In order to become a travel consultant, a candidate needs to accumulate specialty knowledge and experience. A college education is not usually required, but may be helpful in securing positions with agencies or when venturing into self-employment opportunities. Candidates usually need to decide what geographic area they wish to focus on and gain first-hand experience with that location and its culture.
A travel consultant's duties are a bit more involved than a standard agent's. Consultants usually make recommendations based on their own travel experiences and knowledge of specific destinations. One of the best things that a candidate can do to become a travel consultant is to start traveling to the area he wishes to specialize in. For example, travel consultants may specialize in planning European vacations, tropical cruises, or family theme park packages.
Besides frequent travel to a certain destination or region, those wishing to become a travel consultant can begin to acquaint themselves with the chosen area's language and culture. Accumulating knowledge related to the history of a location, landmarks, tours, and well-known and lesser known sites is a good start. Gaining entry-level experience with travel agencies may be an option, depending upon local area opportunities. Licensing or specific continuing education requirements may help secure these types of positions.
Some online vendors provide electronic reading materials that help acquaint candidates with industry terminology and standards. Reservation system training will typically only occur in an agency setting. Many candidates who become a travel consultant do so as a home-based or web-based business, due to the increasing popularity of online travel planning and reservations. Some of these vendors provide web hosting to facilitate a home-based consultant service.
Experience is typically required in order to become a travel consultant. Since consultants provide more personalized or expertise service, they may start out in clerical or administrative positions with an agency and then proceed to an agent role. Following agent training and experience, candidates may then find themselves becoming more specialized and taking on the duties of a consultant.
As far as educational requirements are concerned, the minimum is a high school diploma. Some agents and consultants obtain an undergraduate level college education that specializes in hospitality management or some type of travel service. Business degrees might also be helpful for those who venture into self-employment or managerial positions with a travel agency. In addition, there are travel schools that help individuals gain industry-specific knowledge if formal degree programs are too expensive or unavailable.