Becoming a Travel Advisor (AKA Travel Agent)
by Lynne Macolini- Co-Owner of Coasters & Castles Travel, LLC.
A Travel Advisor used to be called a Travel Agent. When I was a young adult, Travel Agents were the only way that a person could get flights. You could not go online, yes I am old, and book flights yourself like you can today. With the entry of the internet, Travel Agents did not go away, they evolved into what we are today. Travel Advisors.
Many of us do not even book flights if they are not part of a package any more. Honestly, in most cases it is better for the client if they book the flights themselves. Flight prices change so often that if I see a flight at a certain price, I cannot guarantee it will be the same price when you are able to confirm that you want that flight. Because flights have to be paid in full immediately, we do not have the ability to put them on hold until we get your authorization.
What do travel advisors do now you ask? Well, it depends on where our clients want to travel and how much they want us involved. When I first became a travel advisor, I did it because I learned I could plan Disney vacations and that sounded like my dream job. I always loved planning Disney trips and I traveled there frequently. For Disney, it even depends on the destination and honestly the travel advisor as to what we do.
The biggest thing with a travel advisor is you are hiring us for our experience, knowledge, and to save you a lot of time and possible frustration. We are also an advocate for you if something happens. I remember back to March of 2020 when the world shutdown because of Covid. Everyone else shut down but we did not. We worked to get our clients cancelled or rebooked. Some reservations were rebooked between 5-10 times.
For our clients traveling to Walt Disney World, we thought they would be closed for two weeks. It went from two weeks, to a month, to two months, to who knows when. We were fortunate that Walt Disney World was only closed around 4 months. Disneyland was closed for over a year. Never in my life did I ever think that Disneyland, place that Walt built, would be closed for over a year. In my lifetime, Walt Disney World would close for a day or two because of a hurricane. Never months and months.
Now travel advisors are even more in demand. For a Disney vacation, we are often arranging rooms, park tickets, ensuring that park reservations are made, making dining reservations, suggesting itineraries, and educating clients on Genie+ and how to maximize it. For cruises and all-inclusive resorts, we are organizing airport transfers, pre and/or post hotel stays, arranging excursions and pre and or post tours.
Travel Advisors can work in two different roles. They can be an employee of an agency or they can be affiliated with an agency as an Independent Contractor. I really like the Independent Contractor model. That was what I started out as and that is what our agency uses.
Why, you might ask, is that my preferred model? Honestly, it is because an Independent Contractor is his/her own boss. We, as the agency, cannot require, what, when, where, or how much an independent contractor works.
Our advisors can decide it they want to do this part time or full time. They can choose to work as many hours as they choose. They can choose the actual hours they are working. April loves that she can go and pick up her son from school and attend his school events when she wants. We have some advisors who home school their kids. They are able to be home for these activities and still have a career as a travel advisor.
Earnings are not limited. The more you build your business and sell travel, the more you make. I love that the ratio of income is tied to the sales an advisor has. An employee might make the same $ or even less than someone who sells less than they do.
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