Gratis, libre, FREE – these words sound good in any language, especially when attached to flights, hotels and tours. Because let’s face it: free/discounted travel is actually why we work in this industry…

Okay, there’s also the fact that we love inspiring others to travel through our enthusiasm and tales from the road, and the pleasure we get from helping our fellow humans get out there and experience it all for themselves.

Hell, some of us remain in the game purely for the buzz nights and crazy travel industry events!

But mainly we’re in it for the free or discounted travel. And as travel agents, you can score a lot of free or discounted travel, which ultimately makes you a better agent…

Here are four ways you can make all your friends and relatives mad-jealous with these proven strategies to score free stuff!


1. Get chummy with someone from product


As in any industry, it’s not what you know, but who you know that proves most advantageous. So get in the good books with people from product: airlines, hotels, tour companies, insurance – whatevs!

Buy them beer, wine, whiskey – whatever their tipple is – and get drunk with them. Then, when they’re slurring their words and telling you how much they love you, tell them to prove it. Mention that famil they’re currently organising and how you’d be keen on joining, and then sit back… free stuff coming your way!


2. Take advantage of agent rates and FOCs


Unbeknownst to many agents, they’re actually sitting on a treasure trove of discounted or free travel opportunities, usually found inside their agency’s intranet. Back when I was an agent, Air Vanuatu had a “just pay taxes” fare for agents, Rail Plus offered discounted European rail passes, and all other airlines and hotels had pretty decent industry rates.

And that is only really the tip of the iceberg. Log into your intranet the next time you have a spare five minutes and discover what you can take advantage of as an agent.


3. Enter comps, complete modules and sell like crazy


Scoring free stuff is awesome. But making a ton of money whilst in the pursuit of it is even better: even if you don’t win it, you’ve still made a $hit-ton of benjamins!

There are always incentives and competitions going on in the world of travel agent-ing worth striving for. And some of them don’t involve any selling at all – rather, all you need to do is complete online modules and up your product knowledge.

For example, at the moment you can win a spot on a famil to Switzerland with Rail Plus by becoming a Swiss Travel Pass SuperStar, win $100 Westfield gift cards simply by completing Star Alliance’s new online training program, or win a spot on a famil to NYC by making group bookings with Virgin and Delta Air Lines.

You’ve got to be in it to win it folks, so set your mark, make a commitment, and give whatever you’re hoping to achieve everything you got.


4. Go and approach companies on your own


The universe rewards the proactive. Instead of waiting for a famil or agent rate to land on your desk or inside your inbox, be proactive and email or call the airlines, hotels or tours you’d like to experience and tell them what you do for a living.

You’d be surprised how many of them respond positively to your request. The more you contact, the better chance of scoring something (it’s a numbers game remember).

You can even rock up to hotels or tour companies whilst you’re already away travelling and flash your business card. Just be genuine and nice to people and you never know… You just might score some free stuff.

Just remember to play by the golden rule: only approach companies for free stuff that you can actually sell back in the office.

What are your strategies for scoring free travel? Let us and other agents know in the comments below…