The travel industry is rapidly changing. There are new laws that we have to learn, travel bans from our new White House administration and a change in the overall attitude about our industry. Those who want to travel need someone to wade through all of this information, find deals on trips and get the where they want to go.
The problem is: anyone can say they are a travel agent. This can’t happen in the medical field because doctors need a license. It can’t happen in the real estate industry because agents need to be certified. Travel agents don’t. I’m tired of hearing about clients who are getting ripped off by so-called professionals. I’m very interested in doing something to help to fix this, but I don’t know what to do.
You’re right. We are the only industry, just about, that isn’t required to have any kind of credentials. I can become a travel agent simply by getting a CLIA number (Cruise Lines International Association, Inc.), getting insurance and then going to the Department of Agriculture and register with the state. BOOM! I’m a travel agent.
Unfortunately, this is giving the true professionals in the business—those who have experience and training—a bad name.
I recently came back from the New York Times Travel Show and I met with so many people who wanted to become a travel agent, but were fed up with companies that are multi-level marketing schemes or vacation club memberships.
There’s no control in our industry. Host agencies allow so-called agents to sell travel without any kind of certification or minimum requirements of sales. It’s a huge problem in the industry and it’s something we have to change.
You can start by becoming more active in the industry. Start by meeting with other agents and seeing if they are interested in campaigning for certification. I know I am. I would like to see if other agents are interested in making a sweeping change in the industry and requiring certification, but we have to have more agents who are interested in protecting our industry.
One person can be a start for the change, but we need others to show the higher-ups in our industry that we need some sort of control so that our clients are protected. Too many stories are surfacing about how travel agents are ripping off clients, and we need to take the first steps necessary to require that all travel agents are certified.
It’s great that you’re interested. I’d love to hear from other agents who are interested too. Feel free to comment below or to write me at Tammy@TammyLevent.com and let me know how you feel on the subject.