Constantly changing air fares and schedules, and a proliferation of vacation packages make travel planning difficult and time consuming.
Consequently, travelers often turn to TRAVEL AGENTS for assistance in making the best travel arrangements. But what agents do best is save clients time and money and offer a weath of knowledge
Travel agents encourage people to travel and help them plan and prepare for the trip. Agents help clients define their travel interests and needs, including time and budget requirements. They work out tentative plans and suitable alternatives and then make all the arrangements.
Agents book clients on cruises and tours; they organize group tours and design trips for individuals. Travel agents consult a variety of published and computer-based sources for information on departure and arrival times, economical fares, car rentals, and hotel ratings and accommodations. Sources include maps, official guides, tariff books, computer terminals, and other reference materials to obtain schedules, fares, and related information. Agents make airline, hotel, and car reservations. They make the reservations and issue itineraries using computerized reservation and ticketing systems similar to those used by airlines. They also compute costs and take deposits. Ticket Agents can customize a vacation or travel plan by arranging special accommodations, adapting a schedule to fit client needs, and designing group packages and tours.
Agents inform clients about customs regulations, passports, visas, immunization requirements, and currency exchange rates. They offer tips on climate, prices, what to bring or buy, and attractions worth seeing. They keep up-to-date by traveling, reading travel publications, and attending industry seminars and trade shows. Travel agents may specialize in one region or in one form of transportation.
Agents work indoors and usually share offices with several other agents; interruptions and lack of privacy are common. Travel agents spend most of their time behind a desk conferring with clients, completing paperwork, contacting airline and hotels for travel arrangements, and promoting group tours. Working with people can be difficult and demanding, especially with hard-to-please clients. Work may be done three or four times due to travelers changing their schedules. They may be under a great deal of pressure during vacation seasons.
Well-qualified travel agents are somewhat in demand, but the job market can be more competitive when economic downturns and political crises occur.
The multi-billion dollar travel business is one of the largest industries in the country. Spending on travel is expected to increase significantly during the next ten years. Much of the travel will continue to be business related; as business activity expands so will business related travel. At the same time more leisure, longer and more frequent vacations, shorter workweeks, and early retirements will also give people more time to travel for pleasure. And as some of the working population find it more difficult to take extended vacations, many travel organizations will gear programs around shorter trips. The abundance of travelers from abroad has also increased the need for multi-lingual staffing in some areas.
WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS
Agents normally work eight hours a day, five days a week. This may include Saturdays. In addition, many agents frequently work overtime.
Fringe benefits usually include paid vacations, holidays, and sick leave and incentive bonus.
After one year of employment, agents become eligible for a variety of travel benefits. Each year they may take a limited number of airline trips
at reduced rates. They may be able to arrange discounts on hotel accommodations, car rentals, tours, and cruises.
Agents may also go on special free or low-cost group tours sponsored by transportation carriers, tour operators, and government tourist bureaus. These are designed to familiarize agents with particular geographical areas and to promote new travel services.
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING
Most employers prefer applicants with previous travel agency experience, for the right candidate may consider to hire trainees. At least some knowledge of basic operations is required. Agencies in which ticket sales and reservations are a major portion of the work often hire former airline ticket or reservation agents. Vacation-oriented agencies, and others in which the agents' role as travel advisor is paramount, prefer applicants who are familiar with the standard agency reference books and popular tourist areas. They must have the ability to evaluate as well as sell a packaged cruise or tour. These agencies may hire graduates of travel training programs who have had instruction in all of the basic skills.
A love of travel attracts many people to the field. But to succeed, agents must be able to convey their enthusiasm to the customer and have a genuine desire to be of service. Since agents deal with the public, they must be friendly, articulate, and well-groomed. To handle the technical
aspects of their work, they must be well-organized, accurate and meticulous about following up on details.