How to Become a Luxury Travel Agent: the 2023 Guide

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Fora Author Fora Travel

The Modern Travel Agency

Fora Travel

    Luxury travel agent. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

    If you’re someone who has a passion for travel and appreciates the finer things in life, you may be missing your calling. A luxury travel agent plans five-star — and often extravagant, downright epic — trips around the world. 

    We’re talking safaris, over-water villas in Bora Bora, the nicest suites in Paris — the works. It sounds glamorous, and it often is, as luxury travel planners frequently get to experience these high-end travel experiences for themselves. There’s also the draw of bigger commission checks, as compared to modestly priced trips (how do travel agents get paid, anyway?).

    But there’s far more to being a luxury travel advisor than juicy payouts and sampling the goods. There are impossibly high-maintenance clients, unrealistic expectations and plenty of hoops to jump through. Think you’re cut out for it? We got you.

    (Not quite ready to tackle luxury-seeking clients? Learn how to become a travel agent from square one, or, better yet, what is a travel agent?)

    First, what counts as “luxury travel?”

    When most think of luxury travel, elite properties like Rosewood or Four Seasons in gorgeous places like Monaco or the Maldives tend to come to mind. But there’s more to it than extravagant, amenity-filled hotels in coveted destinations. 

    You’ll be planning beyond-ordinary travel experiences (and it’s really fun)

    Luxury travel planning tends to include more dimensions than an ordinary booking. Clients may have unorthodox requests, like reserving separate villas for a single couple. They might desire custom excursions, such as an off-the-rails safari through the Serengeti. They could show interest in unique destinations, like chartering a one-off cruise to Antarctica…you get the idea.

    Many luxury travelers expect white-glove service

    Luxury travelers often want attentive, uncompromising service and have a desire to enjoy extraordinary experiences far removed from everyday life. Some clients may expect their needs to be anticipated, rather than spoken. Itineraries may change on a whim. And frequent follow-ups are often a must (though this may vary by client).

    Expectations are high, so knowing how to navigate these particulars is a necessary skill. Don’t assume this is a raw deal, though. Luxury travelers may have heightened expectations, but they’re also willing to pay top dollar for those experiences, which means greater commission. 

    Plus, luxury travelers are often looking for extensive itinerary planning (which is billable), and other commissionable services, too, like organizing transportation and special experiences. 

    Even so, commissions for smaller-scale luxury trips are nothing to balk at. This is, after all, why many in the industry aspire to become a luxury travel agents.

    How to become a luxury travel advisor, step by step

    If you’re a travel planner who’s interested in leveling up into the luxury market, read on for our tips on how to become a luxury travel agent. Or, if you're ready to dive in today, sign up to become a Fora Advisor.

    Start with the basics of travel planning

    If you haven’t booked travel before, you may not want to start with elite hotels, resort buyouts and organizing luxe itineraries. Instead, it may be helpful to start with ordinary bookings and trips, and then work your way up. This way, you can build your confidence and experience in a lower-stakes setting so that you’ll be well prepared for luxury travel planning in due time.

    And if it’s all new, Fora can teach you everything about becoming an independent travel agent. We offer comprehensive travel agent training on everything from the basics to hyper-niche destination planning — plus endless support.

    Become a luxury connoisseur

    Luxury travel is one of the most exclusive subsets of an already exclusive industry. Five-star hotels and high-end suppliers (like tour companies) cater to the one-percent, which means most of us will never experience travel at the crème de la crème level.

    But in order to become a luxury travel agent, you must be acquainted with the product. No, you don’t have to fork over thousands of dollars to stay at luxury hotels in order to compare them. However, you should make an effort to learn about the luxury travel industry by doing research, leveraging your fellow advisors’ expertise and poking your head into five-star hotels when you can.

    Developing your eye for luxury is an important step in earning your chops as a travel connoisseur, so you can consult with your clients as they decide between the best of the best.

    Develop your high-touch service skills

    Knowing about luxury travel is one thing, but booking it is a whole different beast. Because clients are paying five-star prices, they are expecting five-star service — and that white-glove customer experience begins and ends with you.

    As a high-end concierge or personal assistant would, luxury travel agents do their due diligence in getting to know their clients and catering to their unique needs and travel preferences. When advising on a destination or specific hotel, demonstrate your thorough research, paint an enticing picture and be sure to highlight specific details in line with their tastes.

    … including razor-sharp attention to detail

    The devil is in the details when it comes to being a luxury travel agent. In addition to providing a highly personalized service experience, it’s crucial to ensure accuracy when dealing with reservations, transportation and other logistics. 

    When working with hotels, be sure to communicate early and often to ensure your clients are treated like VIPs. For luxury travelers, little details like a personalized welcome gift go a long way. (By the way, we have access to perks at the world’s top high-end properties that you can offer your clients). But missing a little detail — like an early hotel check-in — will not be treated lightly.

    Rely on your fellow advisors (and choose your agency wisely!)

    Unless you’re an experienced globetrotter, you can’t know everything when it comes to luxury travel. 

    If a client is looking to you for advice on a destination you know little about, leverage your fellow travel agents. At Fora, our team of experienced industry insiders (many of whom are luxury travel advisors in their own right) knows the ins and outs of luxury travel planning worldwide, so you’ll never be taking a shot in the dark.

    For context: if you work at a boutique travel agency, you may have fewer resources. Alternatively, agents at a larger, high-end travel agency often gate-keep information (new agents are often viewed as competition), making it tricky to plan trips you’re unfamiliar with. Learning how to become a luxury travel advisor is as much about making connections as it is planning travel.

    Market yourself, but remember: referrals are your best friend

    You’ve studied up on luxury, refined your sales skills and done your research — now what? 

    First, market yourself as a luxury travel agent. At Fora, we offer content marketing tools and resources to help you look super professional and curate your expertise to skew luxury. But becoming a luxury travel agent largely relies on your first luxury client. 

    To get your first client, leverage your personal network. Do you know anyone planning a honeymoon? This is often the first (and only!) luxury vacation people take, so consider offering to plan a friend’s. And when all goes well, request they share your name with their network, and so on.

    Identify a niche (at least to start)

    Specializing in something specific can be a good way to get your foot in the door as a travel advisor. 

    You could focus on booking luxury cruises, for example, then slowly branch out as your clients’ needs inevitably change. Not many people only go on cruises, right? Your clients’ subsequent vacations can serve as opportunities to expand your services.

    (Also check out how to become a cruise travel agent.)

    Set yourself up for success with a host agency that takes care of the nitty gritty

    Ready to get started becoming a luxury travel agent? You’ll need a host agency that gets it. 

    Enter Fora. We’ll ensure you thrive each step of the way — from your first booking to your 1,000th — and arm you with the tools you need to launch your luxury travel business. You’ll get access to our technology (like our integrated booking platform) and community of luxury travel experts. Plus, we handle all the logistics, like chasing commissions, invoicing hotels and getting you your payments, so you can focus on what you know and love: planning trips. 

    We have a community-based learning model at Fora. You'll learn how to become a luxury travel agent online alongside fellow advisors and we'll support you through your first booking to the 1,000th and beyond. 

    Sign up to take the first steps today to become a travel advisor — and check out our tips on how to be a successful travel advisor.

    Want to know how to become a luxury travel advisor? Here’s the bottom line...

    There’s a lot to love about being a luxury travel agent, and with Fora on your side, you get all the support, training and community you need.

    And if you’re looking for more intel? Check out resources on other types of travel agent careers:

    Ready to start your own high-end travel business? Take the first steps to become a travel advisor today.

    Eager to learn more? Download our guide on how to turn your passion for travel into $$$.

    Are you the go-to person for travel tips?

    Transform your passion for travel into your dream job. We'll set you up with everything you need to succeed as a travel advisor. From training to top-notch tech, marketing assets, community, commission tracking & payments (and more), we've got you.

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