How to Become a Travel Agent in 3 Steps (Including Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A travel agent is someone who helps to create quality trips for tourists since they ensure that travel plans get a personal touch while staying affordable for their clients. If you enjoy travelling and making travel plans for others, becoming a travel agent may be the right role for you. Knowing what a travel agent does can help you decide what steps to take to become one and how to prepare for the role. In this article, we discuss what a travel agent is, explore steps to become a travel agent and find out how much they earn.

What does a travel agent do?

A travel agent is someone who sells travel services to their clients for their future trips and comes up with plans for them. They simplify the travelling process for their customers on top of providing consultation for their travel packages and services. Some of their common job duties include:

  • selling travel services from various travel suppliers, including hotels, airlines and tour companies

  • creating interesting itineraries for their clients, including calculating the expenses required and explaining cultures and customs to them

  • making adjustments or cancellations to various services for their clients when required

  • managing the clients' needs, restrictions or special interests when booking their travel itineraries for them

  • arranging trips for their clients, including transportation, accommodation, tours and attractions

  • researching different travel options for their clients

  • discussing costs and arrangements with their clients to find out what they're comfortable with

  • working with airlines, resorts or rental companies to secure travel arrangements for their customers

  • keeping updated on the latest news and current affairs to ensure travelling is safe for their clients

  • finding alternatives for their clients if any travelling arrangements fail

How to become a travel agent

Here are some steps for how to become a travel agent:

1. Complete your education

Travel agencies and travel reservation centres rarely require travel agents to have a bachelor's degree, but it's preferable to have at least GCE "O" or "N" level qualifications. If you want to be a travel agent, you can consider getting a National ITE certificate of Polytechnic diploma in hospitality and tourism to improve your employment prospects. A diploma typically takes about three years to complete. If you want to further your studies, you can consider a bachelor's degree in tourism too. A bachelor's degree usually includes courses and modules like advertising and marketing, sustainability and travel and strategic planning.

If you don't have any education or knowledge of the tourism sector, you can consider education in sales and marketing too. As a travel agent, you're usually required to sell travel services to your clients. The sales and marketing skills that you learn from taking up a sales or business course can help you in your travel agent role too.

2. Get formal training and certification

Many travel companies usually require new employees to complete training programmes to familiarise themselves with how the role works. These trainings provide you with the necessary knowledge and help you become familiar with reservation systems, vendor relationships or research strategies so you can work well as a travel agent. Training sessions may usually last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your experience level and the type of company you work in. To become a travel agent, it's essential for you to get a travel agent licence to sell travel services to others. There are currently two types of travel agent licences:

  • Niche licence: A niche licence is required if you intend to only sell, arrange and advertise tours within Singapore.

  • General licence: A general licence is required if you're intending to sell, arrange and advertise tours in and outside of Singapore.

If you're interested in applying for the licence, you can apply for it online via the Travel Agents and Tourists Guides Licensing System (TRUST). The application typically costs $200. Once you've gotten the licence, you're required to pay the licence fee of $400 to the Singapore Tourism Board. The licence fee is required to be renewed annually.

Related: How To Be a Tour Guide in Singapore (With Career FAQs)

3. Develop your knowledge of the travel industry

The latest new vacation spots and your clients' preferences may vary over time, so it's useful to always grow your knowledge of the travel industry and recent developments in it. Being aware and updated about current affairs and new travel spots can help you generate fresh new itinerary plans for your clients regularly. After a few years in the travel industry, you can consider taking on more courses to help you advance your career in the tourism industry further.

What skills does a travel agent require?

A successful travel agent has a suite of hard and soft skills to perform well in their role. You can consider developing some of these skills if you want to further develop your career as a travel agent:

Communication and interpersonal skills

Communication and interpersonal skills are essential to have as a travel agent, since their success highly depends on their ability to interact with their clients. Travel agents regularly speak to their clients and vendors via emails, phone calls or face-to-face. Good communication and interpersonal skills, such as written communication, active listening and strong speech skills can help you gain and keep loyal customers. Having a loyal customer base is essential for you to become a successful travel agent, since loyalty generally leads to positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Related: What Is Interpersonal Communication and Why Is It Important?

Research and budgeting skills

As a travel agent, your clients usually rely on you to give them the best possible deal for their travelling needs. Strong research skills can help you find the best deals and prices on hotels, cruises, flights and transport to provide your clients with value-for-money itineraries that they can enjoy. Budgeting skills can also come in handy as a travel agent since you can create itineraries that are reasonably priced for your clients. If clients know that you're good at finding the best deals for them, they may want to use your services again next time.

Related: Research Skills: Definition, Examples and Importance

Sales and customer service skills

As a travel agent, you're constantly selling trips and travel plans to your clients, which require excellent sales skills. With strong skills in sales and marketing, you can encourage your clients to make more purchases and opt for better travel arrangements, contributing to your earnings. Your sales skills can also contribute to you persuading your clients to take on your recommended plans while still keeping to their budget requirements.

Good customer service skills are also essential for a travel agent to have since they want to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and build strong working relationships with their clients. A good travel agent is able to understand and meet their clients' desires and requirements while anticipating any challenges. They're also able to solve any of their clients' problems effectively and quickly, leading to happy clients.

Related: 8 Benefits of Soft Skills Training and Types of Soft Skills

IT skills

Travel agents regularly use computers or different software to conduct research on accommodation and transport fares for their clients. This requires them to have decent IT skills, since they may be using computers or phones to look up the best deals for their clients. IT skills can also help travel agents type out their recommended itineraries in a clear and concise way for their clients to read easily.

Work environment of a travel agent

A travel agent typically works in an office, using computers to research travel information and plans and reserve and book excursion for trips. They're also usually often on the phone to discuss travel plans with their clients or explore travel accommodations with various vendors. Most travel agents may work in offices, but some may work in call centres, where they work alongside many other agents to conduct many calls to different customers and clients daily.

While travel agents usually have a full-time job in a travel reservation company or travel agency, they may have irregular working hours. For example, travel agents may work long hours or weekends during peak travel periods like during the holidays or around the end of the year. They may also require to be constantly available to help customers with any last-minute purchases or cancellations.

How much does a travel agent earn?

The average salary of a travel agent is $5,750 per month. This salary may vary depending on where they work, how much experience they have and their education level. For example, an independent travel agent with regular clientele may have a higher salary compared to a full-time travel agent under a travel agency. Travel agents may also earn more based on the certifications and courses they've taken.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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