If you’re passionate about travel and looking for a side hustle or want to discover whether switching careers is a viable option, becoming a part-time travel agent could be the perfect path for you. What could be more rewarding than jetting off on your own adventures and then selling similar experiences to your clients – and being paid for it? Here we will guide you on becoming a part-time travel agent so that you can turn those dreams into reality.
Spoiler alert: It’s not as hard as you might think!
Why becoming a part-time travel agent is a great idea
Going part-time as a travel agent can offer both security and flexibility, giving you the option of working part-time in another job or to spend time with your family perhaps to look after young kids or elderly parents. Here’s some other reasons why some people opt to work part-time as a travel agent.
1. To travel more and take advantage of heavily discounted holidays.
As a travel agent, holiday providers will be eager to engage with you so you can experience what they offer to better sell the experience to your clients.
2. Explore and experience travel products that may not otherwise be accessible to average customers.
Many agents get the opportunity to experience inaugural cruises or excursions, as well as flights to new routes and upcoming destinations.
3. Become familiar with other cultures, and sell those great experiences to your clients.
Experiencing a new culture first-hand is exciting and allows you to sell the right holiday to the right client
4. Generate a subsidiary income and pursue a side interest.
Becoming a travel agent part-time enables you to continue with your current job alongside your new venture, offering you financial security and flexibility in working hours. Some consultants maintain their full-time career, working evenings and weekends initially until they build up their customer base and business.
5. Create a professional and social network with people from around the world.
As you grow your business, you’ll meet many new people in the UK and abroad and some consultants even make life-long friends on educational trips.
How to become a part-time travel agent
Can you be a part-time travel agent?
You may wonder if you can be a part-time travel agent without any former experience in the travel industry.
Absolutely you can!
There are a few ways to establish yourself as a part-time travel agent. One of the most popular is to join an existing travel agency recruiting for that role. However, working for someone else means you have less flexibility with your working hours and you may be better off to start your own agency employing experienced staff or buy your own franchise. The Travel Franchise, for example, is best known taking new recruits who have never worked in the industry before and helping them create successful businesses in under a year.
How to become a travel agent part-time:
- Decide upon a business model
Will you work from home, online, or in a brick-and-mortar business? Will you open a franchise or join a host agency? It will also be necessary to get your business plan in order.
- Apply for licences
You will need certain licences such as ATOL and it is also advisable to join ABTA.
- Decide on your budget
When starting your own travel agency business, you’ll need a substantial budget to start unless you decide upon franchising or joining an already-established travel agency.
- Receive training
You’ll need to prioritise training for your part-time role. Franchisers and host agencies usually offer support and training as part of a package. No qualifications are necessary to become a travel agent, so you’ll want to research the training offered.
- Start selling holidays!
Once you have all of the above in order, you’re prepped and ready to start selling holidays, fulfilling dreams and making an income through commission.
How do I qualify as a travel agent?
Whilst there are no formal qualifications needed to pursue your dream as a travel agent, you will need to be aware of a few things.
If you intend to sell flights alone or as a package, you must apply for an Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL). There are a range ATOLs catering to a variety of requirements, including franchise ATOL, small business ATOL, and so on. The standard ATOL is the most expensive option, so this will need careful financial consideration
- A Business Plan
This is the guidebook to your business success and ensures you’re on the right track for successful growth. As part of this plan, keep a record of your licences and organisation memberships.
- Trade Organisations
You will want to join a trade organisation to establish yourself as a trusted agent. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is the most well-known but it can also be an expensive option. There are other trade organisations which are more budget-friendly including Tourism Alliance and AITO.
Realistically, you will need to dedicate significant time to build your new venture. Even though you may start part-time, you may choose to go full-time after a while.
Try to find time to engage in the necessary training for your role. Whether part-time or at home, you will still need to invest in a good quality training programme to ensure your business is a success. Often, franchises and host agencies will provide long-term ongoing support and training, but if you go it alone, you’ll need to source and pay for your training and progression.
Is it hard to become a travel agent?
Becoming a travel agent has never been easier with the help of franchises and host agencies, but here are some considerations to take before diving in.
How much does a part-time travel agent make?
Remuneration varies, but typically you might expect to make around 10-15% from sales commissions. This doesn’t consider all the extra perks of being a travel agent, such as free flights and hotel stays! Inevitably, the fantastic network of friends and experiences you collect becomes some of the most valuable parts of the travel agency business.
While not a barrier to entry, your inexperience might initially feel frustrating but remember your success will also depend on the size of your network. Luckily, there are numerous training options available, and franchises and host agencies will provide much-needed support.
With start-up costs as low as £2,995 (plus VAT) for certain franchises, they are well worth considering and while working part-time might take a little longer to recoup those costs you have the support network and experience to help you make the best decision on where you focus your time. For example, some franchisees charge an extra small fee to specialise in a certain area such as cruise, but as this is a dynamic sector where commissions are typically big, this could offer you bigger returns more quickly.
Tips for combining a part-time travel agency career with your lifestyle
Many people prefer to start part-time due to the work/life balance or other commitments such as another job or family. However, it is still necessary to carefully organise your time. Below are some tips on how to combine your lifestyle with your new part-time travel agency career.
- How much time can you spare? Initially you mayhave to dedicate more time to make more money, so it’s important to consider how much you would ideally like to earn.
- Balance work-life hours. Your working hours will be determined by the kind of travel business you choose to run. An online business can be dealt with remotely throughout the day, but a brick-and-mortar version requires more regular hours.
- Prioritise! In the initial stages, you will have to dedicate more time and energy to your business. It is essential to consider your other commitments and work out how you can balance them with your new travel agency to ensure that you don’t become exhausted and end up wishing you’d never started.
So there you have it, you were wondering how to become a travel agent part-time, and now you know. Hopefully, it seems less daunting now, and you have the tools to go forward and make your new business venture a success. If you remember to invest time and effort in your business plan, choose a business model such as a travel franchise, and get the legal bits in order, you’ll be on the right track to entrepreneurial success!