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Travel Agent


Description

So you've got a week off work coming up, and you'd really like to go someplace warm, like Mexico, but you don't want to stay at a resort. Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of time to plan your trip. Luckily, you call a travel agency. The agents there know exactly how to help. They can arrange airline travel, car rental, and beachside huts to rent, all within your budget. They get you information on food, interesting local sights to see, and how to prevent parasites. They even give you the names of a few good English-Spanish dictionaries!

Travel agents are experts at getting travelers what they need. If a businessperson is off to Baton Rouge for a three-day conference, or a family wants to backpack around Europe for awhile, travel agents can help. They have information on airline deals, car rental services, Eurail passes, hotels in Hanoi, weather patterns in Bangladesh...travel agents can get you just about anywhere, armed to the teeth with reservations, insurance policies, malaria pills and language guides. Travel agents make traveling a whole lot less stressful. They look after all the picky little details, leaving you to look after the major ones, like what bathing suit to bring? And how many rolls of film?

Travel agents work for travel agencies, but they also work for airlines, bus, and cruise companies, hotels, and tour companies that offer package trips and group tours. The benefit to working for an agency is the freedom to pick and choose amongst deals and services, whereas at an airline or cruise, you are more limited in the scope of services you can work with.

Not only are travel agents key players in the economic growth of many countries who rely on tourism for survival, but they are often the key to a successful trip. They know the ins and outs of most tourist packages and hot spots. Many of them have been to these locations or used these services, as they often get reduced rates when they travel. Travel agents help us to navigate different cultures, new landscapes and foreign customs. Travel agents do more than book airplane tickets: they offer us tickets to adventure, safety, and excitement, all within our budgets!
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$16,530
 
Median Salary:
$26,630
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$41,660

  Interests and Skills  
Successful travel agents have excellent customer service skills. These workers are pleasant, courteous, and respectful, even when they are stressed or upset. Travel agents must be open, friendly, and trustworthy, with good communication skills. They should be good at math, feel comfortable with computers, and have a good memory. They should be detail-oriented, able to work well under pressure, and enjoy a sales-type atmosphere. They should be interested in travel and tourism, and open and supportive of other cultures. It is important to be well organized, and have a good knowledge of geography.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Meet or contact clients who are planning a trip
  • Describe travel destinations, products, and services
  • Access information about costs, routes, and schedules, using the phone, computer, and print sources
  • Use the phone, fax, computer and Internet to make and confirm reservations for clients
  • Secure and distribute tickets, travel insurance policies and itineraries
  • Notify clients about changes in travel plans
  • Complete any other administrative duties
  • The typical day for a travel agent involves meeting with would-be travelers, assessing their needs and looking for economical and efficient ways for them to travel. This could mean just booking a businessperson's flight and hotel room to planning a complete two-week honeymoon, complete with meals, day trips, car rentals, and spa visits. Travel agents meet and interact with many types of people. They sometimes travel, if they need to assess a travel location, airline, or other travel service.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Travel agents can be found hard at work in travel agencies; airline, railway, cruiselines, and car rental companies; travel insurance companies; tour companies; hotels; tourism boards run by governments; or on their own, working independently. Travel agents work mostly in an office, and spend much of their time on the phone or working with a computer. They generally work alone, but with a small staff with whom they can consult and talk when necessary. Travel agents work regular hours; however, they may work weekends or evenings, depending on the agency. Longer hours can be expected during peak holiday times.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Travel agents can advance to supervisory positions, or open up their own travel agency. They can use their knowledge and experience and become travel writers, open a hotel or touring company, lead international or adventure tours, or publish books on safe and economical travel.
 

  Educational Paths  
Technically, travel agents can get started right out of high school, but employers generally hire people with some postsecondary education. Obtaining a diploma in travel and tourism or hospitality from a college or business school is a good idea. These programs can last anywhere from three months to three years. Other courses to consider are history, geography, and languages.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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