Becoming an Independent Travel Agent
An independent travel agent has her own at-home business. He works full-time or part-time. The travel agent partners with a host agency and earns commissions for all travel packages and deals sold. But before a person can join a host travel agency he must learn about the tourism and the travel industry. This is accomplished by going to travel school. In addition to learning about exotic destinations and different cultures, a student also learns how to make travel arrangements for tourist groups, families and businesspeople. After receiving proper training, he joins a host agency and becomes an independent travel agent.
Go to travel agent school. There are numerous colleges and universities that offer degrees in tourism or certificates in becoming a travel agent. Programs range from classroom work, to correspondence study to online courses. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has a list of member travel schools. The ASTA is a trade association that offers invaluable information about travel and tourism for those employed in the industry. Being trained as a travel agent is not mandatory, but it is very useful in becoming a travel agent. In travel school you learn reservation, sell travel packages, and market your business as an independent travel agent. The minimum level of education you need is high school diploma or its equivalent.
Get certified. You submit an application to get accreditation as a travel agent via the International Air Transport Association (IATA), one of the leading organizations offering membership and accreditation to U.S. travel professionals. Getting an official IATA Certificate of Accreditation will not only help you gain valuable knowledge about the industry, but it will also give you solid credibility.
Go on some travel excursions. Once of the best ways to become a great travel agent is to travel. Having the experience of airplane travel, getting to the hotel and visiting the most famous places are a great way to learn about the customer side of the travel business.
Acquire basic computer skills. Computers are an important part of being a travel agent. Reservations are made on computers, contact is frequently done by email, and research about destination is done online. Knowing basic computer skills including word processing and spreadheets are useful skills to have.
Learn a second language. As more people travel to foreign locations or immigrate to new countries, the number of languages spoken in any city increases. By being bilingual or even trilingual, you can not only increase your customer base, but offer more international travel locations.
Join a host agency. The best route to becoming an independent travel agent is to join a host travel agency. These are many host agencies you can join, but it is usually best to join one that is accredited by the International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN).and/or the Airlines Reporting Commission (ARC). Each host agency operates a little differently, but most require you to pay a fee that can range from a few hundred to a few thousands dollars. You will also need to set up your website. Once you have completing the application process you can start working as an independent travel agent. Some host agencies also offer training programs to help new members get started. You make money from commission earned from people booking hotels, airline reservations and vacation packages on your website.
Market yourself as a travel agent. Once the website is set up, you need to find customers and get traffic to your site. Guerilla Marketing is an advanced form of marketing techniques. There are many books on the subject with numerous ideas on how to market your travel business. There are print and online classified advertising, article marketing, flyers and word of mouth. As you build traffic to your site you will grow your business as an independent travel agent.
How to Become a Travel Agent
Become a Travel Agent
ASTA Member Travel Schools
National Association of Career Travel Agents