What Does a Travel Agent Do? (With Skills and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Someone in this travel career typically helps people to organise their holiday plans and set reasonable budgets for their activities abroad. They can also offer advice on what places to visit and how they can make the most out of their vacation. Learning about this profession can help you prepare for the role and develop important skills. In this article, we answer the question, 'What does a travel agent do?' and provide their average salary, skills and answers to some frequently asked questions about this career path.

Related: How to Become a Travel Agent

What does a travel agent do?

Understanding the question 'what does a travel agent do?' can help you decide if this career is right for you. These professionals can help people organise various holiday aspects, such as transportation, accommodation, budgets, activities suitable for adults and children and tourist attractions. They usually aim to simplify the client's holiday planning and offer a schedule that may suit them more. People in this profession can focus on specific areas in the tourism department, such as business flights, leisurely travel or big company events that can require extra planning and dedication.

Other duties can include:

  • offering vacation packages

  • providing paperwork

  • securing travel arrangements

  • training new employees

  • meeting company targets

  • promoting holiday discounts

  • answering customer queries

  • marketing business offers

Related: 16 Careers in Tourism and How to Secure These Roles

Travel agent salary

The national average salary for a travel agent is $53,099 per year. This can depend on your level of experience and what company you are working for. For example, someone working during busy periods may earn more because of overtime and their extended shifts. If you work for a travel company, it may be worth discussing a salary increase with your employer if you've worked for them longer than a year.

Related: How Much Does a Travel Agent Make? Plus Other Salary Details

Skills for the tourism industry

If you're interested in the role of a travel agent, it may help to learn about their skills and how they develop them throughout their career. This can benefit your interaction with customers and may offer the chance for personal growth. Below are some examples of skills that are commonly used in the tourism industry:

Customer service

People working in tourism typically try to provide customers with a positive experience when they want to book a holiday. Understanding their requirements and guiding them through the planning process can enhance their customer service skills. You might need to resolve problems and discuss solutions with the customer, which might expand your knowledge of retail services. Prioritising the customer and maintaining a positive attitude can develop your customer service skills.

Communication

Professionals in the tourism industry help customers to understand holiday packages and how this can benefit their financial costs. This can require communication between both parties, as travel agents usually discuss several pieces of information. For example, historical insights, directions, health and safety regulations, travel stories and answers to questions. Maintaining this positive interaction with the customer can improve your communication skills when sharing important details.

Leadership

This job may require professionals to train new employees and guide them through new projects. Teaching others about the importance of tourism and providing excellent customer service can develop their leadership skills in the workplace. This can also apply to clients and how you take charge of their holiday packages. Having the ability to lead people and introduce them to new techniques can enhance your leadership skills for the future.

Related: What Does Leadership Mean? (Benefits and Steps to Improve)

Adaptability

Travel plans can change at the last minute due to flight cancellations, extreme weather conditions, customer decisions and increased prices. Changing the schedule to suit the customer's needs and still provide them with an excellent holiday can benefit a travel agent's adaptability skills. Work patterns can also be unpredictable, so adjusting their time and equally distributing efforts towards each customer can develop their career growth. Knowing how to meet challenges and change your lifestyle can improve your adaptability skills.

Time management

A travel agent can often balance a few projects at once, especially during busy periods in the tourism industry. Dividing their time between each customer and planning what projects are more urgent can help them prioritise certain tasks. Time management skills can be important when working with deadlines and ensuring the customer has their holiday package in advance. Planning your schedule and extending your shifts can strengthen your time management skills and help you accomplish extra duties.

Technology

Most jobs in tourism involve working on a computer and planning holiday packages through technology based systems. Travel agents may benefit from expanding their technical knowledge as they can then provide more information to the customer. Technical skills can allow you to navigate computer software and form a digital holiday plan that you can send straight to the client. Learning how to use modern technology and understanding why this is important can improve your technical skills.

Teamwork

A travel agent's job description can include collaborating with new employees on projects and working to provide a positive customer experience. For example, in some agencies, you might divide tasks and share responsibilities with other agents. You might oversee the travel tasks, while another agent researches the accommodations.

Problem-solving

Some customers might approach travel agents with problems regarding their holiday, and strong problem-solving skills can help travel agents resolve issues quickly. Strategies to build problem-solving skills can include recognising the issue, forming a plan, suggesting the idea and resolving it. For example, when a customer needs to change their flight time, a travel agent may research and find different airlines for the client. They can offer them a variety of choices to help them find a new flight time that works for them.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

FAQs about travel agents

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions regarding this profession:

What is the work environment like?

Travel agents may spend most of their time in an office or behind a front desk, answering phone calls and working on a computer. This can require long hours in the same position, although this environment may help them feel more organised. Many professionals work 40 hours per week and may request overtime during holiday seasons. Depending on the company, travel agents may work during the night to meet the needs of clients and provide them with a quick travel guide.

Is becoming a travel agent a good choice?

Progressing in this career can allow you to travel to different locations and explore the world for more research. This can expand your knowledge on the best destinations and how you can sell these to the customer. You can share your passion with other people and teach them about specific historical locations that might interest them. A travel agent can stay connected with honest people in their job and form new professional relationships throughout their career.

Do you need a degree for this job?

It might be worthwhile to complete a bachelor's degree in tourism management before you apply to a travel agency. This can teach you about customer experience and how to interact with clients through the tourism industry. You may also get the chance to develop your professional skills and learn the basics of a successful business. Obtaining this degree can strengthen your resume and expand your knowledge of the tourism sector.

If you want to continue your education, you can consider completing a master's degree in tourism and hospitality management. This course can show you different strategies when approaching customers, how to plan financially, important travel policies and further skills to enhance your career. Both degrees typically last around three years and provide you with enough knowledge to encourage your next career move.

What are some similar jobs?

You may consider finding work experience in other jobs before you become a travel agent. This can be of benefit on your resume and offer practical experience when approaching customers. Here is a list of some similar jobs you may pursue:

  • tour manager

  • holiday representative

  • air cabin crew

  • hotel manager

  • tourism officer

  • tour guide

  • customer service representative

  • retail advisor

  • flight attendant

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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