Reason to Become a Travel Agent
While COVID-19 stalled the travel industry for a few years, it is slowly recovering and expected to experience a boom as people become more comfortable traveling and stretching their legs. Almost everyone wants to get out of their home and experience the world again, and a travel agent is the one person who can help make this happen. While automated online booking systems are very accessible, many travelers prefer working with a travel agent. This is especially true for business travelers or anyone who requires a travel agent’s expertise to move about internationally.
If you enjoy working with people and solving intricate puzzles, then a career as a travel agent may be a good fit. Travel agents plan everything from flights to hotels to activities and they do it with your budget in mind. In addition, they add their personal touch to ensure you get what you want out of your trip. If the idea of working as a travel agent has piqued your attention, check out the steps you need to take to embark on this exciting career.
Steps to Become a Travel Agent
Step 1: Finish High School
Diploma or GED
Most travel agents need to at least graduate from high school or obtain an equivalent education. If you have not graduated from high school, you may want to consider getting your GED.
It is also not a bad idea to complete some college coursework. While a college degree is not required, an associate’s degree in hospitality, business practice, marketing, or international affairs will certainly help you find your footing once you are ready to become a travel agent. You will need to master each of these subjects to help your clients properly.
Step 2: Get a Travel Agent Certification
A great way to demonstrate to future employers and clients that you are serious about your job as a travel agent is by pursuing official certifications within the industry. The Travel Institute offers a Travel Agent Proficiency Test. It is composed of 100 questions over the course of two hours and designed to demonstrate that you possess a basic understanding of travel agency demands.
After you earn more experience as a travel agent, you can return to the Travel Institute and take several other certifications that will help boost your salary as well as potential employment opportunities, such as the Certified Travel Associate examination.
Step 3: Work on Building Your Interpersonal Skills
In Person Communication
Being a successful travel agent partially rests on knowing the travel industry, but the other critical requirement is having excellent interpersonal skills. Travel agents spend a lot of time communicating with clients and other people via phone, meetings, and email. In fact, face-to-face communication is the number one reason people seek out a travel agent. Otherwise, they would just use one of the many online brokers.
Therefore, to succeed as a travel agent, you need strong interpersonal skills that help you build lasting business relationships, so each client turns into a loyal customer.
In addition, developing a problem-solving skill set can help you negotiate with businesses and hotels down the line.
Step 4: Learn to Budget and Plan
Any successful travel agent will tell you the most valuable thing you can do for your customer is save them money. If you want to be a successful travel agent, you must learn how to budget and save people money by offering all-inclusive deals or special rates on hotels, flights, and cruises. While people appreciate great service, for many, the bottom line is what will bring them back or turn them away.
Find People Deals & Opportunities
Obtaining great deals and top reservations will always help propel you among the crowd. If you work for a travel agency, they should help you learn how to do this, which is why many people work for a professional travel agency when they get started and venture out on their own when they become more comfortable with the industry.
Step 5: Stay Up-to-Date
Travel Industry Trends
The travel industry changes over time, as do travel trends. As a travel agent, you need to constantly stay appraised of top travel locations and continue boosting your knowledge of new resorts, travel destinations, and airlines. Your goal should be to know about every cutting-edge resort or travel destination before your clients request it.
Courses offered via private programs and places like The Travel Institute offer you deep insight into the travel industry.
What Do They Have to Do?
The job duties of a travel agent vary greatly depending on whether a travel agent works for themselves or a travel agency. Those who start their own business will need to take care of a lot more administrative tasks than those that work within a travel agency.
For the most part, a travel agent is responsible for communicating with their customers and booking reservations, including flights, hotels, reservations, cruises, and more. They need to network and create strong relationships within the travel industry and network socially to boost their profile and client base.
What Is a Travel Agent?
Travel agents are tasked with making travel arrangements for their clients or searching for travel packages that fit their preferences.
Sometimes a client will come into a travel agent’s office and request a specific trip to a city that takes place over a particular set of dates.
Other times a client will come into a travel agent’s office and explain the type of experience they are looking for, then leave the details and destination up to the travel agent.
For this reason, travel agents need to be flexible, friendly, and intuitive to meet the needs of their customers.
As part of their job, travel agents frequently create itineraries for their customers and proceed to book the corresponding reservations, flights, and hotels. When making these arrangements, travel agents work hard to stick to the schedule and budget requirements that their client has provided. They also need to learn about their clients and cater to their specific needs. For instance, a client that gets seasick would not be a great candidate for a cruise or boat tour.
Travel agents tend to be sociable people who are good at solving puzzles, since planning an itinerary often requires complex problem-solving skills.
They need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills while being charismatic enough to encourage clients to becoming repeat customers.
Since travel agents are competing against automated booking systems, they need to go the extra mile to provide customer service as a way of standing out.
How Much Do They Make on Average?
The median salary of a travel agent is currently $43,810, but several variables can affect how much you earn. Acquiring certifications or taking travel agency courses is a great way to boost your knowledge and raise your entry-level salary when first entering the industry. Experience is another great way to boost your salary.
You can expect your salary to grow the longer you work in the travel industry. In addition, many travel agents earn commission on the packages that they book for clients. Therefore, the more successful you are, the more potential earning power you will have.
While COVID-19 slowed the tourist industry, it is expected to rebound, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that the field will grow by 5% by the time 2030 rolls around. Therefore, by the time you finish your training and gain some experience in an office setting, travel agency jobs should be readily available. Due to the fact that many people have left the industry, there are projected to be around 7,500 jobs available every year within the travel agent industry.