Do you love to travel? Or simply love talking about vacations and traveling? Is one of your secret pleasures looking at pictures of exotic beaches? If so, you might want to become a work from home travel agent.
Not only is it an awesome way to make money working from home but there are also some great perks to the job:
- Enjoy discounts on flights, hotels and more
- Have the opportunity to attend free familiarization trips to learn about new destinations
- Network and provide a service to your community and beyond.
This page contains affiliate links meaning I earn a commission if you use those links, please see my disclosure for more information.
What does a home-based travel agent do?
- Research, plan and book vacations and trips for clients
- Advise on weather, travel advisories, passport regulations and vaccinations
- Coordinate events such as destination weddings and special customer needs
Travel agents are personal advisors and give recommendations but they are also first and foremost, sales people. Good sales training is a huge plus if you want to be really successful as a vacation planner.
Are travel agents a dying breed?
Lots of people think that it’s not a good idea to become a work at home travel agent nowadays because everyone just wants to book stuff online or use Airbnb and other rental sites.
Let’s look at the facts:
It is definitely true that a lot of travel agents closed up shop after 9/11 and the Great Recession.
It’s also true that the internet has transformed the way travel is booked but, if you are internet savvy and know how to promote yourself, being a travel agent is possibly more lucrative than ever.
In my experience, the culling of travel agents got rid of a lot of the not-so-good ones and now you really have some quality agents who know their stuff.
While most people no longer use travel agents to book their domestic flights or simple hotel stays, over a third of US travel is booked through an agent. What are they booking? Long haul trips, business travel and more.
Many of the really successful travel agents have become specialists in one particular area such as cruises or destination weddings. One very popular niche is Disney holidays as it is an expensive vacation that is quite complicated to book online.
Read all about how to plan Disney Vacations for a living.
How do travel agents get paid?
Most people think that there is an additional charge for using an agent so that it is cheaper to “do it yourself” online.
In fact this is not true. Travel agents are paid a commission from the hotel/tour operator/airline for every booking they send their way.
There are some agents that charge a fee for their services but the majority charge absolutely nothing and can normally save you money by finding fares and prices that are not available to the general public.
Do travel agents need to have travelled widely?
Let’s face it, hardly anyone knows everything about everything.
The most important skill a travel agent can have is a network of other agents/tour operators and friends who can help with destinations they are not as familiar with. And of course, the willingness to research and educate themselves constantly.
What skills do you need to work from home as a travel agent?
The most important thing you need is a passion for both people and travel.
This job is extremely customer service oriented and people are spending their hard earned cash and PTO on your product. They have high expectations and want to get the best value for their money. Insider tips and “going the extra mile” are essential to building up a client base.
Secondly, travel agents need to be good at sales. You might not be knocking on doors most people like to shop around to get the best “deal” so you need to be competitive and good at closing sales.
Organization and administrative skills are also important as are time management skills especially if you are juggling kids or a full-time job.
If you want to find more about what you need to become a work from home travel agent, the Fab Job Travel Consultant Guide is fantastic.
How much do travel agents make?
As with anything, you get what you put into a job as a travel agent. I personally know of travel agents that make 6 figures a year working from home.
If you want to become a work from home travel agent that makes good money, you have to be prepared to network a lot and make connections. A large social circle and a way to tap into a local businesses will really help.
That being said, Glassdoor puts the average travel agent salary at $28-33K so a few thousand a month is completely attainable. It’s a perfect side hustle for moms who want to be flexible and work odd hours.
How to become a work from home travel agent
There are many different types of agencies you can join, some are free while others charge a start-up fee.
Option 1 – open your own travel agency
I don’t really recommend this route unless you are already an experience travel agent with a lot of money to invest.
It is pretty expensive to open your own travel agency – there is a lot of licensing and legalese plus errors and omissions insurance. These requirements vary from state to state and make opening up your own agency very expensive.
In addition, in order to work with travel suppliers, you must have an International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) or an Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) number.
Option 2 – Join a host travel agent
This is the best way to become a work from home vacation planner if you do not have any experience.
By becoming part of a host agency, you will benefit from their marketing, insurance, and legal set up plus any special commission deals and pricing that they have negotiated with tour operators.
You will also likely have access to training programs, networking opportunities and client leads.
You will be working under their IATAN/CLIA/ARC so will be able to contact suppliers directly.
The host agency will typically take a cut of your commission to cover their costs.
Some of them will let you become a work at home travel agent for free but will likely take a bigger slice of your commission in return.
Some also require a one-time fee for training and registration. Make sure you shop around to see which host agency best suits your needs and financial outlook.
Some recommended host agencies include:
Duggan’s Travel – $300 start up fee
Nexion – start up fee varies depending on your experience ($200-$700)
Travel Planners International – start up fee $199
Here is a complete host agency list for the USA and Canada.
It is worth researching to make sure your host agency is affiliated with many different suppliers to get the most commission and promotions available.
Can you become a work from home travel agent for free?
If you are wondering how to become an at home travel agent for free, I would advise you to look at the Fabjob guide or one of the books below which will help you decide the kind of business you want to start.
While I don’t think becoming a travel agent from home for free is really a good option if you are serious about making money with your travel agent side job, there is an you can try if money is tight and you would like to see if becoming planning vacations is for you.
Affiliate marketing for travel agents
You can become an affiliate of some of the larger travel companies through affiliate networks such as Awin and promote travel products and services on your website or blog. For any bookings made, the travel company will pay you a small percentage of the sale.
You will not be a travel agent per se as the customer will book their own travel on your site but it a nice way to work in travel and get paid without the overhead costs of joining a host agency.
If you want to go this route, you will need to start a blog. You can do this with for little as $2.95 a month so it is not an expensive start up cost.
Once your blog has been set up, you can write articles and promote certain destinations that your audience might like. You can add in affiliate links so they can make their own bookings directly on your site.
Some of the travel companies that AWIN features include:
Tours & Tickets
Be Live Hotels
If you want to learn more about starting a blog and affiliate marketing, here are some resources:
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