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Travel Agent Jobs

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Travel Agent Jobs

Page updated 4/18/2015

Job duties may include coordinating Travel Agents for bands, Travel Agent management, vacation planning, and travel planning for company events. 

Travel Agent Job Duties:

  • Arrange travel for business and vacation customers
  • Determine a customers needs and preferences, such as schedules and costs
  • Plan and arrange tour packages, excursions, and day trips
  • Find fare and schedule information
  • Calculate total travel costs
  • Book reservations for travel, hotels, rental cars, and special events, such as tours and excursions
  • Tell clients about what their trip will be like, including giving details on required documents, such as passports or visas
  • Give advice about local weather conditions, customs, and attractions
  • Make alternative booking arrangements if changes arise before or during the trip

Travel agents help travelers by sorting through vast amounts of information to find the best possible travel arrangements. In addition, resorts and specialty travel groups use travel agents to promote travel packages to their clients.

Travel agents also may visit destinations to get firsthand experience so that they can make recommendations to clients or colleagues. They may visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants to evaluate the comfort, cleanliness, and quality of the establishment. However, most of their time is spent talking with clients, promoting tours, and contacting airlines and hotels to make travel arrangements. Travel agents use a reservation system called a Global Distribution System (GDS) to access travel information and make reservations with travel suppliers such as airlines or hotels.

Travel agents increasingly are focusing on a specific type of travel, such as adventure tours. Some may cater to a specific group of people, such as senior citizens or single people. Other travel agents primarily make corporate travel arrangements for employee business travel. Some work for tour operators and are responsible for selling the company’s tours and services.

A high school diploma typically is required for someone to become a travel agent. However, many employers prefer additional formal training as well. Good communication and computer skills are essential.

Education

Employers may prefer candidates who have taken classes related to the travel industry. Many community colleges, vocational schools, and industry associations offer technical training or continuing education classes in professional travel planning. Classes usually focus on reservations systems, regulations regarding international travel, and marketing. In addition, a few colleges offer degrees in travel and tourism.

Training

Employers in the travel industry always provide some on-the-job training on the computer systems used in the industry. For example, a travel agent could be trained to work with a reservation system used by several airlines.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations offer certifications that may help travel agents once they are on the job. The Travel Institute, for example, provides training and professional development opportunities for experienced travel agents. Examinations for different levels of certification are offered, depending on a travel agent’s experience. Certification for airlines or cruise lines is available from associations such as the International Airline Transport Association’s Training and Development Institute and the Cruise Lines International Association.

Some states require agents to have a business license to sell travel services. Requirements among states vary greatly. Contact individual state licensing agencies for more information.

Other Experience

Some agencies prefer travel agents with firsthand experience visiting a country. These agencies especially prefer travel agents who specialize in specific destinations or particular types of travelers, such as groups with a special interest or corporate travelers.

Important Qualities

  • Adventurousness. Travel agencies that specialize in exotic destinations or particular types of travel, such as adventure travel or ecotourism, may prefer to hire travel agents who share these interests.
  • Communication skills. Travel agents must listen to customers, understand their travel needs, and offer appropriate travel advice and information.
  • Customer-service skills. When customers need to make last-minute changes in their travel arrangements, travel agents must be able to respond to questions and complaints in a friendly and professional manner.
  • Detail oriented. Travel agents must pay attention to details in order to ensure that the reservations they make match travelers’ needs. They must make reservations at the correct dates, times, and locations to meet travelers’ schedules. 
  • Organizational skills. Travel agents should have strong organizational skills because they often work on itineraries for many customers at once. Keeping client information in order and ensuring that bills and receipts are processed in a timely manner is essential.
  • Sales skills. Travel agents must be able to persuade clients to buy transportation, lodging, or tours. Sometimes they might need to persuade tour operators, airline staff, or others to take care of their clients’ special needs. Earnings for many travel agents depend on commissions and service fees.

Travel Agent Pay and Earnings

The median annual wage for travel agents was $34,600 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,930, and the top 10 percent earned more than $57,400. These wage data include money earned from commissions.
Most travel agents work full time. Some work longer hours during peak travel times or when they must accommodate customers’ schedule changes and last-minute needs.

Feel free to refine your job search by typing in specific job names into the what line item on the jobs board listings page.  Job duties may include coordinating Travel Agents for bands, Travel Agent management, vacation planning, and travel planning for company events.

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