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When you have a love of exploring the world, one way to get paid to do it is become a group travel organizer, usually working in one of two environments. You'll typically either work for an established company, dealing with the logistics of booking flights and hotels for planned group trips, or work on your own, creating itineraries that meet the needs of a particular group. In either case though, having a love for travel and some training in the travel and tourism industry is a big help.
A Love for Travel
While it's not an absolute requirement, having travel experience yourself is going to add a lot of color and inspiration to your job. Instead of describing the basic amenities of a particular location, for example, you'll be able to tell a colorful tale of your experiences there and what you liked and didn't like. Being well-traveled also provides you a sense of adventure, an ability to adapt, and encourages you to learn other languages -- all things that will be helpful in your career. As a general rule, travel agents should also be organized, have a good attention to detail and have strong sales skills, suggests the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While it's not an absolute requirement, getting trained as a travel agent or as a travel and tourism professional demonstrates to your clients that you're committed to professionalism. If you're aiming to work for a large tourism or travel agency, having some type of education might also be a requirement. The American Society of Travel Agents' Travel School Directory is one place to start finding training programs in your area, as well as distance or online courses. Likewise, the International Air Transport Association offers training that helps you earn a Travel and Tourism Consultant or Travel and Tourism Professional certification. Training programs can help you learn the ropes of booking through airline reservations systems, choosing the best modes of transportation for groups, handling emergencies and sales techniques.
Work for Someone Else
Working for a travel and tourism company can help you gain knowledge, learn the ropes of the industry, and have the job security that comes with working for an established company. Contact travel agencies and tour companies in your area, but don't overlook online job listings and the "Careers" pages of online travel companies such as Orbitz or Travelocity for places to get hired. Also contact hotels or resorts near you, which often organize in-house tours and travel for large groups visiting for weddings or conferences. On your resume and cover letter, highlight your travel experience and your training, and talk about your leadership skills, how you stay organized and any sales accomplishments you've achieved in other jobs.
Starting Your Own Enterprise
If you want to start your own enterprise, you might start by simply arranging flights, booking hotels, securing ground transport and finding local tour guides for a small group of friends going on short adventures. After calculating the cost of everything, add in a fee for your services, or go along on the trip and use the fee to pay for your own accommodations. Once you've done this a few times, create a business entity through your state's department of revenue, and then create a website that details the types of travel accommodations you offer, places you specialize in and languages you speak, and use social media channels to promote upcoming trips. Another option is to network with groups such as Go Ahead Tours, which allow you to recruit the tour members on a prescribed tour, and then get free travel yourself when you recruit a certain number of people.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.