Travel agents make travel arrangements based on the needs, budgets and tastes of customers. Clients may include individuals, families or groups, and business people.
A travel agent's role is to help people plan, choose and arrange their holiday. They will usually work to a budget, set out by whoever is planning the holiday. They also offer advice and opinions on where to go and local tourist attractions, events and customs.
Travel agents give information to customers and answer questions concerning transportation, passports, visas, currency regulations, tourist attractions, hotel reservations and the booking of flights. They also make other special arrangements which customers may request such as car rentals, sightseeing trips, or ordering of traveller’s cheques.
Typical duties include promoting and marketing the business, dealing with customer queries and complaints, recruiting, training and supervising staff, managing budgets, maintaining statistical and financial records, selling holidays and insurance, meeting profit or sales targets and preparing promotional materials and displays.
When travel agents make these arrangements, they must consult tariff schedules such as those that are published by the International Air Travel Association (IATA). Similar guides are used to gain other tourist information on accommodation. They also make recommendations to clients on the strength of their own experience or knowledge.
The travel industry is highly specialised and computers play an important role in the collection of information, planning, bookings and the processing of itineraries.
Some agents, especially those who are self-employed, also do promotional work, such as hold meetings with business managers to suggest for example, company-sponsored trips.
Important skills are that they must be commercially aware, have good interpretational skills, numerical ability and good verbal communication skills.