Travel agents are tasked with the responsibility of finding the perfect holiday destination for their clients. They help customers to sift through all of the information and put together a holiday package that best suits their needs.
Due to the nature of the role, travel agents need extensive knowledge of other countries, their customs, and their cultures.
Travel agents use this extensive knowledge to not only find the best destination for someone, but also in helping them find the best airlines to fly with, hotel packages, car rentals, tour packages, and even arrange transport between the airport and hotel.
Travel agents can work independently or for larger tour companies. The role involves long hours sat in front of a computer and can also involve pressure in the form off clients seeking advice on a last-minute basis. If you want to become a travel agent, you will need to do the following.
Education and training
Degrees may not have been a requirement for travel agents in the past, however, according to recent BLS statistics, many travel agencies now see a degree as a requirement or at least the equivalent in formal extensive training.
This training comes in the form of courses that teach participant how to arrange lodging, recreational activities, and transportation on holidays, as well as organizing short-term events such as conferences or specific trips.
In terms of a degree, students may enroll in associate degree programs that take anywhere from six weeks to two years to complete. However, to advance in this profession it is recommended that students obtain their bachelor’s degree in travel, tourism, business administration, or hospitality.
Travel agents who wish to advance further in their career may also consider a masters degree. However it is essential for people who wish to begin their career as a travel agent to gain experience. This can be in the form of an internship which students organize as part of their Studies.
If a travel agent wishes to open their own agency in the future it is recommended that they also gain experience or qualifications in the areas of business and marketing in order to grow their client base and manage their business effectively.
Duties and responsibilities will vary, however, the following duties are common:
- Plant sale transportation, accommodation, Insurance, and other services.
- Determine clients needs identifies on the best destination, costs, transportation, travel dates, and accommodation.
- Provide all required information including brochures and publications such as advice on local customs, events, and other information.
- Prepare promotional material to sell itinerary tour packages.
- Use promotional techniques in order to attract clients.
- Network with tour operators.
- Maintain customer database and update files.
- Meet sales targets.
Travel agents may choose to specialize within the industry. For example, some agents concentrate on planning vacations for families or seniors specifically. Specializing can help you build a reputation in your area and attract specific customers that’ll help you to meet your sales targets.
If you choose to specialize you may also consider achieving certification. The Travel Institution offer several types of certification to travel agents depending on their experience. The certified travel association certificates can be earned through taking specialized courses passing an exam and gaining 18 months of work experience in the field. The search for travel counter certificates requires earning the certified travel associates awards passing an exam I’m working a minimum of five years in the field.
Continual education is also a big requirement for a travel agent. As technology evolves so do booking information systems and reservation software. On top of this the Internet provides a huge amount of competition for travel agents and agents need to learn how to use this to their advantage.