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What does a travel agent do?

what does a travel agent do?

If you have a passion for travel, you might want to consider becoming a travel agent. To make your decision, you’ll need to understand what a travel agent does, what types of travel agents there are and ultimately, how to become one.

We will cover all this in this article, so keep reading to discover more about an exciting career move that could change your life.

What does a travel agent do?

The role of a travel agent in tourism involves a lot of variety. While the ultimate job of a travel agent is to book holidays, trips, excursions and more for clients, it’s highly likely that no two days or even trips booked will ever be the same.

However, there are some aspects of a travel agent job that you’ll need to do regularly. With that being said, the question of “What does a travel agent do?“ can be answered by looking at the most common day-to-day tasks.

Below is a brief outline of just some travel agent duties and responsibilities:

  • Meet with clients to discuss and understand their travel-related needs and expectations
  • Check availability and narrow down options of suitable travel packages
  • Plan travel itineraries for clients depending on their requirements
  • Negotiate hotel and tour package rates based on the client’s budget
  • Sell, book and coordinate transport, accommodation, tours, activities, transfers, excursions and more
  • Use online computer systems to make bookings and accept payments
  • Keep accurate records of bookings, payments, transactions, phone calls, meetings, etc.
  • Offer advice related to passports and visas, insurance, vaccinations, tours, vehicle hire options, etc.
  • Keep clients informed about changes, such as cancelled or delayed flights, destinations, cultures and customs, weather, activities, etc.
  • Handle client communication, which may include travel issues, complaints, cancellations or the need for refunds
  • Work towards achieving your set sales targets
  • Stay informed of developments in the travel industry by carrying out research on destinations and industry trends 
  • Build relationships with travel and tour vendors
  • Attend travel seminars and conferences
  • Carry out sales and marketing activities to promote your travel products and services
  • Maintain accurate financial records of all transactions

Types of travel agents

Just like there are many travel destinations and types of holidays to choose from, so too there are different types of travel agents, with some specialising in certain types of travel. The most common types of travel agents and what they do are covered in more detail below:

Leisure travel agents

One of the first key types of travel agents are leisure travel agents. These professionals focus on organising leisure trips for individuals, couples, families and groups. As part of their main job, they assist clients in planning and booking every aspect of their travel. This can include things such as flights and accommodation and interesting tours and activities. It’s possible for some leisure travel agents to specialise in specific types of travel. Examples include golf, cruises, adventure or luxury travel.

Corporate travel agents

These travel agents are exclusively focused on business travel for companies. They cater to corporate clients, arranging all aspects of travel, which includes flight bookings, accommodation, creating and managing itineraries as well as coordinating travel-related logistics. What sets them apart from others is that they must be familiar with the business’ travel policies, budgets and preferred vendors to ensure the most efficient arrangements for their clients. 

Group/schools travel agents

As the name suggests, some agents are specialists at working with schools and arranging travel for large groups of travellers. In many cases, the travel agent will be able to negotiate lower rates for the group and coordinate the group’s activities, while also managing flights, accommodation and transport in line with the group’s preferences.

Tour operators

A tour operator is ultimately responsible for creating ready-made travel products. These pre-packaged tours include travel itineraries and packages that feature transportation, accommodation, guided tours and activities. They often work with travel agents, who sell these packages on their behalf. However, some large agents are also tour operators with the ability to create their own tailored products.

Online travel agents (OTAs)

The main way OTAs operate is by offering a wide range of travel services through internet platforms and websites. Clients are able to search and compare prices and options related to their travel needs, such as flights, hotels, rental cars and other travel services. An example of an OTA is a big brand such as lastminute.com 

Niche travel agents

Examples of the types of travel that these specialists offer may include: specific destinations, adventure travel, luxury travel, honeymoon travel, culinary experiences, eco-tourism and more. They are highly specialised in a certain area of travel and can create unique and tailored itineraries for the custom needs of their clients.

What is the workplace of a travel agent like?

Many travel agents work in brick-and-mortar high street locations for travel agent companies, stores, while others work in telephone call centres.

With remote work and online booking platforms, online or virtual travel agents are on the rise. Having the flexibility to work from home or in virtual offices and determine their own working hours, they can use technology such as laptops, smartphones and high-speed internet to communicate with clients, gain access to travel resources and make bookings online with speed and efficiency. Communication with clients is often carried out by phone, email or video conferencing, offering them an extra layer of convenience.

This, together with the fact that travel agents also travel often to visit different destinations, attend industry conferences and meet with travel suppliers, means that they can gain firsthand experience related to the travel packages they’re offering so that they know the product they’re selling extremely well.

With the chance to explore many destinations as part of the job, the answer to the question of what is the workplace of a travel agent like today is that it varies and will depend on the travel agent, with an ever-growing number of online travel agents who have greater flexibility in how they carry out their work and where they do this from 

How to become a travel agent

With so many reasons to start doing what you love and earn well from it, you may be wondering how to become a travel agent. There are several ways you can enter this field and choose a career path you’ve always dreamed of. 

  1. Complete a college course

    The entry requirements you’ll typically need include 4 to 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism from educational institutions such as the Institute of Travel & Tourism.

  2. Start an apprenticeship

    For an advanced travel consultant role, you could also opt to do an apprenticeship, which typically requires 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths.

  3. Get on-the-job training

    With on-the-job training, you can start as a trainee travel agent and receive training from your employer. Some requirements you may need to meet include English and maths GSCEs or equivalent and possibly good geographical knowledge. It could be useful to speak another language in addition to English.

  4. Set up a travel agency franchise

    Another option you have is to become a travel agency franchise. Launching a home-based travel business with a franchise brand at your side means you’ll have a proven business model to follow, receive training and support and be able to build your business quickly with less risk. You’ll earn a commission for each booking and enjoy the chance to travel to exotic and interesting global destinations.

Even if you do not have experience in the travel industry, you can still launch your own travel agency if you invest in a travel franchise with an award-winning company such as The Travel Franchise. It offers some of the industry’s highest commission rates as well as the chance to earn back your initial franchise fee if you invest in its most popular Elite franchise package

What’s more, you can work from the comfort and convenience of your own home, set your own hours and get back what you put into your business venture. No more commuting. No more being tied to a desk for hours on end. Only a great chance to earn for yourself while enjoying amazing travel experiences.

Conclusion

Becoming a travel agent offers numerous exciting opportunities and you can work for a company or for yourself from the comfort of your home, taking bookings from your laptop wherever you are in the world if you wish.

Want to be your own boss, work flexible hours and travel too? Find out more details about joining The Travel Franchise by watching our short Discovery Tour.

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