The tourism industry is among the most lucrative industries in the world and forms a major part of most nations’ revenue. Due to this reason, travel agents are becoming increasingly popular, and those who wish to become one may find themselves amid profitable opportunities unmatched in scale and income. However, before you actually indulge in the business, you should know what exactly it comprises.
In simple terms, travel agency refers to a public or private service providing tourism and travel related services to people on behalf of suppliers such as car rentals, travel insurance, package tours, hotels, railways, and whatnot. Additionally, many travel agencies have distinct departments dedicated to travel arrangements for business travels. In fact, there are many kinds of travel agencies which even act as general sales agents for overseas travel companies, facilitating them to establish offices in countries where headquarters are not situated.
Judging by the extent of services offered by travel agencies, travel agents make among the most sought after professionals in the tourism industry. If you are already besotted with the idea of working as a travel agent, you should start researching and working on a number of things.
Under this article, we shall enumerate key points of considerations in order to become a freelance travel agent:
1. Educational qualifications needed to become a travel agent
There is no particular educational qualification required to become a travel agent; however, there is an increasing demand for some or other form formal education pertaining to tourism. Apart from educational qualifications, experience in a variety of areas is also necessary to make big in the industry.
So, what to do? Well, under this head, we shall explore elaborately the question revolving around educational qualifications. To find the answer to the question, read the following carefully:
- The basic educational requirement for most travel agents is the qualification of 10+2 from a recognized school in India—this is an elementary requirement most clients specified in the selection criteria.
- It will be beneficial to the candidate if he/she engages in more academic exploration in the areas relating to tourism and travel. For this purpose, there are a number of tourism management courses offered by reputed institutions in the country such as Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, which is an autonomous institution functional under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and offers post-graduate courses in tourism management; Bangalore University, which offers a two-year post-graduate degree course in Tourism Administration; Institute of Logistics and Aviation Management, Mumbai, which provides an MBA course in the field of Travel Tourism Management for the duration of two years; Amity Institute of Travel and Tourism, which provides Bachelor’s as well as Master’s degree courses in the field of Travel and Tourism.
- Then again, if you seek a relatively quick recourse, apply for certificate courses offered across the globe. IATA is an example institution which offers a variety of courses pertaining to a number of areas such as Aviation Performance, Airline Management, and Travel and Tourism program. The course offered has multiple levels ranging from basics to highly advanced. The certification from IATA is universally regarded as among the authentic and most valuable in the tourism industry.
- If you wish to learn at foreign institutions, some of the suggestions have been provided here: University of South Carolina, Middlesex University, Auckland University of Technology, Management Development Institute of Singapore, the University of Northampton, etc. These are among the best performing international institutes in terms of tourism and travel courses, but they may place a financial burden on the candidates.
- As noted earlier, formal education will not suffice unless there is enough grass-roots level experience. It is, therefore, recommended the candidate should seek internships at various travel agencies in and outside India. In India, you may seek training at agencies such Thomas Cook India, Cox & Kings, Kesari Tours, Club Mahindra Holidays, Expedia, goibibo, yatra and MakeMyTrip.
Only when you are sufficiently trained, you should start your freelance career as a travel agent.
2. Skills needed to become a freelance travel agent
Being a travel agent is not easy, and therefore, you should read the following mentioned points carefully.
- Sales and Marketing: This goes without saying that sales and marketing skills are highly important for a travel It is incumbent upon a travel agent to market services to the clients in the manner suitable to the guidelines and interests of the travel agency. While exercising such skills, the agent must exhibit creativity and efficacy without being too persistent. If an agent fails to sell the travel plan to the clients, there is no point at all for him/her to continue working as a travel agent.
- Technical skills: One cannot simply do without computers in this age of digitalization. As a freelance travel agent, computer skills are mandatory; one must possess enough technical skills to handle matters relating to ticketing, reservation, and maintenance of client’s database. Keep close a bookkeeping software to do all the billing.
- Patience: A travel agent often comes across clients with an undecided travel plan and shaky budget estimates. Throughout the interaction with the client, the agent must maintain utmost patience and sophistication. It is the job of a travel agent to assist clients in their travel plans keeping in mind their interests, and therefore, patience is absolutely essential.
- Organization: It is important to maintain an organized professional approach. When handling clients, ensure exemplary organization of the database without incorporating too many complications. Travel plans are extensive, and if you lose hold on any detail, the client may lose trust and the agent may lose goodwill and reputation.
- Fluency in a third language: While this skill is not mandatory, it is highly recommended since it eases the whole process of making foreign arrangements for clients. There is an indefinite number of language courses in the world, and one can easily take online classes if that is more convenient and budget friendly. Opt for a third language, and the client base will naturally increase.
3. Work opportunities for freelance travel agents
There are many travel agencies in the country and beyond, and one can easily provide freelance services to them. Since freelancing gives greater flexibility and independence, the freelancer can gather work experience at several workplaces. Some of the travel agencies to work with include MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Goibibo, and Thomas Cook.
To explore work opportunities, the online freelance community can be of great assistance. Presently, freelancers prefer online platforms such as freelance.com, and linkedin.com to find work opportunities. These online platforms bring together freelancers and clients, and there is greater ease in negotiation.
While applying through these websites, make sure the portfolio of skills is regularly updated and the proposal accompanying the application is informatively drafted. Also, routine follow-up is extremely essential, but avoid projecting a desperate image by frequent follow-up.
4. Pay scale of a freelance travel agent
There is the interplay of a number of factors in the determination of the pay scale such as skills, qualifications. In fact, the question whether the travel agent is home-based or associated with an agency is also material. Commissions paid to travel agents will depend on a number of activities such as the number of tickets sold and reservations made, price margin, specialization, etc.