A travel consultant specializes in coordinating and booking travel arrangements for individuals, groups and businesses. They differ from travel agents in that they offer more specialized services and represent you, not an agency, airline or hotel, explains Travel Professional News.
The majority of travel professionals are employed by travel agencies while the Internet makes it easy and convenient for the average person to make their own travel arrangements, many people still utilize travel consultants to book their trips and ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck.
One of the key reasons why travel agents are still in demand is because of the due diligence they perform when researching your travel options. In addition to simply looking up airfare and hotel rates, experienced travel agents are likely to have insight into items such as where to stay within your budget, what dates are ideal for travel to your destination of choice and any special promotions or discounts for which you may be eligible.
Travel consultants, sometimes called travel counselors, use the information they’ve obtained from their research to offer professional travel advice to their clients. Part of the travel counselor job description includes helping you avoid booking bad hotels or restaurants due to poor reviews, adjusting the travel dates to get a better deal or bundling the travel services into a single package to save money. Advice may also be given regarding anticipated weather conditions and popular activities and events to partake in during your stay.
Once the client agrees on an itinerary, the main part of a travel agent job description is making the necessary arrangements to book the trip. This could include ordering airline tickets, making hotel reservations and securing a rental car. Prior to booking, a travel agent reviews the cancellation guidelines with the client and goes over any pertinent information such as arrival and departure times and any additional expenses that may be charged by the vendors such as fees for parking or incidentals.
Travel consultants offer more services than typical travel agents, and have visited some tourist destinations. They can recommend restaurants, shops and other places to visit. They might have extra pull in making reservations at high-demand places and be able to arrange discounts.
Payment is typically collected upfront, though some travel agents will allow clients to secure their trip with a deposit provided the balance is paid in full prior to the travel date. This is one benefit offered by travel consultants that you won’t find by booking your travel online. Although the payment guidelines vary by agent, most require that the deposit be at least the amount of the airfare plus a minimal per person deposit for lodging.
There’s no college degree required to become a travel agent or consultant, with many working using just a high school diploma and the training they receive after they are hired. The more knowledge you gain and more places you visit, the more you can charge for consulting services. According to the BLS, median pay for a travel agent in 2019 was $40,600 annually. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on travel, the BLS estimates demand for travel agents will decline by approximately 26 percent from 2019 to 2029.