The key to succeeding in any business is by first understanding how the business works.
The travel business is one of such businesses that require a deep understanding before you venture into it, especially as it involves transactions across continents.
Becoming a travel agent comes with some level of discomfort and sacrifices. In the course of your duty, you will have to keep in touch with your clients all round the clock, irrespective of the different time zones you may find yourselves.
So many things could go wrong in the course of a trip. Your clients may miss their flights, fall sick, not find their accommodation suitable, and so many other problems. These problems don’t have to take you unaware.
If they’re not treated urgently and properly, you could land yourself in trouble and even have your license revoked. That might just be the end of your career as a travel agent.
What Do Travel Agents Do?
As you look forward to becoming successful as a travel agent, you have to get a proper understanding of the job of a travel agent.
Plan Trips for Clients
As a travel agent, clients will entrust into your hands the job of planning for their holidays. Your rich knowledge of tourism sites worldwide is what will help you suggest destinations within your clients’ budgets. These holidays have to be fun-filled and tailor-made to the specifications of your customers.
Sell Airline Tickets
For every destination, there are various airlines that one can fly. But these airlines usually sell their tickets at various prices, depending on their quality of services. As a travel agent, it’s your job to provide your clients with affordable flight tickets (and routes) to their holiday destinations.
Your clients deserve to be comfortable during their stay in their holiday destinations. With the rich network of hotels and guest houses at your disposal, you should be able to provide your clients with suitable accommodations.
Hire Cars for Transportation
When your clients arrive at their destinations, they may require a means of transportation, a hired car perhaps. It’s your job as a travel agent to provide your clients with a hired car to ease their movement.
Related: 10 Best Travel Agencies in the UK
Tips to Becoming a Successful Travel Agent
The following tips will guide you in becoming a successful travel agent.
Develop Your Communication Skills
The cultural diversification, modes of financial transactions, diverse languages and the differences in the laws guiding travelling can be overwhelming. In the course of your job, you will encounter people of different nationalities, behaviours, and characters.
Without well-groomed communication and human management skill, you might find it difficult to communicate your ideas to your clients. Sometimes, your clients may become too picky, indecisive, and insecure in their choice of a travel package.
It’s with your communication skills that you will be able to convince them effortlessly. You may even strike a better deal just for having good communication skills.
Begin Under a Travel Agency
As a travel agent, you may choose to work under a travel agency or establish your agency. However, working under an agency allows you to gain experience in the industry. You will also benefit from the training programs that will be organized for you as a starter.
While working under an agency, you must focus on self-development. You will need all the skills you acquired when setting up your own. Also, it might be an opportunity for you to decide if you want to tow in this line of business.
Get Yourself Licensed
The law requires you to obtain a license to operate as a travel agent. Even before you are allowed to sell airline tickets, you must have Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL). Failure to get the necessary license and get properly registered will limit your scope of activities in the industry.
Every client will want to patronize a business recognized by relevant associations or government agencies. You can earn your clients trust by getting certified.
Always be on Alert
The job of a travel agent indeed gives room for flexibility. But when you let complacency set in, your dream of becoming a successful travel agent may hardly become a reality. As a travel agent, you must guide your client through the planning stage until the trip is over.
While on their trips, your clients may be thrown into a situation where they need to contact you. Your ability to make yourself readily available doesn’t only provide solutions to your customers, but it also proves you to be an efficient agent.
Your clients will be glad to patronize you again and recommend you. Nothing beats getting a quick response at the point of need.
Acquire Knowledge in Related Disciplines
As much as the job of a travel agent doesn’t require a college or university degree, it’s necessary you take courses in travel, tourism, hospitality, business, economics, or related disciplines. If attending college is expensive, you can attend some technical and vocational schools to acquire knowledge and obtain certificates.
Going to school to learn about the travel business exposes you to uncommon theories and knowledge you can apply to your business. In addition, you will have a deeper understanding of how the industry works, which will help boost your confidence when interacting with your clients.
Getting a certificate will equally increase your chances of climbing the ladders of leadership and administration in the different travel bodies and associations.
Strive to Get the Experiences
Most times, it’s easy to get blinded by the initial benefits we get in our business that we no longer see the need to get the needed experience that will land us bigger jobs. If you are looking forward to starting a travel business, it may be advisable to first work in an already established travel agency to understand how the system works.
If you already own a travel agency, you should seek deals that will challenge you to plan itineraries that are different from your records. By expanding your network of destinations, you get more grounded in the industry.
Note: Seek proper guidance before making unfamiliar trips.
Tour the World
You should endeavour to visit the various destinations you offer your clients as many options as you can.
It’s proper you have a first-hand experience of what your clients will be experiencing to help you prepare better itineraries for them in the future. And having been to the locations yourself, you will be able to understand their complaints better, thereby giving you the ability to proffer solutions easily.
Also, while you make your tour, you will be able to get acquainted with the process.
Improve on Your Networking
The travel business requires networking. As a travel agent, it’s important to have alliances with airlines, hotels, and other travel agencies worldwide. Having relationships with these companies helps you provide the best routes, cheapest flight tickets, and suitable accommodations for your clients.
It’s impossible to operate efficiently without having to keep in touch with these flight and hospitality companies. Therefore, the larger your network, the better your services tend to be.
You can take advantage of social media platforms in networking with prospective clients. By placing strategic ads online and engaging people on your social media platforms, you get the opportunity to present your services most appealingly.
Become Technologically Inclined
Evidently, technology has dominated almost every sphere of our lives. In our economy, technology has made it easy for us to transact easily, and travel businesses haven’t failed to take advantage of technology.
Practical use of technology has been found among International Air Transport Association (IATA) members, who connect to Global Distribution Systems such as Travelport to book travels, get information on available accommodations, and other relevant data.
If you’re a home agent, you can use TTS Coordinator or TTS Web Agent to get information that will help you run your travel business smoothly.
With more advancement in technology, it has also become possible to operate using your smart devices. Therefore, by getting acquainted with these new technologies, you will improve your services.
Always Stay Updated
Every day while we live, there’s an update in whatever we do. The ways we carry out our jobs are modified, the mode of payments are updated, the availability of resources at our disposals are dynamic, and even the laws governing our jobs change from time to time.
It will be an awful experience if your client should be the one giving you updates on travel policies.
Running a travel business has a lot to do with making smart moves to avoid making losses. At all times, you should be aware of the available shortest route to any destination, the prices of flight tickets and the rates accommodations in a destination are being sold. Always have in mind that Information is power.
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