You are an entrepreneur-in-the-making and you have chosen to become a home-based travel agent. Since you are new to the travel industry, you might wonder what tools a modern travel agent needs to be successful.
Your tool kit
The tools of your home-based business do not have to be extensive or expensive. You may already be using some of them.
Education and/or experience
This may not seem like a “tool”. However, it can make a significant difference in how successfully you build your business.
If you do not have experience as a travel agent, consider taking classes at the community college. There are independent training programs that can help prepare you to become a travel agent.
The advantage of travel agent training is that you will be introduced to the various software systems like the Travelport GDS cores: Galileo, Apollo, and Worldspan.
TTS’ web-based Travelport GDS is a Global Distribution System commerce platform that provides suppliers (hotels, airlines, car rentals, etc.) information on scheduling and inventory. Systems like this are essential to your business.
Your home office
Your home office setup can be fairly simple. You will need:
- A quiet work space dedicated to your business.
- Furniture might include a desk and chair, and a file cabinet/storage.
- Equipment should include a computer (PC or notebook), a mobile phone, a printer, fax machine, and copier (or an all-in-one system), and reliable, fast internet access. Be aware that today’s travel agents are highly mobile and need a good mobile phone with a strong calling plan. That mobile phone becomes a link to software programs like the Travelport Mobile Agent, that enables agents to access real-time scheduling information in just seconds. Even better, the app also functions on your desktop PC and on all mobile devices.
- Software requirements are basic – the standard software already installed on your computer like Excel, Quicken, Acrobat Reader, a word processing program (you will not need travel industry-based proprietary software).
If you are a travel agency employee working from home, you will have access to your agency’s software systems for reservations. As a new independent business owner, you’ll most likely be working with a host agency that can provide wider access to the GDS.
A valuable tool is TTS Web Agent that is designed to work on Windows, Macintosh, or Linux, on desktops and laptops.
- Fees: Your local government may require you to be registered as a business and obtain a permit for operating a home business.
Depending on which state or country you establish your business, you may also be required to become a licensed or certified travel agent.
The host agency with which you work may charge a fee. The new business owner will want to carefully evaluate host agencies’ benefits and fees before making a decision – and an investment. There are also host agencies that do not charge a sign-up fee.
You may also want to join various travel industry organisations or trade associations.
The host agency
As a fledgling home-based travel agent, it may be most cost-effective and learning practical for you to work through a host agency. This frequently is the way an experienced agent or former agency owner becomes a successful home-based travel agent.
The benefits of using a host agency can be significant for the new travel agent, from cost savings to mentoring.
Continue building your tool kit
You are building a “tool kit” with which you will build your travel agency. Not everything has to be accomplished at once. Take one step at a time, add to your tool kit as you go along, and give yourself credit for being courageous. Best wishes to your success!