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The Perks of Becoming an Independent Travel Agent

iStock_000004001793SmallImagine taking trips to breathtaking locales, getting deep discounts and tax breaks and loving every minute of it. In a sense, this is the life of a professional travel agent. In addition to earning a living and helping their clients arrange trips and vacations, travel agents can earn travel discounts for hotel stays, car rentals, cruises and tours.

While many travel agents work for travel agencies, some make the choice to strike out on their own or open their own business. Often, this choice is related to an agent’s desire to set his or her own hours and determine the other conditions of their own employment. If you decide to become a travel agent‎, keep in mind that it is a career that may have relatively low start-up costs, but building a regularly traveling client base is essential to long-term success.

Now You Can Become a Travel Agent and Work From Home

Prior to the Internet revolution, when people wanted to go somewhere they made arrangements through their local travel agent. At that time, most agents worked out of storefront offices that could provide the proprietary data links necessary to perform the job.

 

Then, about ten years ago, as booking trips became easier on the Internet and travel started to be seen as more of a commodity, travelers began to work on their own. In the ensuing years, however, more people are taking longer and more complex trips or simply no longer wish to deal with the hassle of working directly with travel suppliers. While traditional agencies may never return to pre-Internet levels, the travel industry is stabilizing, and many agents are able to make a nice living with perks working as home-based travel agents.

Many of these agents now specialize in particular niches. This expertise gives the agents credibility and provides incentives for travelers by being able to answer questions and provide suggestions that websites or large booking centers are unable or unwilling to provide. In this industry, more than any other, clients really appreciate the personal touch.

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Do You Have What It Takes To Start Your Own Travel Business?

Running a business requires dedication and the ability to learn new skills. Not only will you need to read and stay up to date on travel information, location advisories, industry trends and different travel destinations, but you’ll also need general business skills. You’ll be wearing many different hats. After all, someone has to handle administrative duties, marketing, sales and customer service.

When you’re considering starting your own travel business, be sure to ask yourself:

  • Do you enjoy problem solving?
  • Are you persuasive with effective selling skills?
  • Do you have any help?

A Simple Way To Start Your Own Travel Business That Works For Experienced Agents And “Newbies” Alike

Whether you’re new to the travel industry, or you’re an experienced agent looking to strike out on your own, but don’t know where to start, consider affiliating with a host agency. If you don’t have travel agency experience or otherwise can’t meet certain eligibility requirements, you won’t be able to obtain industry accreditations, making starting your own business more difficult. A host agency can provide you with some of the resources to make your job easier, such as global distribution system licences, ARC and IATAN accreditation or handling your personal commission payroll and taxes.

Some Essential Characteristics to Look for in a Host Agency Include:

  • The length of time the agency has been in business
  • Ongoing training and support provided
  • Help generating leads
  • Errors and omissions insurance
  • Favorable commissions and overrides
  • Full access to GDS for experienced agents
  • Point and click booking engines for non-GDS users

According to the American Society of Travel Agents, this past year many travel agencies reported an increase in revenue, transactions and number of clients. If you’re considering a career in the exciting travel industry, now is a great time to get started.

This blog article was up-dated 6/3/2015

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