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Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and admission to entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients.Duties
Travel agents typically do the following:
Travel agents sort through vast amounts of information to find the best possible trip arrangements for travelers. In addition, resorts and specialty groups use travel agents to promote vacation packages to their clients.
Travel agents also may visit destinations to get firsthand experience so that they can make recommendations to clients or colleagues. They may visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants to evaluate the comfort, cleanliness, and quality of the establishment. However, most of their time is spent talking with clients, promoting tours, and contacting airlines and hotels to make travel accommodations. Travel agents use a reservation system called a Global Distribution System (GDS) to access travel information and make reservations with travel suppliers such as airlines or hotels.
The following are examples of types of travel agents:
Leisure travel agents sell vacation packages to the general public. They are responsible for arranging trip itineraries based on clients’ interests and budget. Leisure travel agents increasingly are focusing on a specific type of travel, such as adventure tours. Some may cater to a specific group of people, such as senior citizens or single people.
Corporate travel agents primarily make travel arrangements for businesses. They book travel accommodations for an organization’s employees who are traveling to conduct business or attend conferences.
A high school diploma typically is required for someone to become a travel agent. However, many employers prefer additional formal training. Good communication and computer skills are essential.Education
Employers may prefer candidates who have taken classes related to the travel industry. Many community colleges, vocational schools, and industry associations offer technical training or continuing education classes in professional travel planning. Classes usually focus on reservations systems, marketing, and regulations regarding international travel. In addition, a few colleges offer degrees in travel and tourism.Training
Employers in the travel industry always give some on-the-job training on the 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.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
A good way to demonstrate competence for high school graduates with limited experience is to take the Travel Agent Proficiency (TAP) test. The test has no eligibility requirements and is administered by The Travel Institute.
The Travel Institute also provides training and professional certification opportunities for experienced travel agents. Different levels of certification are offered, depending on a travel agent’s experience. Travel agents with limited experience can become a Certified Travel Associate (CTA) after completing a series of classes and exams. For those with at least 5 years of experience, the more highly advanced Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) certification can be achieved. Both the CTA and CTC require continuing education each year to maintain certification.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) offers the Travel and Tourism Professional (TTP) designation, which requires varying degrees of experience depending on the achieved education level. The designation remains valid for 2 years and requires continuing education credits.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) offers three levels of certification: Accredited (ACC), Master (MCC), and Elite Cruise Counselor (ECC). Each level requires a certain amount of training and product knowledge.
Some states require agents to have a business license to sell travel services. Requirements among states vary greatly. Contact individual state licensing agencies for more information.Other Experience
Some agencies prefer travel agents with firsthand experience visiting a country. These agencies especially prefer travel agents who specialize in specific destinations or particular types of travelers, such as groups with a special interest or corporate travelers.Important Qualities
Adventurousness. Travel agencies that specialize in exotic destinations or particular types of travel, such as adventure travel or ecotourism, may prefer to hire travel agents who share these interests.
Communication skills. Travel agents must listen to customers, understand their travel needs, and offer appropriate travel advice and information.
Customer-service skills. When customers need to make last-minute changes in their travel arrangements, travel agents must be able to respond to questions and complaints in a friendly and professional manner.
Detail oriented. Travel agents must pay attention to details in order to ensure that the reservations they make match travelers’ needs. They must make reservations at the correct dates, times, and locations to meet travelers’ schedules.
Organizational skills. Travel agents often work on itineraries for many customers at once. Keeping client information in order and ensuring that bills and receipts are processed in a timely manner is essential.
Sales skills. Travel agents must be able to persuade clients to buy transportation, lodging, or tours. Sometimes they might need to persuade tour operators, airline staff, or others to take care of their clients’ special needs. Earnings for many travel agents depend on commissions and service fees.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Travel Agent
Top Careers After Travel Agent
Hispanic or Latino13.0%
Black or African American0.6%
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University of Phoenix22.6%
Miami Dade College7.0%
Johnson & Wales University5.2%
Florida Atlantic University3.7%
University of Houston3.7%
Southern New Hampshire University3.7%
Northern Virginia Community College3.7%
New York University3.4%
American InterContinental University3.4%
Grand Canyon University3.4%
University of South Florida3.0%
Columbus State Community College3.0%
Georgia State University3.0%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Travel Agent||Travelocity||Southlake, TX||Mar 03, 2011||$60,000|
|Travel Agent||Atlantic Travel Center Inc.||Annandale, VA||Oct 16, 2015||$57,283|
|Travel Agents||GTA North America, Inc.||New York, NY||Feb 01, 2011||$55,733|
|Travel Agents||GTA Americas LLC||New York, NY||Apr 09, 2014||$55,000 -
|Travel Agents||Sekisui Inc.||Memphis, TN||Dec 12, 2013||$54,600|
|Travel Agent||Gil Tours Travel, Inc.||Philadelphia, PA||Jul 28, 2016||$52,021|
|Travel Agents||Sylvina's Travel Services, Inc.||Falls Church, VA||Aug 08, 2014||$49,525|
|Travel Agent||Blue Sky Travel & Tours, Inc.||Falls Church, VA||Jan 21, 2009||$47,709|
|Travel Agents||Victoria Cruises, Inc.||NY||Jul 22, 2014||$45,427|
|Travel Agents||Ace Travel Agency, Inc.||Fort Lee, NJ||Mar 15, 2011||$43,681|
|Travel Agent||JTB USA, Inc.||Torrance, CA||Sep 16, 2015||$43,350|
|Travel Agents||Victoria Cruises, Inc.||NY||May 15, 2012||$43,202|
|Travel Agents||Mana International Group, Inc.||Chantilly, VA||Apr 30, 2012||$43,000|
|Travel Agent||A Tu Estilo Inc.||Hallandale Beach, FL||Sep 20, 2016||$42,952|
|Travel Agents||JTB International, Inc.||New York, NY||Dec 10, 2010||$35,600|
|Travel Agent||Express Ny||New York, NY||Aug 17, 2016||$35,568|
|Travel Agents||HARI World Travel Inc.||New York, NY||May 21, 2012||$35,568|
|Travel Agents||JTB USA, Inc.||Hasbrouck Heights, NJ||Apr 20, 2011||$35,000|
|Travel Agents||STI Travel LLC||Hackensack, NJ||Oct 25, 2007||$34,874|
|Travel Agents||TTA, Inc.||New York, NY||Sep 22, 2009||$34,874|
|Travel Agent||Joun Tour Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||May 01, 2008||$34,800|
|Travel Agent||Joun Tour Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Jul 02, 2010||$34,800|
|Travel Agents||R&C Tours USA, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Mar 29, 2011||$31,326|
|Travel Agent||Mode Tour Netwokr Inc.||Dec 16, 2009||$31,180|
|Travel Agent||Top Travel, Inc.||Wheaton, MD||Jan 08, 2009||$30,783|
|Travel Agents||Adriatic Travel Inc.||CA||Sep 17, 2008||$29,969|
|Travel Agents||The Inn at Wall Street Ltd||New York, NY||Mar 17, 2011||$29,281|
|Travel Agents||Atelier of The Incentives, Inc.||New York, NY||Feb 28, 2008||$29,281|
|Travel Agent||Kakatua Travels, LLC||Jackson, NY||Apr 30, 2008||$29,281|
|Travel Agents||Polish American Travel Service||Philadelphia, PA||Sep 09, 2008||$29,051 -
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What Does a Travel Agent Do?
How to Become a Travel Agent from Home
Travel Agents Job Description