What Travel Agents Do
Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips.
Travel agents typically work in offices, but some work remotely because much of their time is spent on the phone and the computer. Most travel agents work for travel agencies.
How to Become a Travel Agent
A high school diploma typically is required for someone to become a travel agent. However, many employers prefer additional formal training as well. Good communication and computer skills are essential.
The median annual wage for travel agents was $40,660 in May 2019.
Employment of travel agents is projected to decline 26 percent from 2019 to 2029. The ability of travelers to use the Internet to research vacations and book their own trips is expected to continue to suppress demand for travel agents. Job prospects should be best for travel agents who specialize in specific destinations or particular types of travelers.
Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and admission to entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients.
Travel agents typically do the following:
- Arrange travel for business and vacation customers
- Determine customers’ needs and preferences, such as schedules and costs
- Plan and arrange tour packages, excursions, and day trips
- Find fare and schedule information
- Calculate total travel costs
- Book reservations for travel, hotels, rental cars, and special events, such as tours and excursions
- Describe trips to clients and give details on required documents, such as passports and visas
- Give advice about local weather conditions, customs, and attractions
- Make alternative booking arrangements if changes arise before or during the trip
Travel agents sort through vast amounts of information to find the best possible trip arrangements for travelers. In addition, resorts and specialty groups use travel agents to promote vacation packages to their clients.
Travel agents also may visit destinations to get firsthand experience so that they can make recommendations to clients or colleagues. They may visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants to evaluate the comfort, cleanliness, and quality of the establishment. However, most of their time is spent talking with clients, promoting tours, and contacting airlines and hotels to make travel accommodations. Travel agents use a reservation system called a Global Distribution System (GDS) to access travel information and make reservations with travel suppliers such as airlines or hotels.
The following are examples of types of travel agents:
Leisure travel agents sell vacation packages to the general public. They are responsible for arranging trip itineraries based on clients’ interests and budget. Leisure travel agents increasingly are focusing on a specific type of travel, such as adventure tours. Some may cater to a specific group of people, such as senior citizens or single people.
Corporate travel agents primarily make travel arrangements for businesses. They book travel accommodations for an organization’s employees who are traveling to conduct business or attend conferences.
Travel agents held about 82,000 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of travel agents were as follows:
|Travel arrangement and reservation services||72%|
They typically work in offices, but some work remotely because much of their time is spent on the phone and the computer. In some cases, busy offices or call centers may be noisy and crowded. Agents may face stress during travel emergencies or unanticipated schedule changes.
Most travel agents work full time. Some work additional hours during peak travel times or when they must accommodate customers’ schedule changes and last-minute needs.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of travel agents.
For more information about training opportunities, visit
For more information about voluntary certification opportunities, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Travel Agents,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm (visited ).