Travel Agent Booking Basics

June 3, 2021

Okay, so you've signed up with a host, franchise or you have your own accreditation number. Better yet? You have your first few clients. But now what?!

Here are our top 7 site resources for planning and booking a trip for your clients.

Every so often, I get questions coming in about how to book travel. To lay down the framework for travel agent booking basics, the HAR crew created this handy resource that will walk you from the beginning (qualifying your client) to the very end (following up with your clients) of the booking process.

Here are our top 7 site resources for planning and booking a trip for your clients. The steps cover every nook and any cranny of a travel agent's sales cycle. Each step links to an in-depth article, which takes a deep dive into the topic's particulars.

Here's a step-by-step list of travel agent booking basics (with a shortcut to the topic)

Step 1. Qualify Your Clients: Are you and your client a match made in heaven or a disaster waiting to happen? Go here to find out how to qualify your client.

Step 2. Talk About Budget: While budget can be a big part of qualifying clients, talking about money is a touchy subject. Here, travel agents weigh in on how they broach the subject with their clients.

Step 3. Qualify Travel Suppliers: Once you get the right client and the right price point, it's time to put them on the right trip. How do you know which suppliers will offer the best value for your client's budget? This resource shows you how.

Step 4. Create an Itinerary (Use HAR's Free Travel Itinerary Template): Ready to put together a few trips? You can start with HAR's free travel itinerary template. Need something more robust? Check out our next step!

Step 5. Find the Best Itinerary Builders for Travel Agents: If a DIY itinerary template isn't quite up to snuff, check out these itinerary builders designed specifically for travel agents.

Step 6. Plan & Pitch Your Itineraries to Your Client: Once you know what suppliers you're working with and what itinerary builder (or template) you want to use, it's time to put together and pitch your itinerary. Here's how to do just that.

Step 7. Book the Trip (Like a Travel Agent): Booking travel as a travel agent is not the same as booking like a consumer. This resource includes info on how booking is different for advisors (with video tutorials of travel advisors walking through how to book trips on several supplier platforms).

1. Qualifying Clients

How to Qualify Clients
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Your client is coming to you because they have brain fatigue from falling into the black hole of Google clickbait trying to plan their trip. You want to qualify thoroughly so you spend less time second-guessing yourself during the research process and more time putting together options for your clients.

So how do you go about getting a grasp on what your client is looking for and making sure you're a good fit? Go to our article on qualifying clients and you'll soon have Jedi-level client qualifying mastery. It covers booking basics such as:

  1. Determining if the client is a good fit for you (and vice versa)
  2. Getting a pulse on what info you need to get from your client
  3. Technologies and automations to help you qualify clients
  4. Tips on how to qualify clients
  5. What to do if you charge fees

Here's a bonus: It includes a recording of a fearless travel agent who volunteered to let us eavesdrop on his qualifying conversation with a client!

Curious to learn more about the time, money, and sanity you save clients? Check out HAR's Using a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online: An Infographic

2 Should Travel Agents Use the B-Word?

Should Travel Agents Say the B Word?
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This is step "1.5" since you'd typically talk about budget when you're qualifying a client. This is a fun article that profiles agents on how they approach their clients in talking about a budget. The travel agent approaches run the gamut from direct to delicate. For this phase of booking basics HAR addresses:

  1. Three different travel agent personality types of addressing budget
  2. Top things to consider when talking about a budget with your client

Unsure of how to approach this touchy subject with your clients? Read this and you'll get some great information (and a good laugh).

3. Researching & Qualifying Suppliers

Travel Agent Guide to Researching and Qualifying Suppliers
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You have your client, and now you're ready to woo them with thoughtful itineraries that show you're an amazing listener and have the ability to materialize their vacation fantasies into a reality. But first things first, you have to research suppliers.

This article will walk you through it, step by step. What are some of these steps and topics? Here's a peek:

  1. Why a niche helps you qualify suppliers
  2. The 4 goals of qualifying suppliers
  3. 8 qualities to look for in a supplier
  4. Tips on building long-term relationships with suppliers

4. HAR's Free Travel Itinerary Template

Free Travel Itinerary Template
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Ooh, fun! Another bonus! You have your fabulous ideas, and now you need to get them down on paper so you can wow your client.

We have just the thing for you: HAR's Free Travel Itinerary Template. Here you can copy and save the template to your own Google drive, brand it to your agency, fill in the fabulous details of your trip, and ship it off to your client. Here are the deets:

  1. What are the differences between an itinerary template and an itinerary builder?
  2. Will a template work for you? (Pros and cons)
  3. A free Travel Itinerary Template Download (pssst! You can also customize this and share it with your clients to fill out themselves if it's not a service you offer)
  4. Tips on customizing HAR's template

The article will walk you through the steps, and you'll have an itinerary in no time!

5. Best Itinerary Builders for Travel Advisors [+Comparison Chart]

Best Itinerary Builders for Advisors
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If you've done your due diligence, and you realized that a travel itinerary template is not a big enough tool for the volume of trip itineraries you're planning, then this resource is for you: a travel agent itinerary builder comparison chart.

The article provides:

  1. A rundown of differences between an itinerary template and an itinerary builder program
  2. What to consider when choosing an itinerary builder
  3. A nifty itinerary builder comparison chart that shows all your options, side by side to help you pick the best program for YOU.

6. Planning & Pitching Itineraries

Planning & Pitching Travel Itineraries
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You know that the itineraries you've planned are amazing, but how do you make sure your clients feel as strongly about it as you do? The next step in booking a trip is presenting your itinerary (or itineraries) to your client. This article offers tips on how to create a fantastic itinerary, and how to effectively present the trip to your clients.

Here's what's covered:

  1. Tips on creating memorable travel itineraries
  2. Examples of itinerary-building tools
  3. How to pitch your itinerary in a way that makes your client want to go right home and pack their bags!
  4. What details to confirm after a client picks their itinerary

Once you read this article, you'll be planning and pitching itineraries that make your clients want to go right home and pack their bags!

7. How to Book a Trip (Like a Travel Agent)

What Do Travel Agents Do?
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Have you ever wondered what it's like to book like a travel agent? How it's different from booking on Expedia? How do you add fees to your booking? What supplier portals look like on the back end? Well, this article answers one big industry question: What do travel agents do?

We cover a ton of ground in this article, including:

  1. What travel agents do (and how it's different from a consumer booking)
  2. Info a travel agent needs to book a trip
  3. A sneak peek at booking portals
  4. Tips and tricks for booking like a travel agent pro
  5. Post-booking steps a travel agent needs to complete

Turns out they do a lot! You really don't want to miss out on this article's sneak peek into booking like a travel agent, with 4 video tutorials from expert travel agents that reveal insider tips and tricks while booking with a consolidator (CenTrav), a land tour (VAX), a cruise (Cruising Power), and an all-inclusive (Vacation Express). If there was an Oscar category for best travel agent booking tutorial series, we'd definitely be in the running.

So whether you're a seasoned pro who's looking for some insider tips or a newbie who wants to take a look at the action behind-the-scenes, this one is for you.

You're Ready to Book!

Phew! That was a ton of info. If you read all the articles linked in here, *high five!* You can sleep easy knowing you did your due diligence to book the perfect trip for your client!

Have thoughts, comments, funny stories about your pet bunny rabbits? Comment below! We'd love to hear from you!

About the Author
Mary Stein - Host Agency Reviews

Mary Stein

Mary Stein has been working as a writer and editor for Host Agency Reviews since 2016. She loves supporting travel advisors on their entrepreneurial journey and is inspired by their passion, tenacity, and creativity. Mary is also a mom, dog lover, fiction writer, hiker, and a Great British Bake Off superfan.