Education And Training, Outlook, Your First Customers, For More Information
If the idea of traveling to exotic places appeals to you, consider becoming a travel agent. Travel agents encourage people to see the world and help them make all the arrangements necessary for a successful trip. Businesses often use travel agents, counting on the agents to find the best deals.
Most travel agents work for a travel agency. Some work for tour companies or hotel chains. A travel agent spends most of the workday behind a desk, talking with customers in person or on the phone, making reservations, and completing paperwork. A computer is essential for helping the agent find the best fares and make reservations. An agent must be accurate and meticulous. People take their travel very seriously, and even one mistake from the travel agent can result in a lost customer.
Customers may come to travel agents with an itinerary already planned. With the agent's extensive knowledge of airlines, trains, hotels, and restaurants, the customer can make decisions about how to go and where to stay on arrival. The agent makes reservations for airline flights, hotels, and car rentals. For travel outside the country, the customer counts on the agent for information about passports, visas, immunizations, and currency exchange rates.
Some customers come to travel agents with only a general idea of what they want to do. Once an agent finds out a customer's interests, time frame, and budget, the agent offers many suggestions. Agents have information on cruises, group tours, special-interest trips (bird watching in Australia, for instance), and destinations. After the customer and the agent plan the trip, the customer can leave with the confidence that the agent will make all the arrangements. All the customer has to do is pack and pick up the tickets.
Many travel agents have ongoing relationships with companies and corporations to do all of their travel arrangements. The agent keeps track of the preferences of each traveler. When an employee of one of the companies calls, all the agent needs is the name, destination, and dates of travel. The agent already knows if the person likes the aisle, middle, or window seat; what time of the day the person likes to travel and on what airline; and what kind of rental car the person prefers. This gives the agent a steady income, and relieves the business from having to take time to make the arrangements.
Travel agents normally work eight-hour days during the week, although during vacation season agents may have to put in overtime. They may also have to be at the office in the evenings or on the weekends for customers to pick up their tickets. Travelers often change their plans, and an agent must be ready to accommodate this. The agent can't necessarily relax once the customer has left on a trip. When tickets get lost, when a rental car isn't there, or when a tour company folds, the agent must try to rescue the vacation for the traveler.
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