| The travel industry has been going through some significant changes over the last few years. Mom and Pop travel agencies are quickly being replaced by online booking engines like Orbitz or Travelocity.
But there is one problem: 80% of all vacations are taken at the recommendation of a friend. Now of course this is a good thing, except that Orbitz and Travelocity don't have very many friends.
The travel industry came up with a good hybrid solution: give the consumer a chance to partner with these big booking engines and become a travel agent themselves, with all the benefits and none of the drawbacks, so they can refer their friends and family and everyone wins. This new type of travel agent is known as an Associate Travel Agent, or ATA for short.
ATA's get all the benefits of a normal travel agent, such as commissions, free upgrades and discounts, and FAM Trips (more on FAM Trips in a minute, they're fabulous!). But ATA's don't work at a traditional travel agency, don't work set hours, and don't have to go to years of expensive schooling to get their credentials. You can literally become an ATA in a single day, and you still get the same IATA and CLIA ID card that gets you all the same benefits.
There are lots of books and websites on how to become a travel agent, and they are well worth looking into. The benefits are absolutely incredible, not the least of which are lots of vacations and a good income.
I'm going to start with my favorite benefit: FAM Trips. These are "familiarization trips" that are hosted and subsidized by tour operators, government tourist boards, and private resorts at a fraction of the normal cost. They want you to come on the trip and have such a good time that you go home raving about it and send all of your friends, family, and clients back at the normal rate (remember, 80% of all travel occurs exactly that way).
In a word, FAM Trips are unbelievable. Consider this one from FAM News: 10 days in China, including all accommodations, transfers, flights, an english speaking guide, most meals, and the royal treatment, all for $666! The airfare alone costs over $1,000. And because they want you to send your friends and clients on the same trip, it isn't a stripped down, no frills excursion at rat-infested motels. They pull out all the stops to make sure you have a great time and get back home raving about it to all your friends.
There are thousands of FAM's going on at any given time, all over the world. Some are simple, like a weekend ski trip in Colorado including 2 days of skiing and rentals, a 2 hour lesson, meals, 3 nights in a nice lodge, and entertainment for only $199, and some go all out, like 11 days in Morrocco for $1,400.
FAM Trips aren't the only benefit of being a travel agent. You can also earn big commissions on travel that you book, and you're given a website to send people to so that when they order their travel you get the same commission as if you'd booked it yourself. You can also refer someone who can become an ATA themselves and you earn a $40 bonus, and can earn bonuses and commissions on what they produce, kind of like building your own virtual travel agency.
Everyone who likes to travel and could use a little more money should look into the opportunity of becoming an Associate Travel Agent provides. For many people its the ideal lifestyle, combining the perfect blend of freedom and travel with money and business.
About the Author
Brian Allen is an Associate Travel Agent living in St. George, Utah. He helps others learn about becoming a travel agent and offers consulting for maximum success as a travel agent. He can be reached at http://www.TravelAgentToday.com.
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