The tourism sector is growing and offers more and more opportunities: the post-pandemic period has strengthened this phenomenon for this purpose and we see a considerable number of French people who want to travel (as of the summer of 2011). for 68%). Are you a travel enthusiast and want to become an independent travel agent? We give you all the keys to get started.
What is an Independent Travel Agent?
If you become a freelance travel agent, you will have 5 main missions:
- Recommending destinations to customers as per their wishes;
- Determine a circuit of tourism activities according to the interests of your client;
- Take care of all practical organization of travel: negotiations, accommodation reservation, transportation tickets, restaurants and activities, accommodation planning;
- Accompanying clients in administrative procedures required for travel;
- Ensuring the management of all practical hazards (canceling aircraft, etc.)
As a travel agent, you will be your true guide, mediator and negotiator for your clients throughout their journey. You will support your customer at all stages of the journey.
However, be careful not to confuse a travel broker with a travel agent. As mentioned earlier, as a travel agent you are involved in the practical organization of travel. On the other hand, if you want to be a broker, your mission will be limited to travel advice.
What are the rules for an independent travel agent?
To become an independent travel agent, you need to fulfill 3 conditions.
Your professional liability insurance should cover damage caused to third parties (such as your customer or service provider) as a result of your activity as an agent. This includes damages caused to a third party as a result of negligence, wrongdoing or professional misconduct on your part. We also recommend you to inquire online insurers who may offer interesting as compared to traditional insurance.
Your financial guarantee must be signed by a credit institution, a financing company, a collective guarantee organization with legal personality, an insurance company authorized to give a financial guarantee, or a non-profit organization or group of organizations with sufficient funds and by Must be recognized Minister responsible for tourism.
For example, it is possible to obtain your guarantee from the Professional Association of Tourism Solidarity (APST). This guarantee will make it possible to fully reimburse you the funds received for the current services and to organize the repatriation of your passengers in the event of bankruptcy or cessation of payment. The guarantee amount must be at least €200,000.
Registration in the Register of Travel and Accommodation Operators
Etout is the governing agency of the state of France in the field of tourism development in France. To register, you must submit an application on the agency’s website. To make a request, it is essential that you already have your professional civil liability insurance as well as your signed financial guarantee. Registering in the register costs €100 and must be renewed every 3 years.
What is the legal status to become an independent travel organizer?
To become an independent travel organizer you must form a sole proprietorship. You can choose between several plans such as:
Their difference lies in the legal personality of your company, the social system you will be associated with, as well as your tax system and your level of responsibility.
We recommend you to move towards micro enterprise which is a simple legal status of sole proprietorship. In fact, administrative procedures and your social and tax obligations have been reduced, allowing you to simplify accounting. This position is suitable for all young entrepreneurs, regardless of their age.
To do this, you must submit your business creation application files to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Then a SIRET number will be assigned to you by INSEE.
What are the requirements to become a travel planner?
Diploma and Training
You do not need any degree to become an independent travel agent. Nevertheless, we recommend you to follow a training course to understand the profession better.
There are many courses available in BAC+2 in the field of tourism or business. For example, you can pursue a BTS or DUT in Tourism or a BTS in Management of Commercial Units (MUC). For longer courses you can get Pro Tourism License as well as Tourism Master. Lastly, following a Training Course in Negotiation (BTS NRC) can help you especially when negotiating reservation prices as well as making sales with your customers.
To become a travel agent, it is necessary to have many qualities.
First, it is very important that you maintain a good relationship with your customers or your partners. Thus, being able to address all of your clients regardless of their nationality requires a good understanding of interpersonal skills, as well as mastery of multiple languages. Also, if you want to focus your offers in France, there is a high chance that you will have to negotiate with international customers or service providers. Proficiency in several languages in addition to the required English, Spanish, German or Chinese is a considerable asset.
Most of your time will be devoted to practical organization of travel. Thus, being able to manage multiple trips at the same time will require rigor and organization. It is important that you realize before you begin that organizing a trip requires real administrative knowledge, especially managing the unexpected. In fact, unforeseen misfortunes are possible and therefore a developed capacity for adaptation will also be necessary for you to be able to find alternatives and solutions to problems that may arise during the migration of your customers.
Lastly, you need to be able to sell dreams to your customers. For this, a solid knowledge of the tourism market, as well as a genuine passion for travel will help you to double your creativity to create circuits tailored to the needs and desires of your customers.
3 Tips for Success as an Independent Travel Planner
Survey the market and choose a specialty
Before starting, it is important that you study the market to know the trends and tailor your offer to it. The tourism market is a huge market with many service providers. To stand out, it’s important that your travel agency has a target location. You can choose this place by age, socio-professional category, continent, country, region and type of activity. This will allow you to specialize in your field and better understand your direct competitors. For example, you may specialize in family excursions in your area.
work on your communication strategy
To promote your agency, it’s important to work on your communication strategy. We advise you to build an attractive website and be active on social networks. Don’t hesitate to adapt your strategy according to your target audience: If you specialize in travel for young people, social networks will be your main means of communication.
build customer loyalty
Customer loyalty is essential. In fact, investing in the loyalty of this one is more profitable than looking for new customers because loyal customers will be able to recommend you themselves. We recommend you work on a specific loyalty plan. Think for example of your after-sales service by contacting your customers to get feedback. The more you know your customers, the better you can offer them, for example, targeted offers or loyalty programs. It is important to maintain a relationship with your customers, for example by inviting them to events or offering them thematic packs via newsletter.
questions to ask
Can you become an independent travel agent without a diploma?
Yes, no degree is required to become a travel agent. Nevertheless, we recommend that you follow a training course to better understand the profession.
What are the self-employment options to become an independent travel agent?
You can also choose to open a sole proprietorship to become independent.
How to Sell Trips on the Internet?
In order to sell trips on the Internet, it is important that your website is attractive and fits your goal. User experience should be clean and professional.