Anyone interested in beginning a profession as a travel agent should first determine the type of skills, training and certification necessary to provide travel services for clients--whether you work at an established travel agency, as an independent contractor, or as a home-based travel agent.
This course offers both the history and future prospects of the travel industry as well as discusses different types of travel enjoyed by individuals, including domestic and international travel and travel by land, air, and sea. Popular travel services will also be explored, including escorted and self-directed tours and cruises. We'll also talk about travel technology that helps not only travel agents but also clients to get the most for their money regardless of their chosen type of travel.
This travel agent course also introduces students to the office and business needs of a home-based travel agent. It will show you how to make use of computer reservations systems, and how to bank your business, develop small business know-how and will provide tips and strategies that will enhance the success of your new business while at the same time offering clients well-planned vacations.
Students of this course will also learn the basics about passports and visas and various regulations and restrictions determined by embassies around the world--offering customers and clients up-to-date travel warnings and alerts that ensure ultimate safety and security.
Additionally, students completing this course will understand how a travel agent is able to match travel and personalities to a multitude of travel options and opportunities that take into consideration budgets, needs, and desires of the traveler. Avoiding problems or conflicts with clients and helping clients deal with unforeseeable situations are also covered, as is the importance of consistently researching new technologies in the travel industry that will help build and enhance your career as a successful travel agent.
People have been traveling since the dawn of time. The desire to look over the next hill, to venture down the river, or to see what lies on the other side of the ocean has tempted and encouraged man to constantly explore his or her surroundings in a variety of ways. Whether that venture is completed on a canoe, a raft, a wooden ship, paddle wheel boat, submarine, or airplane, the desire for humans to see new places and to experience new adventures has always been present, and will continue to be so.
Because people in the 21st century love to travel as much as people did hundreds or thousands of years ago, there will always be a need for travel agents, as well as travel agencies to meet those needs. Learning how to start your own home-based travel agent business or becoming a highly skilled and respected travel agent is the foundation of this course.
History Of the Travel Agency Profession
In the United States, the travel industry has gone through a number of growth phases. From the mid-1800s, when individuals traversed the country in wagon trains and locomotives, to those crossing oceans in sailing ships, individuals have constantly utilized the services of "agents" to purchase tickets, determine itineraries, and help with scheduling such journeys.
With the growth of airline travel in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, the travel agency profession took off by leaps and bounds. Travel agencies were often specialized in particular locations or modes of travel. Whether you wanted to take a three-week cruise to Europe, schedule a flight from New York to Rome, or make arrangements to travel by train from Seattle, Washington to the depths of Peru, a travel agency was the "go to" source for schedules, itineraries, airplane tickets, train tickets, hotel arrangements, and amusements along the way.
Early travel agencies didn't limit themselves to merely purchasing airline tickets for major airlines, but made a highly specialized field out of planning leisure and vacation travel. Tour packages first appeared in the travel industry during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Package reservations and tours enabled travel agents to tack on a 10 percent tax and service charge that was considered the travel agent's well-deserved commission for arranging all the details of such tour packages.
Travel agents kept extremely busy making and confirming flight reservations, confirming train tickets, hotel reservations and entertainment for tens of thousands of clients who took advantage of the availability of specialized travel agents who did all the work when arranging business or leisure trips, either for independent travelers or entire families or groups of individuals.
In the mid-1970s, travel agencies that matched certain criteria were able to utilize a Carrier Reservation System (similar, but not quite the same as the Computer Reservation System). The Carrier Reservation System enabled travel agents, regardless of location, to book, reserve, and print out boarding passes and itineraries as well as invoices for airline travel utilizing a specialized computerized database. Travel agents were able to generate tens of thousands of clients who utilized their services to book flights to anywhere in the world, without having to rely on direct contact with a specific airline.
Retail travel agencies boomed in the 1970s. Students who completed a one-week automation training class were now able to perform the work of agents who has spent decades in the industry doing things "the old-fashioned way." By the 1980s, satellite telecommunication, toll-free numbers, and deregulation created intense competition between travel agencies.
The Computer Era
The advent of the computer usage and availability changed the face of the travel business forever.The Internet gave travel agents access to databases provided by every major airline carrier in the world.Travel agents had entered the automation era, and so did everyday consumers. Thanks to the Internet, every individual today has access to a computer reservation system database that once belonged exclusively to airlines and brick-and-mortar travel agency businesses.
Today however, utilizing airline websites, in addition to travel websites -- including those owned by airlines, such as Orbitz, Hotwire, and Travelocity -- individuals are able to reserve, book, and purchase electronic tickets at the click of a mouse.
The Advent of E-TicketsIn the mid-1990s, a new way of generating tickets was developed. No longer did an individual have to venture to their local brick-and-mortar travel agency, or to an airport, to purchase a ticket to go anywhere in the world. Electronic ticketing, more commonly known as e-ticket or "ticketless" travel, has cut down not only on traffic documents, it enables passengers to purchase his or her own tickets from the comfort of their own home from the airline carrier of their choice.
You may wonder how this new method of travel would encourage an individual to create their own travel agency business, but the transition from traditional brick-and-mortar travel agencies to home-based travel agency businesses is experiencing a growing trend, even in today's depressed economy, and in spite of such new technologies as e-ticketing.
The Internet has often been called the "great equalizer," which is true, and it allows small home-based travel agents the opportunity to compete with any of the largest travel agencies advertised in the media today. This is especially true for individual travel agents who specialize or focus in specific niches within the travel industry and their ability to garner search engine dominance.
Today, the only limitations to success as a travel agent, whether working for a company, or out of a home office, is the amount of determination, performance, and quality of the services provided.
In the first decade of the 21st century, home-based travel agents continue to be courted by trade publications, associations, and suppliers for a multitude of distribution channels that include air travel, train travel, and cruise lines both domestically and abroad.
Taking advantage of consumers wishing to engage the specialized services of a travel agent to plan, schedule, and arrange vacations, business travel, or leisure travel enables travel agents working at home in the 21st century the ability to earn a lucrative income, while at the same time avoiding the expense of office overhead, leasing, and commuting expenses.
Understanding the importance of travel agents within the travel profession, regardless of how their services have changed over the decades, will enable travel agents a secure and respectable future of growth and development as the travel industry continues to change and develop.