Travel agents help clients plan and organize their trip – whether it is a fun vacation to world-famous locations or whether it is related to business or work. They coordinate flights, hotels, tours and more. It can be a fast-paced, exciting career where you get to meet all sorts of people.
To be a successful travel agent you need to have a high school diploma, vocational training in being a travel agent or tourism/hospitality manager, have good computer skills, excellent organizational skills and be very good with people. If you plan to open your own agency, you need business training and be proficient in sales. In addition to this, it is a good idea to become proficient in at least one or two other languages. To become a travel agent in Quebec, you should speak French and English, as well as meet some other specific requirements.
You will need to be a citizen or you will need to obtain a work permit. You can begin your application (in most cases) for a work permit online. To get one you will need a valid passport, a police check, proof of sufficient money, and a physical exam. If your family will accompany you, you will also need to fill out information for them. There is a complete checklist online at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/kits/forms/IMM5488E.pdf . You should also be aware that you do not need to hire a representative to apply, but you may if you wish. Before hiring one, check their background to make sure they are legitimate representatives. Furthermore, even if your employer sponsors your application, they must pay you for your work, make sure your workplace is safe, and cannot take away your passport.
Two Levels of Travel Agent
As a travel agent, you might work for a large company that obtains the clients, and hires you to plan their trips. This can be an excellent way to learn the ropes before setting up shop for yourself.
The second level of Travel Agent is to either be a managing agent for a large company or to be an independent agency that has their own company.
Training to be a Travel Agent
You can sign up for classes to become a travel agent, either with a college or with a specific agency. Each year, you will need to take refresher courses to make sure that you remain current in your profession.
After completing your training course, you will need to obtain certification.
As of January 1, 2011 all Travel Agents in Quebec must be certified by the Office de la Protection du Consommateur (OPC). You can read the text of the Travel Agents Act online.
How to get Certification:
One way to gain certification as a travel agent in Quebec is to read the book, take the exam. The book, Laws and Regulations Applicable to THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY: Textbook for Travel Professionals – which is available as a free download.
There are two kinds of certificate: the Travel Counselor and the Travel Manager. You must first pass the exam for the Travel Counselor. Fees for the exam, as of March 3, 2015, are $48.00. In order to be a manager, you must already hold a license, and pass an additional exam, for managers of travel agencies. The cost for the management exam is $63.00.
If you do not feel confident that you can pass the exam merely by studying the book, you can sign up with a college or technical school for a class specifically designed to help you learn the information contained in the book. LaSalle College in Montreal offers a full line of travel agent courses. Or you can sign up for a class through the Institut de Tourisme et d’hotellierie. The class costs $55.00, and you can take a pre-exam for $25.00.
As manager of a travel agency in Quebec, you will be expected to be fiscally responsible. First, you must open a trust account to handle money that you will receive from your customers to cover their travel expenses. Second, you must provide individual security, to cover the agent’s responsibilities. Third, you must create a compensation fund (FICAV) which will be used to reimburse customers should travel arrangements not go as planned.
Being a travel agent in Quebec can be rewarding. But it requires training, work, and having money saved up before you have your own business. Many agents learn the ropes working in established agencies beforehand.