If you’re like most people in the world, your life has probably changed a bit in the past few years! For many, it’s been nice to skip the commute and spend the extra time at home with our families, while others are desperate to get out and see the world again. And some of us, of course, feel a little bit of both!
If that’s you, and you’ve got used to working at home but are longing to stretch your wings and go exploring once more, you’re probably wondering if there’s a way to combine the two – and the answer is, yes!
If you’re wondering how to become a travel agent, we’ve got good news — it’s simple: all you need is the time to get your business started, a bit of entrepreneurial spirit, and a few tips from the experts to give your new venture every chance of success. If you have a passion for travel and enjoy helping people experience the vacation of a lifetime, Dream Vacations can show you how to be a successful travel agent from the comfort of your own home.
So, if you’re ready for an exciting change and looking for a flexible way to provide for yourself and your family, read on to find out how Dream Vacations can help you on your path to successful travelpreneurship!
Is There Still a Market for Home-Based Travel Agents in 2023/2024?
In the post-COVID economy, the travel industry is booming as people make up for lost time and missed vacations! And while previously travelers increasingly relied on the internet to research and book their own vacations, with so much uncertainty and ever-changing regulations there’s been a resurgence of people desiring the personal touch of a travel professional – not just to save time and money, but to provide tailored and up-to-date advice.
Consider the following statistics:
- Planning a family vacation, with flights, accommodation, activities, passes and insurance, can take up to 10 or even 20 hours.
- On average, travel agents save clients $452.
- Baby Boomers love to travel – in the U.S., more than 10,000 people retire every day, and the entire Boomer generation is expected to be retired by 2030.
- There will be 2.3 million military retirees in the US by 2032.
- 19 new cruise ships will debut in 2023, and thirty in total by 2028, with cruise travel predicted to increase as several cruise lines invest in their own private islands and ports.
- Statistics show that global leisure travel is up 31% from pre-pandemic levels, and Booking.com predicts that 49% of travelers will make up for the Covid restricted years by spending more on travel in 2023.
- The global surge in costs has seen customers flocking to travel agents to book their 2024 vacations and lock-in competitive prices.
- Millennials currently make up approximately one quarter of the US adult population, and at least 70% plan to travel as much, if not more, than in previous years.
- Many of these younger travelers are turning to travel agents to plan and book their vacations, because they don’t have the time to do it themselves.
In today’s economy, there are three primary ways of becoming a successful work from home travel professional, each with their own challenges and benefits. These are:
- Start your own business: if you 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 your own leads and managing all of the business aspects of your business. You have more control, but the risk is greater and it can take a long time to build up a network of travel providers and suppliers.
- Join a host agency: this means aligning yourself with a larger company or franchisee and using their systems, marketing tools and accreditation number. This option represents the lowest risk, but also the lowest reward, so it’s a good choice for anyone who only needs a small income supplement.
- Invest in a franchise: franchising provides yet another pathway to becoming a successful travel agent from home. Although joining a franchise does require a larger initial investment that includes a franchise fee and 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. There are many work from home franchise opportunities to choose from, so be sure to consider 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.
Supplement Your Existing Income
If you think you might be interested in taking the plunge, but would prefer to start slowly, 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 travel franchisee, she worked for more than 20 years as a writer and editor. That made it easy to build up a full-time business.
“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 says. 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 says. “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 advisor:
- Exhibit a passion for travel and enter the business with some personal experience: while extensive travel experience isn’t necessary, it does help if you have some miles under your belt. If you don’t, it can help to start off by specializing in something you’re passionate about, such as all-inclusive resorts or Walt Disney properties. 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.
- Tap into the skills that make for a successful remote advisor: if you want to know how to be 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.
- Embrace technology and seek a quiet space: one Dream Vacations advisor 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. With the recent rise of remote and home-based work, there are also plenty of mobile apps available that allow you to be productive outside office walls. We also recommend our advisors have a dedicated office space, so you can work uninterrupted from the demands of home or family – and if you plan to work remotely, you may want to invest in some noise canceling headphones and a portable lap desk.
- 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, don’t be afraid to make recommendations based on their interests or any other needs they 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 airfares, shore excursions, hotels, or transfers,” said Trapper Martin, Dream Vacations franchise owner in Orlando, Fla. 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. As Martin says: “There can be lots of additional income opportunities there – there is no reason not to get another trip booked and provide them value at the same time!”
- Work your travel agency 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 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. Martin’s advice is to put together a list of 100 people you think that you will announce this to once you are comfortable booking – and then be sure to follow up!
- 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, you get discounts on your own travel. And as you become more experienced, your opportunities increase: for example, as your sales grow, you might enjoy paid fares to 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 Franchisee?
Take a look at some fast facts about what it takes to be a home-based travel professional and how investing in Dream Vacations can help you steer into an amazing career.
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 1,600 franchise owners who help travelers book flights, hotels, all-inclusive vacations and cruises. Despite being home based, our advisors and franchisees are not restricted to defined territories, which means they can sell travel to anyone throughout the world.
When you join Dream Vacations as a new franchisee, you’ll attend an initial six-day training program that introduces you to vendors and our proprietary booking system, My Cruise Control. This is a great opportunity to meet and network with others who will be going through our travel agent training for beginners alongside you! Follow-up training modules and weekly webinars keep you updated about the company’s booking system and about what travel vendors have to offer, and you can keep in touch with your new colleagues via our online support network.
If you are looking for leads, Dream Vacations can help. Thanks to the combined $4 million we invest annually in both brand awareness and exclusive promotions, you stand to gain recognition and plenty of website traffic. Other tools – such as social media campaigns, mobile websites, and email marketing campaigns – help franchisees build their online presence and gain access to hot leads looking for travel deals.
Finally, our new relationship with Travel Leaders Network brings customers additional pricing advantages. If you qualify and complete our extensive training, you’ll gain special access to American Express travel benefits and your clients will be able to redeem their American Express points if they book their travel through you.
What Support Can You Expect From the Corporate Team at Dream Vacations as a Home-Based Travel Advisor?
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 you’ll meet in person for the first time in that introductory week. They’ll guide you through setting up your business, and help you navigate the online training that covers everything from how to get clients as a travel agent to building itineraries, selling and 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 Advisors?
It’s easy to take advantage of all that Dream Vacations has to offer and learn how to be a successful travel agent from home. The company offers opportunities to network with both vendors and corporate staff at several venues, including regional and national conferences. These in-person events are a great way to supplement your online training and network with fellow travel professionals – and in fact, franchisees who participate experience an average 35% sales increase!
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. The more engaged you are, the more you will benefit!
Franchise Business Review Recognition
Dream Vacations was rated among the top franchises by its franchisees in a recent Franchise Business Review survey, where it ranked as either “Excellent” or “Very Good” in eight categories including Core Values, Leadership, Franchise Community and Training and Support. Some of the other awards we’ve won recently include:
- Travel Weekly Magellan Award – Gold (2022)
- Franchise 500 Top Travel Franchise (2023)
- Franchise Business Review Franchisee Satisfaction Award (2023)
- Military Times Top Franchises for Veterans (2022)
- Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top Franchises for Veterans – 2nd Place (2022)
- Franchise Business Review Top Franchises for Women (2022)
- Franchise Business Review Top 100 Franchise Culture (2022)
- What Can I Make as a Home-Based Travel Advisor?
With Dream Vacations, you get 100% of the agent commission on everything you sell, paid into your account 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.
What Does a Travel Agency Franchise Cost?
Although Dream Vacations charges relatively low entry fees, what you pay will vary depending upon your travel industry experience. For example, novice advisors can expect to pay $10,500, intermediate advisors $3,150 and experienced advisors $525. 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 franchise fees up to $7,300 over a two-year term, with a $3,500 down payment.
So, your total initial investment could range between $1,795 and $21,000. That includes your initial franchise fee, office supplies, computer equipment, advertising and insurance, plus your training, conferences and personal mentor. Not to mention, of course, the travel perks and discounts for you and your loved ones!
You Don’t Have to Dream Of Becoming a Successful Travel Agent From Home
If you can imagine yourself being paid to travel while working from home, planning ultimate vacations and having unlimited earning potential, then now’s the time to stop dreaming and start doing!
It may seem scary, but with the right help and advice anyone can learn how to be a successful travel agent from home. 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, you can bring your passion for travel to others while enjoying the flexibility of working from home.
All it takes is a small initial investment, a bit of time and training and the right entrepreneurial spirit and you could be well on your way to your dream lifestyle. After all, there’s a world of people out there longing to travel again – and they’re looking for your knowledge and support.
For more information about franchising with Dream Vacations, call 888-202-8631 or visit get started here today!