The modern, high-tech travel industry is exciting and dynamic. It also is demanding. As a professional travel agent, you will need to fully embrace and utilize technology and learn to follow industry trends. You must meet the needs and demands of your clients with professionalism, courtesy, respect, and patience. And you will face intense competition whether you are an independent agent or part of a successful travel agency.
Perhaps you are eager to join this fast-moving world but are not sure about what it takes to be a travel agent. So, let’s take you through some of the steps.
Start with a self-assessment. Are you cut out to be a travel agent? Some of the attributes of successful travel agents include:
- Outgoing personality
- A passion for travel
- Highly developed problem-solving skills
- Patience and diplomacy
- Tech savviness
- Flexibility and adaptability
Know about the travel industry before you step into it. Research the challenges of being a travel agent, career opportunities in your area, and the income potential before you commence your training.
Tip: Check our blog for regular updates in the travel technology industry!
Most people don’t become travel agents simply by walking through a door. They plan, study, and train to become travel agents.
Complete your secondary education (high school or its equivalent). This is considered the absolute minimum educational requirement for entry into the travel industry.
Taking specific courses in the travel industry will help you be better prepared to enter the industry.
Be aware that requirements for becoming a travel agent vary from state to province to country. Some areas require a certification or license; others do not. You will be responsible for understanding and complying with the requirements of your community or country.
Develop or refine your interpersonal skills. These include verbal and non-verbal communication, listening, problem-solving, decision-making, and even assertiveness skills.
You also will benefit by honing your behind-the-scenes skills like organization and attention to details (like promptly returning calls and project follow-through).
Travel. How can you recommend services and destinations to your clients if you haven’t walked in their shoes and experienced some of their travel challenges and delights? First-hand knowledge is invaluable to the travel agent. (Being bi- or multi-lingual also helps!)
This can’t be repeated often enough: become tech savvy! Travel agents technology is highly sophisticated and continually evolving. Keep up with technology and trends.
International Air Transport Association (IATA)-member travel agencies are connected to Global Distribution Systems like Travelport to search for travel data, compare reservation options, and book travel. The agent can store and quickly retrieve travel transaction information for a client.
For those agents, like home-based agents who more typically are non-IATA members, there is the TTS Consolidator that enables the same search, store, and ticketing functions as well as making changes just like IATA travel agents.
Another of the travel technology solutions ideally suited for travel agents who may often work from home is the TTS Web Agent, which allows you to access the GDS from the at-home desktop.
The TTS Web Agent fully synchronizes with the Travelport Mobile Agent. After all, modern high-tech travel agents are mobile travel agents who are able to handle client requests and urgent calls on the fly – day or night, on their smartphones or tablets.
Become a Destination Specialist. Creative travel agents are addressing the challenge of fierce industry competition by becoming destination specialists. Consider focusing on a specific geographic location or type of travel. Separate yourself from the competition by creating a niche business based on your skills at putting together luxury destination packages or specialized tours that can accommodate special needs travelers.
Network. You may work with a travel agency or as an independent agent. Either way, the only way people will know about you is by networking to build your client base, develop working relationships with suppliers, and connect with industry peers.
Continue your travel industry education. One way of doing this is by joining industry-related organizations. Many of these groups offer training and further education opportunities. Industry organizations are an excellent way to continue networking, too!
This may seem like overwhelming information if you are just starting to consider a career as a travel agent. But keep this in mind as you ponder your future: the travel industry is always changing. You’ll probably find that being a travel agent rarely gets stale.
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