What do travel agents do?
Travel agents plan, book, and service their clients’ travel arrangements.
Planning: The planning process varies by travel agent and by client, but whether by email, text, phone, or in person, the agent and client discuss preferred travel destinations, preferences, desires, needs, ideas, and budget. The agent then uses their travel knowledge and experience to recommend destinations and travel packages that match their clients’ vision and desires. Once the client has reviewed the travel packages, the agent and client discuss and revise the recommendations and packages until the ideal package has been found.
Booking: Once the ideal travel package has been found, the agent books the travel package through a travel wholesaler, operator, hotel, or airline. The travel package is typically booked through an online portal where the client’s payment is passed through to the travel wholesaler, operator, or vendor.
Once the travel package has been booked, the agent can arrange excursions, events, and outings so their clients get the most out of their stay. This can range from something as simple as a romantic candlelight dinner on the beach to celebrate an anniversary or honeymoon to an 80 person sunset catamaran cruise.
Servicing: Sometimes plans need to be changed. This includes adding or removing travelers from a travel package, changing flights, changing travel dates, or changing destinations or hotels. In the event of unforeseen circumstances such as last-minute family emergencies, agents are able to go the extra mile or reschedule hotel stays, flights, or transfers to insure the travel process runs smoothly.
What is the benefit of using a travel agent?
Knowledge: Travel agents provide a number of benefits for their clients. If a client doesn’t know where to travel, rather than having to spend hours doing research online, they can connect with an agent who can recommend destinations and packages that match what they’re looking to experience. Agents can also make their clients aware of unique travel ideas and inexpensive promotions that aren’t readily available online.
Collaboration: While some people use travel agents to completely avoid the process of online research, many people enjoy the research stage of planning a vacation and they get excited by looking up all of the possibilities. In these cases, agents can collaborate with their clients to discuss different ideas and options, and agents can then work with their wholesalers to find the best promotions and deals on the desired options.
Customer Service: Life can be unpredictable, and while we always hope for things to go smoothly, sometimes life has other plans. Agents can provide value for their clients by helping them maneuver through the unfamiliar terrain of travel emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. When borders were closed and resorts were shut down due to Covid-19, many travelers found themselves on an island, literally and figuratively. While some online travel companies shut down and left their travelers on their own, travel agents all over the world were able to work with travel wholesalers, resorts, and airlines to salvage and reschedule trips, vacations, honeymoons, and destination weddings.
Agents build strong relationships with travel wholesalers, operators, cruise lines, and hotels so that travelers have someone connected to advocate on their behalf. When something needs to get done, it pays to know the right people. Otherwise, you might find yourself shooting off an email into the void.
How do travel agents make money?
Commission: Travel agents are paid commission on their bookings by hotels, airlines, cruise lines, travel operators, and wholesalers. Depending on the product or itinerary, this commission can vary anywhere from 5% to 22% of the item. In many cases, the commission percentage is based on the total amount booked by an agency, so before newer agents are able to grow their book of business large enough to receive the maximum amount of commission across all of their travel wholesalers, the new agent can join a host agency and immediately reach top-tiered commission.
Service Fees: Travel agents can also charge additional fees or surcharges for their services. These fees can be charged upfront or added to the total cost of the travel package, and if they’re charged upfront, they can either be treated as a deposit that is applied towards the cost of the travel package or they can be a separate, stand-alone charge. Service fees and surcharges are more common in travel planning that is labor intensive on the front-end such as destination weddings or large group travel.
Time Frame: Commission is typically paid to the travel agent approximately 30 days after their clients have traveled. This can be a complicating factor for many agents interested in growing their businesses, because they don’t receive the commission from their bookings until months, or in circumstances like destination weddings, a full year after the agent has started working with their client.
What are the benefits of being a travel agent?
Travel Opportunities: There are many perks to being a travel agent. In addition to having access to highly discounted travel agent rates, you’ll also receive invitations to attend private familiarization trips (FAM trips) with other agents so you can visit and experience the resorts and destination. If you’re more interested in experiencing the resorts alone or with your family, you can also set up highly discounted trips directly with the resorts.
By building strong relationships with representatives at the travel operators, wholesalers, hotels, resorts, and transfer companies, you’ll receive the absolute best treatment when you travel. Because these resorts want you to enjoy their property and sell it to your clients with confidence, they really roll out the red carpet, and the red carpet at a luxury 5 star resort can be worth thousands of dollars. Agents can also gain access to exclusive travel opportunities by partnering with a host agency that has built great relationships with resorts and travel wholesalers.
Flexibility: Travel agents only need an internet connection so they can work from virtually anywhere. They can work from the comfort of their home or while traveling across the world. As an agent, you can be your own boss. You have the autonomy to manage your clients in your preferred way on your schedule. You can work early in the mornings or late in the evenings. You can work during the week or on the weekends. It just depends on your preferred schedule and the needs of your clients.
Fun and Rewarding Industry: Being a travel agent can be very rewarding as it allows you to share your passion for travel with your clients and help them plan incredible experiences that they’ll always remember, and while many people experience some degree of anxiety or stress related to travel, the process of planning a dream trip is fun and exciting. There will always be hiccups and complications, but the majority of your time is spent talking to people about their dream honeymoon, their 20th wedding anniversary, their destination wedding in paradise, their last big family trip before the kids go off to college. Travel is a fun product to sell, and it’s incredibly rewarding to have a part in helping people share incredible moments with their loved ones.