-: In order to advance, an agent can decide to specialize in certain areas that appeal to them. This can be done by concentrating for instance, on specific locations, like the Caribbean; specific travels like tours, cruises, price focused travel like affordable or luxury accommodations, or travel groups based on lifestyle and hobbies.
- Effective use of social media-: Due to the explosion of the internet, travel agents can make use of social media as a way of advancing their careers, by helping out distressed users, giving out information and replying to inquiries. A social media presence ensures that the impact of the agent is felt by others.
- Speak and understand a foreign language-: This is not essential, but is an added advantage to travel agents, especially those that can speak more than one.