Travel agents provide invaluable travel related information and services to both leisure and business clients, in addition to arranging tours and providing for trip related logistics. While many people take advantage of Internet-based travel sites in order to plan their travel arrangements, there are still many needs that traditional agents provide to their customers. As itineraries become more and more customized and complex, their professional services and insights into the industry provide customers with many benefits they cannot achieve on their own.
However, as the need for professional and personalized travel related services continues to decrease, the growth outlook for travel agents over the next few years is showing signs of a steady decline, faster than the national average. Additionally, professional travel agents are taking on a new or role as tour providers and managers for visitors from other countries. And, because the success of a travel agent goes hand-in-hand with the health of the overall travel industry, until tourism rebounds fully, there will be fewer jobs available in this niche for the foreseeable future.
Travel Agent Salary Information:
The current national average for a travel agent salary is around $30,000 per year, yet more and more people are earning less every year as well. As Internet travel sites become more comprehensive and far-reaching, many travel agents are assuming more supportive roles such as reservations agents and customer service representatives for major airlines, hotel chains and cruise companies.
While there are successful, self-employed travel agents out there today, they represent only a small fraction of the industry. An established agent who has many years of experience in addition to having been able to develop a clientele over time can potentially make close to $60,000 a year. Additionally, there are luxury travel and corporate travel specialists who can earn much more than that as well.
While a travel agent salary does not seem to be very high, they do receive an enormous amount of perks and benefits related to the travel industry. This can include discounts on hotel reservations, air fare, rental cars as well as having special pricing for visits to resorts or trips on cruise ships. Additionally, travel agents can receive compensation for exploratory trips, where they visit a particular location or company and evaluate and rate them for the sake of their customers.
Travel Agent Education Requirements:
There are no set rules and regulations associated with becoming a travel agent, and there are very few schools that offer degree programs specifically designed for travel agents. However, many technical as well as vocational schools provide hospitality, travel and tourism related courses that also include the basics of arranging itineraries and planning trips. Most professional travel agents learn on the job, over the course of time in addition to attending seminars, tradeshows as well as brief continuing education programs.
Due to the overwhelming amount of applicants pursuing the limited amount of jobs which are available, many companies look for formal training as well as a bit of specific experience with relation to the position they are looking to fill. Therefore, the more established travel agents will be able to find better paying jobs while having more opportunities in terms of what those jobs will involve. And, over time, as agents build their clientele, they will be able to also build their income and earning potential.
Travel Agent Work Environment:
Travel agents generally work in offices, during normal business hours where they spend much of their time on the phone, on the computer or talking with clients face to face. Good organizational skills and the ability to do more than one thing at a time are essential to the success of a travel professional. Additionally, travel agents need to have familiarity with general office equipment in addition to many software programs which are related to the travel industry.
While some travel agents will work for corporations or in larger offices, many are self-employed and work out of their homes as well. Since much of their earnings comes from commissions earned as a result of their services, the size of a travel agent clientele will determine where and when they work. Those who work for reservations or other customer service areas will spend most of their day indoors, in a phone bank, working various shifts including nights and weekends.
The job itself requires minimal physical exertion, yet quick thinking and having a cooperative attitude are essential qualities that travel agents need to rely on a daily basis. Because so many different unexpected events can wreak havoc on travel itineraries, agents need to be able to quickly resolve problems in order to minimize the trip disruption their customers will experience. Most of these duties can be accomplished from anywhere that has an Internet and phone connection, and many travel agents prefer not to work out of a traditional office.