I used to think that the internet would ruin travel agents, but now I’m not so sure.
Although anyone with an internet connection can now search and compare hotel options, look for flights, and find activities and destination inspiration on the web, it turns out that it’s actually really time consuming to do all of that by yourself. Here’s where travel agents become useful – there’s a real demand for a personal service that can book things on behalf of other people, utilising their travel knowledge and technical ability to save someone time when booking holidays abroad.
If you dream of exploring exotic destinations and helping others create memorable experiences, a career as a travel agent might be the perfect fit for you. I spent some time in my early twenties working as a travel agent here in Australia, and while there were a few things that I didn’t like about the job, in general I found it to be an engaging career for someone who enjoys immersing themselves in all things travel.
If you’re considering a career switch and are wondering if becoming a travel agent is right for you, here are five signs that you’d be a perfect fit, along with some helpful tips for getting started on this exciting journey.
1. Wanderlust is in your DNA
It should go without saying that a travel agent needs to have a love for travel. If you find yourself constantly daydreaming about far-flung destinations, meticulously planning your own vacations, and immersing yourself in travel blogs and documentaries, then you’re on track to turning that wanderlust into a career.
Being a travel agent isn’t just about planning your own trips, either – it allows you to use your passion to help others curate their own travel experiences. If you’re keen on crafting personalised itineraries and going the extra mile to create magical moments, this career path will enable you to turn your clients’ dreams into realities.
2. You love a good chat
Communication is the cornerstone of being a successful travel agent, and this means asking the right questions, listening closely to what people want, and sharing your own tips and advice. If you think you have excellent communication skills and enjoy getting to know people, these traits will definitely come in handy when it comes to understanding what your clients need.
As a travel agent, you’ll interact with people from diverse backgrounds and cater to their unique travel preferences. Having cultural awareness is crucial in respecting different customs, traditions, and preferences. This means providing tailored recommendations and ensuring that your clients’ travel experiences align with their expectations.
3. You’re a natural sales-person
Not many people realise that being a successful travel agent also requires the ability to sell a product. Developing your Sales & Marketing abilities will be a great asset for increasing your chances of success in this competitive industry. Whether you’re planning on working as an independent agent or are hoping to join an agency, you’ll need to promote your services, attract clients, and close deals.
4. You’re savvy with with digital tools
The travel industry has evolved significantly with advances in technology. Utilising digital tools and staying up-to-date with online booking platforms, travel apps, and social media trends is essential. Technology can be used to communicate with clients, streamline your operations, and offer personalised recommendations. Embracing the digital landscape will give you a competitive edge and help you cater to the evolving needs of modern travelers.
5. You keep a cool head when things go wrong
Travel plans can sometimes hit unexpected roadblocks. Flight cancellations, missed connections, or changes in accommodation are all fairly common, and sometimes unexpected things happen (like an Icelandic volcano erupting, or a global pandemic!). As a travel agent, being a skilled problem solver is essential. If you thrive under pressure, remain calm in challenging situations, and enjoy finding creative solutions, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any hiccups that may arise during your clients’ travels.
Becoming a travel agent: Getting started tips:
So, do you think you have what it takes to become a professional travel agent? If so, here are some practical tips to help you get started:
- Gain industry knowledge: While it helps to have done some travel of your own, what’s more important is that you have some knowledge of how the travel industry works. Familiarise yourself with different destinations, and stay updated on travel trends and regulations. Enrolling in a course on tourism would also be a good move.
- Start networking: Networking with travel professionals, attending industry events, and joining relevant associations or forums is useful for gaining contacts in the industry. Building connections can open doors to job opportunities.
- Acquire relevant skills: Hone your communication, sales, and customer service skills. Check out job listings for travel agents and find out what the employer is looking for in a candidate – familiarise yourself with their reservation systems, online booking platforms, and travel agency software to enhance your chances of getting the job.
- Gain experience: You can also start by planning trips for friends and family to practice your skills. If you need some more experience to spruce up your resume, consider internships or entry-level positions at travel agencies to gain practical experience and learn the ropes of the industry.
- Specialise: One way to stand out some other travel agents is to identify a niche and specialise in specific types of travel, such as luxury vacations, adventure travel, or group tours. Specialisation can help you attract clients with similar interests. For example, if you are really into Disney and have some experience with their theme parks/cruises/vacations, you could become a trained Disney travel agent and be a knowledge master of all things Disney!
A career as a travel agent offers an exciting opportunity to turn your love for travel into a fulfilling profession. If you possess some of the skills above and have the desire to take your abilities to the next level, it’s time to start your journey as a travel agent and help others embark on unforgettable adventures. Bon voyage!