Planning a vacation is an operation that requires time and accuracy. A travel agent simplifies this process by offering a consultancy service to meet the client’s needs. The work of the travel agent in recent decades has profoundly transformed. It has evolved together with the fast looming of technology (Internet, GDS, etc.) and new customer needs. Here we will give you a complete guide about how to become a travel agent?
Among other things, today, it has to face the “enemy” represented by the “offers” of OTAs ( Online Travel Agencies ) and the increasingly widespread trend of customers to reduce the budget for their travels.
What a travel agent does
A travel agency offers its services to individuals, groups, individuals, and companies; it can be specialized in a specific segment (leisure, business, Safari, golf tour, etc.) or a specific area (Africa, Asia, etc.). In this regard, I advise you to read the post 50 types of tourism, to understand how many opportunities there can be.
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Travel agents talk to their customers to find the best possible destination by showing:
- the main attractions
- the most suitable means for travel Travel agent working with clients
- the accommodation facilities
- weather conditions
- everything that can fully satisfy their desires and make them pass an unforgettable experience
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Travel agents are also responsible for:
- communicate which documents and visas are required to reach a specific destination
- advise if special health prophylaxis and vaccinations are required
- if there is a socio-political situation that could endanger their safety.
- Often a travel agent takes part in Fam Trip to get to know a holiday location better and then pass on his experience and offer advice with good reason.
The tools they use most are certainly the PC and the telephone to contact:
- Tour Operator
- cruise and shipping companies
- vehicle rental company
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It is important that travel agents also know accounting and billing.
Travel Agent Profession
The world of tourism has undergone enormous changes in the last decades. The spread of the internet and very long-distance communication within anyone’s reach has radically transformed travel agencies’ role.
Once upon a time, to travel, book airplanes, trains, hotels, tours, and so on, there was no alternative but to contact the travel agency. Today, everything is within reach of the common customer through the network; indeed, online platforms simplify the work and offer even more advantageous conditions.
How then do travel agencies survive today? In some cases, they have considerably changed their target and the quality of their services; in others, they have changed their role as tourism consultants. Let’s see below what the profession of the travel agent consists of today.
Who is the travel agent
Working as a travel agent is a suitable choice for passionate about travel and have organizational and relational skills. The travel agent is a very charming figure who, to be successful, must have the full trust of his client. His job is to sell an experience that many people are waiting for all year and for which, in many cases, he has saved in the previous months, making many sacrifices.
The role of the travel agent is to help customers in planning their trips: they book transport and overnight stays, take care of taking out travel insurance and handling the various paperwork, as well as preparing the itineraries, also promoting tourist packages offered by various tour operators, and more typically offers practical information on destinations. His work aims to offer his customers the best travel experience compatible with the available budget.
With his qualified consultancy, he follows all the front office activities: from booking a hotel or a train, air or sea ticket, to the sale of a travel package.
Therefore, its role is twofold: it participates in economic planning and marketing and communication activities in the tourism sector and coordinates the organizational interventions necessary for customer satisfaction.
What are you doing, Travel Agent?
The travel agent’s work takes place in direct contact with the public, interacting with the customer to identify their specific needs. Usually, the activity of this professional figure takes place within the travel agency. The operator is present at the counter or counter, where he develops his business using tools such as computers, faxes, and telephones. It naturally has various brochures, catalogs, rates, timetables, and the like.
Together with the client, identify the budget available for the trip and meet their expectations while respecting the budgeted spending limits. The travel agent offers various solutions, organized trips or personalized packages, and provides advice and advice on destination destinations.
Employees in a travel agency prepare estimates for the various proposed solutions and, based on the customer’s choice, then take care of reservations. The travel agent can book trips (air and rail tickets, car rental), overnight stays (in hotels, resorts, tourist villages …), and other ancillary services such as tickets for excursions, visits to museums, concerts, events.
It provides detailed destination information to guarantee customers the best possible travel experience: from practical information, such as weather conditions, currency, food, customs, and traditions, to bureaucratic information, such as the documentation necessary to enter the country (passport, seen). It then supports the customer in fulfilling the various practices necessary to leave: obtaining travel documents or stipulating travel insurance (travel or luggage insurance, health insurance, etc.).
The main duties of those who work in a travel agency are:
- Identify customer needs and preferences.
- Plan and organize trips and vacations
- Calculate the quotes for the different solutions
- Promote package tours, travel insurance, and other ancillary services
- Book transfers, overnight stays, and tickets for events on behalf of the customer
- Provide information on tourist destinations and documents required for the trip
- Arrange for alternative solutions in case of changes before and during the trip
- Handle travel issues, complaints, or refunds on behalf of customers
- Create and maintain a network of relationships with tour operators and travel partners
- Draw up reports on the results obtained about the agency’s sales objectives
- Maintain and update the customer database
How working in a travel agency has changed.
Once upon a time, a customer came into the agency, sat down, and entrusted the agents with choosing the holidays, who proposed tourist destinations and packages, carrying out many standardized operations. People had fewer tools for information and were less demanding on average.
Today a customer knows exactly where he wants to go. He knows the place very well even before having visited it has had access to information on tourism newspapers, travel blogs, or various social networks and wants an additional personalization service regarding the trip.
To survive this activity, agencies look for new destinations to propose new ways to reposition themselves every year to become more visible and reach all potential customers.
Travelers are constantly changing, and it is increasingly necessary to develop new professional skills: new destinations, requests for non-standard packages, the emergence of new niches (linked, for example, to food and wine, nature and certain sporting events, including marathons ), different availability of time (a few days available, as opposed to the classic “three weeks of vacation”).
The basis on which the job must be founded is obviously linked to the technical skills that allow you to work like a true professional. Still, it would help if you also kept curiosity on topics related to marketing and communication.
The online travel consultant
To date, however, there are more and more so-called online travel consultants who operate exclusively on the web, offering a service similar to that of agencies but with a much more streamlined structure. However, one cannot improvise travel agents: it is necessary to study, prepare, always be at the forefront, aware of what may be the news: in these cases, the customer is even more demanding and wants to have more and more precise information, more and more detailed.
You have to be competent and reactive; when an unexpected event happens to a customer traveling the world, from a natural event to an accident, a flight that does not leave, a hotel overbooked, and so on, you need to be able to react quickly and with maximum efficiency.
Operating as a consultant, there is certainly greater flexibility, the possibility of managing the work at one’s own pace, even when abroad, or working in non-canonical hours.
How to become a travel agent working from home
So we must give the customer the feeling, the guarantee of being in good hands, having relied on people who know how to do their job, who know how to guide them, and direct and assist them. The customer, wherever he is, at any time, at any time of the day or week, must always have assistance.
The online travel consultant is a citizen of the world. He can do his job where he wants, how he wants, when he wants. So you can decide to do it at home, in the garden, at the bar, at Starbucks in front of your coffee … There is no physical place. The concept of the office, as we conceived it 20 years ago, no longer exists.
Online professions can be developed anywhere and anyway. The important thing is to have a computer, an internet connection. And a telephone connection that allows you to call the customer. You must always have telephone contact with the customer because the personal relationship is not cultivated through the computer. Even working online. However, we must try to establish a personal, direct relationship with the customer.
How to become a travel agent
How to become a travel agent, a high school diploma is usually enough, preferably for tourism. A degree in Tourism, Hospitality, and Tourism Management, and the like, is required in some cases. Knowledge of foreign languages is another important requirement for working in a travel agency. Communicating with incoming foreign customers (“receptive” tourism) and organizing international travel more efficiently and interfering with local contacts.
In selecting candidates, great importance is also given to personal experience as a traveler and tourist. In addition to the diploma and any training courses attended, to develop a good professional career it is advisable to carry out internships or training activities at one or more travel agencies.
The acquisition of high technical skills relating to ticketing and tariff application activities is also of great help. So it is important to know how to use the computer and know the main computer programs and software specific to this activity.
There are also courses to become a travel agent and a travel planner, which provides the skills necessary to work in the sector. The main topics covered in the course are national and international tourist destinations, sales techniques and marketing strategies, rules governing the tourist services market, organization of group travel, software and booking systems, planning of agreements with agencies, tour operators, hotel chains, airlines, and transport companies. The courses often include a period of training or final internship to be carried out in a travel agency, to gain practical experience in the various tasks.
Skills Required in a Travel Agency
The skills required to work in a travel agency are:
- The national and international tourism market
- Online booking procedures and tools (OBT, Online Booking Tools)
- Marketing and tourism promotion techniques
- Knowledge of the main passenger transport companies by land, air, and water
- Expertise in the use of CRS (Computer Reservations System) and GDS (Global Distribution System) software
- Knowledge of national and international travel regulations
- Organizational and managerial skills
- Predisposition to the relationship with the public
- Communication skills
- Customer orientation
- Accuracy and attention to deadlines
- Patience and courtesy
Professional placement is mainly offered by independent and franchised travel agencies, tourist associations at the national level, agencies that deal with business travel, transport companies (air, rail, and sea) for booking aspects. Of tourist services. Travel Networks that support the activity of about 90% of the travel agency. Furthermore, the OLTA (online travel agency) which in various ways offer tourist services through their websites.