Travel Agent 101: Everything You Need to Know About a Career in Travel

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If you are passionate about travel and helping others travel, a career as a travel agent could be for you.

Being a travel agent sounds like a fun and exciting job. If you have a passion for travel and for helping others to travel as well, a travel agent could be the perfect profession for you. Here are 10 things you should know about becoming a travel agent.  

1. You should be personable: Travel agents spend their days on the phone helping travelers from all walks of life. Some are planning a trip of a lifetime or a wedding, while others are road warriors and frequent flyers. Agents spend their time working with destinations and tour operators as well, so you’re always on the phone talking with someone. Having a friendly, personable attitude is vital to your success on the job.

READ: 5 Reasons You Should Become a Travel Agent

2. You should be adventurous: One of the best rewards about being a travel agent is traveling. You’ll get to scope out new resorts, experience thrilling adventures and travel into remote locations, all so you can tell your clients about them and hope that they book these trips too. If you would prefer to stay home and watch television, a career as a travel agent might not be the right choice for you.

3. You should be able to handle stress: A client calls and needs to be on a plane to Grenada in the next few hours. Another lost her passport and is stranded in a foreign country. At the same time, a client needs a flight changed because of an impending storm. Being a travel agent can be fun, exciting and rewarding, but remember that these clients depend on you to get them to their destination and home again. It can get stressful at times and a good travel agent can handle it and get the job done.

READ: Why Travel Agents Love Their Jobs

4. You should be able to multi-task: Remember all of those phone calls going on at once? They need to be handled diligently and being able to stay organized and multi-task is important. The last thing you want is to accidentally send the client who needed to go to Grenada in the Caribbean to Granada, Spain because you’re overwhelmed and made a simple spelling error.

5. You should have knowledge of geography: Did you even know there was a Granada, Spain? No? How about that there is a Granada, Nicaragua? Travel agents need to know that there’s a Memphis, Tennessee as well as a Memphis, Egypt. Did your client want to go to Oakland or Auckland or how about Paris, France versus Paris, Texas? Travel agents should be well versed in geography.

6. You should be trained: There are a variety of reputable schools, continuing education courses, institutes and online training programs that provide the training you need to become a successful travel agent. You can also get a degree in travel and tourism at various colleges that offer the degree.

READ: Career Advice From Travel Professionals

7. You should have experience: Want to start your own travel agency? Wonderful! You might want to consider working under the wings of another, more experienced travel agent before branching out on your own. Learning the inner workings and understand what emergencies can happen and how to handle them can’t always be taught. Hands-on experience under the tutelage of a mentor will allow you to learn, while having someone there as a cushion.

8. You should know business: If you want to start your own agency, there’s more to it than making reservations. There is collecting payments, managing staff and public relations and marketing. Taking business and marketing courses will help your business to succeed.

9. You should know your options: As a travel agent, you can work with corporate accounts or work with consumers, or both. You can be a generalist or have a specialty, so if you know Europe or Disney or cruising really well, you can specialize in that area of travel.  You can be a tour operator, work for someone else or run your own agency. Many, many options.

10. You should know salary: How much a travel agent makes depends on where you look, but for the most part, there is a minimum average rate of $34,000 a year. Keep in mind that many, many travel agents make much more than that. They also diversify — writing books and articles on travel, giving speeches, etc.  If you’re more excited about becoming a travel agent now, then go for it!

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