Is Becoming A Travel Agent Worth It?
"I love to travel. It’s what I’m passionate about. It’s my favorite thing in the world. So growing up, I always wanted to become a travel agent. It seemed like the obvious career choice. Now however I’m on the cusp of adulthood, and I’m realizing my dream probably isn’t viable. I can’t remember the last time I heard about anyone actually using a travel agent … everyone just goes on Expedia and plans their own trips now. So my question is, is there any viability left in this field? Is it a pipe dream, or is it profitable?"
asked by Cynthia from Dover, DE
I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties. There are few things worse than setting your heart on something, only to realize when you grow up that the thing you wanted most to do probably isn’t going to be possible. I won’t lie to you. There are not a ton of travel agent jobs out there, but the field is at least growing, albeit slowly, at a rate of 10%, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This should equate to 8,300 new jobs for travel agents between 2010 and 2020. In theory, one of those jobs could end up being yours—but it will not be easy.
As you stated, the internet has made the travel agent seem rather superfluous to many trip planners, who now feel fully capable of taking on the task themselves. The same great deals which were only available to travel agents in the past are now open to everyone. The Internet also makes it easy to find information which in the past would have been difficult to hunt down.
That being said, there has been a bit of a resurgence lately in the travel agent industry. A lot of magazines including major publications like TIME have been advising consumers planning business and personal trips to turn back to travel agents to assist them.
Customers are starting to desire more customized experiences. At the same time, many customers are overwhelmed by how many choices are now available to them online. A travel agent can help them to find the best options based on their needs and desires. This can cut a lot of time out of the planning process, and also result in a more enjoyable trip.
Customers are starting to remember that travel agents can act as important intermediaries when problems arise.
So is travel agent a dead occupation? Not necessarily. You may still be able to find a way to make your dream work. That said, it will probably be a challenging route, and you are going to want to have a lot of great professional connections to make this happen. Pursue on-the-job training. While a degree is not required, it can help you to make the connections you need and develop other skills in computers or communication which are necessary in this field. Consider specializing in a particular travel niche to bring even more business your way.