What Is a Travel Agent and How Much Do They Get Paid?

Travel agents work and salary explained

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If you love to travel and are looking for a new flexible career with work-from-home opportunities, being a travel agent may be the perfect fit.

Understanding what working as a travel agent involves and the earning potential in this career can help you decide if this job is truly right for you.

In This Article – We’ll explain what a travel agent does, how much they get paid, and share tips for breaking into the travel sector. 

What is a travel agent?

A travel agent is a professional that markets and sells holidays to customers.

The role mainly involves finding out where a customer would like to travel and the activities they would like to do and organizing a trip including transfers, flights, accommodations, and an itinerary of tours or other experiences.

Travel agent professional work
Travel agent professional

The role requires in-depth knowledge of the travel industry and a wide range of destinations, with the travel agency arranging individual aspects of the trip or selling a package holiday with all-inclusive travel, accommodation, and food costs.

Travel agents work in a variety of locations and can operate independently or as an employee of a travel company. 

How much do travel agents get paid?

Working as a travel agent is primarily a sales role and most times offers the potential for uncapped earnings and commissions.

Travel agent salary USA
Travel agent salary

Salaries vary by location, company, and level of experience a travel agent has. 

In the US – The national average salary for travel agents is $44,209 per year. 

According to Indeed, UK travel agents earn an average annual salary of £19,051. 

Many travel agent roles come with great benefits like significant discounts on travel for themselves and loved ones and generous bonuses if they meet or exceed company targets. 

What are the typical day-to-day responsibilities of a travel agent?

Travel agents have a customer-facing role that requires strong sales skills.

In addition, employers expect these professionals to coordinate detailed itineraries for their clients, paying great attention to details.

Responsibilities travel agent work
Day-to-day responsibilities of a travel agent

Here are some of the primary duties of a travel agent: 

  • Consulting with clients to understand their travel requirements.
  • Working with each customer to create a holiday package or itinerary that is within their budget.
  • Contacting airlines and accommodation providers to arrange customer bookings and transfers.
  • Contacting leisure companies and tour providers to schedule activities for customers during their holiday.
  • Assisting customers with queries and complaints.
  • Rearranging canceled flights or hotel bookings. 
  • Processing customer payments. 
  • Helping customers who have problems or emergencies while they are on holiday.
  • Advising clients on travel documentation required for their holiday. 
  • Arranging travel insurance that is appropriate for the client’s trip.
  • Reviewing sales targets.
  • Undertaking online and offline marketing activities. 
  • Completing administrative tasks. 
  • Keeping abreast of the latest travel advice so that customers are correctly advised before travel. 

Most employed travel agents work full-time

Travel agents work hard and clock up a 37 to 40-hour week, perhaps more if they are self-employed.

They have to be available to their customers and may have to work evenings and weekends to do this.

Booking.com

Alongside the sales role, there is a heavy administrative workload so excellent time management skills are essential. 

Travel agents can also work from home

Many travel agents embrace working independently or as part of a franchise.

This flexible arrangement enables travel agents to have complete control over their time and work from home without the overheads of a shop or office.

The travel industry has a wide range of digital tools that travel agents can use to coordinate client itineraries.

Travel agent work from home
Travel agent working from home

These professionals can also build their own relationships with travel sector service providers to procure exclusive rates for their clients.

How to become a travel agent 

A career as a travel agent does not require specific qualifications but demonstrable interest or experience in tourism and hospitality is a bonus.

Travel agent working full time or part time
Travel agent full time

Here are the steps you need to take to become a travel agent:

1. Complete your GED: at a minimum, you will need to have finished high school and be able to show proficient literacy and numeracy to your prospective employer. 

2. Consider a college degree: a college degree is not essential but subjects like tourism, business, or marketing could make you a desirable candidate for a travel agent role.

3. Look for work experience or internships with travel agents: work placements help you learn more about the role of a travel agent and accrue valuable experience and contacts. 

4. Undertake an apprenticeship: there may be opportunities for you to work as an apprentice in travel agents, gaining experience and a credible vocational qualification. Many apprentices get offered a full-time role when they complete their training. 

5. Apply to entry-level travel agent jobs: create a CV and cover letter that sell you as a strong candidate for travel agent roles and apply to relevant vacancies. You can contact the HR department of larger companies to find out about travel agent career opportunities.

Booking.com

What are the career prospects for a travel agent?

This is a very flexible career that offers a range of career tracks depending on whether you work for an employer or are self-employed.

In an employed role, you have the scope to become a branch manager, travel director, or operations manager.

Alternatively – You can establish and build your own business. Meet or exceed sales targets to build your reputation and maintain high customer service standards.

5 Transferable skills for travel agents

Employers expect travel agents to have a wide range of skills that can support them in providing services to customers.

Travel agent skills needed
Travel agent skills

Valuable skills include the following.

1. Sales and marketing skills

Working as a travel agent is primarily a sales role with set targets that must be achieved to earn a comfortable income.

To achieve this, they become experts in consultative selling.

Travel agents need to confidently market and sell travel experiences to their clients.

They ensure they are well informed about all the aspects of a destination or holiday package so they can handle any questions or concerns the customer has. 

2. Administration skills

Once holiday packages have been sold, travel agents have a heavy administrative workload, as they make all the bookings and transfers that make up the holiday.

This often involves liaising with international travel and accommodation providers and processing the financial transactions that ensure that all aspects of the trip are paid for.

3. Numeracy skills

Travel agents need good numeracy as they are required to calculate prices, track currency conversions and work out their own commission on the packages they sell.

They have a range of industry-related tools to assist them in doing this, but a head for numbers can help the estimate prices and the value they can deliver on the holidays they sell.

As they deliver holiday packages within a strict budget, they must keep track of their expenditure on the client’s behalf.

4. Communication skills

Strong communication skills are an asset in this career.

Travel agents need to be able to engage their clients and understand them to sell them a great holiday.

Strong communication skills
Strong communication skills are crucial

They are active listeners, which helps them fully comprehend what the client wants and the budget available.

They then can communicate to the client their advice and suggestions on suitable holiday packages. 

5. Attention to Detail

Great attention to detail is vital for preventing mistakes in booking and itineraries that could, at best, disappoint a customer or, at worst, put them at risk.

These professionals scrutinize every detail of the packages they put together to ensure that the holiday is suitable and delivers great value for money. 

In conclusion

Travel agents have an interesting career that requires motivation, imagination, and exemplary organization for success.

It is a great option for a career change and offers good remuneration if you work hard.

And it’s easy to see why it attracts people who love to travel!

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