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Certifications in the Travel Industry

Unlike other professions, there are no REQUIRED certifications in the travel industry. This is unfortunate because we have scores of people who wake up one morning saying to themselves "I like to travel...I think I'll be a travel agent." And off they go to book travel trying to handle client's dreams and money with no idea of what they are doing. This is one of the most complex industries and professional training and certification should be mandatory. Only the local business licensing is required.

That said, there are many great professional agents who have been in the business for years and do not have any certifications.

There are 2 bodies that offer certifications in the industry:

  • The Travel Institute offers the beginning classes of CTA (Certified Travel Associate) and the advanced of CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) certifications. These require many hours of intense study and testing with a CTC in attendance. The courses cover a variety of classes from being a travel agent to owning your own agency.
    • The Travel Institute also offers a variety of DS (Destination Specialist) courses on topics such as particular countries, islands, or lifestyle travel. After taking these courses and tests, often a Familarization Trip (Fam) trip is available to give the agent more indepth knowledge.
  • CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) is an organization owned by a variety of cruise lines. They offer a 3 step program: ACC (Accredited Cruise Counselor), MCC (Master Cruise Counselor) and ECC (Elite Cruise Counselor). These have a variety of requirements including classes, ship inspections, cruise experience, and sales quotas as well as testing. These classes are vital for training in representing the cruise industry properly.

The other essential training for this industry is personal travel. It is nearly impossible to understand the complexity of travel without experiencing it personally. There is no way an agent can visit every place in the world, but with some travel experience and the many resources available to us, we are able to give professional advise.

Many countries and suppliers provide workshops and trade shows that we can attend locally or in other areas. It is essential that we stay involved in what is happening in the travel world, so attending these is almost mandatory.

What should a client look for when deciding on a travel agent and where do you find them?

After the airlines deregulated a number of years ago, many agencies who had relied solely on the sale of airline tickets, went out of business as the airlines stopped paying commissions to travel agents. Other agents took their business and moved home. An internet search will turn up many agents who have home offices. A potential client should interview one or more to find a good fit. Ask questions such as:

  1. How long have you been in the travel business?
  2. Do you have any certifications?
  3. What are your areas of expertise?
  4. How much travel have you done personally?
  5. Do you take credit cards? (The reason this question is important is because there have been cases where agents only took cash or checks and then disappeared)
  6. What licensing do you have?

With comfortable answers to the above, you should have a good idea of a fit for you.

Cruise & Tour Planners has a variety of agents who have strong qualifications and can help with any travel needs.