Travel Agents help individuals, groups, and business travelers plan and organize their travel schedules, from purchasing tour packages to booking flights and hotels. They must be familiar with the process and technicalities of flights and hotel reservations in order to provide the necessary information to their customers in a timely manner. Most Travel Agents work in travel agencies, although many practice their profession individually as freelancers and get paid a percentage of what they sell.
Most travel agencies are specialized in certain destinations and types of travelers. Some agencies only work for business travelers and may have special arrangements with some hotels and airlines (e.g. special booking fees), while some others specialize in leisure or adventure travel and work with clients looking for a vacation.
In many English-speaking countries, the term “Travel Agent” can be used interchangeably with “Travel Consultant” or “Travel Counselor.”
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Travel Agents are required to complete.
- Providing clients with information about their trip (e.g. flight schedules and accommodation options, transportation, and all related costs), as well as general information about their destinations (e.g. most popular attractions, local customs and languages, and safety information):
- Providing advice to travelers regarding passports, visas, or currency exchange; and
- providing brochures with all the important information.
- Advising their clients on the best options for their trips:
- Analyzing their clients’ available budget and offering them the most suitable options;
- recommending hotels;
- offering transportation options; and
- providing general advice about the destination.
- Planning and organizing vacation trips for individuals, families, or groups, overseeing all details including flights, hotels or accommodations, means of transportation, and activities:
- Using online reservation systems to promptly book transportation and accommodation for their clients.
- Selling travel and vacation packages to their clients:
- Designing packages to be sold to clients or helping clients design their own packages; and
- promoting packages designed by hotels, resorts, and cruise lines.
- Keeping up-to-date with the most popular vacation destinations available:
- Researching new and popular destinations.
- Creating and maintaining a profile of their clients in order to achieve a better service:
- Keeping track of clients’ personal information, travel history and preferences, as well as special needs and requests.
- Managing administrative operations:
- Requesting and managing payments from clients;
- paying for flights, hotels, and transportation; and
- providing a detailed list of costs to their clients, along with all corresponding receipts.
- Staying alert and being able to solve any inconvenience the travelers may come across, such as missed flights or misplacing hotel reservations:
- Planning an alternative option in case there are problems involving the main trip; and
- handling complaints and refunds.
- Being aware of the importance of a holiday’s insurance and being able to sell one.
- Receiving and answering phone calls and emails from clients, providing advice, and addressing their inquiries and complaints when necessary.
- Greeting and advising clients that walk into the agency.
- Checking availability and prices of flights and hotels, as well as travel packages.
- Booking flights, hotels, or travel packages.
- Checking for promotions or special offers.
- Promoting destinations, airlines, hotels, and travel packages.
- Being aware of upcoming promotions or offers.
- Selling holiday’s insurance.
The average Travel Agent salary in USA is $29,159 per year or $15 per hour. This is the same as the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $20,000 while most experienced workers make up to $41,000. These results are based on 743 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly with clients, both in writing and verbally, in order to explain everything related to their trip and provide them with the necessary assistance;
- being able to geographically describe a landscape or a place;
- having a friendly, trustworthy, and engaging personality and being able to work as part of a team; and
- being sales-oriented and able to negotiate on behalf of clients.
- Outstanding organizational skills:
- Being able to plan out an entire detailed schedule; and
- multitasking; being able to do several tasks at the same time in a quick and timely manner.
- Analytical and problem-solving skills:
- Being able to work under pressure and react quickly to solve any problem that clients may have; and
- being able to quickly identify the person that can help them solve each problem.
- Administrative skills:
- Being proficient in computer skills such as basic word processing, spreadsheet and database management, as well as specialized flight tickets retail software;
- being able to design and explain a detailed budget; and
- being able to use basic office equipment.
- High levels of initiative, resourcefulness, flexibility, and compromise.
Acting essentially as a Salesperson, a Travel Agent must come across as someone trustworthy and honest. Personal presentation and general hygiene are of utmost importance. A Travel Agent must appear clean, healthy, and have a positive, can-do attitude. Politeness and communication skills are important as there are many specific details and policies in traveling, airline tickets, and hotel reservations that most clients are not familiar with.
A Travel Agent must be able to understand and, therefore, explain all the intricacies of the trip to their clients. Hence, in order to better serve their clients, Travel Agents also need to be knowledgeable about travel and touristic affairs, including currency exchange policies and rates, global news, foreign customs and languages, and best dates for each destination. Some companies prefer hiring candidates who have personally visited the countries they promote as tour destinations since they can give a firsthand, sincere opinion.
Most travel agencies require applicants to have at least a high school diploma, 3 to 5 years of previous experience in either Retail or Travel-related businesses for entry-level positions. Experience working in Hospitality or Computer Science is also acceptable. For more advanced positions the majority of agencies prefer to hire aspirants with a degree in Travel, Tourism, Business, or Hospitality. On-the-job training is offered by employers in order to teach applicants how to operate the computer system they use.
People with limited experience have the option of presenting the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) test to become a Certified Travel Associate (CTA). It is a way to prove their skills and abilities. This examination is issued by The Travel Institute, which also offers training and certifications for experienced Agents, who can apply to be Certified Travel Counselors (CTC). Experienced agents can also be certified at The International Airline Transport Association’s Training and Development Institute.
In the United States, depending on the state, Travel Agents are required to have a business license to be able to offer their services. It is also highly recommended to join an association in order to get all the help, information, professional partners, salaries, and tools needed in this field.