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Does anyone work as a travel agent?

No More Perfect

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I sincerely hope that someone with recent experience will provide information to you. When I was very young, I worked for airlines for 5 years and then I worked as a Travel Agent for one year.  That was before the Internet. That was before the competition from the OTAs (Online Travel Agencies such as Travelocity, Expedia, Despegar, etc.).  That was before the airlines reduced the commissions they pay to travel agencies. That was before the airlines began charging extra for bookings made by travel agencies or over the phone, etc.  


Today, everyone who can view a computer display has all of the information available to them that a Travel Agency does.


One of my cousins has been doing this for many years. I believe she only deals with Cruises, so she is a specialist in that market and I'm sure that she has her own clients and that she works out of her home.


I would *not* suggest that you do this on a commission basis. If you are going to do it, do it with a fixed salary and/or salary + commission.


I suggest that you look on the web site of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) and that you proceed cautiously, as you would with anything else. 


The last time we used a travel agency was probably in 1998, when I had to go to Bogota to renew my U.S. Passport. We went on "Plan VIsa" which included the airline and the hotel and transportation to/from the airport and transportation to the U.S. Embassy.   We stayed in that same hotel, several times, after that trip.


I did use a Travel Agency when I lived in Texas, to book a number of trips, but again, that was before I had Internet service and before the days of the huge OTAs.   One trip was on a Charter, for a last minute fare I saw in  an ad in the Sunday Dallas Morning News Travel section, which I would not have been able to book myself.  One trip was on PanAm (just before they shut down forever) and I used a coupon I cut out of an ad in USA TODAY..


Now, I book via an OTA or directly on the airline web site.    An OTA receives a much higher commission from hotels than a small travel agency would and possibly they receive a higher commission rate from the airlines, cruise lines, etc.


As with any customer service job, there are some wonderful clients and there are some *horrible* clients.


Look before you leap, as with anything that is new to you and GL!

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This was very helpful info. I have been in contact with some who works for Travel Leaders of Tomorrow, but I keep getting conflicting info (not from TLT, but from asking around) on hours that travel agents work, what the "atmosphere" is like, are travel agents even used anymore (to be honest, I probably know just as many people who use travel agents as I do who book travel on their own; obviously my circle of family and friends is not representative of what people do in general!). I have rarely heard anything that makes me think this is worth my while, so it looks like I may need to close off this option, disappointing as it may be.



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There are strict rules about eligibility for free travel for Travel Agents and it is frequently the owners and managers who can take advantage of the FAM (Familiarization) trips.


Sometimes things are not as glamorous as what they appear to be, to people who observe from a distance. I had a girlfriend who was an "Airline Hostess" and then they went coed and she became a "Flight Attendant".   The most "glamorous" part of her job was walking through airports.  The abuse that she was sometimes subjected to would not be  good adverting to encourage people to go into that line of work.  


Assuming that I had the opportunity to do either, I would much prefer to work for an airline and I would not want to work as a Travel Agent unless I was the Manager or Owner and would be eligible for the FAM trips.

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I was a travel agent for a couple of years for a host company that focused on Disney and Sandals but covered travel to anywhere.  I finally admitted to myself how much I hated it last year.  I love travel, I'm a Disney nut and I thought for sure this would be a perfect fit.  But everyone has access to the internet now, and you literally have multi-million dollar corporations working against you.  They can afford the advertisement.  You have to have a huge network of friends and family that want to travel, otherwise building a client base is incredibly difficult. It's a thankless job...you quote for people, give potential clients all kinds of information, and you never hear from them.  Or you do all of this for them and then they decide to book on their own.  I wanted it to work...so badly...I tried SOOO hard for two years, and it just wasn't worth the time and frustration.

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