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Hospitality & Tourism careers

Travel Agents & Tourist Information

Why be a travel agent?

Where would we be without the knowledge and expertise of travel agents? They’re the lovely people who help us get the best deals and the most suitable travel packages. You never know, without their advice that quiet family holiday with your Gran could have ended up being in Magaluf, and she most certainly would not have been happy!

What does it take to be a travel agent?

As a travel agent or someone working in tourist information, you really need to have your finger on the pulse of the tourism industry and know what’s ‘hot’ at the moment. It’s a lot of responsibility to help plan someone else’s hard-earned holiday.

Of course, the main bonus of these careers is that you may be able to get great price reductions on any holidays you take yourself. What’s more, and here’s the exciting bit, you might get the chance to travel to exotic faraway places to research destinations, so that you can share your first-hand experiences with customers. Not bad at all, eh?

As a travel agent, the most important skill you can possess is an extensive knowledge of the destinations you’re selling to holidaymakers. For this, you’ll need to research, learn, research some more and become an expert down to the very last detail. You’ll need to know what currencies countries deal with, what language they speak, and how expensive it is to eat out.

If you work in a travel agency or a tourist information office, you’ll need exceptional communication skills. The ability to be able to ‘up-sell’ (i.e. encouraging customers to take on bigger holiday packages or to get travel insurance with your company) is also essential. And patience will be beneficial, in case you end up having to deal with this guy.

Actual qualifications aren’t usually necessary, but a degree in tourism, business or marketing may put you in a more advantageous position.

What do travel agents do?

From day to day, travel agents are responsible for keeping themselves updated about what travel and tour packages are available and how they suit the needs of different holidaymakers. Then it’s simply all about matching up the right holiday to the right person.

This can include absolutely anything, from arranging transport for your customers and booking travel tickets, to organising accommodation and activities for them whilst they are away.

You’ll also be expected to deal with the financial side of things, getting payments from the customers and other important documents before they travel. ‘Up-selling’ is therefore a key element of the job, so you’ll be encouraging holidaymakers to take on more (expensive) activities when they are away or making larger holiday packages appear more attractive.

Travel agents also need to stay up to date with relevant news and affairs around the world. After all, you wouldn’t want to send someone on holiday to a country that has just suffered a horrific earthquake, or where a civil war has started.

As far as working in tourist information is concerned, you literally have to be an expert of the area in which you work. You’ll need to be able to answer any questions tourists may throw your way and have a good understanding of local attractions, what to do when it rains, what to do at night, and where the best oyster restaurant is, etc.

For all you sun-worshipping, adventure-chasing, luxury-loving, tropical-traipsing holiday hobbyists out there, this could be the perfect career path for you!