Travel Agents Knowledge: Matching Travelers to Travel Options
One of the most important capabilities of a travel agent is to successfully match travelers with their desires. In some cases, travelers don't always know exactly what they want to do, but they know they want to get away, to escape from the daily rat race, or to enjoy a new culture, environment, or adventure. It's important for the travel agent to be able to match the personalities of travelers to various travel options. Being able to offer affordable travel options, and learning how to avoid conflicts with customers are an important part of the job.
While a travel agent isn't expected to be a mind reader, a travel agent should do his or her best to match the personality of clients to the most suitable options and destinations. For example, you wouldn't necessarily want to match up an older gentleman with a white water rafting or para-sailing adventure tour on the Mexican coast, when he might prefer exploring museums in downtown Krakow. In addition, you wouldn't necessarily want to encourage a client to take a cruise if he or she was afraid of water.
While it is difficult to please everyone all of the time, especially when travel involves couples, families, or groups, a travel agent must do his or her best to provide reliable and accurate information to help travelers make decisions.
Whether travelers want to spend their time engaged in self-directed or escort tours, exploring museums, or lying on the beach, always take the time to ask questions of your clients that will help you serve them better. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage potential clients to fill out questionnaires. How much time do they have? What are their likes and dislikes? Is this a dream vacation or a business trip?
Determining the goals, as well as the needs and desires of your clients, will help you present yourself as a capable and efficient travel agent who is more interested in offering clients options than promoting certain tours or packages so you make more commissions.
Find out if your clients want a cruise, a rustic cabin, or a luxury resort. Determine their hobbies, and ask them what they would like to do with their time while vacationing to provide them with travel options that meet all their needs whenever possible.
A vacation doesn't have to be expensive, but many are. Depending on the needs of your client, cost may play an important role in the type of arrangements you are able to provide for them. Some clients don't care about cost, because they're planning the vacation of a lifetime. Others, whether couples on their honeymoon, or those just wishing to escape everyday work and family responsibilities, may be willing to spend moderate amounts of money to accomplish that. Single travelers, or those looking for adventure, may want to avoid luxury accommodations altogether and might prefer to hike or camp their way through a region.
As with matching personalities to travel options, the travel agent also needs to offer clients options that meet their budgets. Prior to planning or designing any type of itinerary, ask your clients the maximum amount he or she may be willing to spend. Also, ask the client whether they are interested in sightseeing, tours, or other activities -- such as visiting theaters, world-class restaurants, or attractions en route, or at their final destination.
Determine what clients are willing to spend on lodging and food in order to gauge what type of restaurant or hotel may be suitable for their purposes. Understanding these limitations will enable you to make adequate reservations that help the client stay within their budget while still offering them a comfortable and secure environment.
As a travel agent, there will be times when you run into problems with the client. Remember that your client is placing his or her vacation or business trip in your hands, because you're supposed to be experienced and knowledgeable. Occasionally, problems will arise over which you have no control, such as weather, airline cancellations, or problems at a destination location.
| Avoiding Problems or Conflicts
It would behoove the travel agent to learn how to deal with certain emergencies or situations to help clients continue on their journey with the least amount of difficulty or stress whenever possible.
In addition, travel agents also must deal with demanding clients who expect everything to run smoothly regardless of how complicated an itinerary is, how much money they have paid, or the warnings of the travel agent that certain situations are beyond his or her control. Learning how to defuse such situations, and to get your client back on track as smoothly as possible, will help generate loyalty and confidence in your business and help reduce complaints or problems.
Keep all correspondence between you and the client in a separate file. Keep track of phone calls, letters, or e-mails. Make note of reservations, confirmations, reference numbers, and any documents you receive while arranging travel for your client to ensure that information is correct. Pass on information to your client as necessary, again keeping all copies of correspondence, itineraries, booking numbers, etc.
| Avoiding Potential Problems
Remind your clients that there are some things that are going to be beyond your control, such as bad weather, airline delays, missed connections, as well as problems at a final destination, such as a late or delayed tour operator. Advise your client what he or she can do in case of such situations, and be available to help your clients make connecting flights or reschedule flights as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Suggest that your clients purchase travel insurance that will help cover medical expenses during their trip in the event of an emergency. Travel insurance will also protect clients in certain cases against cancellations or fees to re-book flights that may be missed due to technical delays, weather, or other unforeseeable circumstances.
Make sure you provide your clients with your travel company's policy regarding such scenarios, and make sure that he or she reads and understands the terms of your travel company's policy. Get their signature that they have read and understand such documents.
Your policy should also state that you are a travel agent selling travel services on behalf of hotels, airlines, cruise lines, tours, and other travel providers. The travel agent has no control over many situations that involve travel providers in other locations. However, make sure when booking and confirming reservations and itineraries that you get a name, reference number, confirmation number, or reservation number for all aspects of the journey; keep them in your file and, if necessary, provide such information to your clients to keep on hand during their journey.
There are many things to consider when making travel arrangements for clients. Personalities, cost considerations, desires, and purposes for the travel should be noted and taken into consideration when offering options, opportunities, or possibilities to clients. Taking the time to understand what types of problems or conflicts might occur during the planning or travel stages of a client's engagement of a travel agent's services will help agents avoid such problems or conflicts in the future
Finding a Job as a Travel Agent
Whether you decide to work for an established travel agency, or start your own home-based travel agent business, experience and creating positive feedback are the best ways to build and grow your business. Word of mouth is still one of the best methods of promotion and marketing, and happy clients will be more likely to refer their friends and neighbors than unhappy ones. When it comes to finding a job as a travel agent or developing your own home-based business, the travel agent must be ready, willing, and able to offer services to a specific target group or audience.
A travel agent should never stop learning: about the travel business, changing rules and regulations, and trends. A travel agent who keeps abreast of such issues will be able to provide superlative service to customers. There are always ways to enhance your business through client feedback forms and questionnaires, before and after vacation arrangements are made.
A travel agent should be able to identify preferences of clients for hotels, modes of travel, budgets, and specialty requests in every situation. He or she should also encourage clients to fill out customer satisfaction surveys at the completion of their travel, for data culled from such surveys will help the travel agent to develop and enhance ways to provide excellent service to future customers.
When considering working for an established travel agency, certain things should be considered, such as commission split, quality control, training, benefits, cost, and agency support. Carefully look over any agreements or policies required by the travel agency you are interested in working for, and make sure you understand the duties of every party listed in the agreement, as well as how commissions are split, how payment for services is rendered, miscellaneous operating costs, service fees, and any other terms.
| Working for an Established Travel Agency
Many agencies work in various markets, or within certain specialties, so look for the type of agency that provides the services that you would be interested in selling to customers.
While home-based travel agents might have to work a little harder and a little longer to generate steady clients, the potential to work your own hours within the specialties of your interest are extremely tempting and beneficial. However, as a home-based travel agent, be aware that you may have to spend a little more time and effort when it comes to marketing and promotion, as well as consistently seeking and generating new business.
Be aware of your obligations and responsibilities. Obtain membership in travel service organizations and associations, and continually take steps to build and grow your business.
The success of either a home-based travel agent, or a travel agent who works with a host agency, is going to depend on the quality, efficiency, and the type of services offered to clients and customers. A travel agent should be able to give 100 percent of his or her attention to meet the needs of each and every client, regardless of how busy you are.
There are many aspects to becoming a travel agent. Travel agent skills should be continually developed and enhanced. Travel agents should keep up-to-date on travel technology and software.
Understanding how to run a small business, file your taxes, and keep track of accounts is essential for efficiency and organization. Learning how to market and promote yourself, your business, and your services is essential to finding and keeping clients, as well as generating positive feedback, effective word-of-mouth, and growing your client base.
We hope you will pursue your interest in this field. Learn everything you can about recent developments in travel guidelines and restrictions, computer software, and travel services that are growing and developing in the 21st century. Enjoy your chosen field, learn all you can, gain experience, and build your career.