Whereas many travel agents work as employees for travel agencies, independent travel agents are self-employed business owners in their own rights. Independent travel agents usually affiliate with host agencies that support independent agent businesses, according to Hcareers. Agents and their host agencies share the commissions earned on the agents' sales.
The first step in becoming a successful independent travel agent is to attend travel school to learn about the travel and tourism industry. Hcareers notes that travel school isn't mandatory, but it teaches aspiring agents about popular destinations and helps them develop skills in planning and booking travel.
Following classroom training, many independent agents apply to the International Air Transport Association for certification as accredited travel agents, according to Hcareers. New agents should also develop personal travel experience. This experience helps agents decide on which types of travel they'd like to focus their efforts. According to About.com, developing a niche is an important factor in the growth of an independent travel agent's business.
Partnering with a host agency also helps independent agents build successful businesses, reports the National Association of Career Travel Agents. Host agencies vary in the services they provide and in the fees they charge for those services, but About.com notes that independent agents should base their choices on commission levels, training and such support functions as accounting and marketing assistance. Independent agents may also get access to online reservation systems through their host agencies.