Is Being a Travel Agent Worth It? Fora Discusses the Pros & Cons

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Fora Author Fora Travel

The Modern Travel Agency

Fora Travel

    advisor Gaya Vinay sitting at a kitchen table with her laptop

    Fora Advisor Gaya Vinay

    Is being a travel agent worth it? We’re breaking down all the pros and cons of being a travel agent.

    First, what does a travel agent do exactly?

    Fallon Alexandria writing in journal

    Fora Advisor Fallon Alexandria

    What does a travel agent do? Travel agents — or travel advisors, they're different words for the same role — earn money by selling and booking trips for clients. Travel agents can book hotels, cruise lines, itineraries, travel experiences, rental cars, travel insurance and more. (Learn about some types of bookings you can make for clients as an advisor.)

    We’re biased, but we think it’s one of the best jobs in the travel industry

    Do people still use travel agents to book their travel? What’s the demand like?

    Many people don’t realize that travel agents even exist still — much less that it’s a booming part of the travel industry! In 2023, it was an $865.5 billion industry, and it’s expected to grow to $905.89 billion in 2024.

    Here’s a quick history lesson: the first recorded travel agency was launched in 1841 by Thomas Cook. There have been a few advancements since then (hello, modern technology), but the general concept remains relatively the same: agents plan and book trips.

    Rapid adoption of the internet in the 90s and online travel agencies (sites that you can book your travel online) gained popularity. But the services provided by online booking sites lack the personal connection that an actual person can provide. At Fora, we’re spearheading the emergence of the modern travel advisor, bringing personalized service back to trip planning. Read more about the benefits of booking with a travel advisor.

    How do travel agents make money?

    a woman in white pant and a white floral tank top works on her laptop at a kitchen counter

    Fora Advisor Rabia Malik

    Travel agents make money by booking trips. It is mostly a commission-based industry (meaning that hotels and other travel partners will pay you when you book with them), but advisors also earn money from planning and service fees. Learn more about how travel agents get paid.

    How do you become a travel agent?

    If you have a passion for travel and connecting with others, becoming a travel agent could be the perfect career option for you. You can spend your days researching and planning travel, helping your clients to make extra-special memories from their vacations.

    Our guide on how to become a travel agent offers an in-depth breakdown of the process. But the short version is that you’ll want to find a host agency (an umbrella organization like Fora that gives you the tools you need as a travel advisor) and then participate in comprehensive training to learn the ins and outs of the role. From there, you’ll work to build your book of business as a travel advisor over time.

    Is being a travel agent worth it? Breaking down the pros

    Kerry Boyd, laughing while working on her laptop with her son nearby doing homework

    Fora Advisor Kerry Boyd

    Is being a travel agent worth it? We certainly believe so, but we don’t expect you to take that at face value. Here are all of the pros of becoming a travel advisor. 

    Pro: It’s a flexible career

    You can work as a travel advisor part-time or full-time. It’s also a career that you can build up over time, which means that you can start part-time and then transition into a full-time role once you have established your clientele base.

    “As an avid traveler who felt trapped in the rigid schedule of a traditional healthcare worker, Fora gives me the opportunity to grow my passion for travel in to a business at my own pace while still working full-time and eventually make the leap to travel advising full-time when I'm ready,” Fora Advisor Alexandra Vigilante Chamberlin said. “I think the most valuable thing about working with Fora is that I probably would not have gotten started down this path without you!"

    As an independenct contractor, you’ll be your own boss. You can work as much as you want, and when you want.

    "I needed an agency that could offer me the flexibility to balance my responsibilities, including being a mom and juggling another work gig,” Fora Advisor Timadge Berkhadley said. “Choosing Fora as my host agency was an easy decision. Fora's approach allowed me to seamlessly manage my other responsibilities while still booking dream vacations for my clients."

    Another one of the perks of becoming a travel agent online is that you never have to commit to an office space (unless you want to, of course). As a travel advisor, you can work from anywhere.

    Read more: Here's Why Being a Fora Advisor is One of the Best Part-Time Jobs for Moms & Dads

    Pro: You don’t need prior experience to get started

    Kerry Boyd, a Fora Advisor, uses her laptop to look at travel planning options

    Fora Advisor Kerry Boyd

    Many (but not all) host agencies offer training when you join their network as a travel advisor, which allows you to learn what you need about the role as you build your career in the space.

    At Fora, we offer comprehensive travel agent certification as well as ongoing educational opportunities. Our travel agent training covers everything from booking basics to how to market your travel business like a pro, including how to market to your own network as well as build your business through social media. It is offered online so you can learn at your own pace.

    Pro: You can build a career doing something you love

    Working as a travel advisor is a fun and rewarding career in many ways. Working as a travel advisor can be a great pathway for you to build a career in travel on your terms. It is also an opportunity to transform a passion for travel and connections into your full-time role.

    From a monetary perspective, you might be wondering: do you make good money as a travel agent? The amount of how much do travel agents make varies widely from advisor to advisor. Put simply: you get in what you put in. Typically, those who concentrate on high-end travel or specific niches tend to generate greater earnings than their counterparts who cater to budget-friendly travel options. Learn more about how travel agents get paid.

    Pro: You can choose your niche (or skip one entirely)

    The ability to control your business also means you get to control what type of travel you sell. And there are so many different travel agent jobs and niches. 

    Want to make reservations at glamorous hotels in Dubai for discerning travelers? Perhaps becoming a luxury travel agent is in your wheelhouse. Want to help your clients enjoy the magic of Disney or Universal Studios? How about helping your clients embark on voyages on the high seas to scenic, tropical destinations? The options are endless and entirely up to you.

    (Learn how to become a Disney travel agent or how to become a cruise travel agent — or both.)

    Pro: You get to work in an exciting field that makes people happy

    For many, being a travel agent is worth it simply because you’re helping clients plan memorable vacations.

    Whether you’re sharing the best places to visit in Spain for first timers, the most gorgeous Bahamas resorts, the top hotels in Downtown NYC… As a Fora Advisor, you’re planning trips to amazing destinations, helping to create some of your clients’ fondest memories. 

    Pro: You get to meet other travel experts

    Fora Advisors at Live Forum 2022

    Fora Advisors participate in a workshop at Live Forum 2022, our annual conference

    We always say that travel people are the best people. When you work as a travel agent, you’re constantly meeting other industry professionals. This means you’re forging connections with local hotels and partners, as well as meeting fellow travel advisors.

    At Fora, we pride ourselves on our very welcoming community. You’ll be able to connect with fellow Fora Advisors online (learn about our community app) as well as in-person through conferences, familiarization trips and more.

    "I love that I can essentially run my own travel business while also working with so many talented and helpful people,” Fora Advisor Jennifer Lopez said. “As I tell my clients, no one is an expert on all travel destinations. One of the biggest benefits for my clients of my being a Fora Advisor is that I can tap into the knowledge and expertise of the Fora Advisor network to help me plan the perfect vacation for my clients."

    Pro: Startup costs are minimal (at Fora, anyway)

    Just about any independent business is going to have startup costs: equipment, office space, licenses…you get the idea. To become a Fora Advisor, these pricing costs are minimal, though. Our membership fee costs $49 monthly or $299 annually. We set you up with everything you need to run a successful travel advisor business with a one-stop shop solution. Plus, our advisors typically make back their membership fee within their first month.

    What is the downside of being a travel agent? The cons

    No job is without its cons, but we bet you'll still think being a travel agent is worth it after checking out the cons below. 

    Con: There are startup costs to consider

    We get it. Startup costs are a bummer. It can be hard to spend money on a business as you are just getting started. But we’re willing to bet you’ll find that it’s worth the investment to be your own boss. It’s worth noting that Fora’s membership costs are approachable (we have a flat-rate, $49/month subscription fee – or $299 annually) that gives you everything you need to start your business as a travel advisor.

    Con: There’s a learning curve

    a group of people sit and chat around a table

    Fora's Head of Travel Operations Leslie Overton leads a workshop at Live Forum 2023

    When you’re just getting started as a travel advisor, there’s a lot to learn. There’s a whole side to the travel industry that you might never have heard of (for example, understanding industry lingo like what a DMC is).

    But as you book, you’ll gain confidence (and also speed). Over time, working as a travel advisor will become second nature.

    "I had never booked travel before so the certification trainings from Fora were invaluable,” Fora Advisor Timadge Berkhadley said. “It gave me the jumpstart and confidence I needed to dive right in and to begin booking. The destination trainings were particularly helpful, as they gave me insights into countries I hadn't visited before, thus expanding my understanding of various destinations."

    We’re here to support you every step of the way on your journey to become a successful travel agent.

    Con: Sometimes clients can be high-maintenance

    We’re just going to say it: Sometimes clients can be extra (we love them, though!). You will have to be patient as a travel advisor, and prioritize extending the white-glove service. Travel planning is a customer-facing role, after all, and many clients expect a degree of attentiveness and professionalism. 

    The good news is that most clients simply want to work with a friendly advisor who takes their needs and goals seriously. Likewise, a good portion of travel planning is simply listening. Over time, you’ll find that confidence comes naturally.  

    (How do travel agents get clients, anyway? Our guide tells all.)

    Con: Most travel agents earn income from commissions & planning fees (i.e., there’s no base pay)

    It’s worth considering financial implications of becoming a travel advisor before you dive in so that you can decide if it’s right for you. As an independent travel agent, is that you’re forgoing a traditional salary. This is the trade-off for being your own boss and setting your own schedule. On the flip side, this also means your earning potential is unlimited.

    A good travel advisor is an excellent salesperson and knows how to transform this “con” into a “pro” and build a lucrative career as a travel advisor.

    Con: Some travel agents are always on-call (including during holidays)

    Your clients will often expect you to be available in case something goes awry — even if they’re on the other side of the world, in a completely different time zone. And since so many people travel during holidays, you may find yourself busy during your own celebrations. As with any trip, life happens, and you’ll have to navigate cancellations and some mishaps along the way. We offer plenty of training and support to help you navigate difficult situations if something does go sideways. Read a few of our tips in our guide on four things advisors can do when there’s a travel snafu.

    Con: Your own travel might turn into work trips

    More than a few of us have taken detours on our vacations so that we can check out a hotel property that’s on our bucket list. As travel advisors, we love our jobs, and we admit it can be hard to separate business from pleasure. This isn’t necessarily a con, though, and many travel advisors love this aspect of the business.

    Overall: is being a travel agent worth it? We think so!

    a group of people listen to a presentation

    Fora Advisors attending a partner talk at Live Forum 2022

    Being a travel agent is worth it many times over. It’s a career path where you get to set your own schedule, make people happy, live out your passion for travel and make a fantastic living. It does take effort and commitment, but the work is fun and rewarding in so many ways. If that sounds like a dream, apply to become a travel advisor.

    "I had never booked travel for anyone other than myself before joining the Fora community. I had never even worked with a travel advisor until the year before joining Fora,” Fora Advisor Alexandra Vigilante Chamberlin said. “I had been dreaming about a career pivot for a while but always felt stuck on how to make it happen. It never occurred to me that travel advising could be my calling until I stumbled across Fora. And I’m so glad I did.”

    Are you ready to become an independent travel agent?

    We have everything you need to get started as an independent travel agent. From training to tech, community and more, Fora is a one-stop shop to build your business as a travel advisor. Learn more and become a Fora Advisor today.

    We also have more resources on becoming a travel advisor:

    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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