Despite the plentiful presence of travel websites on the Internet nowadays where people can book their travel arrangements, there is always a need for good travel agents. If you are a person who loves people, has a knack for attention to details and has the patience to see through challenges and obstacles, you may want to consider entering this interesting field.
Travel agents do not simply arrange for ticket purchases for a client. Travel agents give their clients advice regarding destinations and make arrangements for their transportation, hotel accommodations, tours and car rentals, and travel deals. They provide bookings for cruise lines and resorts, and also specialty travel groups. Travel agents also give travelers advice and information regarding their destinations—they know the weather conditions and the local ordinances. They can talk about the customs and various attractions in the places the travelers will be going to.
For those who are traveling abroad, information about customs regulations and paperwork like passports, visas, and certificates of vaccination is provided by travel agents. They also inform travelers about currency exchange rates and pass along travel advisories. They can also intercede in behalf of travelers to make alternate booking arrangements and online travel reservations if there are changes in itinerary during their trip.
The travel agent first appeared in the 19th century when Thomas Cook, a Baptist minister, established a travel agency that developed a package tour in association with the Midland Railway. The oldest American travel agency started in 1887 when Walter Brownell led a European tour that was made up of ten passengers, sailing from New York on the SS Devonia.
Most of the training that a travel agent needs is provided on the job, specifically training on how to use the reservation systems of airline and shipping companies. At the very least, a travel agent must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Prospective travel agents may also take in training from vocational schools that offer full-time travel agent programs or public adult education programs.
Travel agents may also get training from online sources. There are several classes online that focus on training travel agents how to do their jobs. Some community colleges also offer academic courses for travel agents. Trainings about passports, treaties, customs and practices in other countries, and protocols in different countries are provided to those studying to become travel agents. Programs teach students about cruise lines, sales techniques and skills, and how to use the reservation systems. They also provide information about travel destinations, management and organization.
During the day, travel agents are in the office talking with clients, preparing paperwork, checking computer-based systems for airline and hotel availability to book international travel arrangements and promote tours. Aside from this, they spend time on the telephone or on the computer developing travel itineraries, coordinating with tour operators or updating travel reservations and documents.
Travel agents work under a lot of pressure and long hours, especially during peak vacation times like summer and the holidays. Other than a love for travel, excellent communication skills and computer expertise are essential traits for someone to become a successful travel agent.