Making the decision to become a Travel Advisor is not an easy decision for most to make.
To start, there are many unknowns.
I want to be a Travel Advisor, how do I get started?
Let’s start with the first question. How do I get started? I have been in those shoes and was overwhelmed with that, what I thought was a complex question, and in the end, the answer is quite simple. You just decide you want to do it!
In reality, there is no special training or education you must have. Depending on the state or province you live in, there may be some licensing or certifications needed, but in general, you can pretty much put up a sign and say “I’m now a Travel Advisor”.
Now, does that make you successful? No. You do need more than that to become a successful Travel Advisor. We’ll discuss more about what it takes to become a successful Travel Advisor later in this post.
Do I need an education to be a Travel Advisor?
No, you don’t NEED and education. But, does an education help? Of course, it helps, but by no means is it mandatory, nor is it a guarantee. I have found the most successful Travel Advisors have a true passion for travel, are a “people person”, have good writing skills, are creative, have excellent customer service skills and willing to work hard… very hard; this is not a 9-5 job!
I’ve met a lot of Travel Advisors with a background in education, law, sales, marketing and even medicine!
Do I need to be well-traveled to be a Travel Advisor?
Regarding, “Do I need to be well-travelled to become a Travel Advisor” gets a little tricky to answer. Ideally, yes, you should be well-travelled; but again, that is not mandatory. Your lack of travel can be easily compensated by your passion for travel and your passion to learn about new destinations, your excellent customer service, your people skills and your determination to succeed. Will it be easy, maybe not, but if you have the passion and the drive, you will succeed. I have met many successful Travel Advisors who got into the business without a solid travel background and became hugely successful, mainly due to their passion, drive and commitment.
This may be the trickiest question of all. In the end, being a Travel Advisor is akin to being a salesperson in the sense you are working on commission (as well, we recommend you charge a planning/consultation/service fee). The drawback to this is there are not guarantees. The positive though, is there are no limits to how much you can make. In the end, the harder and smarter you work, the more you will make!
This is the second trickiest question to answer as there is no guaranteed formula. I’ll talk a bit about generalities and a bit about specifics.
In general, as mentioned before, a passion for travel, drive and commitment are essential to becoming a successful Travel Advisor. So is the belief (and practice) that taking care of your clients and doing what is right for them is at the forefront of everything you do. Emergencies and issues don’t happen just during business hours, you must be willing (and able) to take care of your clients in the evenings, on the weekends, during the holidays and maybe even when YOU are on vacation!
This may sound like a big commitment and it is. But the rewards are so great, it makes it all worth it. If you are like me, taking care of a client in distress, solving their issues and recusing them and/or their trip, is, in itself, a big reward!
More specific things you need to be a successful Travel Advisor are a niche, good potential clients and probably most importantly, choosing the right host agency to be your partner.
We will tackle each of these one at a time.
Niche: what is your niche going to be? Honeymoons? Family Trips? Italy? Cruises? Safari? Business Travel? Luxury Travel?
The good thing is, you can start with one niche and as you learn and experience more or as your client’s needs change, you can move or expand into a new speciality or niche. I have seen many people who started in business/corporate travel and moved into the luxury side of the business. Others started with a specialization in honeymoons and transitioned into family travel as their clients’ families grew.
Good Potential Clients: Do you have potential clients? And if so, are they “good” potential clients? Depending on your niche, people you know may or may not be “good” potential clients. If you want to specialize in safaris, do you have potential clients that are actually interested in safaris? If you want to specialize in honeymoons, so you have potential clients that are getting married or at least in that typical age range for marriage? And, if you want to specialize in luxury travel, do you have potential clients that we willing to spend on a luxury trip?
Before you make the decision to become a Travel Advisor, you should make sure you have a good base of potential clients. Without a good base to start, you can still be successful, it just can be more of a challenge.
Choosing the Right Host Agency: Choosing the right host agency is probably the most important decision you will make as you get ready to start your new career! What is right for others may not be right for you and vice versa.
The first thing I would look at is what is your niche and the niche of the host agency. Do you want to specialize in cruises, if so, pick a host agency that specializes in cruises? Specialize in safaris? Pick an agency that specializes in a safari. Want to sell all-inclusive resorts? Pick an agency that specializes in all-inclusives. Luxury Travel? Well… you know what I’m going to say!
Should you go with a large agency or a small agency? This is more of a personal choice. You can partner with a large, well-known agency, but you could very well get lost amongst the numbers. And personally, I think your potential clients are more interested in YOU, not who you are signed with.
A smaller agency typically can offer you more support and hands-on mentoring. Talking as someone who learned the hard way and started with a big company which offered the tiniest bit of support, I know it is extremely important to sign-on with a company that is small enough to support and mentor their Advisors.
With that said, it is imperative they are largest enough to offer you everything a host agency should offer you to be successful: partnerships with the companies you want to sell (be sure to check out all our partners!), experience in the industry (especially the niche area you are interested in), contacts and great relationships in the industry, offer training and mentoring; marketing and support. You should know that your host agency is there for you, to help you grow and succeed.
In the end, picking the right host agency from the start can be the beginning of a relationship that if done right, will last for decades.
Still interested? Let’s look at the real perks and benefits of being a Travel Advisor
Is now, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, a good time to become a Travel Advisor?
I would be lying if I were to say that now is the best time to become a Travel Advisor. But with that said, I think now is really a great time to become a Travel Advisor or at least, to start the transition to your new career.
During this downtime, you will have the opportunity to learn the business, start making contacts (both within the industry and with potential clients). You can get your “office” set up and prepare for when the floodgates open and everyone will be traveling again. Once travel starts again, there will be so much pent up demand, that everyone is going to be extremely busy! Ask yourself, when people start traveling again, do you want to just be getting started and learning or do you want to be ready to start planning and booking great trips? The future is yours, what do you want to make of it?
We look forward to hearing from you,
Executive Vice President