Becoming a travel agent can be a lucrative career, especially for those willing to put in the time and effort to build up a steady base of customers. Over the last few years, travel agents have grown in number due to the ease of starting a business or joining an established travel company.
The job can be done on the go with a reliable internet connection and a computer, but the ease of getting started cannot be a prospective travel agent’s only focus. There are certain rules and regulations travel agents must follow if they plan to work with customers in the state of Illinois.
What is a Seller of Travel?
A seller of travel in the state of Illinois is an individual or agency that helps facilitate and organize travel requests for consumers or businesses. Sellers of travel often offer these types of services directly to customers, but they may also utilize third parties such as travel companies for putting together travel packages or agendas.
Travel services can come in many different forms, from vacation packages to tourist activities. Anyone who participates in arranging these details for others in exchange for compensation is considered a seller of travel.
Some specific examples of sellers of travel include the following:
- Selling pre-arranged travel packages
- Offering tourist services to groups
- Selling cruise packages
- Providing plane tickets for a fee
- Organizing car or boat rentals
Any one or combination of these activities means your business falls under the category of seller of travel in Illinois.
State Requirements for Travel Agents in Illinois
There are no state licensing requirements for becoming a seller of travel in Illinois. Unlike other states, such as Florida, California, and Nevada, a seller of travel operating or selling to customers in Illinois does not need to register with the state, nor do they need to hold a specific license as a travel business.
However, Illinois law does require sellers of travel to obtain a surety bond, also known as a travel agent bond, in order to protect customers against fraud, misrepresentation, and financial mishandling when offering travel products and services.
Getting Your Seller of Travel Bond
Even though no licensing or registration is required for sellers of travel, any individual or business providing travel services to the public in exchange for a fee must have a seller of travel bond. You can apply for the bond you need quickly online, and the surety company will provide you a bond quote based on a few important factors.
The surety company evaluates your personal credit and business details to help determine the cost of your bond. Also, the amount of bond you request plays a role in how much you pay for your seller of travel bond. In most cases, a seller of travel bond costs between 1 and 10% of the total bond amount. This is a price you pay each year when the seller of travel bond renews.
Once you have received a quote for your seller of travel bond from the surety company, you make the payment for your bond premium. Shortly after, the surety company sends the bond certificate. From this point, your customers are protected against any financial misdealings or contract breaches that may arise when dealing with your seller of travel business.
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Operating Your Business Successfully
In addition to obtaining a seller of travel bond, Illinois travel agents need to understand what is required to operate a successful business. Typically, having a business structure, such as an LLC or sole proprietorship, while not required, provides customers with peace of mind that they are working with a legitimate company. This small but essential step involves creating a business name and providing business details, such as the address, business type, and owner information to the state.
Additionally, sellers of travel should spend some time developing a business plan. Millions of consumers lean on the expertise of travel agents each year to help facilitate their travel arrangements. Because of this growing number, sellers of travel are widely available both online and in-person. The high number of travel agents can make it a challenge to get a seller of travel business up and running successfully. Companies that have a plan for marketing to potential customers and a process for providing service to those customers have a better chance of running a successful business than those who put no time or effort into these business planning steps.
Finally, sellers of travel must follow through with securing their travel agency bond. A surety bond protects consumers against breach of contract when working with a bonded travel agent. Fortunately, obtaining a seller of travel bond is a relatively straightforward process.