In the 21st century, most people have heard about the internet. In fact, using online tools, many are able to book flights, arrange hotels, and plan entertainment without any instruction. However, this doesn’t mean that as a travel consultant you wouldn’t be in high demand.
Organising travel documents can be long-winded and complicated. As a travel consultant, having the logistical skills of the travel industry can be a lifesaver for your clients. Even with the numerous flight and vacation websites available, a lot of people can’t seem to find the time to tackle airline schedules or do holiday research. Instead, they find it much easier to hire a travel consultant to take care of everything.
With some education and some passion, you can become a travel consultant who is capable of providing expert guidance to the 21st-century traveller.
Who Is A Travel Consultant?
A travel consultant is someone who coordinates nearly every aspect of travel arrangements for their clients. A travel consultant arranges lodging, transportation, and entertainment like tours or sight-seeing.
Travel consultants get all sorts of clients, from solo explorers to large families to university students on break. A good consultant will take note of their client’s budget, hobbies, and any health risks that the client has put on file. They will also take into account things like safety, customs and culture, and weather before making holiday suggestions to their client.
Becoming a travel consultant is fairly straightforward. And in this article, we’ll be going through a comprehensive and engaging guide on just how you can become the travel consultant you’ve always wanted to be!
Travel Consultant Vs. Travel Agent
There is often confusion about the differences between a travel consultant and a travel agent. The two are not the same.
A travel agent is affiliated with a travel agency. This could be an agency they own themselves or a third-party one. A travel agency must be registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) before its agents can book flights on behalf of a client. The agent splits whatever commission they receive with the principal agency.
In general, a travel agency may have access to discounted rates on things like flight or cruise tickets due to their IATA certification.
See also: How To Start A Travel Agency
On the other hand, a travel consultant is someone who provides travel advice professionally. A consultant has insider wisdom on cheaper airlines, travel insurance, and baggage allowance. Additionally, the consultant has a broad knowledge of local treasures like restricted art collections, obscure restaurants, or hidden picnic spots.
Generally, a travel consultant provides creative vacation or travel packages for a client based on their intimate knowledge of the destination. A lot of this expertise comes from personal experience living in the desired vacation spot, but not all of it.
In all, consultants suggest unique and uncommon avenues for entertainment and organise everything from lodging to transportation to guided tours. Their goal is to make the travel experience as entertaining and as seamless as possible. However, note that unlike agencies, most travel consultants cannot book flights on their clients’ behalf since most are not registered with the IATA.
Skills A Competent Travel Consultant Should Have
Here are 6 crucial skills you will need to be a great travel consultant:
- Be well-travelled. If traveling is not a feasible option right now, you must be good at researching vacation destinations in order to create personalised and unique experiences for your client.
- Organisational skills
- Sharp attention to detail
- Very strong communication and interpersonal skills
- The ability to work in a fast-paced, vibrant environment
- Good at making sales/being a salesperson
Steps To Become A Travel Consultant
Step 1 – Select A Niche
The travel consulting business is ripe with various types of fruit, and all you need to do is pluck one. Without extending the fruit metaphor too far, here are some of the niches or sectors you could explore in your aspiring career as a travel consultant:
- International travel consultant: provide creative vacation packages and arrange lodging and transport for clients seeking to travel internationally. This niche requires that you be widely-travelled or otherwise very competent in online research. This niche holds room for sub-specialisation e.g. vineyard tours in Italy, African Safaris, and so on.
- Local travel consultant: provide creative vacation packages and arrange lodging and transport for clients seeking to travel locally. In this case, you would serve clientele who want to visit your city or a place you have lived before. This requires an intimate knowledge of your environment and attention to detail.
- Corporate travel consultant: provide creative professional packages and arrange lodging and transport for clients travelling for business. Your clientele would be sponsored by their companies. Your responsibility would be to arrange outings for team-bonding experiences or work meetings.
- Cruise specialist: provide creative vacation packages and arrange cruise tickets, lodging, and transport.
Step 2 – Register Your Business Name
After deciding on your niche, the next step is to register your business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Not only does this ensure that you won’t waste time building a brand in someone else’s name; you will also be able to open a corporate bank account. A corporate bank account lends a lot of credibility to your consulting business and encourages trust.
To register, log in on the CAC website and follow the outlined instructions. Otherwise, another option is to get in touch with ReDahlia to handle the hassle of business registration quickly and professionally.
Step 3 – Get Relevant Training
Consider taking a course in tourism and hospitality. This is a form of certification that looks very reputable to potential clients when combined with your personal experience. Take an online course in Tourism Management, Travel Management, or Tourism and Hospitality. If in-person classes are more your style, most universities offer tourism classes to students.
Step 4 – Set Up An Office
Travel consultancy is largely done digitally. However, some clients might prefer to associate your services with a physical location. To get around renting out an actual office space, you can set up a virtual address, which clients will link to your consulting firm. ReDahlia Workspaces provides excellent virtual and physical offices with extremely fast fiber-optic Wi-Fi and free coffee!
In addition to office space, you want to purchase the relevant equipment needed to do the job. These include a laptop and a work cell phone. With these things, you are almost ready to go!
Step 5 – Travel, Keep A Travel Journal and Take Pictures
Travel consultants get their information from friends, acquaintances, websites, and brochures. Consultants also visit destinations themselves to assess hotels, boarding houses, and activities so they can provide personal and unique recommendations.
Accordingly, you begin to build your reputation as a travel expert, some hotels, restaurants, and resorts might even pay you to use their services. Imagine getting paid to stay at a hotel – for free! If these services are of high quality, you can then recommend them to your client base. Everybody wins.
If travelling to vacation destinations is a valid option for you, it is important to keep a travel journal where you can note the interesting aspects of your travels. The records in your journal will allow you to provide personalised and unique travel packages to your clients, which you can tailor to match their preferences. Also, during your travels, it is worthwhile to take photos that you can add to your website and brochures. Photos are a fantastic way of attracting clients and proving your expertise in a particular niche.
See also: Photography Business Ideas
Step 6 – Market Your Services
Without marketing your consulting services, no one will ever know how much you have to offer. As a consultant, you need to keep marketing material like business cards and brochures on your person at all times. Word-of-mouth marketing is a grossly underrated tool. This means that armed with a business card or brochure containing your virtual address, business name, and (in the case of the brochure) photos of your travel adventures, you can make a shocking amount of progress.
Furthermore, it is necessary to set up a website for your business. On your website, you can promote your services as a travel advisor, discuss the travel packages you offer, share samples of your work, and develop your brand name. Also, be sure to publish travel blogs and other titbits on your website. This is very useful to help drive online traffic to your site and to obtain loyal customers.
Finally, social media marketing (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) is another avenue where you can accelerate your travel consulting business. People prefer to see what they will be spending money on. Don’t disappoint!
Working as a travel consultant is often exciting. It’s even more fun if you are someone who loves planning and tourism personally. As a travel consultant, you get to engage with people from all walks of life and to earn money doing what you love.
However, it can also be quite stressful to meet sales targets and to bear the responsibility for planning someone else’s dream holiday. So, in this article, we’ve provided you with the means to go into this business with as little stress as possible! If you’ve ever dreamed of sharing your travel knowledge and earning money doing so, don’t hesitate to start now.
What did you think about this guide? Are you someone who loves to travel and talk about travel adventures? Let us know in the comments.