How to Become a Travel Agent From Home
If you’ve ever wondered how to become a travel agent from home, chances are you have a passion for travel and enjoy helping people experience the vacation of a lifetime. And while travelers have increasingly relied on the Internet to research and book their own travel, there has been a resurgence of people who desire a personal touch that can save both time and money. Consider the following statistics from Dream Vacations:
- The average time it takes to book a vacation is five hours, not including research.
- On average, travel agents save clients $452.
- Baby Boomers love to travel–and, in the U.S., more than 10,000 people retire every day.
- 67 new cruise ships will debut between 2019 and 2025.
In today’s economy, becoming a home-based travel agent requires you to start your own business, join a host agency, or invest in a franchise. There are pluses and minuses to each of these.
- If you do choose to run your own independent travel agency business, you will be responsible for developing your own website, marketing and advertising, travel booking systems, and business insurance costs—to name a few. You will also be responsible for generating all of your own leads and managing all of the business aspects of your business.
- Franchising provides yet another pathway to becoming a successful travel agent from home. Although joining a franchise does require an initial investment that includes a franchise fee, as well as other up-front costs, it also provides you with brand recognition, built-in lead generation programs, and proven systems that process both travel bookings and payments. But who you are anchored to can either float your home-based business or sink it. It’s important to talk to agents from travel franchises you might be interested in joining to better learn how commissions are paid out, how much support you receive from the corporate office, and what types of perks you will be able to offer your customers as a result of being part of a larger franchise.
If you think you might be interested in taking the plunge, there are ways to dip your toes into the water before committing to a home-based travel career. Before Christy Scannell joined Dreams Vacations as a full-time agent, she worked for more than 20 years as a writer and editor. If you are looking at how to be a successful travel agent from home, it pays to have a second source of income when you begin your business, she said. Now eight years into her career, Scannell has traveled the world and planned amazing vacations for hundreds of clients.
“Thankfully, I’ve grown the business into a six-figure income but that has come with enormous effort,” she said. “Not everyone will want to work that hard and therefore their income will be substantially less. But if they are achieving their lifestyle and financial goals, that is the perfect franchise for them!”
How to Start An Online Travel Agency
Ready to go? Here’s what can you do to ensure success as a home-based travel agent.
1. Exhibit a passion for travel and enter the business with some personal experience. While extensive travel experience isn’t necessary, it does help to sell travel if you have some miles under your belt. Some agents choose to specialize in cruises; others in all-inclusive resorts or Walt Disney properties. If you don’t have much experience, it can help to start off with a travel specialty as you learn others, according to Dream Vacations. You also need to be willing to conduct research on itineraries you are not familiar with. When you are part of a franchise, you can rely on other resources to help you quickly expand your knowledge base so you can help a broader range of travelers plan their dream vacations.
2. Tap into the skills that make for a successful remote agent. If you want to know how to become a successful travel agent from home, you need both strong organizational skills and patience to persevere. Not only do you need the self-motivation to follow a routine, but you must set realistic hours so that you aren’t working around the clock. You also want to be available to communicate with your clients when they need you. That might mean pushing your schedule back from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., for example, so that you can meet with clients after work or accommodate specific time zones.
3. Embrace technology and seek a quiet space. One Dream Vacations agent swears by having two computers running at one time, giving him four screens and the ability to view multiple screens while running the Cruise Control booking system. There are also mobile apps that work well on smartphones that allow you to be productive outside of office walls, too. He also recommends that agents have a dedicated office space that allows them to work uninterrupted from the demands of home or family.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Follow Up. Attention to detail means following up with clients at every stage—from initial lead inquiry through post-vacation feedback. For the customer who was once interested in a trip, get back to them with new pricing or other suggestions. If a customer has already booked a trip, follow up to anticipate any other needs he or she might have.
“This can come in the form of booking additional components that a client might not be aware of or ready for at the time of booking—such as airfare, shore excursions, hotels, or transfers,” said Trapper Martin, Dream Vacations franchise owner in Orlando, Fla. “There can be lots of additional income opportunities there.”
It’s also important to make sure a client’s trip went as planned and see if they are interested in booking their next trip.
“We have a self-funded promotion for cruise bookings that will provide additional onboard credit for sailings that take place in the next 18 months,” said Martin. “There is no reason not to get another trip booked and provide them value at the same time.”
5. Work Your Business Plan. While friends and family make excellent first customers, you should have a plan for growing your client base beyond your first few bookings. Look at any strong ties you already have to various organizations or groups looking to travel. Think about how you want to present yourself to new clients and how you might use various marketing tools—including direct mail, social media, or email marketing – to broaden your potential customer base.
“I always tell potential franchisees or associates to put together a list of 100 people you think that you will announce this to once you are comfortable booking,” said Martin.
While you can’t start right off the bat pretending to be an expert on every type of travel, you can promise to conduct research and tap into the knowledge of both the corporate office and other franchisees to present customers with the best options possible.
6. BONUS! Take Advantage of the Perks! One of the biggest reasons why you probably became interested in launching your own travel agency is because you love to travel! Thanks to opportunities offered by Dream Vacations, franchisees can take advantage of special events that expose them to new vacation experiences throughout the world—including charter river cruises and land summits at all-inclusive resorts. Plus, they get discounts on their own travel. And as you become more experienced, your opportunities increase. For example, as your sales grow, you might enjoy perks such as paid fare to the national conferences and priority registration to regional training and summit events. Other benefits include additional marketing dollars that help you promote your brand.
What Does it Take to Become a Dream Vacations Agent?
Take a look at some fast facts about what it takes to be a home-based agent and how investing in Dream Vacations can help you steer into an amazing career.
Is there still a market for home-based travel agents in 2019/2020?
Thanks to a strong economy, travelers are anxious to explore. Non-cruise sales have increased more than 30% year-over-year, and 38% of millennials have used a travel agent in the past 12 months. In 2019, it’s expected that 30 million passengers will have taken a cruise—with 70% of them booking through a travel agent. As a home-based agent, you can help your clients choose and book the best vacation ever, thanks to the network of vendors and exclusive discounts you’ll have available to you through Dream Vacations.
What’s different about Dream Vacations, and how does the company support your success?
Dream Vacations, under the umbrella of World Travel Holdings, is the world’s largest cruise agency. Since 1992, the franchise has grown to 1,400 franchise owners who help travelers book air, hotel, all-inclusive vacations, and cruises. Their agents are home-based and do not operate in defined territories, which allows them to sell travel to anyone throughout the world.
Dream Vacations provides its agents with a six-day initial training that introduces them to vendors and its proprietary booking system, My Cruise Control. Follow-up training modules keep you updated about the company’s booking system and about what travel vendors have to offer.
If you are looking for leads, Dream Vacations can help. Thanks to the combined $4 million it invests annually in both brand awareness and exclusive promotions; you stand to gain recognition and plenty of website visitors. Other tools – such as social media campaigns, mobile websites, and email marketing campaigns also help franchisees gain access to hot leads looking for travel deals.
Finally, its new relationship with Travel Leaders Network brings customers additional pricing advantages. For those agents who qualify and complete the extensive training, they have access to American Express travel benefits and the ability for customers to redeem their American Express points with them for travel.
What support can you expect from the corporate team at Dream Vacations as a home-based travel agent?
Beyond the first week of initial training, Dream Vacations stands ready to provide plenty of support –thanks to its dedicated regional business development managers who meet with you in person for the first time at your initial training and guide you through your business. The company also offers weekly webinars and follow-up online training that covers everything from building itineraries to selling to effectively using technology. With Dream Vacations, you may work from home—but you aren’t on your own.
How can being engaged in a corporate organization promote success for individual agents?
It’s important to take advantage of all that Dream Vacations has to offer if you want to know how you can become a travel agent from home. The company offers opportunities to network with both vendors and corporate staff at several venues, including regional and national conferences. Franchisees who participated experienced an average 35% sales increase, according to Dream Vacations.
You can also serve on a committee or the Advisory Council to help better understand the organization and tap into a wealth of expertise that can propel your business forward. Those franchisees who are most engaged benefit the most.
Dream Vacations was rated among the top franchises by its franchisees in a recent Franchise Business Review survey, where its franchisees ranked it as either “Excellent” or “Very Good” in eight categories, including financial opportunity and general satisfaction. Here’s what you need to know if you are considering a Dream Vacations franchise.
Franchise Business Review Recognition
Top 200 Franchises: (2010-2019)
Top Low Cost Franchise: (2011-2019)
Top Franchise for Veterans: (2013-2019)
Top Franchise for Women: (2017-2019)
Top Innovative Franchises: (2017-2019)
Top Services Franchise: (2019)
What you can expect to make as a home-based travel agent varies.
Dream Vacations pays out commissions to its agents weekly. According to Item 19 in its Financial Disclosure Document, its top group of franchisees (representing 5% of the network) had average travel sales of $2.2 million in 2018. The lowest group, which represented 38% of all agents, had average travel sales of $42,563.
Although Dream Vacations charges relatively low entry fees, initial franchise fees will vary depending upon your travel industry experience.
For example, Dream Vacations initial franchise fees range from $495 to $9,800 depending on your experience level. (Novice agents can expect to pay $9,800; Intermediate agents $3,195, and Experienced agents, $495.) The franchise offers a 20% discount off the franchise fee to U.S. Veterans, active-duty spouses, Gold Star Families, first responders and community heroes including teachers and medical staff. Also, Dream Vacations provides financing for initial franchisee fees up to $7,300 over a two-year term, with a $3,500 down payment.
Your total initial investment could range between $1,795 and $20,300, to include your initial franchise fee, initial office supplies and computer equipment, advertising and insurance.
You don’t have to dream of becoming a successful travel agent from home.
Becoming a successful home-based travel agent is an attainable career for most people, thanks to its low investment requirement and minimal overhead costs. Whether you decide to launch a small business on your own, work as an independent contractor for a host agency, or invest in a franchise, there is a strong travel client base out there looking for your knowledge and support. Bring your passion for travel to others, while enjoying the flexibility of working from home!
For more information about franchising with Dream Vacations, you may call 888-202-8631 or visit get started here.