Travel agents play a pivotal role in the consumer world when it comes to booking airline flights, scheduling a cruise, or even buying travel insurance. They are the go-between for the customer and the airline, cruise line, hotel, or other travel-related company. As an agent, it is their duty to help ensure that the customer receives not only the best rate, but the best travel-related service possible. In order to become a travel agent, one should have a good understanding of basic geography. Knowing where all of the states within the United States are located as well as most major countries is a definite must for anyone who would like to become a travel agent. Understanding different countries as well as their customs and weather is helpful. Some people look to their travel agent for advice, so knowing where to recommend a good vacation based on this knowledge is essential.
A solid background or understanding of sales is helpful since it is their job to sell packages and book trips through the agency. Being able to explain package deals, discount rates, and airline travel perks and hotel features is important. People want to know exactly what they are getting when they book a vacation, so having that information available in advance is very important. Good customer service skills are a must. The ability to communicate with customers as well as airlines, hotels, single trip travel insurance agencies, and many other vendors is essential. Many experienced agents establish a good working relationship with their vendors so they can get the best deals possible for their customers. At minimum, a high school diploma is also required. There are also special schools designed especially for aspiring travel agents, where they can learn the ins and outs of the business from a professional standpoint. These schools allow people to become certified and many offer job placement.
After someone has been a practicing travel agent for a while, they might decide to open up their own agency. Some larger companies offer franchise opportunities, which gives people the chance to own their own business. There are also perks to being an agent, such as deep travel discounts and free stays at various hotels. Good organizational skills are a must for any travel agent since they have to keep track of prices, flight schedules, and individual customers’ needs. Most agencies have their own internal database that allows agents to keep track of all customer accounts and itineraries. Knowing the basics of a few foreign languages such as Spanish, French, or even Chinese are also very helpful skills. A solid understanding of current laws for traveling is also a necessary part of the job. Since the laws for airlines change quite often, the agents should be aware of any changes taking place. This way, they can inform their customers and ensure a safe and easy trip. Being a travel agent is a rewarding and dynamic job that offers excitement, a challenge, and the satisfaction in helping other people get the vacation of their dreams.