Why the Timing is Right – Become a Travel Agent

Why the sudden surge in interest for the travel industry? Here are a few facts to consider when looking at a travel career as a career option.

Here are the facts:

Travel is a $7 Trillion dollar industry expected to double to $14 Trillion within the next decade.
This lucrative industry is currently growing 23% faster than the global economy.
A key factor in this growth phenomenon is the stream of baby boomers that are retiring, or getting ready to retire.
Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 1 every 8 seconds.
Travel was rated the number one thing these baby boomers intend to do when they do retire.

When considering a career in the travel industry, there are several options available for those looking to work from home.

There is an increased demand for qualified travel agents, due to the explosive growth of the industry as a whole. To become a certified travel agent, your options are not limited to the traditional brick and mortar setting. Many reputable travel agencies now offer options for the individual looking for a legitimate home based business.

While doing your due diligence in researching whether this industry is a fit for you, consider that there are excellent income opportunities available to work from home.

If your goal is to work as an independent travel agent from the comfort of your own home, consider working as an online travel agent.

Here are some companies that you can research, that offer excellent training. Some of the companies will hire you as an employee, while others offer the freedom of being your own boss, and setting your own hours.

Do your due diligence!

Research each company carefully, and make it a priority to understand the compensation plan.
Know what training is available, and whether the company will offer you the opportunity to become certified.
Does the company have IATA, IATAN, ARC and CLIA affiliations?
What is the initial investment? Are there additional costs associated for licensing, or becoming certified?
If you are considering a work at home position, what kind of support is offered?

Are you a right fit for the travel industry?

Lets break down the qualifications that will determine whether you are suited for this challenging, but rewarding career.

Travel agents should have a minimum of a high school diploma.

Travel agents should have a love for travel. Enthusiasm and a love for working with people are crucial elements for success in this industry.

Travel agents should possess excellent multi-tasking and organization skills.

Great communication skills, as well as computer skills are essential.

Travel agents should possess a professional, courteous demeanor when working with suppliers, and the general public.

Attention to detail and accuracy are very important. Some sales ability is very helpful as well.

Now, the benefits of becoming a travel agent

The benefits of becoming a travel agent are many. I have listed the top three.

Travel agents save up to 80% on travel to many of the worlds exclusive resorts and destinations. These discounts include, but are not limited to:

Complimentary upgrades Hotel room upgrades and discounts

Car rental discounts and upgrades

Cruises

Theme park discounts

Vacation Packages

FAM trips, also known as familiarization trips. Suppliers want travel agents to have first hand knowledge of their facilities, so that the travel agent can make a recommendation based on personal knowledge and first hand experience.

The supplier will offer discounts and other perks, and roll out the red carpet to ensure the travel professional has an outstanding time.

Tax Benefits for individuals who chose to do this profession as an independent travel agent. Consult your CPA or tax professional for more information regarding this benefit.

Summary: How Do I become a travel agent?

In summary, becoming a travel agent can be a lucrative and rewarding career. Should you decide that you possess the skills and abilities needed for success, you can look forward to a promising career.

Negotiating Rates and Fares With Travel Agents

A whole generation of travelers, it seems, are so conditioned to use the Internet for travel booking that they’re not even sure how a travel agent operates. These travelers use the hunt-and-pick method to find the best rates and fares online. And if that method doesn’t reveal an affordable price, they might start wondering if a travel agent—a real, live person—could whip up a price reduction. Many an agent has received an anonymous phone call from a would-be traveler who wants to negotiate fares and rates.

While agents do have access to unpublished discounts and pre-negotiated travel fares, most do not have the ability to negotiate pricing. Agents do not set travel fares; they quote them. When they find a better price, it usually isn’t because they lowered the fare to get your business; it’s because they literally found a lower price.

There are exceptions, of course. Every agency has different policies, and some agencies allow their agents to make a case for offering discounted fares in certain situations. To get the lower fares approved, the agent would probably have to present a competing bid that’s lower and make a strong argument for why the fare should be discounted. To be clear, this type of discount comes out of the agent’s and the agency’s commission. So the agent and agency would need a very good reason for even considering it. At a minimum, the standard commission on the vacation in question needs to be sizeable and the customer must be strategically important in some way.

In other words, a $29 hotel rate is not negotiable.

When you ask an agent to negotiate, you are essentially asking the agent to subsidize your vacation—the same way a newly engaged couple might ask the groom’s dad to fund part of the honeymoon. Many agents will respond to these requests by saying, “I’ll see what I can do.” And then the agent will search, often successfully, for a lower fare.

Real stories from the trenches

Every agent has her own set of stories involving customers who misunderstand how travel agents operate. Here are a few of ours:

Customer finds a below-market rate for a hotel room during an event weekend through our online travel agency. The customer books the room online, but does not select the right room type. The customer calls the week before the event and asks to switch the reservation to a larger room at the same room rate. Unfortunately, the hotel did not have any larger rooms left. We could not remedy the lack of rooms at the first hotel, but we did locate another room at a different hotel.
Customer calls and asks for a discounted rate on a hotel in Cabo. The dates and hotel choice were not flexible. We find the discounted rate, at a prepay rate. The customer says great, he’ll take the rate, but not a prepay basis. Hotels, like airlines, do offer discounted rates for prepaying customers. Generally, an agent can’t book a prepay rate for payment-on-arrival.
Customer calls and says she’s found a travel agent rate at a resort and would like us to book her vacation at that rate. Travel agent rates are for agents traveling; anyone booking under such a rate would have to show agent identification to the hotel or resort upon check-in. An agent cannot book a travel agent rate under someone else’s name, nor can an agent buy the room at that rate and then resell it to a customer.

The gist of it is this: agents can save you money on your vacations and business travel, but sometimes there are limitations to what they can accomplish.

(c) Catherine Brock