Are Travel Agents Necessary in Today’s Online World?

In today’s technology-filled world, we have easy access to all kinds of information. We’re able to research, compare, and book travel right in the comfort of our own home. In the past, we relied solely on travel agents to find the “right” flight, the perfect hotel or the deepest discount for us. I doesn’t seem that long ago that I would drive to the travel agency to pick up my “paper” airline tickets. So, the question is, with all of this information so readily available, has the role of the travel agent become obsolete? What services can they offer that we can’t do for ourselves?

I believe that travel agents today still offer services and information that we can’t get online. Granted, some things such as booking a simple flights, most people can successfully manage on their own. A travel agent however, can recommend smaller, alternative airports that the discount carriers use. This alone can save you quite a bit of money. However, the key thing that travel agents today offer is their first-hand knowledge and experience. In planning a cruise vacation, I want to talk to a travel agent who’s specialty is cruising. They have traveled on many different cruise lines and can give me much more insight that a brochure or web page can. The same thing goes for tours and specialty travel such as luxury, adventure, villa rentals, etc.

The question is, since there are travel agents and agencies everywhere, how do you find a reputable one? There are several things you can do to help you in your search. The first thing is the most obvious – Referrals and recommendations. Now, just because your friend has been going to a particular travel agent for years doesn’t mean that this agent is right for you. Perhaps your friend primarily books cruises and you are planning a trip to Africa. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have they ever been to the destination you are looking to visit?

The second thing I look for is certification and professional associations. Many travel agencies require their agents to have passed the Travel Agent Proficiency exam or “TAP”. This test was developed by The Travel Institute and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to provide a national standard of entry-level proficiency for the travel industry. The International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), is another measure of credibility. An IATA number identifies an agent and their agency as a bona-fide travel professional who now may qualify for reduced rates or other industry concessions.

Finally, check to see if they are a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). The ASTA is the world’s largest association of travel professionals with over 20,000-plus members. Ask your travel agent if they are a member or you can search the ASTA website to find an accredited agent near you by simply putting in your zip code. There is an excellent “advanced search” feature that will let you query by destination or specialty. All of travel agent profiles will not only display name and contact information, but will also give information on their areas of expertise and languages spoken. Using an experienced travel professional not only has the advantage of having your travel planning for done for you but you will also gain valuable insight and possibly a discounted rate to boot!

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Why the Timing is Right – Become a Travel Agent

Why the sudden surge in interest for the travel industry? Here are a few facts to consider when looking at a travel career as a career option.

Here are the facts:

Travel is a $7 Trillion dollar industry expected to double to $14 Trillion within the next decade.
This lucrative industry is currently growing 23% faster than the global economy.
A key factor in this growth phenomenon is the stream of baby boomers that are retiring, or getting ready to retire.
Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 1 every 8 seconds.
Travel was rated the number one thing these baby boomers intend to do when they do retire.
When considering a career in the travel industry, there are several options available for those looking to work from home.
There is an increased demand for qualified travel agents, due to the explosive growth of the industry as a whole. To become a certified travel agent, your options are not limited to the traditional brick and mortar setting. Many reputable travel agencies now offer options for the individual looking for a legitimate home based business.

While doing your due diligence in researching whether this industry is a fit for you, consider that there are excellent income opportunities available to work from home.

If your goal is to work as an independent travel agent from the comfort of your own home, consider working as an online travel agent.

Here are some companies that you can research, that offer excellent training. Some of the companies will hire you as an employee, while others offer the freedom of being your own boss, and setting your own hours.

Do your due diligence!

Research each company carefully, and make it a priority to understand the compensation plan.
Know what training is available, and whether the company will offer you the opportunity to become certified.
Does the company have IATA, IATAN, ARC and CLIA affiliations?
What is the initial investment? Are there additional costs associated for licensing, or becoming certified?
If you are considering a work at home position, what kind of support is offered?
Are you a right fit for the travel industry?
Lets break down the qualifications that will determine whether you are suited for this challenging, but rewarding career.

Travel agents should have a minimum of a high school diploma.

Travel agents should have a love for travel. Enthusiasm and a love for working with people are crucial elements for success in this industry.

Travel agents should possess excellent multi-tasking and organization skills.

Great communication skills, as well as computer skills are essential.

Travel agents should possess a professional, courteous demeanor when working with suppliers, and the general public.

Attention to detail and accuracy are very important. Some sales ability is very helpful as well.

Now, the benefits of becoming a travel agent

The benefits of becoming a travel agent are many. I have listed the top three.

Travel agents save up to 80% on travel to many of the worlds exclusive resorts and destinations. These discounts include, but are not limited to:

Complimentary upgrades Hotel room upgrades and discounts

Car rental discounts and upgrades

Cruises

Theme park discounts

Vacation Packages

FAM trips, also known as familiarization trips. Suppliers want travel agents to have first hand knowledge of their facilities, so that the travel agent can make a recommendation based on personal knowledge and first hand experience.

The supplier will offer discounts and other perks, and roll out the red carpet to ensure the travel professional has an outstanding time.

Tax Benefits for individuals who chose to do this profession as an independent travel agent. Consult your CPA or tax professional for more information regarding this benefit.

Summary: How Do I become a travel agent?

In summary, becoming a travel agent can be a lucrative and rewarding career. Should you decide that you possess the skills and abilities needed for success, you can look forward to a promising career.

Get Started: Do a search online using the keywords: become a travel agent, how do I become a travel agent, or online travel agents.

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