The travel industry will continue to grow significantly over the next few decades. Global trade and the increased convenience of air travel have made it both more interesting and easier for people to visit other countries. With rising household incomes, smaller families, and an increasing number of the older population who are more likely to travel, more and more people will be spending vacations in other parts of the world. Business travel will also increase, especially as U.S. businesses expand their foreign operations.
Travel Career Tips
If you are a foreign language major and want to work in the travel industry:
- Take courses in hotel or restaurant administration or general business
- Find a part-time job in a hotel or restaurant to gain practical experience
- Spend time abroad to learn the cultural tastes of the target language, including food and drink
- Brush up on your knowledge of geography
- Plan to attend a travel school.
- Develop office skills such as typing, organizational skills, and working with computers.
- Read international newspapers to keep up with overseas developments
Employers desire agents with knowledge of foreign languages, geography and foreign cultures, as well as excellent communication skills. Courses in accounting and business management are equally important, especially for those who expect to manage their own travel agencies.
Experience, sales ability, and the size and location of the agency determine the salary of a travel agent. Median annual earnings of travel agents were $27,640 in May 2004, while the top ten percent of travel agents in the U.S. earned more than $44,090.
Travel Industry Groups
U.S. Travel Service
The United States Travel Service has developed a language certification program that certifies hotels with multilingual and bilingual personnel. A list of these hotels is distributed to foreign travel agents. Bilingual and multilingual personnel are placed in "guest contact" positions such as lobby managers, reservationists, and concierge and banquet coordinators.
The Travel Institute
Experienced travel agents often take advanced self-study or group-study courses from The Travel Institute, leading to the designation of Certified Travel Counselor. The Travel Institute also offers marketing and sales skills development programs and destination specialist programs, which provide detailed knowledge of specific regions such as North America, Western Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Rim. With the trend toward more specialization, these and other specialty travel courses are increasingly important. For information on training and certification qualifications, contact:
The Travel Institute, 148 Linden St., Suite 305, Wellesley, MA 02482.
The American Society of Travel Agents offers a correspondence course that provides a basic understanding of the travel industry. Travel agencies also provide on-the-job training for their employees, a significant part of which consists of computer instruction. All employers require computer skills of workers whose jobs involve the operation of airline and centralized reservation systems.
Sample Job Posting
Here is just one example of a bilingual travel agent opportunity:
Administrative / Travel Agent –Japanese / English bilingual
Title: Administrative / Travel Assistant
Status: Full Time
An International freight forwarding company is seeking a Japanese / English bilingual for an administrative / travel agent assistant position.
Japanese / English, written and speaking is a must. Great Benefits (Medical/Dental/401K) at an excellent location.
Adapted from: Careerbuilder.com
American Society of Travel Agents, Education Department, 1101 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314.