Travel consultant, travel agent, travel planner, travel concierge. Whatever you call it, more and more people are considering a career in travel sales these days for a myriad of reasons, including flexibility, earning potential, a love of travel, and more.
Combining a love of travel and the ability to be your own boss is a recipe for an attractive career, and with demand for travel rebounding to levels never seen before, not even at the industry’s peak in 2019 , there are nearly endless opportunities for both. new and current travel advisors.
But how much does it cost to start selling trips? The answer is hard to come by, but those who have made the trip might provide some answers.
In a survey of 218 currently operating travel advisors, TMR found that advisors, whether experienced or new to travel, generally report that the costs of becoming an advisor, especially those who work from home without a physical location, are weak.
The survey asked advisors “approximately what investment have you made in your business in the first two years of operation, not including expenses for a brick-and-mortar location?”
Nearly 50% of advisors (104) surveyed said it cost them less than $5,000 to become a travel advisor. Another 21% (46 respondents) said it cost them between $5,000 and $10,000 and 18% (40) said it cost them between $10,000 and $20,000.
Only 28 of 218 advisors surveyed said it cost them more than $20,000 to get started in the business and of those 28, only 3 said it cost them more than $100,000 in total.
When asked what advice they would give to those interested in the cost career, the results were essentially the same. Almost 40% (87 of 218) said it would cost less than $5,000 and almost 29% said it would cost between $5,000 and $10,000. The only other answer above 10% was $10,000 to $20,000.
A large majority of advisors who responded to the survey had more than 10 years of experience in the company (170 out of 218).
Low barriers to entry are both good and bad for the industry
Diane Petras, President of the Travel Institute, one of the best-known platforms for attracting new talent to the industry and then training them, recently spoke to TMR about the phenomenon of new entrants to the industry.
When it comes to how much it costs to simply “become” a travel agent or travel consultant, the answer follows what TMR found.
“There’s no barrier to entry unless you’re in a state that requires a travel vendor license,” Petras said. “It’s true that you can hang a shingle and say ‘I’m a travel agent’.”
Advisors speaking to TMR also said the upfront cost, whether it’s getting a travel license vendor or spending money on an introductory training course or membership in a group or to a host, was more time consuming than real money – the time it takes to figure out which route you should take as an agent far outweighed the monetary cost.
Petras added that just starting a travel agency or becoming a consultant doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. In fact, she added, “the hardest thing to understand about travel is knowing how you make money” and figuring out what skills you need to keep making money. and boost business along the way. Being labeled as an advisor can help you sell trips, but there’s a lot more to success.
“Getting into this industry isn’t difficult, but maybe taking the next steps to becoming those kind of very successful people…that’s the challenge for a lot of those people.”
It’s both a blessing and a curse to have such a low barrier to entry into travel sales. Obviously, this allows the industry to attract a wider range of people who may not have the funds to start a high-cost business.
However, on the other hand, it attracts people who may not initially be qualified to represent the craft or interested in taking the time and investment to do so.
“When you enter the travel industry, the two passions you need are a passion for traveling and a passion for learning,” Petras said. “I think when you have those two things, you’ll see an opportunity and that’s what will make you successful.”
Not everyone who starts selling travel will want to become a multimillion-dollar agency owner, and that’s fine, Petras said, but there’s still an investment to be made after that low-cost barrier to entrance. It all comes down to training, a journey that some counselors choose to undertake on their own or through a host group or consortium, and then to learning.
“You have to understand what you’re trying to accomplish, have a business plan, understand the finances, and then follow through,” Petras said.
For more, check out 8 Things Longtime Travel Agents Wish They Knew When They Started.