Make no bones about it, the travel industry is a multi-billion per year industry. The question is how does the average person tap into this and make money. The obvious choice is to get a job in the industry, but most jobs (other than pilots and executives) don’t really pay that well. Here are a few options:
1. Start as a Work From Home Travel Agent. Many agencies are no longer spending money on storefronts and are employing work from home agents. The pay is pretty low, but the benefits are often getting travel insider deals known as “FAM” (familiarization) trips intended to get your excited to come back and “sell” the destination to your clients. Some will train on the job and others will want you to have some formal travel education.
2. Become an Independent Agent of a Host Agency. A host agency is one that will allow an agent to align with them as an independent agent. Some charge up front fees, monthly fee, or a combination of both. There is usually limited training when working with a host agency, although most will provide resources for training and some offer websites for you or your clients.
3. Start your own agency. There are many network marketing companies that offer work from home opportunities in the travel business. The upside is that you can start your own agency for a fraction of a franchise and you will have a travel website that you can send your customers to. The downsides are that you need to be aggressive and take initiative when it comes to learning the business, plus you will pay more than if you went with a host agency. Also, many of the people that get involved in network marketing based travel companies lose focus of building a travel business and are lured into becoming recruiters where they are paid to recruit new travel agents. Lastly, travel commissions are generally low, so you will have to really work to build a solid referral base to earn any real money.
4. Sell Travel Services as an Affiliate Marketer. Affiliate Marketing is a great way to make money in any field. Your options are limited when it comes to travel companies that offer affiliate programs, but they do exist. I recommend The Super Affiliate Handbook as a means of learning how to make money in affiliate marketing and I recommend Commission Junction as a great place to find travel affiliates. There is definitely a cost to make money this way as you will need to either invest money in marketing or building a website or blog that generates enough web traffic to make it profitable.
5. Specialty Travel. It’s no secret that specialists make more money than generalists no matter what the industry and travel is no different. As you learn the travel business, you will identify arenas that you can better relate to than others as well as the ones that are more profitable. Here are a few common travel specialties:
- Cruise Specialist
- Tour Operator
- Travel Consolidator
- Missionary Travel
- Corporate Travel
- Golf Packages
- Gaming Trips (Las Vegas, Atlantic City)
- School Travel
If you think hard enough, I am sure you can come up with even more than these.
6. Travel Writing / Travel Photography. This is a great gig if you can get it. Imagine being sent to foreign countries to write articles or take pictures for websites or magazines. Someone’s got to do it, right?
I am huge advocate of the travel industry. One of the biggest advantages of being in the travel business are the travel perks. There are several other great ways to make money in the travel business. Feel free to share any other ideas in the comments below.