This post was updated on November 30, 2019
If you love to work with people and you are genuinely interested in all aspects of travel, then why not become a work from home travel agent yourself and reap all the rewards of this exciting career?
Your mind is probably conjuring up images of sugar white beaches and chilled cocktails or perhaps beautiful snow-capped mountains and luxurious ski lodges with crackling log fires. Maybe you imagine yourself on a cruise in the Caribbean, a glass of wine in hand, stretched out on a chaise lounge.
Everyone has their dream destinations in their minds, but wouldn’t it be fun to be the person that organizes these idyllic vacations for couples or families, plus get paid to do it and get huge discounts on travel yourself?
Is This a Good Idea for me now?
The first thing you may be asking yourself is whether working online as a home-based travel agent is a good option for you as you move towards or continue with, retirement. Well, there is good news in that it is OUR generation that now has the time and the funds to travel, and we are doing it! Here is a link to AARP that will give you some statistics on the travel trends predicted for us in 2019.
So, who are they going to want to book these great vacations for them? Some 25-year-old? Sorry, but I don’t think so. People prefer to work with those that empathize with them, that they feel connected to and share similar needs to.
The time is right for you to embark upon this type of work because you can now do it from home, be in charge of your own schedule and create a business for yourself that you may have always hoped for, with no boss looming over your shoulder!
How it Used to be
Well, we can probably all remember back in the ‘old’ days of say the 70’s, when there was no other choice but to go to an actual travel agency office to book your trip. In fact, my mother worked in such a place in the Bay Area of California where I grew up and she really enjoyed making travel arrangements for her clients. She organized everything from flights to hotels, restaurants and car rentals.
Do you recall when travel agencies had 5 foot long models of ‘ocean liners’ in the lobby? Back then, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) would only allow one agency in each area to exclusively sell their airline tickets. Same thing with the ocean liner (cruise ship) companies. That is how the travel agencies made their money and because of this exclusivity, you had no choice but to book through them.
Also, back then, the concept of a ‘package holiday’ which included hotel and airfare, was relatively unheard of in North America (though they had been available in parts of Europe).
And too, the choices of destination were very different. Nobody was going to Asia due to the war in Vietnam and only the adventurous few were traveling to places like South Africa or Eastern Europe.
Anyway, you remember how it was, but now it is completely different!
Everything can now be done online, from your own home office without the need and expense of setting up an expensive office location.
Why do Travel Agents Still Exist?
The answer is that they continue to do what they have always done and that is to help with the things that travelers can’t, won’t or don’t know how to do.
For example, if you wanted to schedule a Caribbean cruise for a family reunion of say, 30 people, members of your tribe may be coming from several different geographical locations requiring multiple flights to get to the cruise ship port. Some of them might even need to stay overnight on their way to the get-together. This would be a nightmare to organize yourself!
Travel agents are often used by corporations because busy executives don’t have the time (or desire) to be scheduling flights, hotels, and transportation when they are going to important seminars or conventions.
Additionally, travelers just want to be that: travelers. They don’t want to spend hours and hours searching for ‘great deals’ on multiple sites that they may not even be sure are legitimate.
The travel agent is still the go-to professional to take the hassle out of organizing a trip!
The other thing that is keeping agents in business these days is that they are ‘specializing’ in a ‘niche’ market. For example, luxury one-of-a-kind trips, or river cruises for boomers could be considered a niche. Destination specialists such as an agent who only books trips for clients to say, France, is another example of becoming an expert in a specialized certain field.
Travelers are still looking to engage with a human and to receive personalized customer service when they take a journey.
Can I do this?
Yes. In order to get your foot in the door, you will need to find what is called a “Host Agency” if you have no experience in this industry. This is because you want to be with a reputable company who is experienced and accredited with IATA (International Air Transport Association) or the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association).
You will be working as an Independent Agent for this host company and, generally, the split is about 70/30, with you, the agent, receiving the 70%. The 30% retained by the company will go to things such as insurance, fees, taxes, licensing, phone lines, etc. Of course, it varies with each specific company.
What does it Take?
It is going to take hard work and perseverance! Starting and running your own business always does.
You are also going to have to invest in some training and create a comfortable, functional work environment for yourself with the features and tools that you need to help you succeed in your business.
Just as in any other entrepreneurial endeavor, whether it be online or offline, you are going to have to work hard because, although there are millions of people who want to travel, there is a lot of competition and you will have to find your ‘niche’ (or specialty), learn it, grow it and develop it.
This is why, in my opinion, it is best to align yourself with a reputable Host Agency so you don’t feel alone or overwhelmed.
Just be careful that you are not aligning yourself with a travel MLM (multi-level marketing company). That is another completely different animal to a Host Agency. Please read My Evolution Travel Review and my review of Surge 365 to learn more about what a travel MLM is and why you should avoid them. In fact, you should always be very cautious about joining any MLM company which is why I have created this checklist for you.
How Much Can I Earn as a Work From Home Travel Agent?
Every time you sell something, whether it be a flight plus hotel package, a cruise, car rental, a destination activity, you, the independent agent, earn a commission.
So, for example, if you sell a cruise, the cruise line pays your host agency a commission. That commission is a percentage of the cruise price sold and that percentage is typically in the region of 15%.
So, to look at the math, let’s say the total price of the cruise is $4000. The cruise line pays the hosting agency 15% of that total of $4000. This means the host agency receives $600 commission from the cruise line.
Now, the host agency will pay you, the independent agent. What you get paid here depends on the arrangement you have made with your host agency but for the purpose of this exercise let’s say you get 50% of that $600. This = $300 to you. If you got 75% this would = $450 to you. For one booking.
Now, let us say you booked one trip at $4000 each day for 5 days of the week. This would = $1500 at that lower commission of 50%! Not bad, right?
Just remember that it depends on the host agency you are working with as to what your commission split will be, so this is something to check very carefully before committing yourself to a working relationship. Take your time to do your research.
What are Some of the Benefits?
There is no doubt about the benefits of this industry:
- Low start-up cost compared to a bricks and mortar business
- Work from your own home
- No boss and no office commute
- Choose your own hours
- Save money on your own travel and/or travel for free
- Tax breaks for working from home
- Spend more time with your family and on your hobbies
- Make a great second income or full-time income if you prefer
Where do I start?
There is a plethora of information on the internet about training as a travel agent and some of it is even free. There are also companies that offer franchises so that you can start your own home-based travel business with a known name in the industry.
Very recently, I found a website that is a great resource for learning more about host agencies. I am not affiliated with them in any way other than that I reached out to one of their writers, Mary Stein, and she was so helpful and encouraging. She recommended that anyone interested in learning about becoming a travel agent sign up for their FREE 7-day Travel Agency Challenge. So I did! You may want to sign up as well.
Hostagencyreviews.com is definitely legit and I was so happy I stumbled upon it during my research. It is jam-packed with useful resources, articles, and reviews for you if the travel agent dream is something you wish to pursue.
It is worth noting that in this industry, you are paid after a trip, so you may be waiting on money for up to a year or more (many people book trips way in advance). Sometimes, you could have done all the work to make a booking for a client and then they will decide to go with another company.
You will have to decide with your host agency how to handle this because sometimes a service fee can be charged to ensure that you get paid for your work.
I believe that working from home as a travel agent in your own business could be very lucrative and also very fun. Being an avid traveler myself, I love the thought of getting perks such as free travel and of course, not having a boss to report to or ask when I can take a vacation! Also, you can choose whether you want to just generate some extra income part-time or create a full-time business for yourself.
However, you must be very careful to align yourself to a reputable host company, if you have no previous experience, and be willing to open yourself up to learning where your strengths lie and immersing yourself into the niche in which you plan to specialize. You must become an expert.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. If you have any questions or feedback for me, please leave me a comment. I love hearing from you!
For some more ideas on creating some online income for yourself, please read my article Money Making Ideas for Retirees.
Philip and I use a different program for generating income so if this piques your curiosity, you can read about it HERE.
To see real-life stories of people just like you and me who have been successful using our Affiliate Marketing program, read Philip’s post It is Possible to Make Money With Wealthy Affiliate.