The tourism market has never been so flourishing. Indeed, this sector strongly impacted by the digitalization era seems to open new doors for ambitious people. Entrepreneurs were quick to ride this trend to develop travel agency ideas more in line with new customer expectations. And it is in this logic that the profession of independent travel agent was born. 

Does the profession of self-employed travel advisor tempt you? Find out if this project is for you!

Special file to know everything about the profession of independent travel agent:

Why become a travel agent?

Do you wish to start your own business but have no idea of ​​a specific project? Do you enjoy contact with customers, and do you have a real passion for travel, organization, and management? What if you became a travel consultant? Discover the reasons to get started:

Reason 1: Do a job that fascinates you. 

Getting into the travel industry is, above all, a story of passion. Being able to set up your own travel agency means having the opportunity to offer your customers: your advice, your support, but also to pass on to them your love of discovery and the world—the chance to take advantage of your status as a traveler by taking that of a tour operator.

Reason 2: Gain Independence and Freedom. 

Becoming your own boss means no longer taking orders from anyone except yourself, perhaps. Indeed, you will finally be free to manage your time as you see fit and to follow your ideas. Also, being capable of working from home means, on the one hand, choosing a work environment that suits you but also saving the time you spend in your car or on public transport. Exit then, the metro-work-sleep! But don’t forget, the key to success also lies in your capacity for organization and discipline. You need to create your own constraints and objectives to develop your project over the long term.

Reason 3: Positioning yourself in a constantly growing market.

Tourist flows are expected to double by 2030 to reach 2.5 billion tourists, according to the World Tourism Organization. The clientele is, therefore, present, but it is also increasingly demanding. Indeed, if the turnover of the travel sector is up slightly, it is because it is driven by a boom in the price of tourism activities. Indeed, consumers are now ready to call on travel advisers and pay more if the offer is tailor-made or genuinely original and unique. The demand is, therefore, real. It’s up to you to seduce it.

What are the missions of a travel agent?

The travel agent is a commercial expert specializing in the world of tourism. He receives and advises clients who have a particular travel plan and seeks a service provider capable of organizing their personalized trip. 

He can also offer circuits already defined. He then sets the best price, suggests different options to them, and then finalizes the sale. His goal is that the customer has nothing more to do on their end, except to pack their suitcase. 

Once the contract is signed with clients, he is in charge of all hotel reservations, plane tickets, or excursions, but also all administrative procedures for visas and passports, for example.

Another part of his job is to negotiate with different providers, with airlines such as taxi services, special rates for groups, or create partnerships.

He can also handle travel for individuals as well as for professionals. He can work for an online travel agency, in a physical agency, in a tourist office or for a service provider which offers packs to its customers containing, for example, transport and a visit.

The profession of a self-employed travel agent.

The creation of a travel agency consists of offering your customers stays or trips. The travel agent, therefore, serves as an advisor and assists his clients in preparing for their trip. It searches for the best prices for them and offers them different types of services according to their needs: train, plane or bus tickets, car reservations, tours, or even a restaurant. The travel advisor can, therefore, very quickly be in charge of his clients’ travel from A to Z to offer them turnkey “all-inclusive” offers. 

In most cases, the travel agent is an intermediary between the service providers and the customer, but in some cases, it can become, producer and distributor of its own offers.

How to become a travel advisor?

Do you have the necessary skills?

Are you passionate about traveling? Are you motivated and determined? Are you an autonomous, friendly person with a sense of responsibility? Have you ever been complimented on your interpersonal skills? There is no doubt about your ease of communication? Are you bilingual? Do you relish working with the public and showcase sales skills? If you have most of these qualities and also have ease in learning new languages, you could become a travel agent.

What abilities do you need to become a travel agent? 

To exercise this profession of salesperson and organizer, the travel agent must know how to demonstrate certain essential qualities, and in order to become an independent travel agent, it is crucial to have certain Indispensable attributes to ensure your success.

1. Product and organization knowledge.

You must not only have the knowledge of the organization of your stay but also of the products you want to offer. Being able to answer all your customers’ questions about a destination will affirm your position as an expert. Also, by making recommendations based on your personal experiences, you will make the service more human and unique.

2. Organization. 

Once the contracts are signed, the second part of the work begins. You will have to organize and book everything so that customers can just enjoy their trip without worrying about airline or hotel reservations. You will be regularly managing several files at the same time. You must, therefore, show a great organization to plan everything and think of everything, especially in terms of administrative papers and reservations.

3. Linguistic ease. 

Most of the time, clients will come to see you on important trips and for distant destinations in which they do not speak the language. It is to get the best possible trip that he turns to an expert travel agent. It is, therefore, essential to master several foreign languages, at least English, to negotiate with foreign partners.

Even if you remain focused on a service offered in any specific country, tourism is international. So it is significant to be able to address each of your clients by speaking at least English. The more the customer feels understood and listened to, the more satisfied he will be. Fluency in Spanish, German, or even Chinese can, therefore, be a point of improvement to consider.

4. The sense of relationship. 

Selling a trip is above all telling a story. You will, therefore, need to succeed in conveying your passion when you present your offers to your customers. A detailed introduction to their stay should be enough to get them traveling.

5. Sense of contact and listening. 

Your role is to serve customers and respond to all their requests. You must, therefore, be endowed with a strong sense of contact and listening in order to be able to bend over towards the rear for clients and adapt to all their requests.

6. Rigor and organization. 

If taking your customers on a journey gives you real joy, it is important to realize that this activity also involves risks. Real administrative knowledge is, therefore, essential. Familiarize yourself with the procedures to follow and do not hesitate to be accompanied by experts.

7. The capacity to adapt. 

It is vital not to leave anything to chance to provide a perfect stay for your customers. But if all is not always predictable, having backup alternatives to offer your customers in the event of traffic disruption or cancellation due to bad weather will make a difference.

8. Creativity. 

Competition in this market is robust. It is your ability to deliver unique offers that will make all the difference to your customers.

It will, therefore, be very important that you take stock of your strengths and weaknesses concerning the prerequisites for this activity. But do not lose the prospect of the fact that many training courses for travel agents exist and will help you to overcome some of your shortcomings.

Create a home travel agency without a diploma. Is it possible?

Having a license in tourism is no longer mandatory to become an independent travel agent. However, significant experience and special skills remain essential to complete your tourism agency creation project successfully.

What starting capital to become an independent travel agent?

A compulsory financial guarantee. 

This guarantee is necessary to ensure the reimbursement of the customer and his repatriation. In particular, in the case of a cessation of activity of the travel agency. It can be taken from various organizations: insurers, banks, APST (Professional Association for Solidarity in Tourism), etc. This financial guarantee amounts to 100,000 $ minimum. It is recalculated every year according to the figure of business of the previous year and depending on the offers offered:

  • 20% of the previous turnover for the sale of package tours sold directly to the end-user or in the form of a voucher
  • 6% of the previous turnover for all other services
  • 0% for the sale of tickets (excluding packages)

To open your travel agency, it is, therefore, necessary to find a guarantor. For this, you will need to build a file supported by your business plan and your financing plan.

How much does a travel advisor earn?

As a tourism intermediary, you will be paid on commission by your partners. It often amounts to around 8% to 15%. You will, therefore, have to negotiate with your suppliers, tour operators to obtain discounts that will be equivalent to the commission. However, if you produce your services yourself, your income will depend on the margin that you apply to the price of your offers.

What are the regulations for setting up a home travel agency?

1. Compulsory professional liability insurance.

Subscription to professional liability insurance is strictly compulsory to be able to set up your travel agency. Indeed, it helps protect your business in the event of an incident during your customers’ travel.

2. Registration in the travel and holiday operators register. 

To become a travel advisor, it is essential to first register with the travel registrars and holiday operators. To do this, you must contact your tourism development agency and provide them with the necessary supporting documents such as the financial guarantee certificate and Professional Civil Liability insurance. Once acquired, this registration must be renewed every three years.

Five tips for becoming a home travel agent.

Going beyond the traditional agency model to sell trips directly to customers’ homes, it is possible! In this digital age, doing without having a storefront is a child’s play (or almost). If adventure tempts you, follow the guide!

1. Define your specialty.

You inevitably have affinities with a type of product or trip (tailor-made, at low prices, thematic). It can be a virtuous starting point to reassure the customers to whom you will be traveling. Sometimes one niche can be more profitable than another. Don’t close your doors and choose, in addition to the main specialization, one or two secondary areas of development to diversify your offer.

2. Choose your status (and take guarantees).

As a home travel agent, you can choose your status, but you will have the same legal and financial responsibilities as in a physical agency. Need help with your procedures? Call on the travel companies, which have legal experts on their teams who can advise you.

3. Be flexible and well organized.

The home travel agent organizes his schedule as he wishes but taking into account the availability of his customers. They will probably call on you outside of regular office hours. Be sure to “cut yourself off” from your job from time to time. Record an announcement on your answering machine and create a Frequently Asked Questions on your site for the most common questions.

4. Cultivate your network

Get recommended by your network to develop your business. Take part in workshops and after works. Associations, Unions, TOs, airlines; there are plenty of opportunities to meet people and exchange experiences. Don’t forget your business cards!

5. Make people talk about you

Since you choose not to have a storefront, the Internet will be your showcase. And all the tools are good to build a solid marketing plan! The website is not mandatory, but you must choose your communication channel carefully according to your clientele—social networks, or maybe a logoed car. Be inventive to stand out!

At the employer or home?

If you choose to do this profession, you could not only work in the offices of companies such as travel agencies, but you would also have the opportunity to become an outside travel agent and work from your home. 

Do you recognize yourself in this description? Do you think you have an accurate profile for the job? Have you always dreamed of managing your own schedule? So what are you waiting for to become a travel agent? Here is the perfect opportunity!

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