Becoming a travel agent is a great way to see the world, interact with a wide variety of people, and learn a great deal about coordinating travel via planes, trains, and automobiles. The job comes with many advantages, including free or heavily discounted travel to exotic locations all over the world. Travel agents who work for large firms are often encouraged to travel to new and interesting locations every year so that they can better communicate with clients. People who love customer service and travel may want to consider becoming travel agents. It is also a wonderful way to share your love for adventure and new locales with other people.
Learning the job usually starts with working in a travel agency office. Most offices require a high school diploma and an enthusiasm for travel. Some agencies may prefer people with advanced degrees in history, business, communications, or public relations. Travel experience is helpful, although not typically required. The American Society of Travel Agents offers correspondence courses and special trips aimed at people interested in joining the field. This type of travel agent certification is not obligatory, but it will supplement your job application.
Because of the complex computer systems travel agents interact with, a demonstrated knowledge of computers is a strong benefit on a job application. Some vocational schools and junior colleges offer special courses in the type of software used at travel agencies, and present students with a certificate of completion if they successfully finish the course. Becoming a travel agent requires a growing number of computer skills from speedy typing to database management.
Some travel agencies specialize in a particular type of travel such as ecotourism, ocean cruises, or travel to a specific region. If you would like to work for a specialized agency, be prepared to show extensive knowledge of that area of the travel industry. Knowledge of a foreign language and strong geography skills are also very useful for travel agents, who may find themselves negotiating with people in other nations. Chinese, French, English, and Spanish are all good languages to study.
It is also important to be able to think quickly and reconcile information from a large number of sources. A big part of the hassle in modern traveling is found in coordinating various methods of transportation, hotel stays, and the other sundries of travel. If you are able to work in a fast paced environment with a lot of sensory input, becoming a travel agent might be a good career choice for you. Be prepared to spend a great deal of time on the phone, scrutinizing documents, and organizing itineraries for your clients. Designing the trip of a lifetime for a client can result in referrals and repeat business, and it is important to make sure that every customer counts with you.
If you are interesting in becoming a travel agent on your own, many organizations offer courses to assist you in starting up your own business. Be aware that limited experience in the travel industry may hinder you, and you may want to consider working for another agency on commission for a year or so until you are ready to strike out on your own.