Travel agent

Knowing you're going on holiday suddenly makes you happier in your everyday life as the thought of packing up a suitcase and leaving everything behind for a few weeks can bring joy to your day.

Working as a travel agent offers a fast-paced, fun environment where budding sales stars can hone their abilities.



So, what will I actually be doing?

Not everyone walks into a travel agency with a clear idea of where they’d like to go on holiday, so one of your main roles as a travel agent is to give well-informed, appropriate advice to clients about where and when to travel based on their needs. So if they hate hot weather, don't send them to Australia in the summer...

Other duties will include:

  • Arranging flights, insurance and accommodation
  • Using a booking system to secure holidays
  • Collecting and processing payments
  • Advising clients on travel arrangements, e.g. visas and passports
  • Sending out tickets to clients
  • Keeping clients up to date with any changes
  • Dealing with complaints or refunds (not one of the perks, but someone's got to do it)

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The finer details...

Most travel agents are based in branches on the high street, although some agents do work in call centres. Branch travel agents usually work regular, 9-5, 35-40 hours per week including Saturday. Those based in a call centre may work more irregular hours but there are plenty of opportunities for part-time work for those with a busy schedule.

If the world of the travel agent suits your skills, it's good to know there's plenty of room for career progression. Travel agents can become a team leader in a call centre or a branch manager. And as you gain more experience,you can find work with bigger tour operators or work with agencies offering more specialised breaks such as adventure or trekking holidays.

Money, money, money

With the world literally at your feet, how much can you expect to earn? Travel agents starting out can expect to earn around £12k but working hard and getting some experience goes a long way in this business and more seasoned travel agents can earn anything up to £30k.

Just like many sales roles, there are often bonuses and incentives to encourage sales which should nudge your salary upwards too.

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The good points...

"Getting feedback from a happy client, client loyalty and repeat business are three things that really give job satisfaction as a travel agent,” says Gemma Antrobus, managing director of Haslemere Travel and spokesperson for the AiTO Specialist Travel Agents.

“You will never become a millionaire as an agent, but every once in a while you get to live like one which is a great perk. The opportunities to travel the world and experience destinations that are on most people’s ‘wish list’ are endless.”

Perfect for those passionate about travelling, travel agents often get reductions off the cost of holidays with your employer so you can still dream about jet setting abroad even when you're booking someone else's holiday. 

...and the bad

“Dealing with circumstances that are external to the travel industry and beyond our control, such as the ash cloud disruption... Clients that pick your brains then book the holiday themselves – usually online and often not even with an operator – are frustrating, too.”

Is there study involved?

When it comes to this role, if you're excited by the world around you and idea of travelling, it doesn't matter if qualifications weren't your forte at school. “You can train anyone on how to use GDS [a system that books and sells tickets for multiple airlines], customer service skills, how to close a sale and on destination and product knowledge,” says Gemma. “However, you can’t teach someone to be passionate about travel.”

You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a travel agent although many employers will expect at least a C grade in GCSE Maths and English. If you want to give yourself a head start, however, some of these qualifications will give your CV a boost.

  • NVQ Levels 2 & 3 in travel and tourism
  • BTEC HNC/HND in travel and tourism management
  • BA Hons in travel and tourism

Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone

OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

This job is all about the customer and helping to find and organise their dream holiday, so travel agents need to have finely-tuned customer service skills, a passion for the travel industry and a friendly, approachable manner. Other qualities that’ll set you on the road to success include:

  • Good attention to detail
  • Well organised
  • Competent IT skills
  • Patience

Plus, knowledge of another language is always an advantage when working in the travel industry.


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