What does it take to be a Travel Agent? See the things you need and the steps to become a travel agent today.
Planning a trip can be quite stressful, especially for people with very tight schedules. The stress of booking flights, checking for and booking hotels, and renting cars all in the midst of a tight work schedule can be overwhelming. And that’s where a travel agent comes in.
Travel Agent Duties and Responsibilities
Travel agents are involved in handling the rather strenuous task of planning a trip for their clients. They help clients book flights, hotel reservations, cruises, rents cars for transportation, as well as find and secure reservations at possible relaxation venues for holiday trips or in case the client needs a time out during a business trip. Most travel agents also offer consultation services to clients.
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Their primary job, however, is to make the process of planning a trip, whether for business or leisure, easier for their clients. Travel agents serve a wide clientele, ranging from individuals to large multinational corporations. Some even go further to specialise in planning certain particular kind of trips for certain particular kind of clients.
Travel agents work closely with hotels, cruises, car rentals, airlines, etcetera in their bid to ease the stress of planning trips for their clients. Becoming a travel agent is therefore a very lucrative business idea to explore if one is looking to make good money.
Becoming a travel agent is no easy task however, as there are certain logistics that must be in place. There’s the necessary training you’ll have to undergo in order to understand the sphere better, the necessary requirements to meet before you’ll become a licensed travel agent, the sourcing for start-up capital, advertising and growing your business, as well as building your network as a travel agent.
Here in this post, we’re going to carefully breakdown all these logistics for you and thoroughly explain what it takes to be a travel agent in Nigeria.
Types of travel agents
As we’ve earlier stated, some travel agents choose to specialise in the kind of services they offer and the kind of clients they serve. Briefly, we’ll outline the various types of travel agents and what they do, just in case you too would like to specialise;
1. Visa counsellor – This type of travel agent helps his clients process and obtain their travel visas. The process of processing and obtaining a visa can be quite strenuous, with the numerous procedures that need to be carried out, and as such, the services of a professional who is versed in the logistics of processing and obtaining a visa is required. As a visa counsellor, you task is to assist your client in all the logistics and procedures required in processing and obtain his/her visa.
2. Travelling consultant – A travelling consultant is tasked with giving clients advise on certain issues regarding their trip choices. The issues could include the cheapest and best hotel choices, relaxation venues, car rentals, airlines, cruises, tourist attractions, etcetera. You’ll need to be knowledgeable on all of these issues to be able to serve your client well.
3. Sale of oversea event tickets – This type of travel agent is tasked with selling tickets to events and shows happening outside the country to his/her client. Most clients who go overseas for the holidays want to attend some of the best, top-trending events in their places of interest, and it would be your job to provide them with tickets to these events and shows.
4. Freelance travel agent – This kind of travel agent works remotely and provides clients with all the services of a travel agent, including visa processing, consultation, hotel reservation/booking, car rentals, etcetera. You’ll need to be registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to be a freelance travel agent.
5. Vacation organisation – A travel agent that specialises in vacation organisation is tasked with planning holiday trips for his/her clients. This would require you to plan everything regarding the holiday from plane tickets to hotel reservations and tourist attractions.
How to become a travel agent in Nigeria
Now that you know all the different types of travel agents, let’s quickly take you through a step-by-step guide on how to be a travel agent in Nigeria.
1. Draft out your business plan
Before starting off fully as a travel agent, you’ll need to prepare a well-thought-out and well-written business plan. Every good business starts off with a good business plan.
Your business plan should contain everything from start-up capital to other monetary and technical requirements, as well as future projections for the business. So you’ll need to do a lot of research to find out what is needed to start-up a travel agency business.
Typically, you’ll be needing start-up capital of about N1,500,000 – N5,000,000, as well as computer systems – IATA requires you to have at least 4 before being licensed, although you’ll be needing just one if you want to be a freelance travel agent – a minimum of 4-5 working staff, with two having travel agent experience, and an office.
You’ll need to account for these in your business plan. The business plan is what will help you gain the confidence of investors and get them to partner with you to fund the business.
2. Gain the necessary knowledge and training
To become a travel agent, you’ll need to have good knowledge of the air travelling industry and how it works. Of course, you’ll gain much of this knowledge over the years on the job as a travel agent, but it is important you first-of-all get some prior training before starting off.
There are a lot of IATA certified institutions where you can get sound training on all-things travel agency. Register at one of them and get started.
3. Get your IATA licence
Before starting up as a travel agent, you’ll need to be licensed with the IATA first. The IATA has certain requirements you must meet before giving you your licence. We’ve listed some of them in outline 1 above. Aside those requirements, you’ll also need to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Once all of these requirements are in place, you can process your licence with the IATA.
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4. Grow your network
To thrive in every business venture you’ll need to grow your network, which means connecting and communicating with people in the business more experienced and connected than you who you can learn from and who can promote your business by connecting you to clients and other big names in the industry. Working with already established travel agency is one way to do this.
Also, you’ll need to be registered at some other travel associations and organisations alongside the IATA. Two recommended associations you can join are the Nigerian Society of Travel Agents (NSTA), and National Association of Commission Travel Agents (NACTA). These associations can offer you the exposure and connections you need to thrive.
Becoming a travel agent in Nigeria is not an easy task, with all the logistics that need to be in place, but it is worth it when one considers how lucrative the travel industry is. We hope this article has been helpful in informing you about what it takes to become a travel agent in Nigeria. Let us know in the comments section.
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