Have you thought about a travel career? Travel agents work with individuals, couples, and large groups to help plan trips of all lengths, make reservations, and provide recommendations on a wide variety of destinations. They are self-motivated, well-organized, and detail-oriented professionals who compile information from various sources to plan and organize travel itineraries. They display superb communication skills essential for dealing with travel representatives and clients and excellent computer skills necessary for making travel reservations online.
Travel agent certificates give aspiring professionals the fundamental training and educational foundation necessary to enter the airline, car rental agency, hotel, cruise line, tour operator, resort, and corporate travel department fields as employees or independent consultants. Travel agent courses are offered at vocational schools, colleges, public adult education programs, and online. Most travel agent certificate programs are self-paced and typically take three to six months to complete.
Students in these programs discover how to operate various computer reservations systems. They learn how to change or cancel records and reserve cars and hotels. They work with the basic formats airlines use to book flights, price tickets, and build passenger name records. Travel certificate programs teach students about industry forms and procedures for ticketing and reservations. They also teach students how to identify various types of travelers and match them to appropriate travel products.
Students obtain an understanding of how international and domestic airfares are determined and how bus tours, rail travel, and car rentals work. They learn about the operation, rating, and pricing of hotels, resorts, and cruises. They learn how to read and understand brochures, match a traveler to the right options, and explain cruising values. Travel agent students learn the proper documentation needed to travel internationally and how to obtain it. They also learn basic travel sales, marketing, geography, history, and about industry trends. Travel agents sort through vast amounts of information to help make the best possible travel arrangements for their customers. Travel agents spend most of their time meeting with clients, contacting hotels and airlines to make travel arrangements, completing paperwork, promoting tours, and researching itineraries and updating reservations and documents via the phone and computer. They advise their clients on destinations, including weather conditions, exhibitions, and attractions, and then make arrangements for transportation, hotel accommodations, and car rentals.
Agents provide information on travel advisories, customs regulations, required passports, visas, certificates of vaccination, and currency exchange rates to clients traveling internationally. In the event of schedule changes needed during the trip, they also intercede on behalf of their travelers to make them alternate arrangements. Find a travel coordinator class near you to take by searching the schools below.
Career training is increasingly important for travel agents as competition is strong in this field. Most employers prefer to hire travel agents who have received specific training in this field. Success comes to many agents specializing in specific destinations or regions, luxury travel, or particular types of travelers, such as ethnic groups or senior citizens. Applicants with backgrounds in geography, foreign languages, and world history are more marketable as they suggest an existing interest in culture and travel that could help them develop client rapport. Since knowledge about a city or foreign country often helps influence a client's travel plans, personal travel experience becomes another asset. Travel agents may visit restaurants, resorts, and hotels themselves to evaluate the quality, cleanliness, and comfort of specific destinations as to provide recommendations from their own experiences. Those who love to travel and learn about different cultures and locations will find employment within this industry both rewarding and attractive, with benefits such as travel and lodging discounts.