As the travel industry braces for a boom, there has never been a greater need for travel counselors.
As the pandemic abates, the desire to travel has never been greater, but traveling, especially internationally, has become much more complex.
Following the “Great Resignation” many people are looking for new careers, especially those looking for an opportunity to work from home or take advantage of a flexible schedule. For ambitious entrepreneurs, becoming a travel consultant can be a perfect way to set yourself apart.
âBecoming a travel agent today is more important than at any time in our travel history,â said Tammy Levent, President of TASK. “Travelers will need a sense of direction as they have not been informed of online reservations, they are nervous, they are worried and most importantly they do not know how or what to book.”
For those who wish to start a career in travel sales, there are many different avenues to achieve this goal.
In fashion now
Where to start
Education is going to be the key, and there are many options available to people who are just starting out.
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is an organization that brings together travel counselors and travel professionals through education and advocacy. ASTA offers an online training course to promote careers in the travel agency industry and to help new advisors.
âAs anyone in the industry will tell you, working as a travel consultant is a fun, rewarding and potentially lucrative career path,â said Zane Kerby, President and CEO of ASTA. âWith increasingly complicated travel in a post-COVID environment and the industry recovery underway, now is a great time to consider a career as a travel consultant. Our new roadmap to becoming a travel counselor will help people embark on this path to a real dream job. “
ASTA’s roadmap will guide potential advisors through several topics, including an in-depth overview of the travel industry and its building blocks; a guide on how travel counselors make money; and advice on finding a job or starting your own business.
There is a lot to learn for those who just got their feet wet in the travel industry.
The Travel Institute offers the TRIPKIT Introductory Training Program. TRIPKIT Online is similar to a one-year college course that includes real-world agent experiences and explains industry terminology, key areas of travel such as air and ground transportation, accommodation, tours and more. Course information also includes information on cruises, marketing, geography, and tips for a successful independent entrepreneur business.
TRIPKIT is available entirely online and offers an interactive study plan at your own pace with immersive and flexible learning options. The Travel Institute also provides advanced certifications to travel counselors.
Aspiring advisors who really want to boost their entrepreneurial success can take their training even further.
One is to use TASK, the Travel Agent Success Kit, developed by Tammy Levent, founder of Elite Travel, an award-winning national travel agency. Levent shares his secrets to success as well as expert advice through his in-depth training program that gives advisors the hands-on experience they need to successfully run their own businesses.
Levent takes the pulse of the industry and is able to share his knowledge and success to help newcomers to the industry or looking to set up independent agencies.
âToday, the travel agent will not only need to know what to book, but also how to deliver this safe and secure experience to customers,â said Levent. âTherefore, they have to know not only the destination, but what the destination has to offer, how can I make it a unique experience even if they are going to the same destination. stand out. “
TASK has many facets, including a series of do-it-yourself videos; TASK Preparation, practical training program; TASK Live, a travel agent brain event that teaches seasoned professionals how to grow their business; TASK Consulting, which helps agents dive even deeper into building a successful business; and more.
Hospitality agencies and franchises
Depending on the entrepreneurial spirit of a budding travel counselor, they may decide to go it alone or partner with a hospitality agency. Hospitality agencies can streamline the process of becoming a travel counselor by providing in-house training, marketing assistance, and even live leads.
In the most basic terms, hospitality agencies work as a partner of travel counselors, providing resources such as marketing, training, access to software, and sales support in exchange for a commission sharing. Franchises are more of a âbusiness in a boxâ where franchisees receive 100% of their commission but pay a fee to the franchisor.
Host Agency Reviews (HAR) is a great place for new advisors to start learning the ins and outs of hospitality agencies and franchises. The website connects advisors with host agencies, franchises, consortia and industry events, and provides important information about the travel industry through its blog and podcast.
New travel counselors can start with HAR’s seven-day Setup Challenge or browse its extensive directory of hospitality agencies, franchises and consortia.
One of the benefits of partnering with a host or purchasing a franchise is free education. Many hospitality agencies and franchisors offer their own training platforms which train them in their internal tools and provide training to the sector.
How long does it take to become a travel counselor?
As the pandemic begins to subside, many prospect advisers may wonder if it’s too late to play. According to Levent, travel counselors should give themselves at least six months to be operational.
âThey need to get ready for 2023,â said Levent, who uses the example of destination weddings to set the tone for the travel boom to come.
âYes, 2022 will have a few trips, but I just attended three wedding shows and the majority of couples were getting married in 2023, which means they skip completely next year,â she noted.
âThis is the time to set up their business, market and advertise and decide what they are going to sell and develop their brand and niche,â Levent said. âIt all takes about six months to acquire to become an independent travel agent. For starters, they can reach out to ASTA and CCRA for supplier updates and participate in industry events they host nationwide.
After completing initial training, travel counselors have many options to further their education with advanced certificates offered by the Travel Institute, product and destination training from Travel Agent Academy, courses from Cruise Lines International Association and more.
Travel agents can earn advanced certification from the Travel Institute, including recognition as a Certified Travel Associate, Certified Travel Counselor, and Certified Travel Industry Executive. With continuing education opportunities such as those offered by Travel Agent Academy, advisors can acquire continuing education units, learn how to generate more bookings, access special loyalty programs, and become specialists in their chosen niches.