www.travelagentfinder.com.au - Travel Agent Finder

How to Become a Travel Agent in Australia

Everything you need to know to get started as a Travel Agent

Now, more than ever, the travel industry is searching for new talent. If you care about people, have good communication skills and are passionate about travelling, this could be the career of your dreams! 

Anna Shannon, Owner of Travel Agent Finder - Our Guide to Getting Started as a Travel Agent in Australia

With plenty of travel opportunities, flexible working options and the best industry colleagues you could ask for, it's no surprise people are interested in starting a career as a Travel Agent.

As the operator of Travel Agent Finder, I’ve been inundated with questions about how to become a Travel Agent. Whilst looking for resources online to help direct these enquiries, I quickly realised the information is limited, fragmented and often incorrect. 

So, I have put it all together for you in a comprehensive guide with practical advice and steps for getting started as a Travel Agent.  

What qualifications does a Travel Agent need? 

A Certificate III in Travel (SIT30222) is considered the recommended entry-level qualification for a Travel Agent. It includes the foundations of what you need to know to work as a Travel Consultant or under a Host Home Based Agency agreement in Australia, including business administration skills, sales, reservations, airfares and customer service training. 

For those who are not tech-savvy, a computer skills course should be your first step. You will be using lots of different reservation systems and supplier platforms throughout your career.

If you’re looking to further your knowledge and skills, you might consider a Certificate IV in Travel and Tourism. If managing a team or your own travel agency is your dream, then after completing your entry-level qualifications and some on-the-job experience, a Diploma of Travel and Tourism Management is highly recommended. 

For anyone looking to return to the industry after a break, it’s great timing for you! There are plenty of jobs going in various agencies. You might find some of these short courses on international airfare construction and GDS reservations systems are helpful as a refresher to aid you in getting back into the workforce. 

What skills does a good Travel Agent need? Skills needed to become a travel agent in Australia.

If you possess most of the below skills, you may find a career as a Travel Agent very rewarding.

  • Passionate about travelling
  • Good communication skills
  • Dedication to offering superior customer service
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Enjoy researching
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Time management skills

TIP: If you are resistant to change, then this is not the job for you! The only constant in our industry is change, but this is also what makes it exciting. Trust me, you’ll never have a chance to get bored working as a Travel Agent!

How much travel experience do you need to become a Travel Agent?

Some personal experience travelling is required. After all, how can you book and sell something you’ve never tried yourself? Most Travel Agents are travel lovers themselves, so they become a Travel Agent to follow their passion and work doing something they enjoy, so they can share that passion with others.

You don’t need to have travelled the world, but some experience in at least a few destinations will help you secure a job and successfully start your career as a Travel Agent.

Do you need a licence to be a Travel Agent in Australia?

No, you are not required by law to obtain a license or registration to operate as a Travel Agent in Australia. However, it is advisable to explore various organisations and accreditation options that can significantly benefit your business. While accreditation is not obligatory, it does demonstrate to both your clients and supplier partners that your agency adheres to specific standards and criteria, and in some cases, it may even be a prerequisite for certain partnerships.

How to start a Travel Agent business from home with no experience.

This is a question I have been asked a lot lately. Most Home-Based and Mobile Travel Agencies in Australia will require a minimum of 2-3 years of experience as a Travel Agent before you can join their independent Travel Agent network. However, if you want to start a travel business from home and do not have any experience in the travel industry, there are host agencies based in Australia that have a training program and support team to help you with this.

How to gain experience working as a Travel Agent.

How to gain experience working as a travel agent in Australia.Getting experience working in a travel agency business is vital. While you are studying, you can approach local agency businesses to see if they offer any internships, work experience opportunities, or have any positions available. If you are already enrolled in a Certificate III in Travel, this will help you find work. There is no better way to understand how a travel agency works, how your colleagues service their clients, and the types of day-to-day activities and challenges that arise, than by learning from your team in a physical agency environment.

Some of the larger retail agency groups will hire you without qualifications or experience and then put you through a formal training course, like a Certificate III in Travel. in conjunction with on-the-job training. This is an effective way to start out as a Travel Agent. You will have a well-rounded education and real-life experience in the industry, as long as you are willing to work in an office or retail shopfront environment.

Either way, gaining experience in an existing agency gives you the support of a team during this intensive learning phase of your new career.

Create an agent profile on Travel Agent Finder to help market your business and specialist experience.

Travel Agent Finder helps travellers find the right travel expert for their needs with an easy search function that helps connect them with the best specialist on our database. After you gain some experience working as a Travel Advisor and have settled on your areas of specialisation, you can set up your own profile on Travel Agent Finder to start marketing your expertise and experience and be connected with travellers who are looking for what you offer.  

What ongoing experience and education is required to work as a Travel Agent?

Completing your initial qualification will not be the end of your education when working as a Travel Agent.  The industry is always changing. Ongoing upskilling, training and experience is required. Below I will touch on the main options to help you with this.

Regular destination and supplier updates.

You will have constant opportunities to learn about different destinations and travel products. These might be through online training webinars, specialist training programs, and in-person events where you can meet tourism representatives and network with suppliers.  

If you work for larger travel companies, there may be an expectation to attend product launches and team events outside of regular work hours.

As a member of Travel Agent Finder, you will have free access to all the latest training webinars, specialist training programs and in-person events around Australia inside your membership area, as well as handy agent resources to help you keep up to date with the best products and destination guides for your client’s itineraries.

You will also gain valuable first-hand experience and knowledge through your client’s bookings and feedback when they return, which will help you keep up to date as things change. A good Travel Agent always welcomes home their clients and asks for feedback for continuous learning.

Personal travel is a must.

Travelling is a necessary part of your role as a Travel Agent in order to best understand a product or destination and create the right itinerary for your clients. Whether this is through your own personal holiday experiences or through industry ‘familiarisations’.

You likely have a list of destinations you personally want to holiday to and this will continue to help you build your knowledge base. Working in the industry will provide opportunities to secure discounted travel and jump on early bird deals. A word of warning: as you continue to learn about this incredible world, your travel bucket list will get longer as you add new places you learn about, even if travelling regularly and crossing some off!

Travel Agent familiarisation trips.

Commonly known in the industry as ‘famils’, these are free or heavily discounted opportunities offered by certain suppliers to showcase their product or destination and enhance your travel knowledge. There is nothing like experiencing it for yourself to help you match a traveller with the right airlines, hotels and experiences.

In my decade working as a Travel Agent, I was fortunate to experience famil opportunities to Los Angeles, Dubai, New Zealand, Washington DC, Cambodia, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, and a Mediterranean ocean cruise visiting Italy, Turkey and the Greek Islands. 

Through hard work and dedication, I was also offered other travel opportunities, including incredible conferences in Vietnam, Bali, the Yarra Valley and the Gold Coast. The latest highlights in 2019 was experiencing a river cruise in the South of France (and being featured in commercial advertising for that cruise line), and partying with Diplo and Calvin Harris in Las Vegas thanks to achieving a global award trip for my annual travel booking sales achievements.

This is certainly one of the perks of working in our industry and an excellent reward for the hard work and dedication Travel Advisors commit to their craft.

Cycling at Santa Monica Pier, Travel Agent familiarisation in Los Angeles.
Cycling in Santa Monica
Santorini, Mediterranean Cruise Travel Agent Famil.
Santorini, Greek Islands Cruise
Universal Studios Los Angeles, Travel Agent famil perks.
Universal Studios, Los Angeles
How to become a travel agent, perks, famil to Dubai.
Dubai Desert Safari
Benefits of being a travel agent, rivier cruise in the South of France, travel agent famil.
Rhône River Cruise France

How to start your own independent Travel Agency business.

Independent Travel Agencies are a popular option for Travel Agents who want to make their own decisions, or specialise in a particular area. This might be an agency with your own brand and team. Or perhaps you are looking for a flexible work arrangement, in which case an Independent Contractor Model, home-based Travel Agent business, or Mobile Travel Agent option may suit you best. You’ll have the choice of being completely remote, meaning you can work from anywhere in the world! As an industry full of travel lovers, it’s very appealing to be able to travel often, or even year-round, and take your business with you.

You will need to 

  • Register your business with the Australian Business Register and/or, depending on your business structure, with ASIC.
  • Create a business plan. You can find resources and templates for this here
  • Secure the proper business insurance, including public liability, professional indemnity and cyber insurance (depending on your website and digital activities).
  • Decide if you want to set up and maintain your own website. Alternatively, you can use your Travel Agent Finder agent profile as a webpage to boost your online presence, promote your business, specialist expertise, blogs, trip inspiration albums and client reviews, 
  • Organise Terms and Conditions with a legal team that adheres to the Australian Consumer Law requirements.
  • Find a good accountant or bookkeeper who specialises in working with Travel Agents.
  • Find industry partners to work with (including suppliers, systems and wholesalers).
  • Decide whether to become an IATA Agent to issue your own airline tickets or operate as a non-IATA Agent and issue airline tickets through a consolidator agreement.
  • Start marketing your services and building your client base.

It can be a lot of work to start a new business, and it’s not easy. Recent ABS stats show that 26% of new non-employing Australian businesses fail within the first year, and only 47% are still operating after four years.

There are a lot of things to consider and there can be large risks involved with going it alone. So, rather than starting from scratch, we recommend you join an existing Travel Agent network or travel host agency in Australia. This will help make things so much easier.

Why join an Independent Travel Agent Network?

Unless you know the industry inside-out, have all the right contacts to develop partnership agreements and have run your own business before, starting as an independent contractor with an agency network or joining a dedicated Home-Based / Mobile Travel Agent group is a great option. 

Luckily, there are some excellent independent Travel Agent networks and host agency groups here in Australia that take a lot of the start-up hard work and stress away from you, and offer ongoing support.

This will allow you to run your own business under their network’s infrastructure and with their systems, product contracts, resources and support. Benefitting from a network with a higher buying power and better-negotiated contracts can save you a lot of time and offer your clients better pricing.

Depending on your requirements, these groups offer a range of inclusions and different levels of support to suit your needs, including but not limited to:

  • Technology and systems required to run a travel agency, such as
    • Mid-office, CRM and booking management systems
    • GDS and NDC platforms (the global distribution systems that are the central reservation system for travel agents to see live availability and make bookings for airlines, hotels, and more) 
  • Product deals like airline contracts, hotel and other land arrangement partnerships
  • Head Office support so you never feel alone. This can include:
    • Training opportunities
    • Client payments and accounting systems or finance support teams
    • Marketing service inclusions, such as website creation and maintenance, newsletters, consumer marketing campaigns and other marketing tools
    • Locum support so you have someone to look after your bookings and clients when you are on holidays 
    • Fares and Ticketing support and services
  • Resources and opportunities to learn, help and connect with others from your network

Which independent travel agency model is best?

This will depend on what type of business you want to create. Some will offer full support, business insurance, marketing and systems, while others will give you options at different monthly fee levels so you can tailor the right choice for your level of resources and skills. 

Some will require you to use their branding, while others will allow you to create your own agency brand and business name.

Most require at least 2-3 years of experience in the travel industry, with GDS experience a must. However, there is an option for those starting from scratch that combines full training with support to get started on your own. 

Each network will have a start-up joining fee to help you get established, plus a monthly fee. They may or may not have a lock-in contract period so it’s important to explore your options. 

If you’d like to help others explore our amazing world and take their holidays to the next level, here’s your chance!  Become a Travel Agent and start your new and exciting career now! 

As they say, when you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life!

See some of our Travel Agent's familiarisation experiences.

A Dream Come True

Steph was lucky enough to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Egypt. 

Egypt Famil Trip

One Amazing Week!

Cath ticked many incredible experiences off her bucket list with Celestyal Cruises. 

3 Continents Cruise

3 Days in Vancouver

Ellen shares her tips on what to see and do after a recent famil trip to Vancouver. 

Vancouver Travel Tips