You love to travel. You enjoy booking travel. And of course, you adore doing it for other people!
If you’re nodding your head to all of these statements, you’re likely thinking about studying to become a travel agent. But there’s much more to the travel industry than simply booking flights and earning your commission! Below, we look at 9 essential skills every travel agent must have.
A passion for the travel industry
Travel agents don’t just need a passion for travel, they need to be passionate about the travel booking industry. This means understanding how travel systems and regulations work. Giving advice on things like visas, passports, flight routes, hotels, rental cars, insurance and safety (and more) will often be necessary. In some companies (particularly if you get into business travel), you may even be required to organise applications and documentation for your customers.
Amazing Customer Service Skills
And we mean A-MAZ-ING! The bulk of any travel agent career will be spent booking travel for a multitude of customers, from solo backpackers to romance-seeking couples, and families with kids to fussy business travellers. Being able to listen well, understand the needs of each trip and satisfy each and every customer is essential, so a love for constantly delivering high quality customer service is crucial.
Wonderful Ability to Listen
We mentioned it above, but we’ll say it again. Active listening for travel agents is important – this is not the kind of role where you can drift away and ignore the details! Practising your active listening will put you on the path to success as a travel agent. Active listening means not only listening carefully to customers, but constantly feeding back or repeating what you are hearing so that the details are clear. Active listening aids communication and ensures both you and your customer are on the same travel page.
Brilliant Attention to Detail
If you’re the type to skimp over details, forget it. As a travel agent you’ll constantly be dealing with name spellings, passport numbers, birth dates, travel dates and a whole lot more. If you can’t nail those details first time around and ensure everything is 100% correct, it can lead to disastrous consequences for your customers. Make sure your attention to detail is brilliant!
Fabulous Organisation Skills
35 clients. 67 flights to book. 29 phone calls to return. 12 itineraries to send. 3 meetings to go. And that’s just within the next 3 days! Travel agents need to be able to multitask and deal with lots of customers on an ongoing basis, so being highly organised is vital. Before you jump in, consider how you will organise your workload as a travel agent and manage your priorities.
Marvellous Competency in Communication
Writing and speaking well (that is, without errors) is essential if you want to become a travel agent. You not only need to ensure your written documents (e.g. emails) to customers and other internal stakeholders are blunder-free, but that your spoken English is excellent, too. Could you clearly outline a set of visa rules to your next customer? Explain why staying in a certain hotel is not recommended? Or elaborate on the requirements of an ‘Around the World’ ticket? If not, consider taking on an extra communications course or program to help you master the written and spoken word!
Top-Notch IT Skills
Like many industries, the travel industry is predominantly IT and computer-reliant. Travel agents spend the majority of their days at a computer and so a good level of IT experience and the ability to learn new systems is a must. If you’re not great at IT or haven’t used computers much, consider taking on a course to sharpen your skills.
Travel agents hear it all – frequent questions, changes of mind, angry rants and annoyed complaints. Patience is a virtue in the travel world, as is the ability to help your clients overcome their concerns or issues, no matter how irritated or upset they might get. It all comes down to great customer service (as mentioned above) and beneath that, endless patience and understanding!