Certain demographic groups of our population still prefer to simply call the cab, take a ride to an airport, and board the plane, without bothering about the organization of their holiday. The airline tickets, hotel rooms, transportation, car rental–they prefer if a reservation agent handles these matter for them. And that’s the one reason why this job still exist, though it is easy to arrange all these things online, sometimes with a few clicks of a mouse.
You may work for a travel agency, or for some online portal like Expedia, or for any other provider of holiday packages. They will typically ask you about your motivation, expectations of the job, administrative skills, and your attitude to various situation that can happen in your interactions with the customers. Let’s have a look at the questions.
Why do you want to work as a reservation agent?
This isn’t the most fancy job in the world, a position you’d boast about in front of friends. But it is a decent clerical job in a clean environment, and at the end of the day you help people arrange their favorite part of the year–holidays, vacation. One can find many pluses of the position, and you mention some in your answer. Explain them what you like about the position.
What’s more, explain them why you are the right match for the job. You have excellent listening skills, are good around computers and reservation systems, and strive to deliver a great customer service every time. You rarely make mistakes, can manage your time well, and thrive in clerical work. Everything considered, it seems like a perfect match to you.
How do you imagine a typical day in work of a reservation agent?
The key is to show realistic expectations, which means spending most of your time on the call or email, or live chat with customers. Basically you will stare at your computer screen, headphones on, and try to reserve the most fitting offers for the customers, plus you may also deal with eventual complaints, cancellations, etc.
Try to speak with some enthusiasm when narrating the typical day at work. It’s what you want to do, enjoy doing, it fits your personality, and you are looking forward to start the work. This is the impression they should get from the way you talk about your future role.
What does an excellent customer service mean to you?
You can start by emphasizing the importance of an excellent service. Unless one wants to stay competitive and retain their customers, they cannot afford to provide anything else than an outstanding service.
Then you have several options. You can describe what you’d do as a reservation agent. Always listening to the people, never arguing, never getting emotional (even when they want to argue or they become emotional and shout on you), and simply always try your best to satisfy their wishes–of course withing the rules and travel regulations.
Another option is simply saying that you want the customer to feel like the most important person in the world while talking to you. They should feel that you really pay attention to each word they say, and do your best to find the very best deals for them. Everything you do, you will keep this goal on your mind…
Imagine that you get a call from an angry customer who came to the hotel you reserved for them but hotel staff says there’s no reservation in place. How will you react?
Say that you will stay calm, and won’t get offended by the rude words of the customer, since you understand their emotions in such an unpleasant situation.
You will ask them to confirm the name of the hotel and the dates of the reservation, so you can check it in your system. What most likely happened is that they arrived one day late and the hotel cancelled the reservation meanwhile, or, by some accident, they ended up in a different hotel.
In any case, you will try to find out what happened, contact the hotel staff if necessary, and ensure the customers immediately that in the worst case scenario you’ll find another comparable hotel for them–and if it is more expensive than the original one, your agency will bear the costs.
Of course you will try to solve the situation quickly. You will prioritize it to other tasks, because you imagine the customers standing there at the reception without an actual reservation… That’s not an enviable situation really.
You can also add that you will try to understand how the mistake occurred, and who made it (can be you, the hotel, the customer), and learn a lesson for the future, so the same situation won’t repeat again.
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You have a customer on your phone, willing to spend decent money on car rental and other stuff. What will you do to try to upsell them on travel insurance, can insurance, or other?
The sad reality of this job is that they always want you to try to upsell the customer. And they may even ask you to use negative emotions, such as fear to do so. If you ever rented a car and originally opted for no insurance, I’m sure you’ve heard that sort of talk… People drive like crazy here, the possibility of an accident is really high, they may claim up to $800 on a spot for any damage you make, and so on, and so forth…
That’s the strategy these companies have, and many customers will fall for it. And they will expect it from you, so you should demonstrate in an interview already that you’re in. Say that you will describe exactly such situations–the huge expenses they may pay if they have a car accident or get sick–which can happen to anyone, after all. And they surely do not want to end up “imprisoned” in a foreign country, on some shady hospital bed, just because they tried to save a hundred or two on a good insurance… who would not buy it after such a sales pitch?
Imagine that a customer calls you asking you to arrange a holiday on Canary Islands. How will you proceed?
The key is to show some systematic approach to your work. You should start with inquiring about the very basic things, such as:
- How many people will go, what age group they belong to, if it’s a family, group of friends, etc.
- What sort of holiday they are looking for–nice hotel in a holiday resort, just lying on a beach, or perhaps something more adventurous.
- What’s their budget, at least approximately, and what level of service they seek.
- Time frame they have on their mind.
Once you have the information, you will start working on planning, trying to prepare a meaningful itinerary for them, and, of course, including a lot of extra services your agency will benefit from (car rental, insurance, etc).
You can add that you will try to respond quickly, because you are aware that they may contact also other travel agencies and ask them to propose some plan. You do not want to be the second one to send it over…
Other questions you may face in your reservation agent job interview
- Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
- Imagine that it’s Friday, 5pm, and your shift is about to end. But you still have 10 emails from clients to reply, and you know that if you hesitate and wait for Monday, you may lose them to other agency. What will you do?
- What websites do you use to find the best deals for airline tickets and for hotels?
- A customer informs you that they can no longer afford the tickets you have booked for them, and want to cancel the reservation. But the deadline has already passed and you cannot return the tickets. What will you do?
- This job can be quite repetitive with a lot of time on the call. How do you plan to stay motivated, day in day out?
- What are your salary expectations?
Conclusion, next steps
Reservation agent is not a fancy job title, and you do not have to be afraid of competing with 100 other people for the job. Typically there will be just a few candidates, which obviously makes your situation easier.
The goal is to prepare for the situational questions, and demonstrate that you are ready to handle any sort of customer on the phone, and maximize their value for your employer–that means upselling them. Read the questions and my hints once again, and try to write down a short answer to each single one. I hope you will manage to prepare, ace your interview, and sign a new job contact. Good luck to you!
May also interest you:
- Travel agent interview questions – Not exactly the same position but you can expect to hear some of the questions also in your reservation agent interview. Check out the answers and avoid negative surprises.
- Salary negotiation tips – Get as much as you deserve at the end of your interview. Or even more than you deserve…
- Tour Guide interview questions.