I’ve been a Travel Agent for almost ten years. It has literally flown by (pun intended), being full of overseas jaunts, work parties, fantastic friendships and lovely clients.
The job has treated me very well, having sent me to countries I’ve never even dreamed of visiting, gaining a Diploma that I didn’t pay for and earning a very good salary doing something I love everyday.
It’s not all roses and flatbeds though – and some of the perks can even be seen as chores to others. So how do you decide if being a Travel Agent is right for you? Let me help.
The Recruitment Process
Simply having a “passion for travel” isn’t going to cut the mustard; you’ll need to prove to yourself that you’re committed to a career.
Dipping your toes in isn’t an option either and it would be a huge waste of you and your employer’s time. You will also need to chalk up a decent amount of travel experience/knowledge and some sales skills too.
Any half-decent company will book you in for at least a few weeks of basic training before putting you in front of paying customers. You’ll probably be mixed in with all walks of life here, from 18yr olds starting their first real job to empty nesters trying their hand at a new career.
This will be your first test to see if you can get along with others and enjoy it – you’ll be in a team environment for a long time.
You’ll also be expected to learn multiple computer systems and decipher complex booking rules. If this all seems too difficult then jump ship, once you’re on the front lines it only gets harder.
Congrats, you made it through training and haven’t run for the hills. Time to relax and book some packages, yeah? Nope. Travel Agencies operate on a high volume, low margin model. So you best get booking now.
Nobody will expect you to make fifty bookings in your first month (but it would be great). Yeah, I said fifty bookings. That’s a pretty fair average target for most consultants in the industry. So don’t expect to be sipping cups of tea and frothing over river cruising brochures for three hours with Mrs Wrigley from next door all day.
Targets should be managed daily and if you fall behind, expect to have some pressure piled on to pick up steam. Don’t work well under pressure? Probs not for you then.
This might be a tad Flight Centre orientated but I know that a lot of other companies have very similar programs. Every month you and your colleagues from your region will get together to celebrate (or commiserate) your results from the previous month.
You’re expected to turn up to these events, which generally have an open bar and some food.
These are obviously held at night, so they can take you away from your family, significant other or cat. If you’re young, single, a dog person and love a few drinks then you’ll love these nights. Others may struggle.
Handling Stressful Situations
Things will go wrong – almost daily. Strikes, volcanoes, names spelled wrong, missing passports, rain, illness, break-ups and even deaths. They will generally come up just as you sit down with your morning latte. Oh, and your Manager is away at a conference, so is your Regional Manager and you can’t get through to your “buddy” to help.
You’ve got Mr Jones on the other end of the phone telling you that boarding is just about to close and if he misses this flight he won’t make his daughters wedding.
If this makes you want to ball up and cry then maybe you should consider another job. Sometimes situations will come up that has never happened before, you’ll need to think on your feet, stay calm and work out a solution. If this sounds like you – you’ll do fine.
Travelling Without Your Partner
You’ve made it – passed training, hit your targets and taken home a few awards. Your Manager is so impressed that you’ve been elected to go on an amazing free trip to Thailand! You’ll get airfares, luxury hotels, and tours; and get to share a hotel room with a complete stranger (same sex).
Again, this could be seen as a perk or a chore. I’ve made great friends with my room buddies – I’ve also met some super-creeps that I never want to see again. You’re going to have to be okay with doing this, as free travel is one of the biggest perks of the job. If you’re going to coop up in the hotel room every night, sad and Skyping with your cuddle-buddy back home you’ll just end up resenting the trip – and your job.
Think you can handle it? There are more good things than bad things. If there weren’t, I would’ve quit a long time ago.
What do you think about Matt Castell’s tips? Do you have any points you’d like to add to the list?
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