2021 may not have been the best year for the travel industry, but, thankfully, things have been turning around.
What does this mean for industry professionals?
It means that the demand for their services, including the services of travel agents, has been growing again.
But what exactly is a travel agent, and what are their responsibilities?
A travel agent is a middle person connecting tourists with companies that provide travel-related services, such as accommodation, transportation, and entertainment.
They are also responsible for letting their clients know about important requirements, like visas and vaccinations.
In addition, they process payments and deposits and take care of issues and emergencies on behalf of their clients.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Pros of Being a Travel Agent
- 2 Cons of Being a Travel Agent
- 3 Should You Become a Travel Agent?
- 4 Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Agent – Summary Table
Pros of Being a Travel Agent
Being a travel agent can potentially be a very lucrative endeavor.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, travel agents make an average salary of $46,650 (as of May 2020) with a range of $25,230 and $73,360.
Of course, a travel agent’s income depends on a number of factors, including experience, number of clients, and commission rates.
It is not uncommon for a hardworking agent to make as much as $80k to $100k per year.
Flexible Working Hours
If you decide to become a home-based agent (which many travel agents do), you will have the luxury of working wherever you want, whenever you want.
There is no need to report for duty early in the morning.
You get to call the shots and start working whenever the time is perfectly right for you.
That being said, it is important to have a routine.
According to Northwestern Medicine, having a routine alleviates stress, allows you to sleep better, and improves your overall health.
And, in the long run, it makes you a more productive travel agent.
Every kind of business requires that you be good at what you do.
Being a good travel agent means having in-depth knowledge about what you are offering your clients.
That means you have to travel a great deal to see and experience the destinations you are promoting.
Thankfully, many hotels and destination packages offer travel agents with “familiarization” trips, also known as FAM trips.
Through these discounted trips, agents can gather the facts and knowledge they need to successfully sell their services.
Not all career paths offer the flexibility of owning your own business and being your own boss.
But, fortunately, as a travel agent, you can have that kind of independence.
Freelance/independent travel agents are growing by the day.
And maybe it is your turn to hop on the bandwagon and become a self-employed travel agent.
One of the perks of being independent is that you can set your own hours and decide where you work.
But, as we mentioned earlier, it is essential to have a schedule/routine.
Not all aspiring agents want to work in the field full time.
Some just want a secondary source of income.
Thankfully, the travel agent job is versatile enough to suit both full-time and part-time working schedules.
If you are a part-time travel agent who wishes to take the job to the next level and make it a full-time career, that is absolutely possible, too.
No two travel agents are the same.
While one travel agent might specialize in Caribbean cruises and honeymoon destinations in Europe, another might concentrate on African safaris or mountain-climbing trips in the Himalayas.
The specializations you choose will, of course, depend on your interests.
After all, you have to love and be passionate about what you are selling.
No Required Special Training
Travel agents do not need a special certificate or license.
However, some formal training in the hospitality or tourism field would be very beneficial if you are applying for a job at a travel agency.
In the end, your most important asset is your passion for the travel industry.
If you let that shine in your application and interview, you will much more likely stand out.
Cons of Being a Travel Agent
High Amount of Stress
A high level of responsibility can come with a large amount of stress.
Working as a travel agent can be very fun and rewarding.
But when tasks pile up during peak season, travel protocols change, or clients let you know they are less than pleased with the services they have received, the work can get mentally and emotionally draining.
Working in this field is not for the faint of heart.
However, if you have thick skin and are always up for a new challenge, being a travel agent might be for you.
Although people are always traveling, travel agents have to stand out from the crowd.
Agents are all over the market, clambering to attract potential clients.
The key to success in the market is positioning yourself in a way that gets you noticed.
One of the biggest factors that differentiate you from your competitors is your unique selling proposition (USP).
Once you have found your destination’s USP, you will have what it takes to catch people’s eyes and convince them to visit your destination.
Exposure to Client Lawsuits
One of the perks of being a travel agent is getting to meet people from all walks of life.
But there is a possible downside.
Not everyone will be pleased, and some might even go as far as suing you or your company as a way to settle disputes.
Lawsuits might be based on things like misinterpretation or negligence.
Although what happens during your client’s trip is not your responsibility, you do have to make sure that you present your destination in a completely truthful manner.
Also, having your clients buy travel insurance may greatly alleviate their emergency costs and significantly lessen their chances of filing a lawsuit.
Increased Price Transparency
Of course, honesty, openness, and transparency are extremely important for any travel agent or business person.
However, increased price transparency, which has come with the rise of the internet age, has brought on new challenges for travel agents.
Information is easily accessible online, and clients can see and compare an array of prices and offers.
This has made competition stiffer, which means travel agents really have to focus on their USP and make sure their prices are competitive.
Uncertain Job Security
One common belief is that the internet is taking the place of travel agents.
With a wealth of information at their fingertips, clients can just conduct research on their own.
But travel agents will never be fully replaced by the internet.
As long as people are traveling, travel agents will still have jobs.
That being said, the internet has impacted the market to a degree.
Some people simply plan and book their trips online without the help of a travel agent.
This means you really need to sell yourself.
If you do not uniquely position yourself within the market, people will either opt for your competitors or do everything online.
Limited Opportunities for Advancement
This field offers limited advancement opportunities.
But if you are fine with staying in the same line of work for many years, this might not be an issue for you.
The highest position level you can achieve is probably that of a branch manager.
If you really want to advance in your career and maximize your earning potential, you would be best served by starting your own travel agency.
Difficulties in Maintaining a Positive Online Presence
We have already mentioned the importance of having a USP.
One of your biggest tools in accomplishing this will be your website.
However, a simple, basic website will not cut it.
You will need some strategies to attract people to your site.
Ways to increase traffic include having an active social media presence, advertising, optimizing your site for searches and keywords, sending email newsletters, and creating a travel blog.
Should You Become a Travel Agent?
With the travel industry gaining traction again, travel agents are in growing demand.
As intermediates that connect their clients with travel-related services like transportation and accommodation, they have a huge amount of responsibility.
They also have to be up-to-date on the latest visa and vaccination requirements, so travel agents always have to be on their toes.
There are many advantages of being a travel agent.
These include a decent income, flexibility, opportunities for travel, and different specializations to choose from.
Many people opt for careers as travel agents for these exact reasons.
However, like every other career, the travel agent career has some downsides.
One disadvantage is that it can be a very demanding and stressful job.
Competition can also be very stiff, thanks to the internet and a large number of agents in the market.
Luckily, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for most travel agents.
If you end up pursuing this path, you will be on your way to a very lucrative and rewarding career.
Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Agent – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Travel Agent||Cons of Being a Travel Agent|
|Decent income||High amount of stress|
|Flexible working hours||Stiff competition
|Travel opportunities||Exposure to client lawsuits|
|Independence||Increased price transparency|
|Supplementary income||Uncertain job security|
|Different specializations||Limited opportunities for advancement|
|No required special training||Difficulties in maintaining a positive online presence|