Posts Tagged With: ASTA

My Journey to Becoming a Travel Agent (So Far) Part 2

Loyal readers, I know it has been 4 long months since my last blog post. I must apologize. But to be fair, a lot has happened since then that I can’t wait to tell you about! In this time my husband, Jake, and I have completely uprooted our lives, moved halfway across the country, changed careers, and are finally starting to settle in.

Now some of you are probably wondering how I managed to go from my Travel Leaders of Tomorrow program to my new-found career. The last time I had written about my travel agent journey I was only part way through the online program. So allow me to fill in the gaps. Since then I have finished my program with flying colors when I passed my TAP (travel agent proficiency) test. From there I was put in contact with MAD Travel through the Travel Leaders of Tomorrow’s program director. It started out as just talking, and allowed me to ask some questions from someone in the field. Then as I got closer to the end of my program, I reached out to MAD Travel to see if they might be interested in taking me on once I finished. They agreed to let me interview and job shadow. I did let them know in advance that it would take some time for us to pack up our lives. MAD Travel was very understanding and willing to work with me. After meeting everyone at the agency, doing the interview, job shadowing, and taking in Naples both parties were in agreement that it would be good fit.

Let me first express my utter excitement, I am officially a travel agent!!! For real, legit, have my own desk, business cards, and everything! This was the reason behind our road trip to Naples, FL. Then came the stressful part: saving, planning, and coordinating a cross-country move. It sounds about as fun as actually was… But thankfully it is behind us.

Lizards everywhere!

Lizards everywhere!

Jake has also started a new career as a Direct TV service technician (technically an independent contractor). He was hired on almost immediately a week after we moved into our apartment. He gets to play outside with the lizards and satellite dishes. Plus he will be able to set his own schedule, which will work great when we travel!

I have been with MAD Travel for just over a month now. I honestly have to say that it is been very intense! There is so much to know and to learn. The hardest part has been learning their computer system (aka Global Distributing System or GDS). It is basically learning computer code, which might as well be another language! But “to whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). As intense as it has been, it has been just as thrilling and I have learned more than I could have imagined! I have booked flights, hotels, researched Cuba a lot, learned of a place called Scrub Island, I helped book a trip that was more than I make in a year for a 6 night stay, learned about Australian E-Visas… And the list goes on! I really do love each part of it.

As for my personal travel, I have been many places in Naples of course, back to Bonita Springs for their Flamingo Flea Market, we spent a brief day in Miami, and another brief day in Marco Island. There hasn’t been much time to travel yet with our demanding careers, and settling into our new life. But I do have 2 mini work trips planned in the next few months: I will be going to Travel Leaders National Meeting at the OMNI Resort in Orlando. And in early November I will be going to Cruise World in Fort Lauderdale, which has several workshops to help me learn about cruises. The cherry on top will be that I get to do a ship inspection aboard the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas! This will be my first time ever on a cruise ship.

Welcome to Florida

Welcome to Florida

Jake and I are still getting settled into our new lives. It is weird not really knowing anyone besides the people you work with. But it has brought he and I closer together. I know I love trying the new restaurants and finding our old favorites here! It is feeling more and more like home as we go along. Until next my fellow travelers, Безопасные путешествия (safe travels)!

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Categories: Activities, Adventure, ASTA, Becoming a Travel Agent, Bonita Springs, Cruise, Fort Lauderdale, Marco Island, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Royal Carribbean | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Journey to Becoming a Travel Agent (So Far)

This is a subject that I had to research pretty extensively before jumping into myself. If you are sitting there, pondering what to do with your life, and think that something in the travel industry might be for you, please continue. I am in this boat with you. I decided to start with some job shadowing at local travel agencies. I never realized how many careers there are in the travel industry! There are cruise ships, airlines, rental cars, hotels, just to name the major players. So where to start? I know that I personally want to be in the thick of it. I talked to several people, and found 2 agencies that would let me come in: a traditional travel agency and one that was a motor coach tour operator in addition to being a traditional travel agency. And when I job shadowed at a tour operator/travel agency, it seemed as perfect as a job could be for me.

Job Shadowing With the Tour Operator

The place was a little place, with only 3 employees total. But as I talked with the travel agent, she told me there were 2 sides to their business. The first was a traditional travel agency: making bookings for customers on airlines, cruises, hotels, car rentals etc. Basically a desk job, for which she makes an hourly rate. The second was as a motor coach tour operator. She put together group tours (mostly for retired seniors, as they have the time and money) from the US, Canada, and internationally. She books them, down to the last detail. This can be quite a hassle for a group of 20+. But once she gets it all planned, and gets people to book the tour, then she herself gets to go on the tour! She guides it along with what they call “hop-on, hop-off” tour guides. Her expenses are paid for the trip and she gets paid a flat rate per day, plus any tips from the customers.I could tell this is what I want to do! I already can imagine a dozen trips I would love to put together. But how to get such a job…

Travel Leaders of Tomorrow

Travel Leaders of Tomorrow

The Best Place to Start is ASTA

So I asked her what she recommended for a person with no previous experience or real knowledge. She recommended some kind of formal education, and said that I could find some reliable information on the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) website. So I did just that, I went on the site and looked up some really great articles. They also have a travel school directory, which lists some schools in the US that offer educational programs. Most states have a college that offer some kind of program as well. Unfortunately the one in Missouri is located many hours away from where I live, so I opted to go the online route. The main online one that ASTA recommends is Travel Leaders of Tomorrow (http://www.travelleadersoftomorrow.com/). This is the one that I decided to go with. It is all online, which I was really nervous about at first, but has been so great! However, it is not accredited. So if you are a student, you cannot use FAFSA to cover the cost. I had to fund this out of my own pocket.

My books

My books

Time and Costs

It was really easy to contact Travel Leaders of Tomorrow. I called and they answered all my questions. The program is made up of 4 modules, or sections. The first one includes your books and cost me $675. The second module (which I am currently on) is about $250. I was told the total for the whole course would be about $2500, and it takes less than 6 months to complete. This includes the books, modules, and a voucher ($90 value) for the TAP (Travel Agent Proficiency) Test that would take place afterwards.On a side note, the TAP test was developed by the Travel Institute and ASTA, and is the equivalent of certification. This is what most agencies and companies in the travel industry use. For me, having gone through traditional colleges, this doesn’t sound too bad. So far in the program, we have covered some basic geography of the USA and Canada, including tourist attractions and interesting facts. We have now started learning about airlines, rental cars, cruise ships, and lodging. I have learned so much since starting the program. My goal at the end of this is to eventually become a tour director, that is to go on, guide, and create tours for people. I will be finishing the program in April 2015 and then taking my TAP test. I am hoping to continue writing more information as I make it further along. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them as best I can. Thanks for reading and happy travels!

 

Categories: Career, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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