The reality is that the world has become a smaller place. As a result of increased competition and access to so much information online, travel has become accessible to everyone. This means that educated and professional travel advisors are in high demand to weed through the endless void of options (and possible scams). The fact that us agents can also pass along a lot of our perks to the clients is just the cherry on top! As someone who employs almost 200 travel consultants and has been in the businesses for 25 years now, I know the value that a great agent can bring to the table.
Special travel agent rates are available to anyone with an IATA number on a wide variety of travel products/services. IATA numbers are identification numbers issued by the International Air Transport Association. They grant discounted rates and special access to deals and promotional materials. If you work in an agency, either in-office or home-based, you receive access to the agency IATA number. While the rates are designed to provide agents with a built-in commission on all they sell, they can also be used as an automatic discounted rate for travel agents booking for themselves.
Even if there isn’t a possibility to use your IATA number “officially”, you can also use it to prove you are an agent and often receive heavily discounted (maybe even complimentary) stays at hotels around the world. Hotels and hospitality chains are happy to extend discounts to agents with the hope that they will enjoy their stay and recommend it to their customers. The rates are typically based on season and availability however, and will require some flexibility in travel plans.
You can also attend “FAM” trips, or familiarization trips, which are offered to travel agents in hopes of creating a personal relationship with properties and destinations around the world. Governmental tourism boards, hotel companies, tour operators and airlines provide a certain amount of all-expenses paid trips to a select group of top selling and large agency travel agents each year. The trips are meant to impress the agents so that they are excited to sell the destination or product. The trips are typically offered in the agent’s areas of expertise so that they are not wasted on someone who is unlikely to sell the destination in the future. Not only do you get to travel to new and exciting places, you also get to do so with like-minded people. You’ll meet fellow travel agents, who are presumably interested in similar destinations as you, and network within the industry… hopefully making some friends from around the world while you’re at it!
The chance to see the world for a lighter price tag leads many people to choose a career as a travel agent.
The travel perks above aren’t just for the agent though. The greatest part of being an agent is being able to offer your client discounts and perks as well, that they would have normally never had access to.
Here’s an real-world example:
“A search of online travel sites for a three-night refundable stay this October at Le Royal Monceau, in Paris, one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, turned up an average price of $930 a night without any additional amenities such as breakfast.
Now, a la carte breakfast at the hotel can easily run more than $100 for two people. Times that by number of days of your vacation, and that’s a lot of money on coffee and croissants.
Skylark, a luxury travel advisory part of the Virtuoso network, was able to get a nightly rate of $832 at the hotel for the same dates.
But that’s not all: Travelers who booked their stay through Skylark would receive a guaranteed room upgrade at the time of booking, daily breakfast, a sizable welcome amenity such as a bottle of champagne, $100 food and beverage credit and a late 4 p.m. check-out.
Skylark’s CEO and co-founder, Paul Tumpowsky, estimates about $400 worth of freebies in this booking.”
Mobility and Relocation
Travel agents can apply their skills and knowledge to nearly any destination, a factor that allows you to be extremely mobile with the ability to relocate in this career. World travel experience and time spent abroad are both assets which increase the value of a travel agent in the eyes of travel companies and customers alike. This wanderlust gives travel agents a freedom of mobility unavailable in many other jobs, especially if you work for a host-agency from home (aka from the beach).
CNN recently stated: “Unlike the past when advisors traditionally worked out of a brick-and-mortar storefront and had mostly local clients, today’s advisors are more likely to work virtually and have clients all over the world.”
Doing What You Love
One of the driving forces behind many travel agent careers is a passion for the job. Getting paid to work in a field that you love is a priceless perk. Passionate agents can convey their love of a destination better than those who are just doing it for the money. This enthusiasm is often transferred to the client who is then more likely to take the trip, enjoy the experience and appreciate the agent’s opinions and input. Very few people get to do what they love on a daily basis and make a living doing so. Travel agents value this aspect of the position.
Here’s what some Travel Best Bets agents had to say about their careers:
“I absolutely love being a travel agent! I get to wake up every day and help people from all walks of life plan their dream vacations, bucket list adventures and annual winter getaways. It is definitely a fun ever-growing career to work in, you are always learning and never bored. I wouldn’t want to do anything else! Not to mention the industry PERKS to boot!” – Lianna
“Why do I love my job? Because I get to work in a super fun industry! If you like fun challenges and travel is your jam, then obviously being a travel consultant means spending your time doing exactly what you love doing – researching and planning travel.
Imagine the smile on your client’s face when they return from a truly memorable trip, who wouldn’t want to be a travel agent?!” -Breanna
“The reason I went into the travel industry is to experience and encounter all of the different cultures first hand. Through living in Vancouver, one of the most diverse cities in North America, I have met people from all over the world and I have always been curious about where they come from. Therefore, being in the travel industry has given me the ability (perks!) to travel where my heart desires. I get to share my personal experiences from these places while also discovering and learning about new ones through my clients, catching glimpse of what else there is to see and do in our world.” -Yumi
Be Your Own Boss
The Industry is Booming
The demand for travel professionals is booming. With travel becoming more and more accessible and experiences becoming more and more valuable, there will always be a client. Especially as our digital world is heavily saturated with never-ending options for transportation, accommodation and activities, people often need a vacation after planning their vacation!
The number of travel agents is on the rise, and so are their salaries. It’s not unheard of to make $60 or $80 or even $100K, and corporate agents earn an average salary and benefits package of more than $118,000.
Get Started Anytime
Unlike many other careers that require 4-year degrees or a minimum of 5-years experience, there is no official certification to become a travel agent but there are lots of options to get you on track. Many industry suppliers (such as cruise lines, hotel chains, airlines, etc.) offer free online training through their websites. Note that sometimes you need to be an active agent to enroll though- in which case your best bet would be to join a host agency first. These courses all only offer a look into that supplier’s product/service though, so while you may become an expert in say, Royal Caribbean Cruises, you won’t have the full scope of everything needed to fully plan and book the trip.
If you only want to focus on selling one product really well, like Royal Caribbean Cruises, then you can apply to join Connected Agents today. If you are accepted (you don’t need to have travel experience), you will be given access to available supplier courses and/or webinars that will teach you the basics of said product.
However if you want to learn how to plan, sell and book every aspect of travel, then you can enroll for Travel Best Bets Academy today. In as little as 2 months, you will be fully up-to-date with industry standards and can then either join Connected Agents, any other home-based agency of your choice, or apply for in-office agency positions.
Whether you decide to work/study with Travel Best Bets or not, I encourage all of you considering a career or lifestyle change to look into the travel industry 🙂
There is truly nothing else like it!