Travel Agent Training and Education, 2024

May 1, 2024

When it comes and choosing a travel agent training and education program to pave your journey to become a travel agent, it’s pretty much like the wild west out there. You might be saddled with questions such as

  1. How do I know if a travel agent education is legit?
  2. Is it right for my level of experience?
  3. Will it get me off to a strong start as a travel agent?
  4. Will it advance my professional development?

Travel agent education can be a significant investment of time and money, and you don’t want to waste it. Overwhelmed at the thought of wrangling all that information? Don’t be.

We’ve collected a ton of info on all the different options out there from free DIY educational resources to full-fledged degrees. This article guide will help you determine what type of travel agent training program is best for you, how to evaluate the quality of a program and direct you to further resources.

⭐️ Travel agent training & Education: HAR highlights! ⭐️

  1. Why Does Travel Agent Training Matter?
  2. Do I Need a Travel Agent Training Program?
  3. 5 Travel Agent Training and Education Options
  4. Travel Agent Schools
  5. Host Agency/ Consortia Education
  6. Travel Agent Certification
  7. Business and Sales Coaching
  8. Other Industry Resources
  9. Tips on Evaluating Travel Agent Training & Education Programs

Why Does Travel Agent Training Matter?

You might be surprised to hear that there’s no travel agent exam you need to pass or degree to earn in order to sell travel. That’s right. Nada. Better yet? You don’t need a degree or certification either.

What exactly is required to sell travel? A travel agent accreditation. Beyond that, the only thing you need to sell travel is the skills to book a trip.

It sounds simple, but there’s more to meets the eye when it comes to booking a trip. Think of it this way: The average traveler spends over 20 hours browsing travel sites before they book a trip. Your task as a travel agent is to dramatically streamline the planning and booking process, booking the perfect trip in a fraction of the time.

This is where travel agent training and education opportunities enter the scene. They provide programs that cover all aspects of the industry ranging from getting more clients, marketing, booking, developing destination and product expertise, and much more.

Here's a teaser!

Do I Need a Travel Agent Training Program?

There are travel agent training and education opportunities abound. They cater to newbies as well as seasoned pros who’ve been selling travel before Millennials were out of diapers. So how do you decide which programs will meet your needs?

Here’s a few questions to consider as to whether or not a travel agent training program is for you:

  1. Do I need a travel agent training or education program to join a host agency or consortium? Some hosts require either industry experience or an education program before you can sign on with them. If you’re interested in checking out host agencies as an option, be sure to check with your host to see what their minimum requirements are! (Pssst! You can ask them directly on the Q&A portion of their profiles!)

What the heck is a host agency, you ask? Read up on it here!

  1. Do I need a travel agent training program to be accredited? Some accreditation organizations require travel agent training and education before signing on. Others require a certain sales threshold. If you’re interested in pursuing your own accreditation, take a look here for their eligibility requirements.
  2. Do I have the time and resources to cobble together my own travel agent education? If you have time to research and explore, you can really get to know a ton of information about the industry . . . for free! With this route, you’ll have nothing to show for it but your sharp brain. But if you want structured guidance, a curriculum, a degree or certificate, and predetermined educational benchmarks to meet, then a program might fit the bill.

You might still be uncertain. That’s okay because it’s not a cut-and-dry question. :)

We’ll review a few of the training agent training and education options that you can explore!

5 Travel Agent Training and Education Options

If you’re overwhelmed by travel agent training options, you’re not alone. Below we break it down into five main categories (with links in case you want to fast-forward to a particular option!):

1. Travel Agent Schools

2. Host Agency/ Consortia Education

3. Travel Agent Certification

4. Business and Sales Coaching

5. Other Industry Resources

We’ll give you a brief overview of each type of training, including what type of agent it might be good for. Most sections also include a link to a more in-depth look at that specific type of travel agent training and education program.

Let the rodeo begin!

1. Travel Agent Training: Travel Agent Schools

Read Complete Guide to Travel Agent Schools Article

1. What is their delivery format?

When it comes to travel agent training, travel agent schools typically offer degrees or professional certificates to those who want to become a travel agent. Most travel agent schools are online, though there are still a few rare birds out there that offer a classroom setting.

2. Is it for me?

Travel agent schools can be a great option if:

A.) you know you want to become a travel agent

B.) you are brand new to the industry with little or no professional background

C.) You want a degree (or professional certificate) in addition to an education.

If you are already setting up your business, don’t want a degree or professional certificate, and have already established a niche and know exactly what you want to do, a travel school might not be the right tool for the job. (Or at the very least, you may want to evaluate other options.)

3. What’s the end game?

It depends on the school, but typically a travel school will offer a broad (and hopefully in-depth) look at the travel agent sector of the travel industry. Some identify their main goal as preparing for the The Travel Institute's TAP (Travel Agent Proficiency) test, and most conclude with a degree or professional certificate. It's important to note that the TAP test is not required to become a travel agent.

4. How much do they cost?

There is a huge range and it will depend on how many credits you take and whether or not you also want a general degree. But the cost for travel agent training via the travel school route will range from $395 (for one course) to $14,000 (for degree-seeking programs)

5. How Long does it take?

The duration of a travel agent training program also varies widely. It depends on whether you want a degree, a professional certificate, or both. The programs listed in our travel agent school article range from two months to two years.

6. What are the prerequisites:

This will vary by program. However, if you want to receive a general degree you will likely need a high school diploma.

Read more here about travel agent schoolsto see what's available and how to evaluate their programs

2. Travel Agent Training: Host Agency/ Consortia Education

Read A Guide to Host and Consortia Education Article

First things first: what is a host and what is a consortium? At its most basic, a host agency is an umbrella organization that an independent agency (that’s you!) can align with for better commissions, more support, and marketing/tech tools.

A travel consortium is a collective of host agencies, travel agencies, and/or travel advisors that join forces to combine resources in order to increase their industry footprint. This gives them more including buying potential, preferred supplier relationships, & commission levels.

Attending your specific host’s education program can be a really good primer. Why? Because it will also give you a good feel for their company culture and prepare you for their specific tools and technology.

Distilling travel agent training through host and consortia into a singular profile are almost impossible. Why? Well, we have hundreds of host agencies and consortia profiles on our site. Some of those hosts will have travel agent education programs, some won’t.

Among those that do offer programs, they may use different educational tools, systems delivery methods, etc. It’s mind-boggling! But this info will give you a sense of what’s out there before your plunge into specifics.

1. What is their delivery format?

Host agencies and consortia offer every kind of education under the sun . . . that is, depending on what host you join!

Here’s just a few of the travel agent training formats they provide:

  1. Webinars
  2. Online Education
  3. Vendor training
  4. Conference calls
  5. Conventions or Meetings
  6. FAM trips (when an agent visits a site/ destination)
  7. Seminars at Sea
  8. In-person training
  9. Mentoring/ Coaching
  10. Niche or destination education

2. Is it for me?

Some hosts and consortia will require some form of education or comparable travel agent experience before you sign on with them. If you plan to go with a host agency, and you know you want travel agent education, their education programs might be a big determining factor for you.

Attending your specific host’s travel agent training program can be a really good primer. Why? Because it will also give you a good feel for their company culture and prepare you for their specific tools and technology.

However, if you want to join a host that has little or no educational support, then you may want to choose a different type of program to supplement your learning.

Also, some agents express that they don’t want to wait to complete a host’s education program before they’re able to book travel. So be sure to ask your shortlist of host agencies how soon you’ll be able to sell travel after signing on if this is a concern for you.

Here's some tips on how to choose a host agency.

3. What’s the end game?

Not to sound like a broken record, but it depends. Different educational formats will have different goals.

Basic programs may familiarize you with a host agency and the industry at large. But a marketing-specific program might have goals like, “launch your travel agency website” or “increase your client list by 10%.”

4. How much do they cost?

Among hosts that offer travel agent training programs, 65% reported that their education fees are included in their startup or sign-on fees.

Among hosts that do “itemize” the cost for their education ranges from a low average of $2,135 to a high average of $2,475. Of the consortia who replied to our questionnaire, the cost ranged from zero to $150.

Among hosts that offer travel agent training programs, 65% reported that their education fees are included in their startup or sign-on fees.

The cost of a host agency or consortia education program will depend on a few things including:

its intended participants (new or experienced agents),

the scope of content (is it general or specific), and

its duration (e.g. a one-off webinar vs. a week-long in-person intensive).

5. How long does it take?

Hosts' responses to how long their education program takes ranged from one day to 6 months (for a coaching program). Many hosts have self-paced programs. The consortia programs listed (in the link above) range from 30-50min. Per training module, to 12 weeks.

6. what are the prerequisites?

Aside from being an IC (independent contractor) under a host or consortium’s umbrella, there are no set prerequisites for new agent education. For more experienced agents or specialized training (such as a FAM), the education may be invite-only or include a sales threshold.

TIP: You can find 100+ travel industry events to educate you on HAR's travel industry event calendar.

3. Travel Agent Training: Certification

Read Travel Agent Certification article

When it comes to travel agent training options, travel certifications are tricky to pin down. But here’s how we classify a travel certification:

  1. Travel-specific (often focused on a certain type of travel or niche)
  2. A comprehensive training program (not just a specific destination or vendor)
  3. Education that is NOT provided by a vendor, destination, or travel agency

Most travel certifications result in giving you letters after your name (like ACC for “Accredited Cruise Counselor” or “VTA” for Verified Travel Advisor). This indicates to other industry professionals that you’re investing in yourself and your profession. (Most clients will not recognize a travel industry certification.)

Unlike a host or consortia program, most certifications culminate in a test you need to pass to be certified.

Unlike a degree or a professional certificate, many travel agent certifications must be maintained. What does this mean? It means that you’ll have to re-certify after a certain span of time.

1. What is their delivery format?

Most certifications nowadays are online. Some also may include (or require) in-person conventions/training. Some are a mix of both.

2. Is it for me?

At the end of the day, probably the best way to gauge whether or not a travel agent certification will be valuable to you and your business is to ask:

  1. Will it further my knowledge?
  2. Is this certification recognized by other industry professionals?
  3. Does it open doors for me? (e.g. with some certifications, it allows you to be listed in an organization’s travel agent database for consumers to find.)

Some certifications are more niche-specific, and some are more general. Many travel agent certification organizations have tiers that range from beginning to experienced agents.

3. What’s the end game?

Aside from (hopefully) gaining knowledge, a travel agent certification culminates in industry recognition (letters after your name).

4. How much does Travel agent certification cost?

Among the travel certifications we list on our site the cost ranges from $70 - $550 (which would not include travel expenses).

5. How long does it take?

Depending on the rigor of the travel agent training program, the amount of time to become certified ranges from 3 months to 2 years.

6. What are the prerequisites?

Entry-level certifications usually don’t have any strict prerequisites. If a travel agent training program has “tiered” certifications, you will need to complete them before you move on to the more advanced certifications. Some of the more advanced travel agent certifications also require you to meet a certain sales threshold.

Some travel organizations require that you’re a member if you want to certify through them. Also, some certifications are facilitated by travel organizations (like the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA or Cruise Lines International Association, CLIA). If this is the case, you’ll need to be an affiliate or member of their organization.

TIP: CLIA requires ship inspections as part of their certification. Here's how to make the most of your cruise ship inspection.

4. Travel Agent Training: Business and Sales Coaching

Travel Agent Training and Education – Business Coaching

These types of travel agent training programs are run by industry professionals—travel advisors, travel industry writers, agency owners etc.

Many times, these programs focus on a specific type of travel such as destination weddings or FITs. Many of them also include an element of coaching or mentoring.

If they offer certification, these are not generally recognized in the wider industry or by consumers.

A few that come to mind (if we missed some, let us know in the comments):

  1. 20K System & Toolkit Destination Wedding Business Course: This course, created by Destination Wedding planner Tami Santini, addresses how to build a six-figure income while working with 5 to 10 couples per year. (Cost is $2,997 Tami is offering HAR readers 50% off which you can get by following this link. Full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, and will help the HAR crew feed our office dogs if you use it!)
  2. Romance Travel University, by DWHSA (Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Association): Offers niche-focused boot camps and events as well as an annual conference.
  3. Travel Beyond the Obvious: Developed by destination expert and agency owner of Italy Beyond the Obvious. Training focuses on developing in-depth destination expertise (for any destination). ($299 per course, $2,499 for complete training)

Who better to learn from than people who have gone through it and succeeded? If there’s a program that fits your niche, the price is reasonable, and you like the person who runs it then I’d seriously consider it as a contender.

5. Travel Agent Training: Other Industry Resources

Oh no. Just when you thought you exhausted all travel agent training possibilities I throw in an “other” category. But here’s the deal: There’s a ton of other travel agent training opportunities out there if you have the patience to cobble together your own schooling!

Going the "other" route is great for DIY-loving newbies who may want to test the waters before investing in a travel agent training or education program. It’s also great for you if you just want a quick refresher in a specific niche, supplier, or type of travel.

Here’s some of what’s out there:

HAR’s 7 Day Setup Accelerator course

If you're just starting your travel agency and still having trouble seeing how all the industry + entrepreneurial puzzle pieces fit together, check out HAR's 7 Day Setup Accelerator course on getting your agency set up.

You get setup faster with the support you need—no more losing steam or your future business falling prey to Analysis Paralysis. Bite-sized digestible information, a supportive community of your peers and the HAR team, twice a month live meetups, and tons of exclusive resources!

7 Day Setup Accelerator

Destination/ Supplier Training & Webinars

It will come as no surprise to you that suppliers want you to be successful in selling their products and destinations. Want to get connected to a webinar? Check out what’s happening on HAR’s event calendar, for free training and webinar options.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check a supplier’s website, Facebook group, or social profile to see what they’re cooking (and then tell them to post it for free on our events page).

Industry Conferences & Events

Most industry conferences and events aren’t free, and you can quickly wrack up a steep bill with travel and lodging expenses. But these events can be an invaluable educational resource. Good events connect you with suppliers, provide educational panels, offer ample networking opportunities.

Want to go the extra mile? You can also tack on a cruise ship inspection or resort/hotel site inspection.

Here's a few tips on how to make the most out of a travel conference.


It's worth noting that ASTA's Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor course was written by HAR's founder, Steph Lee. With 240 pages of goodness, the focus is on helping you understand how the travel industry works, who the players are and what they do, and what a career as a travel advisors entails.

If you're looking for travel agent training that is like a Becoming a Travel Advisor 101 college course, where you get big picture of how things work and a taste of what a career in that field is like, you'll like this course!

TIP: Join us for our Friday 15 podcasts, where we answer the questions you submit. It's great for newbies and experienced advisors alike!

Tips on Evaluating Travel Agent Training & Education Programs

In each of our linked travel agent training articles above, we go into more detail on how to evaluate specific types of travel agent education and training.

But if you really want to go the extra mile before you commit, here are a few extra steps you can take:

  1. Talk to agents who've taken the program. Ask the program director for emails of a few agents who have gone through the program (though most likely they will direct you to agents who have nothing but good things to say about it). Another good place to check? Travel Agent Facebook groups. If you’re interested in HAR’s 7 Day Setup (7DS) program, join our 7DS Facebook group and snoop around.
  2. Ask for a sample course. Probably the best way to see if a travel agent training program is good for you is to try it out. Ask the program if you can do a sample class or take a look at a recent syllabus. (They don’t have one?! Yikes!)
  3. Who runs the program? A travel agent training program will only be as good as the people “in front of the room.” Who runs the program? What is their industry experience? Who teaches the classes and how much real-life travel experience do they have? Another important question, how recent is their experience on the topic they're teaching?
  4. Ask for data. Nothing speaks louder than actions (errr, data). So what does their data tell you? How many agents complete travel agent training through the program? Do the agents find jobs? Do their sales increase? If the program boasts increased lead generation, do they have the numbers to back it up?
  5. Spy on their alumnus: Actions speak louder than words: Poke around on Linkedin or Facebook to see what career path alumnus followed after they complete that travel agent training program.

Let’s Wind Up

Ride into the Sunset

I’m not going to lie. I’m impressed that you made it this far. You’ve conquered the Wild West of travel agent training and education and training opportunities.

It’s time to mosey on: drop a comment below about you personal experiences with travel agent training programs, or give me a holler at Hello@HostAgencyReviews.Com

⭐️ Don't Miss HAR's Travel Agent Training & Education Series! ⭐️

  1. A Guide to Host Agency and Consortia Education: Details on host and consortia education, plus a comparison chart.
  2. Travel Agent Certification: Want to read up on what certification options are out there? This is for you.
  3. Travel Agent Schools, A Complete Guide: Want to look into a degree program or a professional certificate? Go here!

Editor's note: This was originally published on December 18th, 2019 and republished with the most up to date info.

photo credits: Austin Distel and Yudi Susilo

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.