Many travel agents work on their own. They run small offices (or work from home), charging commissions from both their customers and the hotels, airlines, and resorts they cooperate with. Freelancers count for more than 50% of people working in this industry. Nevertheless, not everyone prefers freelancing to employment.
Working for one of the big travel agencies, you do not have to bother with marketing, advertising, accounting, taxes, and other unpleasant things that cost money. The corporation takes care of them. You can focus on the core of the job–helping the clients to arrange a perfect trip or holiday. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face in an interview for this position.
Why do you want this job?
You should address two things in your answer: Why you want to work as a travel agent, and why you want to work for the particular agency/company/hotel chain. You can start with saying that you have strong communication and negotiation skills, and really like the job description. You can also emphasize strong skills with computers, ability to work under pressure, and your passion for travel industry. Basically tell them that you enjoy doing what travel agents typically do in their jobs.
Then you should tell them why you want to work for their agency. This part is little bit more tricky. You can refer to the destinations from their portfolio, or the type of clients they work with, various trips they organize, etc. Or you can choose something else that resonates with you.
You can even say that you (or one of your close friends) organized holiday with them, and really enjoyed the level of customer service they got.
Tell us something about your experience in this field.
In my opinion, previous working experience isn’t necessary for travel agents. Everything is so intuitive nowadays. The booking portals, the websites of airlines, the arranging of transport–everyone can learn how to do these things, in a matter of days or even hours. Though many employers have a different opinion (placing a lot of value on the experience of job candidates), this is not a difficult question–even when you apply for your first job.
Just tell them about the way you organized your own holiday, or a trip for someone else you know. How you traveled, negotiated the prices. Talk about the booking portals and gateways you have experience with, and prefer. Of course, if you worked with one of the travel agencies before, tell them about your experience. But be ready to face another question: Why did you leave your last job with a travel agency?
Do you prefer to get a fixed monthly salary, or be paid on a commission basis?
The best travel agents will always vouch for commission basis–since they know they will earn more money this way. However, the typical payment model consists in getting a small fixed salary (often a minimum wage, or slightly more), and a variable part of monthly remuneration, which depends on the number of deals you close each month, and the commission the agency gets paid for such deals.
You can say that you prefer this model–to have some security to survive in the low season, but also an option to earn big during the peak season, and when you’ll do really well in your job.
I do not recommend saying that you want only fixed salary. Most travel agencies will not hire you in such a case, since you will have no motivation to try your best in work, to serve as many clients as possible, to close the best deals…
How do you imagine a typical day in work?
Sitting on your comfy chair, drinking coffee, and waiting for clients to arrive. Or is there a better way how to approach your occupation?
We live in competitive times. Travel agencies have to fight for their clients. Sitting and waiting will do little good. Try to show proactive approach to work. Answering emails, talking a lot on the phone, trying to create good connection with the customers, doing your best to convince them to co-operate with the one agency you work for. If you do not do this, other agents will. And it is not hard to guess who the client will choose at the end.
In your opinion, what matters the most in this business? Price, product, or communication?
All of them matter. Any successful travel agency has to offer good prices, interesting holiday packages, and of course they must know how to talk to their clients.
Once you apply for a job of a travel agent, however, you should point out communication–since this is the only one you can influence from your position. Tell them how important it is to respond promptly, to do your best to understand the needs and desires of the customers, and to communicate the message in the most appropriate way.
How would you deal with an angry client?
Client is always right, even if they are wrong. Angry client can easily spread a bad word, post negative reviews on the internet, and do other things to harm your reputation.
Show the hiring managers that you understand how crucial it is in this business to satisfy the customer. Tell them that you would approach each client with smile, talking with them in a most friendly and courteous manner–regardless of their mood and position. Tell them that you would try your best to remedy the situation, perhaps even offering a refund (if permitted to offer it), or do other things to help the client to feel respected, heard, and taken care of.
Other questions you may get in your travel agent interview
- What motivates you the most in this job?
- Imagine that in a span of one week, three clients called you, asking for a certain destination/holiday package we did not have in our portfolio. Would you do anything about it?
- What ticket reservation/hotel booking portals you have experience with? Which one do you consider the best one, and why?
- Would you mind working on Saturdays?
- What do you consider your greatest weakness?
- Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the customer, for the colleague).
- Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle this situation?
- How would you define quality?
- Describe your definition of an outstanding customer service.
- Tell us about a time when you had to work under pressure.
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants?
Conclusion and next steps
Interview for a job of a travel agent belongs to interviews with average difficulty. As long as you manage to demonstrate strong communication skills, understanding for the job, and motivation to work hard, in most cases they will hire you.
Keep in mind though that the job hopping rate in this industry belong to the highest. Getting a job and still having it after first three months are two different things…
Prepare for the questions you may get, come in with the right mindset, make a good impression, and succeed. And if you are not sure how to answer the questions, or experience anxiety before your interview, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Great answers to all tricky and scenario based questions will make your life much easier in your travel agent job interview. Thank you!
* You can download the list of 15 questions, in a simple one-page long document, and practice your interview answers later. We wish you good luck!
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