CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 15, 2014
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How to Become a Travel Agent

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Whether you are travelling within the country or abroad, using the services of a travel agent can make a difference in having an enjoyable safari. Travel agents provide a wide variety of services, ranging from advising clients on destinations and planning travel itineraries to making actual travel arrangements. If you want a job that requires little formal training, and you are a good organiser, you can become a travel agent.

Doing the Work

Although the specific duties of travel agents may vary according to the size of a travel agency, they generally perform the following duties;

  • Advising clients on the prevailing weather conditions, or travel requirements of their destinations
  • Purchasing travel tickets on behalf of clients and informing them on total costs
  • Booking reservations for hotels and rental cars
  • Solving logistical problems, such as making alternative booking arrangements in case of changes in travel plans
  • Planning excursions for travellers going on vacation

Being at Work

Prospective travel agents should prepare to work 35 to 40 hours a week in an office environment. Some will work during the weekends when there is increased demand for travel services. Travel agents also spend time on the phone and computer, liaising with clients and making bookings.

Getting Paid

The average annual salaries for beginning, experienced and senior travel agents are as follows;

Job Level

Annual Salary

Beginning agents

£13,000

Experienced agents

£15,000 to £25,000

Senior agents

£30,000 or more

Source: National Careers Service

It is important to note that apart from the basic salaries, many travel agents are also paid on commission, depending on the quantity of businesses they generate. Hence, these can increase significantly.

Getting the Education

Aspiring travel agents generally need to complete secondary education and look for a job with a travel agency where they receive on-the-job training to develop the required skills. However, with the travel and tourism industry in the United Kingdom expanding, and the increasing demand for quality services, employers are increasingly gaining preference for travel agents with professional training. Therefore, you may need to complete a certificate or diploma in any of these industry courses;

  • Certificate or diploma in introduction to the travel and tourism industry
  • Certificate in travel and tourism (air fares and ticketing)
  • Certificate or diploma in travel and tourism
  • Certificate in principles of customer service in hospitality, leisure and tourism

Some of the popular colleges offering courses in travel and tourism include;

Pursuing an apprenticeship programme in leisure, travel and tourism is also sets you on the path to becoming a travel agent.

Mastering the Skills

Travel agents use;

  • Communication skills to communicate effectively with clients
  • IT skills to operate various online booking systems
  • Customer-service skills to interact with clients in a friendly manner
  • Organising skills to handle travel documents of several clients efficiently

Finding Employment

The National Careers Service forecasts that the leisure and travel industry will create about 14,000 new jobs between 2015 and 2020. Because this means there will not be as many job opportunites for travel agents, aspiring travel agents must focus on nurturing their skills and getting more education to attract employers.

When you go job hunting, these are the places you should concentrate on;

  • Travel agencies
  • Business travel management companies
  • Travel chains, including bus, air and rail transportation firms

Also, the following links can help you get started;

After gaining vast job experience, you can move into self-employment by establishing a physical or Web-based travel agency.

Getting Ahead

After being on the job for at least two years, pursue further qualifications to advance your career. For example, pursuing a higher national diploma or bachelor’s degree in travel and tourism and becoming a member of the Association of British Travel Agents improves your prospects of becoming a branch manager in a travel agency.

Finally, to pursue a successful career as a travel agent, you must focus on giving the best services to your clients. This will not only make them loyal customers, but also make you indispensable to your employer.

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