Travel agents use a variety of skills to help them perform their work duties well. By developing your skills as a travel agent, you can improve your qualifications and better your chances when applying for promotions or new positions. Developing your travel agent skills also can help you meet goals and exceed expectations with your clients.
In this article, we explore travel agent skills by explaining what they are, listing examples of them, offering tips to use them effectively and reviewing how to highlight your skills when pursuing a travel agent job.
What are travel agent skills?
Travel agent skills include a combination of interpersonal abilities, industry knowledge and technical qualifications that enable people to coordinate and manage travel-related activities for their clients. Travel agent skills encompass all the processes and procedures travel agents use to book travel arrangements, find deals and supervise client accounts. Because being a travel agent involves organizing several factors based on a strict schedule, having the right skills is essential for providing clients with flawless service.
Examples of basic travel agent skills
Travel agents can use various skills depending on their specific duties, but most travel agents have these basic skills to be successful:
1. Customer service
Travel agents often are the first point of contact for customers who plan a business trip, vacation or other types of travel. They have excellent customer service skills to ensure they can plan a trip that suits their client’s needs.
Travel agents may communicate about challenging subjects, like flight delays, unexpected cancellations or inclement weather, that could impact a client’s trip. Having great customer service skills enables travel agents to calmly and respectfully help customers achieve their travel goals and resolve conflicts with vendors or partners.
2. Reading comprehension
It’s critical for travel agents to have excellent reading comprehension skills so they can sign their clients up for the right services to suit their needs. Part of a travel agent’s job is to understand the terms, conditions, cancellation policies and other details involved with booking flights, hotel rooms and excursions. They can interpret emails from clients to understand what they’re asking for and provide any additional information that could help.
Travel agents manage the logistics of their clients’ travel schedules. Coordinating a schedule is a top skill for travel agents because they try to avoid any overlapping appointments or delays.
Travel agents use scheduling skills to ensure their clients can time their flights and lodging appropriately, attend appointments on time and maximize the enjoyment they get out of their trip. Having strong scheduling skills involves being able to monitor all cancellations, act as a liaison between clients and vendors, update itineraries and make adjustments to accommodate last-minute changes.
Clients hire travel agents because they can advocate for customers to get the best deals possible. Being able to find compromises and leverage situations for a positive outcome can help travel agents quickly and efficiently book their clients’ ideal trips.
Travel agents use negotiation skills to secure affordable rates for their clients, waive fees and gain access to special accommodations. Negotiation skills also can be useful for travel agents when communicating with unhappy or frustrated customers.
Travel agents often upsell clients on other travel services when helping them plan a trip. Some travel agents provide basic services for free and rely on their sales abilities to sell premium travel packages to clients.
Travel agents also use their sales skills when partnering with hotels, airlines and other travel companies to provide special deals. They know how to appeal to customers to make a sale and provide convincing reasons for customers to spend more money on their trip.
6. Information technology
Many travel agencies use computer software and IT systems to manage bookings for their clients. Travel agents can navigate software interfaces and troubleshoot basic IT issues to help clients access information about their accounts. Travel agents also use IT skills when making third-party bookings online and tracking the status of a trip.
7. Money handling
When booking a trip, travel agents often process credit card transactions and refunds on behalf of their clients. They understand basic money-handling practices to ensure they spend only authorized funds and successfully manage any disputed transactions. Travel agents use their knowledge of bookkeeping and money handling to ensure their clients pay the correct amount and receive refunds promptly.
8. Time management
Travel agents typically work with multiple clients at once. Being good at time management allows travel agents to balance priorities and meet the needs of all clients without having to rearrange their schedules or work overtime. Using time-management skills for travel agents involves paying attention to deadlines, responding to all communications and setting aside time to deal with ongoing administrative tasks.
Tips for improving travel agent skills
If you want to improve your travel agent qualifications, use these tips to help develop your skills:
Use a documentation system
One of the best ways to improve your travel agent skills quickly is to document all of your activities. Writing a summary of all communications you have with clients or vendors can help you identify places where you can make improvements. Documenting your work allows you to find the source of any issues, resolve them quickly and prevent making the same mistakes again.
Shadow other travel agents
You can improve your techniques as a travel agent by shadowing your colleagues and observing how they handle their clients. Watching others complete the same tasks can give you an outside perspective on how to succeed in your role.
Consider asking your colleagues questions about how they would respond to difficult situations you encounter to expand your skill set quickly. Shadow multiple other employees if possible to benefit from their unique experiences, skills and professional backgrounds.
Review feedback from customers
Many travel agencies provide customers with a feedback form where they can rate their customer service experience. Collecting and reviewing feedback from your clients can be a great way to develop insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
You can incorporate suggestions from your clients when working with other accounts to build on your experience over time. You even may consider recording your calls with clients and listening to them afterward to consider what you would do differently next time.
Identify metrics for success
You can measure your growth by determining your main metrics for success as a travel agent. Call times, satisfaction ratings, refund request rates and other statistics about your performance can help you track your progress over time. Try to set realistic goals to improve those metrics and consciously work to achieve them through each customer interaction.
Travel agent skills in the workplace
Engage your travel agent skills in the workplace to improve the quality of your work, such as:
Critical thinking: When working with each client, try to anticipate the potential issues you may encounter. Being able to respond to these situations quickly and effectively can help ensure your client remains happy and has a pleasant trip.
Attention to detail: Being able to monitor deals from multiple vendors or travel companies can help ensure you provide your clients with the best rates and experiences. Attention to detail also can help you ensure you enter all of your client’s information correctly, which can ensure the payment process and you meet their booking needs.
Work ethic: Whenever possible, volunteer for extra projects and new opportunities. Exposing yourself to different aspects of travel management and customer service can increase your confidence and strengthen your skills through practice.
How to highlight travel agent skills
To get positive attention from employers during your job search, try to highlight your travel agent skills in all aspects of your application:
On your resume
When preparing your resume, try to emphasize your customer service experience and how you can apply those skills to a job as a travel agent. If you have experience using customer management software or similar systems, consider including these details in the skills section of your resume. To make your resume stand out to employers, you can include specific numbers and figures that describe how you helped customers resolve their problems.
In your cover letter
In your cover letter, you can illustrate your travel agent skills by discussing specific scenarios and times when you managed complex schedules, mediated conflict or provided excellent customer service. Using examples from your professional experience in your cover letter shows employers how you could use travel agent skills in a position at their company.
During your interview
During your interview for a travel agent position, focus on maintaining a calm and pleasant demeanor like you would with a customer. If the interviewer asks a challenging question, take time to prepare a thoughtful response. Being composed, using active listening and positively addressing the interviewer can show your ability to handle stressful situations with clients.