Breaking Into the Luxury Travel Market

MS Europa, Hapaq-Lloyd Cruises
Hapaq-Lloyd Cruises

Many travel agents wish they could break into the luxury travel market. What does it take to start selling world luxury cruises, Arctic treks, or luxury African safaris? The answer is networking among the right groups and education. Some of this requires a financial investment, but agents can start learning at no cost. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed the median salary of a travel agent as of 2017 was around $36,990 per year. With the right clientele and hard work, that number can increase significantly.​

Consider learning with free webinars provided by the tour operators and cruise lines you wish to sell. Here are ten tour operators, cruise lines, and hotels with free webinars or training to review and learn from:

  • Crystal Cruises
  • Abercrombie and Kent
  • Seabourn
  • Big Five
  • Hapaq-Lloyd Cruises
  • Leading Hotels of the World
  • Marriott and Ritz Carlton
  • Quark Expeditions
  • G Adventures
  • Intercontinental Hotels

Build a Luxury Travel Agent Resume

  • Earn certifications that provide an agent clout in the luxury travel industry. Many tour operators, hotel chains, and cruise lines have their own certifications to earn.
  • Join organizations that support and authenticate an agent's good standing in the luxury travel industry. If agents work at a travel agency they may already be a member of International Air Transport Association (IATA), or Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
  • Make social media work for promoting yourself as a luxury travel advisor. Network on Facebook, Linkedin, and other networking sites, plus Twitter. Some network media sites, such as and aSmallWorld advertise for high society members, with membership by invitation only or require applications to join, plus a monthly fee.
  • Attend conferences and workshops for luxury travel.

Certifications Acquirable for Agents

  • CLIA offers four levels of cruise certifications that can be very beneficial in the industry. Accredited (ACC), Master (MCC), Elite (ECC), and Elite Cruise Counsellor (ECCS). After these certifications, there is a Luxury Cruise Specialist Designation (LCS), then an Accredited Cruise Manager (ACM). Coursework and ship inspections are required to achieve these certifications.
  • IATA offers certifications to earn from online training programs offered.
  • Hotel chain certifications. Most of the hotel chains and tour operators offer certification after completion of training programs.

Join Luxury Travel and Travel Agent Membership Organizations

  • The World Association of Travel Agencies (WATA) is a group of travel agencies with exceptional ethical standards and travel knowledge. One agency per destination is allowed to join. WATA members are prominent in the community, usually have a long-standing business and excellent relations with suppliers. WATA members adhere to a strict code of conduct. They strive to maintain an indisputable reputation that gives clients confidence in dealing with the best.
  • Virtuoso - A network of the best travel agencies around the world. This elite group has membership by invitation only. There are only 330 member agencies, with 7,200 elite travel advisors with outstanding expertise in the luxury travel business. Virtuoso connects travelers with a Virtuoso affiliated travel agency.
  • Luxury Travel Network - A member of Virtuoso, takes on luxury travel specialists as independent contractors with great travel expertise. Their claim is to have high commissions, plus offer the best prices on luxury travel, in addition to ongoing travel advisor training.
  • CLIA
  • IATA

Workshops and Expos

  • The Luxury Travel Fair presented by Conde' Nast Traveller. This event takes place in the London area around the end of each year.

There are several magazines and other media to gain knowledge of the luxury travel industry. Consider a subscription to Condè Nast Traveler, Luxury Travel Magazine, or even watch the Travel Channel and look for segments geared toward luxury travel.

Luxury travel can be a very lucrative business for agents who make an investment to learn about the business and invest financially as well. Affluent travelers want a travel advisor who is the top in the business and know the business they offer.

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