Becoming a travel agent is appealing to many people. Travel agents often enjoy the benefits of free or deeply discounted travel so they can research and learn about new destinations to help clients plan their dream trips. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 105,000 travel agents currently work in the country, and the job outlook will remain steady for the next decade. The state of Florida offers unique opportunities for travel agents due to its heavy tourist industry. While Florida does not require a travel agency license, it does have travel agent registry requirements that exceed the requirements of most other states.
Develop the skills you will need to become a successful travel agent. Computer skills, for one, are an absolute necessity for booking travel, researching destinations and working with agencies' tools and computer programs. Also, travel as much as you can. Firsthand knowledge of destinations will be helpful to guiding your clients.
Gain experience in the travel industry. The field is competitive, so any special experience you have will be a plus. Consider working in the travel industry at a hotel or for an airline to gain knowledge of how these companies run. Take a course for travel agents, such as those endorsed by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), which are listed on its website. Or consider a class in the travel industry at your local community college. The Internet offers many courses, as well, most of which are reputable. But, beware of online scams or pyramid schemes disguised as training programs.
Find a job working for a travel agency. Some agencies have office space and set hours, while others' employees are more independent. It may be beneficial for your first job to be in an office where more experienced agents can act as mentors. However, you may prefer the flexibility of being an independent employee of a work-from-home agency. Keep an up-to-date resume and be prepared to highlight your travel-related experience and customer service skills in an interview.
Register with the state of Florida. The Florida Department of Consumer Affairs requires individuals who sell travel-related services to register annually. This includes those who own a travel agency or who are employed by one. Independent sales agents are exempt from providing proof of assurance. The registration may be completed on the department's website by filling out the form for independent sales agents and paying the $50 filing fee. You are required to renew the registration annually.
Customize your skills to set yourself apart from the competition. More and more travelers are able to book routine travel online or by working directly through vacation companies. A travel agent who finds a niche in an area of travel people in which people need specialized expertise can still be very successful. Some examples of areas of specialty are luxury travel, exotic countries, honeymoons and senior travel.
Tips & Warnings
- Operating with an expired license will result in legal action by the state of Florida.
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