Dear travel friends,
I'm an interior designer and been working since 3 years; i'm 26 now
I love to travel a lot, and especially to plan my trips around travels
Last week, i saw an ad for IATA courses (9 months), that teach all you need to know about traveling, ticketing and tourism...
so i thought why not? and i plan to take this course
My question is what it's like to be a travel agent? is it a good business to work in?
Do you encourage me to begin with this new career?
Thank you very much!
there are few jobs that are dyeing as fast as TA's. There is more demand for buggy whip salesmen. The advent of sites like expedia should be a clue. there are perhaps a few niche markets like Mexicans (do you speak Spanish) or round the world travel or really old puter illiterates.
The only place a "normal" Travel Agent can make a good living anymore is servicing a population that has little experience in travel and/or crappy Internet access.
And I can't imagine an IATA course taking 9 months! That's insane.
I'm not sure it's as bad as the others are making out. In my suburb of Melbourne alone (a small one) there are at least 5 travel agents operating and when I look in to their shops they seem to always have customers.
Despite the convenience of online bookings, often high-street travel agents can actually get better deals and provide better discounts than online. That and a lot of people are bewildered by the options available online. Going to a travel agent means getting personal advice from someone who (theoretically) knows what they're talking about. I tend to think that although online bookings are clearly the choice of independent travellers willing to do their own research, travel agents still have a long future ahead.
"... Going to a travel agent means getting personal advice from someone who (theoretically) knows what they're talking about..."
In this day and age I think the term "theoretically" should be in big flashing lights because in my experience the exact opposite is true. Perhaps Melbourne has a way higher class of Travel Agents than I'm used to though. That absolutely possible.
Corporate travel is a whole different issue, but in my home country (Canada) the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies is the largest industry led organization in the country. When they were formed in 1977 they had 40,000+ corporate members, now they have less than 2,000...
Compared to the average person on the street, they can be expected to at least have some better knowledge about obtaining a good price. To me a travel agent is really no different to a mortgage broker. Sure, you can go to every bank and work it out yourself, or you can visit an agent and get them to walk you through the process.
Of course, travel agents are not nearly as important as they were in a pre-internet era. There's no going back to that. But I think they do have their own unique value proposition that actually will keep the ones who are left now in business for many years to come. According to this survey, there is plenty of optimism among travel agents with 80% of travel agents still expecting to be running their business in 5 years.
As far as making a new career out of being an agent now, I'd suggest that it's still not a bad career choice, but you do need to be a very good one if you are going to be successful. This means excellent social skills (customer relationships are a differentiator from online, so this is key), extensive travel knowledge and a thirst for knowledge about the latest trends.
Anyway, that's only my 2c. You probably need to find an actual travel agent to talk to about this and see what they think about their job security and future prospects.
I think, at home in the UK, the two specialisms of cruise and adventure travel stand out as offering expertise that the layman can't so easily do for themself. That's when the experience and detailed knowledge comes in.