If you enjoy travel and would like to work in that field, you may be asking what is a travel reservation agent. Reservations agents have one of the most important roles in the travel industry and are often the first point of contact for many travelers.
Although the Internet has made booking travel much simpler, many thousands of people still like to call and talk to a real person, especially if booking a complex or costly trip. Reservations agents are the people on the other end of the phone when you call an airline, cruise line or hotel chain and their role is to book your trip for you, answer any related questions and solve any problems. If you like the idea of being a reservations agent, you can work for an airline, cruise company, hotel chain or car rental company, as well as for a travel agent. Many travel agencies today specialize, in an effort to retain customers, and you may be answering the phone and helping customers with cruises, an African safari or a honeymoon.
There are pros and cons to this type of career. There are few firm requirements; many companies like you to have a high school diploma and perhaps some customer service experience, but if you are interested you can potentially go into the industry straight from school. Some companies require a college degree, while others will require you to be at least familiar with one of the several computer systems used in the travel industry. These complex systems can take weeks or months to master, and different airlines and agencies use different systems, making it often difficult to switch companies. Average salary is around $15 hourly and is often commission based.
Of course, it helps if you have a passion for travel, great people skills and some computer or typing experience. You may need to have more in-depth knowledge too; for example if you become a reservations agent for one of the major airlines, you will be advising customers about baggage requirements, passports and visas, airline seating and flying with pets. Many agents pride themselves on being as knowledgeable as possible and able to answer questions on everything from sightseeing in London to the weather in Mexico. For many reservation agents, the biggest perk of working in travel is the free or reduced rate travel, and this can include plane tickets, hotel rooms and packages.
However, being a reservations agent can be stressful, and the work is often fast paced and tedious. Dealing with a canceled flight or a problem with a hotel room isn’t always fun. Many airlines and cruise lines impose a quota; agents are expected to secure a certain number of bookings during a designated length of time. Agents are often closely monitored, and your world becomes your computer, telephone and cubicle. The hours are often inconvenient too; most airlines, hotels and cruise lines operate their reservations department around the clock and it isn’t unusual for agents to work many years before getting a weekend off. If you like the idea of a career in travel, reservations can be a great way to get your foot in the door.