Do you love to travel and wonder if you could make a viable career from selling travel? Have you ever typed in the phrase, “ How to become a travel agent” in Google’s search bar hoping to find a list of easy steps? Well, this article is for you.
You are probably familiar with the saying…”The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, but the second-best time is today.”
Well, the exact opposite is true when it comes to the travel industry…actually… the best time to start is TODAY – not 10 years ago and definitely not 2 years ago. 🤦♀️
I was walking the aisles of Travel Marketplace in Toronto last week, reuniting with industry friends I hadn’t seen face-to-face in over two years, and one thing that was clear…
Everybody is hiring right now.
The pandemic was the iceberg
The travel industry was the Titanic
Unlike that fateful voyage, the travel industry did survive, but many travel agents and travel companies did not. And those that did were clutching on to the door for dear life.
(But seriously….Rose so could have moved over and given Jack a spot. Am I wrong?)
And now, here we are…on the other side of it all, and the horizon has never looked brighter. So yeah, today is the best time to jump in and get started if you are thinking about…
How to become a travel agent in 2022
Step one – Decide what type of travel you are going to sell.
Most travel agents of 10 or 20 years ago didn’t have a specialty or a specific market. They sold everything to everybody. And it was a struggle, especially for newer agents who were just starting out. Clients would expect that you knew more about their chosen destination than they did. That’s a fair expectation. When I got to get my teeth extracted, I certainly hope my dentist knows more about the procedure than I do.
But the reality was that it was an impossible expectation. We don’t expect our dentist to know how to do heart surgery.
What ended up happening was that travel agents got a bad reputation. While trying to know it all, they inevitably gave out poor advice, or they took too long to deliver quotations because they were frantically trying to learn on the spot…and stay a few steps ahead of their clients.
A lot of travellers came to the conclusion that they might as well book it themselves since their local agent didn’t seem to know much more than they did.
Well, that was the old way of doing things. Now, the most successful travel advisors pick one travel segment to focus on and learn everything they can about that one narrow area. They know it better than the locals even.
So yeah, you gotta pick your travel specialty – or as the industry refers to it as a travel niche.
Step two – Decide who you are going to sell to.
Of course, you’ll probably be open to selling to anyone, especially when you are just starting your career as a travel agent, However you still want to focus your messaging to attract one specific group of people.
People are more apt to feel drawn to you when they feel you are speaking directly to them – using the words they would normally use, referencing the types of travel they are most interested in.
You might worry…”won’t this alienate some potential buyers and leave me with fewer people to sell to?”
But the exact opposite happens. There are going to be people who naturally connect with you. They’ll feel like you are speaking directly to them in your marketing and as such, when they book their consultation with you, they are already ready to buy.
You’ll still attract people outside of your narrow focus group but selling to them will require a bit more work on your part.
And the people you end up alienating with your marketing, because they just don’t get you at all…well, c’est la vie. They were never your people and you saved both of you some time.
Step three – Choose a host agency
How that you’ve chosen your travel niche and your market, you gotta become legit. Licensing varies from province to province and state to state so you’ll want to check your area for further details. In most cases, you can’t just set up a lemonade stand at the end of your street and start selling airfares to Cuba.
I recommend finding a host.
There are so many host agencies to choose from. Here I offer a detailed guide to help you choose the best one for you. Or, you can reach out to me and I’ll help guide you through the process. There is no perfect host for everyone.
And choosing a host agency isn’t the only way to get started. You can also buy a franchise or get your own accreditation and join a consortium…
But…when you are just getting started, choosing a host is the best bet. This way, you’ll book under their umbrella, and for a fee, they’ll cover the backend accounting and legalities.
Step Four – Get trained on how to become a travel agent
Most host agencies offer their own training programs and some are better than others but you will have to take some initiative and do some self-study to enhance your training program. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to choose a narrower focus.
I’ll assume you’ve probably had some personal travel experience but I bet that when you vacationed, you weren’t looking at the area from the eyes of a specialist.
So it’s time to make a return visit. I can’t think of a better classroom to learn in. Go back and fully immerse yourself. Rent a cheap AirBnB for a month and dive in. Learn everything you possibly can. Speak to the locals. Become an insider.
Step Five – Start building your personal brand
Start building your personal brand today even if you aren’t ready to sign with a host or build your website. Once you have your travel special and your market defined, from this point forward, you need to start thinking like a brand. Consider the tone of voice. Think about your colour palette and your style.
You might be surprised that you’ve already been building your brand for a while and didn’t even realize it. The first day you went on social media, your brand began to take shape.
And if your current personal brand doesn’t match the brand you want for your travel business, that’s okay..it won’t take long before you can morph it into what you want and nobody will even notice.
Step 6 – Build your website
In order to become a travel agent, you will need a website. I realize that there are some fantastic agents out there who don’t have websites and will argue with me on this point. Chances are, they didn’t start their travel business in 2022.
Things are different now. Times are changing and that’s a good thing. So you will need a travel website. The short reason: It builds credibility, authority and ultimately trust. Plus it has a host of other advantages that fall beyond the scope of this article. You’ll have to take my word on that.
Step 7 – Create one piece of long-form content weekly.
A long-form piece of content can be anything from a YouTube video, a podcast, or a blog. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose because there are pros and cons to each. I would recommend you pick the platform that you feel the most comfortable with. I love to write. That’s why I blog but some people HATE writing and prefer the video format. Do whatever falls inside your wheelhouse.
What should you write about? Think about answering the questions your potential clients would most want to know. That’s a good start. And JUST START. in the beginning, you’ll probably struggle to come up with content ideas.
Here’s my promise to you…once you get started, ideas will flow. It does get easier.
Step 8 – Create a lead magnet that attracts people to sign up for your email list.
Next up. You need to start building your email list today. Today!
Even if you don’t have anything else figured out yet, this might even be step one. The best way to get started…come up with a free resource to give out in exchange for an email address. I’ve written an easy step-by-step guide on how to do this process from start to finish that you can download for free at <Get More Clients>
Step 9 – Grab a spot on my waitlist for the Travelpreneur Mastercourse
The waitlist is open for a spot on my Travelpreneur Mastercourse 8-week course. It’s different from the training you’ll get when you join a host agency. Where they teach you how to set things up and offer some sales techniques, I show you how to market your travel business in this new travel landscape.
The course walks you step by step through all the things you need to do to operate a highly profitable travel business and includes weekly coaching in case you get stuck.
I even teach you how to build passive forms of income to complement your travel business so you aren’t just relying on booking fees and commission.
Covid was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to the travel industry and if you are reading this now, and wanting to take advantage…there is seriously no better time.
And if you don’t want to work from home as a travel advisor but still want to get into this business, seriously, reach out to me below. There are so many opportunities available inside of traditional travel companies too. I can point you in the right direction.