There is still a need for good travel agents, despite the fact that most individuals can book their holidays themselves, online. A good travel agent knows the industry well and is able to search out the best deals possible for their clients. Travel agents also need to speak to other agents and wholesalers, some of whom may not be based in their home country. There are no specific, education requirements to become a travel agent but the industry does make some strong recommendations.
Travel and tourism course
The Bureau of Labor Statistic states that there are no set educational requirements to become a travel agent. However, the industry does prefer to hire people that have some formal training in the field. Several community and vocational colleges offer a six to eight week course in travel and tourism. Students learn geography, basic sales and marketing, travel industry forms and ticketing procedures. Anyone lacking a degree that wants to work in travel is advised to search out a course.
Good organization and communcation skills
Travel agents need to be well organised and have excellent communication skills. Part of their duties include creating travel itineraries and sorting out the details of a customers trip. Travel agents must deal with clients but also with other firms and travel representatives. A high degree of professionalism and courtesy is essential at all times for travel agents.
Being computer literate is essential for a travel agent. Travel agents do the majority of their work via the computer. Basic key and search skills are a minimum requirement. Knowledge of computer software related to the travel such as Sabre and CruisePak, are particularly desirable. As is International Air Transportation Association certification.
Personal travel experience
Personal travel experience is not a requirement but it is a definite advantage. Personal knowledge of a city or country is invaluable. Knowledge of an area will help win the confidence of clients and help shape their travel itineraries.
Second language ability
A second language is not required but will be an asset for those desiring a career in international tourism. Often travel agents have to deal with agents and brokers in other countries so a proficiency in an additional language will brak down several barriers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that several universities offer degrees in travel and tourism. Earning one of these degrees, or a degree in a business related field will help advance a travel agent's career. Possibilities include managing several travel agents or starting their own business.