Travel Agents Travel Agents: Who are they? A travel agent is a professional who specializes in making travel arrangements on behalf of other people. Often have access to cheap fares, hotel deals, and other travel perks which average consumers cannot get on their own. A travel agent may choose to work freelance, or as part of a larger travel agency. Some agents specialize in a particular field of travel like business travel, exotic travel, or honeymoon arrangements. In some cases, a travel agent also provides overseas support and referrals, which can sometimes be incredibly useful. Travel Agents: What do they do? At a minimum, a travel agent can book tickets for people who wish to travel to a particular destination. Most travel agents focus on air, rail, and sea travel and the myriad options available, including varying classes and routes. The agent may also arrange a rental car and accommodations, if desired, along with services like a pickup at an airport or dock, or a gourmet meal waiting on arrival. Travel agents also have a lot more to offer, however, thanks to their extensive experience in the industry and as travelers themselves. Travel Agents: What do they do? A travel agent can offer recommendations about vaccinations and preventative medicine regimens which may be required for foreign travel. Travel agents can also help to organize visas and passports for their clients, ensuring that they move smoothly during their trip. Some travel agents can also recommend language classes and other preparations for a trip, while others might have helpful hints and tips for their customers to ensure that the clients enjoy the trip. Travel Agents: What do they do? A specialty travel agent who focuses on something like business travel may include things in a travel package which are tailored to businesspeople, such as specially organized tours, or accommodations which include needed services like Internet access. Travel agents sell themselves on their ability to organize complex and fun trips, whether they be whirlwind tours through Europe or leisurely luxury cruises. Travel Agents Employment in this industry is waning, because Internet sites allow consumers to access many deals directly. However, in a crisis a travel agent can be quite useful; for example, upon the death of a loved one, someone might prefer to allow someone else to organize travel arrangements. A travel agent is also experienced in all of the quirks of the travel system, and a trip can sometimes run more smoothly with a travel agent at the helm. Travel Agents Travel agents are expected to be able to advise travelers about their destinations, such as the weather conditions, local ordinances and customs, attractions, and exhibitions. Travel agents use a variety of published and computer- based sources for information on departure and arrival times, fares, quality of hotel accommodations, and group discounts. They may also visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants themselves to evaluate the comfort, cleanliness, and the quality of specific hotels and restaurants so that they can base recommendations on their own experiences or those of colleagues or clients. Many travel agents specialize in specific destinations or regions; others specialize in travel targeted to particular demographic groups, such as senior citizens. Work Environment Travel agents spend most of their time behind a desk conferring with clients, completing paperwork, contacting airlines and hotels to make travel arrangements, and promoting tours. They also spend a considerable amount of time either on the telephone or on the computer researching travel itineraries or updating reservations and travel documents. Agents sometimes have to face a great deal of pressure during travel emergencies or when they need to reschedule missed reservations. They are especially busy during peak vacation times, such as summer and holiday travel periods. Many agents, especially those who are self-employed, frequently work more than 40 hours per week, although technology now allows a growing number of agents to work from home.