Being a travel agent has some pretty cool perks and a career in the field can take you places you've never dreamed of. Loanna Quilty who manages a travel agency in Melbourne knows how to make the most of the opportunities the field has to offer.
What sparked your interest in becoming a travel agent?
I wanted a job where I could learn a lot so I was tossing up between travel and medicine. I eventually decided to move into the travel industry, funnily enough I had only planned to do it for a year and travel as much as possible in that time, but once I started travelling I realised how much I loved it and now I can’t leave.
How did you get started in your career?
I called two different travel agencies and spoke to the managers to find out more about the job. The recruitment process was quite involved, I first had to complete a phone interview, and then I spent a day at head office where I did a group interview, a geography test, computer literacy test and finally a one on one interview.
What qualities do you need to have to be good at the job?
You need to be patient and really listen to what each person wants so you get their travel plans right. You also need great computer skills, the airlines have so many different systems in place and the technology is always changing, to survive in the job you need to know how to find your way around a computer and fast. Finally you need to be a quick learner. When you are selling travel you can sell something new every day of your life and the reality is, people expect you to be an expert on whatever destination they have come to enquire about. You can’t know everything but you need to be able to think outside of the square and use your resources well.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Most people find managing time quite challenging. Travel agents need to manage multiple tasks at all times of the day. For example you might be half way through booking some complicated flights and you’ll get a phone call from an existing client requiring urgent help overseas. You need to develop really good time management skills and learn to prioritise to be successful.
What’s the best part about working in travel?
We do get to see a lot of the world and really learn what’s out there. Before I worked in travel I used to work all year so I could go on an annual trip. Now travelling is part of what I do. As a successful agent I have been rewarded with free or very cheap trips to Europe, Fiji, Canada, China and more. Also through my work I know that I’m changing people’s lives by providing them with amazing travel experiences that they’ll never forget, it is a very satisfying feeling.
What advice would you give S-press readers considering a career as a travel agent?
If you are considering a job in the travel industry you need to have a real passion for travel and more importantly a genuine desire to build relationships with clients so you can fully understand what kind of experience they are looking for. I would also suggest you take a proactive attitude to your career, in this industry you create your own success, no one else will do it for you.