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The Pros and Cons of a Career as a Travel Agent

The Pros and Cons of a Career as a Travel Agent
Rick Adams

Let’s be frank. The travel agency industry is on its death bed, yet we still need travel agents to some extent. Find out if a career in this dying industry is still worth it. A position as a travel agent may seem glamorous, but every job has its pros and cons. If you are considering a career as a travel agent, weigh the drawbacks and benefits of this profession carefully. While many people enjoy long careers as travel agents, this profession is certainly not for everyone.

As with any other profession, it is important to enjoy working with people before considering becoming a travel agent. Most agents deal with people regularly, so possessing good communication skills is vital. In addition, travel agents don’t always earn a particularly profitable income. You might have to work part-time as an agent in addition to another job. Take a look at these pros and cons to determine if becoming a travel agent is right for you.


The main problem with becoming a travel agent is the Internet. Travel agencies were among the first industries that left the “real” world and became highly successful online. Even though brick and mortar travel agencies used to be popular, many people now prefer to book a vacation online. Don’t let this deter you though, since anyone who travels beyond a simple trip knows that the ability to speak to someone about their options in many cases outweighs the info that you search for online. You would be amazed at how much useful information an experienced travel agent could provide you with, from car rentals to hotel books, to flights around the world.

Another drawback is that this industry is not recession proof. Therefore, you could wind up out of a job during the next big recession. When people try to cut back on spending, travel is often the first thing that goes out the window.

If you don’t plan on working for yourself as a travel agent contractor, you might also be paid based on commission. People who are great at sales might not mind commission pay, but people who aren’t great at selling will find commission-based pay hard to deal with.


The most obvious advantage to becoming a travel agent is a reduction in travel expenses. The type of reduction gained may fluctuate from agency to agency. There are other advantages including:

  • Mobility: if you work for yourself, you might be able to work from home (or from an exotic location!)
  • Knowledge: you will know the ins and outs of the travel industry.
  • Freedom: escape when you want and go wherever you want if you work as a contractor.

Getting Started

There are a few ways to begin your career as a travel agent. You can start by calling up a local agency and asking how you can begin work. You can also gain a degree within the travel field at a local college or university. Speak with a travel agent in your town to find out more information about this career. As you can see, there are many advantages and disadvantages to becoming a travel agent.

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    January 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

    While the article is largely correct, and younger folks are not going into the industry as they once did, the industry is not “on its death bed.” It has simply transitioned a great deal from what it was when I started in 1995.

    Easy trips are certainly more commonly booked by the consumer on the internet, and much of that business was not profitable back in the day. But for organizations and corporations, travel agents can still be a valuable resource. Example, I booked a business trip for a client last week to Afghanistan. It was complicated, and had to be changed twice due to changing dates and connecting flights. Some flights couldn’t be booked on the internet, either.

    Also, the FAM trips once offered by the industry are not as they once were – many tour operators simply book up space on existing tours with agents, to fill up something already planned. Not the best way to ensure a good experience for a travel partner that needs a different level of service from the tour conductor, including information that the average consumer really doesn’t want or need to know.