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Travel agent: job description

Travel agent: job description

Travel agents are responsible for helping members of the public select and organise their ideal holiday on a limited budget.
Employees may receive free or subsidised foreign travel as a perk of the job.

What does a travel agent do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

A travel agent's role is to help people plan, choose and arrange their holiday. They will usually work to a budget set out by whoever is planning the holiday. They also offer advice and opinions on where to go and local tourist attractions, events and customs.

Typical duties include:

  • promoting and marketing the business
  • dealing with customer queries and complaints
  • providing advice about visas or passports
  • recruiting, training and supervising staff
  • managing budgets
  • maintaining statistical and financial records
  • planning
  • selling holidays and insurance
  • meeting profit or sales targets
  • preparing promotional materials and displays.

Typical employers of travel agents

  • Tour operators
  • Package holiday operators
  • Cruise lines
  • Independent travel agents

Most graduates enter the profession as junior counter staff (travel agency clerk/consultant), moving into managerial positions after having gained several years' experience.

A small number of companies such as Thomas Cook and Thomson operate head office-based graduate training schemes. Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers and trade publications including Travel Trade Gazette and Travel Weekly, as well as their online equivalents. Networking and speculative applications are advisable.

Qualifications and training required

A degree in any subject is acceptable, although travel, tourism, languages, leisure, business studies or management degree holders may be at an advantage.

A travel training company qualification or relevant travel agency, retail or sales work experience can also be helpful.

Key skills for travel agents

  • Commercially aware
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Numerical ability
  • Verbal communication skills

Fluency in foreign (particularly European) languages and personal travel experience are also highly valued.

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