How to Become a Travel Agent in New Jersey
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The process of becoming a travel agent in New Jersey is basically the same as it is in any other state. There are no special licenses that need to be acquired before you start your business. You will, however, probably want to get accreditation with a national travel association as well as training, education and experience that is focused on a particular niche in the industry.
Get the right education. Whether your goal is to work for yourself or work for a travel agency, you should get the best education you can afford. A bachelor's degree in hospitality management or hotel and restaurant management is ideal. There are also many vocational schools, community colleges and online schools that offer full-time travel agent programs leading to a certification. In New Jersey, Rutgers University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Bergen Community College and Mercer County Community College all offer hospitality management programs. Go to CollegeBoard.com to get a full list of schools in the state.
Gain some experience. Many travel agencies and large hospitality corporations such as AAA, Marriott and Hilton offer internships to students majoring in the field. You can also seek an entry-level position as a receptionist, data entry specialist or an administrative assistant. Major travel agencies in New Jersey include Liberty Travel, Welcome Aboard Travel Center, Dream Come True Vacations and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. A full list of travel agencies in the state can be found at Manta.com.
Get accreditation from one of the recognized national organizations. If you are seeking to be an independent travel agent, accreditation is critical. Although anyone can become a travel agent, many hotels, car-rental companies and other travel organizations require you to have official accreditation to sign up for their discount programs. Official accrediting agencies includes the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Each organization offers options for either becoming a fully accredited agent or simply a travel consultant. Consultants can't issue tickets, but they still enjoy the same discounts. Refer to the exact requirements of the accrediting agencies, as fees and programs vary.
Develop relationships with travel partners and destinations. Most hotels, car-rental agencies, cruise lines and tour operators offer commissions to travel agents. Each company typically has a travel agency program that requires you to register with your official IATA/ARC/CLIA number.
Develop your client base. Figure out your target demographic. You can either focus on a local demographic in a specific area of New Jersey or simply be based in New Jersey and have a national focus. Unless you have an established client base, you will need to specialize in a particular type or region of travel.