So you want to be a travel agent? Travel Institute says there's interest

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Many new travel advisors have said the travel shutdown has given them a chance to learn the business and prepare for a restart.
Many new travel advisors have said the travel shutdown has given them a chance to learn the business and prepare for a restart. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

It might seem counterintuitive, but even as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, the Travel Institute continues to see interest from people looking to become travel advisors.

Anecdotally, the Institute said it has received more inquiries via the phone and social media from individuals looking to transition to a career as an agent. Website traffic to the page featuring the Institute's TripKit course, which includes textbooks, workbooks and other tools for new advisors, is up 9.1% year to date. And registration for the Institute's "new to the industry" webinars has remained strong, with a slight increase in registrations this year compared to last.

"While travel has been on hold for many, interest in a travel career is most definitely not," Patty Noonan, director of sales for the Travel Institute, said in a statement.

"I am getting inquiries from all walks and stages of life -- yoga instructors, teachers, chefs, real estate agents, retired couples and more -- all asking about pursuing a flexible business model and career in travel," she said.

Not all of those are interested in travel as a primary career, Noonan added. Some are interested in travel services to bolster existing revenue streams and open new opportunities to help build loyalty with clients.

Certainly, economic hardships associated with the pandemic have triggered a wave of travel agency consolidation, and Travel Weekly's research has indicated that a number of travel advisors were concerned about maintaining their agency business.

But travel agency startups have popped up throughout the pandemic era. Many have said the pandemic is giving them a chance to learn the basics of the industry and enabling them to set up for business when travel rebounds.

When that rebound happens, Diane Petras, president of the Travel Institute, said she believes agents will be more in demand than ever.

"Industry insiders have always known the value of agents related to saving travelers time and money and related to the peace of mind a traveler simply cannot get booking without them," she said in a statement. "The Covid crisis illuminates that value even more."

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