While it is not an industry requirement, most travel agencies require their agents to have a travel school certification and experience on reservation computer systems. Even junior travel consultants must have prior training to land entry-level positions. Although junior travel agents are not highly paid, they receive a number of benefits to make up for the low salaries.
Customer service skills are highly treasured in the travel industry and junior agents can increase their salaries through bonus and incentive programs offered by the agency and the various carriers with which they work. Entry-level salaries for junior travel consultants are in the low $20,000 range and can reach up to $30,000 or more with bonuses.
Large leisure and corporate travel agencies increasingly are requiring a college degree in addition to business and travel experience before promoting junior travel agents. A bachelor's degree in business, marketing, communications or hospitality can increase opportunities for travel agents to move into senior positions and earn upward of $35,000 annually. Other degrees that could open the door to travel industry advancement include business administration and accounting, human resources and management.
Pay often is determined by the level of responsibility a junior travel agent accepts. By accepting increasingly larger roles in putting together tours, recruiting new business and taking on a bigger load of call-ins and referrals, junior consultants can increase their bonus and incentive pay, while positioning themselves for promotions.
Experience can be garnered from a variety of positions that directly deal with travel. Many clerical jobs in cruise line offices, at hotel front desks and as account representatives for car rental companies can prepare a prospective travel agent for work in the industry. The pay in travel related industries varies from $8 to $10 dollars an hour and can boost the credibility of a travel agent looking for a junior position following travel school.
Hotels, cruise lines and tour companies routinely offer travel agents free trips so they can become familiar with a property and have first-hand experience when selling it to their clients. Many travel agencies reserve the incentive trips for high-performing agents and those with seniority. A junior travel consultant can be in line for free trips by providing outstanding service and selling above their quotas. When trips go unused by the senior staff at a travel agency, they may be offered to the junior staff.
Travel Industry Career Association