So you’ve decided to join the travel industry. Congrats – you’re on your way to the best job in the world! A career as a luxury travel advisor is not only incredibly rewarding, but it also gives you the opportunity to travel the world. Plus, with a strong client base and several years of hard work building a business, successful advisors can make six figures doing what they love!
So, how to become a luxury travel agent (or Travel Advisor as we like to say)? Keep reading, and we’ll walk you through it!
STEP 0: Make sure this is truly what you want to do.
On paper, a luxury Travel Advisor looks like a glamorous job. Jetting off to the best resorts, being first to see a new hotel, and venturing to destinations most people can only dream of is amazing.
But what most people don’t see is the 3AM phone call from a client who decided to leave Paris right.now. instead of in 3 days, and thus will arrive in London early and demands to still have the 3-bedroom suite overlooking Kensington Garden, whether it’s available or not.
That might be an exaggeration (or just the tip of the iceberg in some cases), but the Travel Advisor must be on call 24/7—no matter where they are or what day it is. Consider these 5 things before you turn in your two weeks’ notice and change careers to become a luxury travel advisor.
Still ready to join our ranks? Continue to Step 1.
STEP 1: Decide if you need training.
Answer these three questions:
- Do you have true experience planning trips? (We’re talking you’re the go-to, full-service planner for your friends and your friends’ friends.)
- Have you traveled extensively and know several destinations inside and out?
- Do you have a large network of friends, family, and contacts with the means and will to travel?
If your answer is NO to any of these, you need more training. You can participate in a year-long mentoring program that teaches you everything you need to know! (Learn more about the industry-leading Brownell Mentoring Program here!)
STEP 2: Decide which agency to join.
A luxury Travel Advisor needs a worldwide network of travel suppliers to ensure that their clients are treated like VIPs and get added amenities and benefits—a sure fire way to get clients booking with you rather than directly. By joining an established agency, you immediately have the connections and name recognition that ensures a return call from the general manager of fill in the blank fabulous property.
A. Align yourself with an agency that is part of a consortium
Joining or working with an agency that is part of a consortium, like Virtuoso, is key. You’ll be able to unlock exclusive amenities that add a lot of value to your client’s trip, and you’ll rest assured knowing that all the hotels have been thoroughly vetted and your clients are in good hands. Plus, you’ll have access to trainings and educational trips.
B. Research how the commissions and fees work.
- What is the commission model?
- What is the average commission percentage?
- Will you pay an annual fee?
- Will clients pay a fee for your services?
C. Figure out what you’ll need from your agency.
- Do you need accounting, marketing, and tech support? Will they provide it?
- Will you be part of a family of Advisors that shares information and help each other? Or will you simply be in an agency that lets you use the name but you’ll work on your own Travel Advisor island?
- Is the agency a part of preferred partner programs like Ritz-Carlton STARS or Four Seasons Preferred Partner?
- Will the agency provide training opportunities?
Narrow it down to a few agencies, and start your deep-level research. Call Advisors in those agencies, call Virtuoso, resort to google—whatever it is, do your homework. Once you figure out the agency that is best for you, go through their process of joining the team…then proceed to the next step!
STEP 3: Get online
Build a website and social media pages, and develop your online presence. Nowadays, everyone likes to do a quick online search, and you want to make sure you come up. Commit to starting and maintaining a travel blog, even if you only post once a month. You’ll be able to market yourself, and let potential clients know what you’re about.
Unsure about social media? Embrace it because it’s here to stay. The ROI of social media is that you’ll still be here in 6 years. You’ll be able to connect with clients as well as other people in the industry!
STEP 4: Dedication, Patience & Training
Just like starting a business in any industry, you must be dedicated and patient. Use every opportunity to network and meet potential new clients. Neighborhood gatherings, community events, and even parties are great ways to get the word out about your new business. And once you tell someone you’re a luxury Travel Advisor, the questions will start flowing. Get ready!
Secondly, you need to be dedicated. You’ll experience the highest of highs (booking your first safari) and the lowest of lows (a dry spell, or worse—a “shopper” that takes up hours and hours of your time only to book on a travel deal website). Keep trucking through no matter what comes your way. In a few years, you’ll be so glad you did.
Lastly, never stop learning. Take advantage of any training opportunities. Log into webinars, go to Virtuoso Travel Week (a must!), experience a country through an educational trip, or sign up for a study tour. The industry is constantly changing, and it is crucial to keep up.