what is a travel agent?

As a travel agent, you simplify planning a holiday or trip. Travel agents book flights, accommodations, cruises, resort stays and rental cars on behalf of clients and ensure their holiday is memorable. You provide consultation services and travel packages that save time for customers. As a travel agent, you cater to diverse demographics, including corporations and individuals.

Before planning a holiday or trip, please consult with your clients and determine their interests to identify activities to include in their itinerary. When clients need clarification about their travel destination, you make suggestions based on their preferences. As a travel agent, you ensure clients receive the best services to suit their travel expectations and budget. You work for airlines, cruise lines or resorts that offer travel packages. Therefore, aligning the client's needs with your employer's offerings is essential.

As a travel agent, you require exceptional negotiation and relationship-building skills to secure travel arrangements with service providers. For instance, if the client isn't travelling to a resort that offers a complete holiday package, you speak with rental companies and hotels to find the best deals for their budget.

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average salary of a travel agent

A travel agent earns an average salary of between $47,000 to $55,000 annually in New Zealand. Senior travel agents can earn between $55,000 to $110,000 annually. Some employers pay on a commission basis instead of regular monthly wages.

what factors affect the salary of a travel agent?

Your remuneration package as a travel agent depends on the trips and holidays you plan. For instance, if you prepare holiday packages for large groups, you are likely to earn more than booking individual trips. Since companies pay on commission, you achieve higher commissions for bringing in more clients. The type of trip you plan can also influence your salary. For instance, if you plan complex business trips like conferences or site visits to manufacturing or mining sites, you earn more than booking holidays to tourist destinations.

Salaries can fluctuate based on the travel season. For instance, you earn more during summer or peak holiday season since you handle many travel clients. During the off-peak tourism season, you may make less due to the fewer client bookings.

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types of travel agents

Some of the types of travel agents include:

  • leisure travel agents: you arrange trip itineraries based on a client's interests and budget or sell a travel package with pre-determined itineraries. A leisure travel agent can focus on specific types of travel, like adventure tours, or offer travel packages to a particular location.
  • corporate travel agents: you coordinate business travel plans, making arrangements to ensure corporate visitors have accommodation and transportation. If the business person attends a conference or event, you secure tickets for them.

working as a travel agent

As a travel agent, you help your clients find the best holiday packages and plan their business trips. Here are some of the responsibilities, work environments and career prospects of travel agents:

Womale working from home, speaking on the phone, in front of laptop and looking out the window.
Womale working from home, speaking on the phone, in front of laptop and looking out the window.

education and skills

Become a travel agent with the following qualifications:

  • There are no specific entry requirements to become a travel agent/adviser as skills are learned on the job.
  • Travel wholesalers generally require a travel qualification, such as a degree or New Zealand Certificate in Travel, and relevant experience at a retail or wholesale travel company.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a travel agent include the following:

  • customer service skills: as a travel agent, you provide a positive experience to clients looking for holiday packages. Keeping the client's requirements in mind and resolving any problems is essential. Therefore, prioritising your clients and maintaining a positive attitude is crucial to your job.
  • communication skills: you require good communication skills to explain holiday packages to customers. Communication skills help you connect with clients and maintain positive interaction. Good listening skills also help you understand your client's requirements.
  • adaptability: as a travel agent, sometimes you face last-minute changes caused by flight cancellations or increased prices. It is essential to be adaptable to changing customer needs. Since your work pattern is unpredictable, you adjust your time on a client-by-client basis. 
  • time management skills: as a travel agent, you juggle multiple customers, especially during busy tourism periods. Time management skills help you prioritise tasks and attend to each customer appropriately. Planning skills help you organise your schedule and accommodate extra duties when necessary.
  • teamwork skills: as a travel agent, your job description involves working with various employees to provide a great customer experience. You need teamwork skills to collaborate and ensure your customers get the best services.

FAQs about working as a travel agent

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a travel agent.

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