A travel consultant or agent is a person responsible for helping others book flights, arrange tours, and secure hotel reservations. The consultant’s main job is to ensure that all aspects of client travel are seamlessly arranged. Consultants are often called upon to make recommendations when it comes to travel vendors and location highlights, and are also usually the first people contacted in case of crisis. Rescheduling missed flights, remedying resort problems, and resolving scheduling conflicts is all part of the job.
There are many different sorts of travel consultants. Some work primarily with corporations, arranging business trips and organizing conferences in far-away cities. Others work mostly with families and individuals. Group travel is also a popular niche, particularly when it comes to organized tours, corporate retreats, or big events like destination weddings and family reunions.
Bookings, Logistics and Negotiation
Making and booking travel arrangements is the bulk of the job. Consultants often have access to networks and connections that offer lower prices than individuals could find on their own. Professionals may also be able to negotiate directly with hotels, airlines, and others for lower-than-advertised rates, and usually have inside information about tours and various perks. Travel agents almost always charge for their services, but clients are often able to save money — not to mention stress and energy.
Research and Location Knowledge
Expertise is another reason many people elect to hire a travel consultant. A traveler who needs ideas about where to go or wants suggestions about things to do in a particular destination is usually an ideal candidate for tailored services. A travel agent will work with clients directly to figure out the sort of trip they have in mind, and will make personalized recommendations based on experience and prior knowledge. Almost anyone can go online and make travel arrangements, but it can be hard to tell real value from marketing fluff without some experience.
Advising is often a big part of the job, as well. Consultants must know about local customs in a travel destination, as well as passport, visa, and other legal requirements. Necessary vaccinations and currency exchange rates also come within the job description. For involved or international trips, the coordinator is often as much of a travel coach and question-answerer as he or she is an itinerary builder.
In most cases, travel consultants earn their expertise simply through time in the field — they get feedback from other clients who have been to certain places, and may also have greater access to inside information about what certain venues actually provide. Specialized knowledge can also come through first-hand experience. One of the biggest perks of work in the travel industry is familiarization, or FAM trips.
FAM trips are paid-for vacations that hotels, airlines, cruise ships and others offer to travel consultants in hopes that they will later recommend those same locations and services to paying clients. The trips usually include a little bit of work, as consultants have to take careful notes and make assessments along the way. Most of the time they get to bring their families, though, and are usually invited to receive free meals and access to activities. Very competitive travel consultants are frequently offered multiple free trips each year.
Working From Home
The rise of Internet technology has made it increasingly possible to do travel-related work from home. An at-home travel consultant may be affiliated with a travel firm, but a growing number are also independent contractors — that is, professionals who work for themselves, usually with some oversight from a larger company but not always. Almost anyone with an Internet connection and a passion for travel can open up shop as a travel consultant, though building up a client base and networks can take some time.
Most travel firms require consultants to have at least a high school diploma, but college degrees or associate’s degrees are always assets. Educational requirements do not usually pertain to those who work for themselves. All consultants must usually be computer-savvy and able to operate reservations systems and online databases, though. An outgoing personality can also make the job easier, particularly for consultants just starting out and trying to build up a client base.