If you love to travel and want to help others plan their dream vacations, becoming a Travel Agent might be the perfect career for you. And the good news is, you don’t necessarily need any prior experience to get started!
I started planning Disney World vacations when I was an Executive Assistant years ago. The only experience I had consisted of planning vacations for myself and offering advice to my friends and family. I had a strong knowledge of theme parks and a dream to make money using my know-how.
I ended up taking a Travel Agent course that was fairly spendy and although it was a great experience, I don’t believe it was necessary to begin my career.
As it turns out, becoming a Travel Agent requires two skills:
- Travel Knowledge
That’s all you need! Go. Live your dreams!
Well, that’s almost all you need. It’s true you don’t need a degree or formal training to become a Travel Agent. You will need to join a Host Agency or Brick and Mortar agency. Joining either will give you the resources and support needed to book vacations and earn a commission. (I suggest you read about the differences between the two types of agencies here and sign up for my free Travel Agent course to learn more!)
Now, some agencies will require some type of work background to be onboarded. Other travel companies may only accept Travel Agents who have traveled to certain destinations recently. (Many Disney-based Host Agencies require their Travel Agents to have visited the theme parks in the last few years, for instance.)
Let’s walk through the steps of applying to agencies, selling your current experience, and becoming a Travel Agent with no experience.
Framing Your Skills as a Travel Agent Applicant
Lack of travel doesn’t mean the agency will reject your inquiry and it shouldn’t deter you from trying. There are many companies that don’t require travel or experience. Most often, agencies are seeking people who show interest in selling packages and are knowledgeable.
The process usually starts with an online application then someone from the team will contact you for a quick call. The “interview” process is typically more of a Q and A where they will ask some questions about your background. This interview will also give you the chance to ask about the agency.
Further, most Host Agencies only employ 1099 contractors. This means the Travel Agents are freelancers, paid a commission, and are not given benefits. The commission is generally cut so the agency receives a small portion in exchange for the resources provided to the Travel Agents. This may sound like a deterrent but it also means you have the freedom to create your own schedule and lifestyle. Generally, the agencies don’t require set hours or commission caps. It also means that Host Agencies are fairly liberal with their application requirements. Hiring more Travel Agents means more packages booked, which means more commission cuts for the agency.
That’s all to say that you don’t need an amped-up resume with 10 years of travel planning experience and loads of travel under your belt. And, any agencies that do require some experience can be satisfied with other work or volunteer experience. There are ways to highlight your current skills should you find an agency that asks for these requirements!
Travel Planning Skills and Knowledge
You can easily showcase your planning skills by highlighting what vacations you’ve planned in the past. It’s especially valuable if you have experience planning other people’s vacations, even as a hobby. You should also consider what niche you would like to focus on when it’s time to find clients. Do you know a lot about cruises, African safaris, or Disney World vacations? Great! Be sure to mention that you already know what niche you will focus on.
During my interview, I used an example of how I built Disney World itineraries to optimize a client’s time in theme parks. I also talked about how I know the details of every Disney World resort and how this helped me personalize booking recommendations.
Conveying this knowledge is a great way to showcase your knowledge and love for travel.
Sales experience can be very useful for a career in the travel industry. You will have an easier time converting prospective clients. It will also be useful when offering your clients room upgrades or other add-ons to their packages. These upgrades usually give you a higher commission as well.
Sales experience doesn’t necessarily mean direct sales either. Retail and service industry workers help customers make buying decisions and it means you have developed people skills!
Side Note: You should only push to sell products that you believe will make your client’s vacation better. Do not push them to purchase expensive rooms or fancy excursions that are out of their budget. Your clients will appreciate your honesty and will choose to use you for future vacations. Earning repeat customers and referrals should always be your main priority!
Save it for later!