If you are a people person and you fancy a career in the travel industry, then you might want to consider becoming a travel agent. The main job of a travel agent is to assess and help with the travel needs and arrangements of individuals, families and businesses. A travel agent may specialise in destinations such as Europe, America, Africa or Asia, and can also promote travel packages such as certain resorts or cruise lines.
What skills do I need?
Like any job, to be a travel agent you will need a certain amount of traits or skills and some of these are as follows:
Good people skills
Detailed and accurate
Good ability for sales
Good written abilities
What exactly does a travel agent do on a daily basis?
On any typical day a travel agent can expect to deal with a wide range of duties including:
Give advice on travel destinations
Make necessary travel arrangements such as car rental bookings, transportation, hotel accommodation bookings and possible tours.
Be a point of contact for people who are making enquiries
Order foreign currency for clients
Check computer based sources for flight information such as departure times, prices and airports
Help customers with travel itineraries
Providing information on travel regulations such as required paperwork, vaccinations, visas and passports
Marking up latest deals and making sure that customers are aware.
Generally speaking travel agents work a 9-5 shift although some places such as those based in shopping centres might have slightly different shift patterns. Travel agents are usually not required to work Sundays and public holidays. Most of a travel agent’s job is performed within an office environment except if you are ‘in the field’ and are visiting destinations and reporting on hotels etc.
Perks of the job
One of the best things about being a travel agent is that you can pick up some pretty good discounts on flights, resorts and hotel accommodation. However this does depend upon the agency you are working for, what kind of turnover it has and what type of business it is.
The academic way
One of the best ways to becoming a travel agent is to take a degree in travel and tourism, this will give you a great platform from which to enter the business and can in some instances fast track your career. To look into this, check out university courses or alternatively you can do online courses, such as an Open University Degree.
The non academic way
You don’t need a degree to become a travel agent as no qualifications are necessary. Although you stand more chance of getting a job if you do have a degree there are openings for the right person. Instead if you can prove that you are a people person who is well organised and is willing to learn you may be able to start in a position such as a reservations clerk and work your way up from there.
The other way
With the onset of the World Wide Web many people now look to book their holidays direct online rather than through a ‘bricks and mortar’ business. As a result many individuals are setting themselves up as travel agents and working from home. This means that you are your own boss and you are not working for a company. You would get commissions like any other travel agent and you get to work for yourself. The downside to this is that you will have to work that much harder to get yourself noticed and to build your business up.
So what can I expect to get paid as a travel agent?
Typically the wages aren’t that great and a reception clerk and a junior travel agent can expect to earn somewhere between £8,000 and £12,000 per year. A senior travel agent can expect to earn anything up to $22,000 and a travel agency manager can expect to earn up to £40,000 per year. However as explained, some of the travel perks can make up for the slightly disappointing wages.
Despite the growth of the internet, people still use travel agents and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t always work out more expensive either. This means that there is still a requirement for them. If you think that you have what it takes, then this could be the job for you