Let’s face it: education contributes to success. Travel agent classes are a great way to enter the travel industry quickly, and command a higher salary. Here is a list of classes you should consider taking if you want to become a travel agent:
Community college. Many universities offer short courses taught by an experienced travel agent (such as myself). Here you can learn the basics of the travel industry, including pricing structures, fare rules, ticketing procedures, hotel and car rentals, etc. They come in all flavors: I have them range from a one day introductory course to an intensive six week course complete with training on a GDS (Global Distribution System).
Online travel agent classes. This is a great way to save time. You can cram a six week course in half the time if you study hard enough. One of the more comprehensive places for travel agent classes online is The Travel Academy.
Global Distribution System classes. I’ve hired several travel agents in my career, and every single one of them knew how to use at least one GDS. The truth of the matter is, most employers are reluctant to hire someone without prior knowledge of their GDS (the major ones are Amadeus, Sabre and Worldspan) because the time it takes to train someone. Here’s a way to speed up the process: sign up for the tutorials these GDS providers offer on their websites, and get to studying. Then, apply for positions that currently use that GDS.
Language classes. If you are somewhat familiar with a second language, consider taking a few classes to improve your skills. You’d be amazed at how helpful it is to speak French when calling Air France, or Hebrew when speaking with a manager at El Al. One of the highest paid travel agents I’ve known speaks six languages fluently, which comes in handy!
Travel suppliers. This is an often overlooked source for education in the industry. My advice is to learn as much as you can about at least two major hotel chains (Marriot’s Hotel Excellence Program is a great place to start), two car rental providers (Hertz and Avis) and as many airlines as you can. Not only do these companies want you to learn as much about them as possible, they often extend special travel agent rates to those who have passed their classes.
As stated before, you will notice a rise in income along with a rise in your education. Study hard, learn as much as you can, and you and your clients will reap the benefits.