How to Become a Corporate Travel Agent
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Corporate travel agents make travel plans for employees of corporate organizations and other business travelers. They must be knowledgeable about corporate travel management practices and possess a superb understanding of the global travel industry. A career as a corporate travel agent suits people with training in business travel, a passion for travel and excellent planning skills.
Get Relevant Training
The first step to enter this career is to pursue a travel agent program, such as the one offered at Penn Foster Career School in Pennsylvania. The five-month program provides training in travel scheduling, hotel booking, travel accounting and marketing principles. Pursuing at least an associate degree in travel and tourism can also give you a solid foundation. You can then supplement your training with business travel courses offered by professional organizations, such as the Global Business Travel Association's, or GBTA's, fundamentals of business travel management course.
Learn the Skills
You need to be a competent planner with a keen eye for detail to thrive in this profession. When dealing with a company that wants to send its top executives to a seminar in a foreign country, for example, you must make arrangements for their air travel and accommodation, taking note of client-specific preferences such as preferred seats on planes. If the company makes last-minute changes, such as adding more employees to the trip, you need customer-service skills to respond to the change with tact and professionalism. Many companies aim at minimizing corporate travel costs, so you need good research skills to, for instance, find providers with the best rates for business class air tickets and executive accommodations.
Enter the Industry
Early in your career, you will likely start by working for an established corporate travel agency as a general travel agent. Your roles may include answering telephones, calculating travel costs and collecting payments from clients. After gaining at least three years of business travel experience, obtain the GBTA’s Global Travel Professional certification to demonstrate your competence and increase your ability to attract corporate clients. With this credential, you can also qualify for employment in companies that hire in-house travel consultants. Alternatively, with sufficient capital, industry know-how and strong business skills, you can establish your own corporate travel agency.
Register Your Agency
Although in most states you normally need a general business license to operate a travel agency, in others -- such as Florida, California and Washington -- you need to meet additional registration requirements. In California, for example, you must obtain registration from the Attorney General's Seller of Travel Registration Unit. Requirements for registration vary among these states, but generally include submitting your business's physical address and contact information, and paying a registration fee and a surety bond.
- Global Business Travel Association: Fundamentals of Business Travel Management
- Global Business Travel Association: Global Travel Professional (GTP) Certification
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Sellers of Travel Registration Package
- State of California Department of Justice: Seller of Travel
- State of Washington Business Licensing Service: Sellers of Travel Registration Addendum
- Penn Foster Career School: Travel and Tourism Specialist Program Overview
Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.