Travel agent

A travel agent in Sri Lanka

Description

Travel agents design and market travel programme itineraries for potential travellers or visitors.

The duties of a travel agent include, but are not limited to:

  • Arranging leisure and corporate tours and holidays
  • Promoting tours and travel packages on behalf of resorts, travel groups and cruise lines
  • Updating database with correct personal details and billing information
  • Invoicing customers for due payments
  • Taking cash deposits and payments for holidays
  • Resolving scheduling conflicts and other issues as they come up
  • Selling holiday insurance plans to travellers
  • Coordinating the use of bonus miles and other rewards that the clients want to use
  • Replenishing travel brochures and promotional materials
  • Handling vendor and traveller phone calls

Travel agents may visit destinations to get firsthand experience so that they can make recommendations to clients. They visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants to evaluate the comfort, cleanliness, and quality of establishments. Self-employed travel agents may have additional responsibilities related to running their business, such as recordkeeping, managing staff, and marketing. However, travel agents spend most of their time talking with clients, promoting tours, and contacting airlines and hotels to make travel accommodations

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to travel agent:

sales agent
reservations agent
travel sales agent
travel booking agent

Working conditions

Travel agents typically spend much of their day sitting, working on the phone and on the computer. Agents may face stress during travel emergencies or unanticipated schedule changes.

Work Schedules

Most travel agents work full time, although part-time work is common. Some work additional hours during peak travel times or when they must accommodate clients’ schedule changes and last-minute needs.

Minimum qualifications

Travel agents typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the occupation, but employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a college degree or who have taken courses related to the travel industry.

Community colleges, vocational schools, and industry associations may offer technical training, certificates, or continuing education in professional travel planning. In addition, some 4-year colleges offer degrees in travel and tourism. Courses usually focus on reservations systems, marketing, and regulations regarding international travel.

Employers in the travel industry typically provide on-the-job training that lasts at least 1 month. This training covers topics such as how to operate computer systems that are used in the industry. For example, a travel agent could be trained to work with a reservation system used by several airlines.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Travel agent is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Travel agent career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to travel agent.

travel consultant
hotel butler
hotel concierge
hospitality establishment receptionist
tour operator representative

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of travel agent. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of travel agent with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

travel agency manager
hospitality entertainment manager
camping ground manager
rooms division manager
tourist information centre manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of travel agent.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of travel agent.

  • Distribute local information materials: Hand out leaflets, maps and tour brochures to visitors with information and tips about local sites, attractions and events.
  • Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
  • Produce content for tourism brochures: Create content for leaflets and tourism brochures, travel services and package deals.
  • Implement marketing strategies: Implement strategies which aim to promote a specific product or service, using the developed marketing strategies.
  • Oversee travel arrangements: Make sure that travel arrangements run according to plan and ensure effective and satisfactory service, accommodation and catering.
  • Maintain relationship with customers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with customers in order to ensure satisfaction and fidelity by providing accurate and friendly advice and support, by delivering quality products and services and by supplying after-sales information and service.
  • Handle customer complaints: Administer complaints and negative feedback from customers in order to address concerns and where applicable provide a quick service recovery.
  • Upsell products: Persuade customers to buy additional or more expensive products.
  • Quote prices: Refer to prices for the client by researching and estimating fare rates.
  • Process booking: Execute a booking of a place according to client’s requirement in advance and issue all appropriate documents.
  • Provide tourism related information: Give customers relevant information about historical and cultural locations and events while conveying this information in an entertaining and informative manner.
  • Advertise travel insurance: Promote and sell insurance that is intended to cover medical expenses, financial default of travel suppliers and other losses incurred while travelling, either within one’s own country or internationally.
  • Maintain relationship with suppliers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with suppliers and service providers in order to establish a positive, profitable and enduring collaboration, co-operation and contract negotiation.
  • Sell tourist packages: Exchange tourist services or packages for money on behalf of the tour operator and manage transportation and accommodation.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Measure customer feedback: Evaluate customer’s comments in order to find out whether customers feel satisfied or dissatisfied with the product or service.
  • Use customer relationship management software: Use specialised software to manage company’s interactions with current and future customers. Organise, automate and synchronise sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support, to increase targeted sales.
  • Ensure the privacy of guests: Develop methods and strategies to ensure maximum customer privacy.
  • Provide customised products: Make and develop custom-made products and solutions for customer’s specific needs.
  • Implement sales strategies: Carry out the plan to gain competitive advantage on the market by positioning the company’s brand or product and by targeting the right audience to sell this brand or product to.
  • Process payments: Accept payments such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. Handle reimbursement in case of returns or administer vouchers and marketing instruments such as bonus cards or membership cards. Pay attention to safety and the protection of personal data.
  • Achieve sales targets: Reach set sales goals, measured in revenue or sold units. Reach the target within a specific timeframe, prioritise sold products and services accordingly and plan in advance.
  • Maintain customer records: Keep and store structured data and records about customers in accordance with customer data protection and privacy regulations.
  • Apply foreign languages in tourism: Use the mastery of foreign languages orally or written in the tourism sector in order to communicate with collaborators or customers.
  • Present reports: Display results, statistics and conclusions to an audience in a transparent and straightforward way.
  • Handle financial transactions: Administer currencies, financial exchange activities, deposits as well as company and voucher payments. Prepare and manage guest accounts and take payments by cash, credit card and debit card.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of travel agent. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Coordinate events: Lead events by managing budget, logistics, event support, security, emergency plans and follow up.
  • Carry out internet research: Execute efficient search on the internet in order to gather relevant information and share it with others.
  • Use communication techniques: Apply techniques of communication which allow interlocutors to better understand each other and communicate accurately in the transmission of messages.
  • Manage time in tourism: Plan the time sequence of travel programme itineraries.
  • Work in a hospitality team: Function confidently within a group in hospitality services, in which each has his own responsibility in reaching a common goal which is a good interaction with the customers, guests or collaborators and their contentment.
  • Follow ethical code of conduct in tourism: Carry out touristic services according to accepted principles of right and wrong. This includes fairness, transparency and impartiality.

ISCO group and title

4221 – Travel consultants and clerks


References
  1. Travel agent – ESCO
  2. Travel Agents : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Travel Agent Job Description – Indeed
  4. Featured image: By Jeromwin Tours – https://www.jeromwintours.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DSC0144-832×673.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on December 9, 2022

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