What you need to know
Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients.
Travel agents typically work in offices, but some work remotely because much of their time is spent on the phone and the computer. In some cases, busy offices or call centers may be noisy and crowded. Agents may face stress during travel emergencies or unanticipated schedule changes.
Some of the things travel agents might do:
- Arrange travel for business and vacation customers
- Determine 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
- Describe trips to clients and give details on required documents, such as passports and visas
- Give advice about local weather conditions, customs, and attractions
- Make alternative booking arrangements if changes arise before or during the trip
- 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 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.
The average pay for travel agents in the United States ranges from $22,370 to $66,080 as of May 2018.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of travel agents is projected to decline 12 percent from 2016 to 2026.
The ability of travelers to use the Internet to research vacations and book their own trips is expected to continue to suppress demand for travel agents. Job prospects should be best for travel agents who specialize in specific destinations or particular types of travelers.
Employers generally require candidates to have at least a high school diploma, but may prefer those who have a college degree or 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, marketing, and regulations regarding international travel. In addition, some colleges offer degrees in travel and tourism.
Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management.