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A career that makes you go places!

Become a travel agent if you’d love to send your clients’ travel troubles packing while sending them to their dream destination 

Rio De Janeiro, Rome, Russia, Rajasthan do these places beckon you to visit their climes? Vacations ! we all yearn for them. But just planning them is enough to make most of us put off the idea! Budget constraints, changing airfares and schedules, not knowing which vacation packages to choose all add up to unpacked luggage and frustration. Have no fear, a travel agent is here. S/he steps in and sends all your troubles packing to Timbuktu ! while you traipse through the hills and vales of Switzerland!

That’s what a travel agent does. S/he assesses a client’s wants and specifications and makes the best possible travel arrangements, giving the client a value-for-money, hassle-free holiday. Since they know the ins and outs of the travel industry, they do all the legwork. From helping a person choose a destination and making the necessary airline, car rental and hotel reservations to finding out about visa, requirements and advising people on the customs to be kept in mind, exchange rates and best deals at restaurants and tourist attractions they do it all. Interested? Read on.

Travel agencies arrange tours for individuals or for groups. Today, many cruise liners, resorts and travel groups use travel agents to promote travel packages and lure customers to visit them. The good part about this industry is that it is regulated by the travel industry, which has established ethical codes for travel agencies to follow.

When it comes to the moolah, most of the income comes from commissions paid by airlines, car rental companies, hotels, tour operators and other business that serve travellers. These businesses pay a commission on each reservation that an agency makes or an each ticket it sells.

To be a good travel agent, you need to be familiar with the nitty-gritties of the products and services you offer. You have to be well versed in everything from climatic conditions peculiar to that nation, clothing to be worn to currency exchange rates. You will also be required to confirm each and every reservation  something that can be very tedious, as most travel agents complain. A travel agent should have general business skills, sales skills, empathy and the knowledge of a seasoned traveller. A background in geography, communication, world history and computers and languages is an added bonus. You have to also update yourself on the latest happenings around the globe and handle the technical aspects of the job.

Do you have it in you? Well, you’ll need more than just interest to qualify! Many travel agencies recruit graduates who have a liberal arts or business degree. Some specialised or international agencies require that their agents be fluent in foreign languages. If you are not a graduate, do not fear. Another option is to complete a six-to eighteen-week travel course that gives you the basic skills needed to a travel agent. Many people start off their career working in a related field, such as at a ticket agency and then work their way towards becoming a travel agent. Today, with the inroads that computerisation has made in every field, the basic know-how of computers is mandatory. Once you learn the ropes and have a steady clientele, you can even open up your own agency and go places literally speaking.

The travel and tourism industry includes positions in travel agencies, tour groups, national and international airlines, hotels, transport and cargo companies and government tourism departments. As the world becomes a global village and distances shrink, the travel industry is likely to undergo massive expansion in the coming years. Many places depend on travel and tourism for their primary source of revenue. The best is yet to come!

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