What is a Travel Agent?
Do you have a passion for travel and enjoy working with people?
As a Travel Consultant, you are the go to person for individuals, couples or groups to research, plan and arrange their holiday. You would most likely be working within a high street Travel Agency, an independent Travel Agency, a resort or in a call centre.
A Travel Agent works with customers to determine the type of holiday they would like and the budget they have; and then presents tailored ideas to them. You would be responsible for booking the holiday, including flights, or other means of travel and accommodation and arranging all documentation. You should be passionate and knowledgeable about travel and be able to advise on tourist attractions at an array of destinations.
Being a Travel Agent is both a customer service and sales job, so you would most likely be targeted at hitting certain revenue per month/ quarter.
Hours of Work
Typically hours would range between 37-40 hours a week. Depending on the type of company you work for, you may also be expected to work Saturdays, bank holidays or late evenings.
A Travel Agent finds and arranges travel for customers, taking the time consuming task away from them. Your day-to-day will entail:
- Working with customers on finding them the holiday they want – either face to face or by phone/email
- Researching ideas and working with airline companies, hotels, resorts, other suppliers
- Negotiating the best prices for your customers
- Making bookings and payments
- Deal with refunds/ cancellations
- Keeping up to date with travel information/developments/political situations at popular destinations
- Working towards meeting your sales targets
- Administration of holiday documentation
- Advising customers on currency, visas, insurance and vaccinations
- Answering any questions customers may have
Key Travel Agent Qualifications
Do you have the qualifications to get the job?
There are no specific qualifications required to be a Travel Agent, although you will be expected to have a good education, and a GCSE (or equivalent) in both Maths and English.
The basis of a successful career as a Travel Agent is a true passion in travel; and a general understanding of geographical locations would be advantageous.
You could complete a College course in travel and tourism which again will be useful and also demonstrate your motivation to work within the industry. An example of such courses: NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in travel and tourism, BTEC HNC/HND in travel and tourism management and BA Hons in travel and tourism. You could also be employed as an Apprentice, where you will effectively learn on the job.
Vital Travel Agent Skills
So do you have what it takes to work within Travel? Are you equipped with these necessary skills?
- Excellent customer service
- Ability to listen
- Attention to detail
- Excellent communication skills
- Sales, negotiation and persuasion
- Computer skills
- Administration/research skills
- Ability to provide well-informed advice
- Numerical and analytical (to work towards given budgets)
- Patience in abundance
What is a Travel Agents Salary?
Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty…
There is a salary range for Travel Agents dependant on level. An entry level Travel Agent could expect circa £17,000 per year, whilst a senior management position could expect £40,000 plus. The bonus/commission capabilities you can earn will also differ between each job/ company and this can add a large amount to your annual take home so should be taken into consideration.
How to become a Travel Agent?
Now you know what they do, how do you go about getting a job as a Travel Agent? You can do your own research in to local Travel Agents and contact them directly to see if they have any openings. Alternatively many specialist job boards will advertise for jobs that you can then apply to online.
At interviews the potential employers will likely want to assess why you want to be a Travel Agent and to discuss any past experience/educational qualifications that you have achieved.
How to Develop your Travel Agent Career?
If you start your Travel Agent career at entry level, there is plenty of scope to move up the career ladder and become more senior in your role, whether thats as a Team Leader or Manager. As you spend more years in the role, you will become very knowledgeable about processes, destinations and you will build up good relationships with your suppliers (hotels, airlines), which will enable you to be more successful in your role. Depending on the company you work for, the more senior you are, the greater the perks of doing more travelling with the role becomes.
Being a Travel Agent will equip you with some fantastic skills that you can transfer to other roles or utilise to broaden your career within the travel industry. Equipped with strong sales and people skills, you could develop in to a team leader of a call centre or branch manager. As your knowledge of holidays, hotels and locations extends, you could work with larger, international tour operators or work with an agency offering more bespoke services i.e. VIP holidays or specialised breaks away.
You could also set up your own travel agency and work independently. The wonderful thing about holidays is, everyone is always going to be on them.
You can find some of the best travel agent roles with brands such as Emirates, Steiner, Camp America, Sea Chefs and many more.