Travel Agent - What They Do

Travel counsellors advise clients on travel options and tour packages, make bookings and reservations, prepare tickets and receive payment. They are employed in travel agencies, transportation and tourism firms and hotel chains.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Provide travel information to clients regarding destinations, transportation and accommodation options and travel costs, and recommend suitable products
  • Plan and organize vacation travel for individuals or groups
  • Make transportation and accommodation reservations using computerized reservation and ticketing system
  • Sell single fare tickets and package tours to clients
  • Promote particular destinations, tour packages and other travel services
  • Investigate new travel destinations, hotels and other facilities and attractions
  • Provide travel tips regarding tourist attractions, foreign currency, customs, languages and travel safety.

Job titles

  • reservation agent - travel agency
  • travel consultant
  • travel agent
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • A college diploma or vocational training in travel or tourism is usually required.
  • Certification with the Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors (CITC) may be required. This certification is granted after completion of a 60 credit requirement obtained through any combination of work experience, training and education, and successful completion of the advanced exam.

Essential Skills


  • Read memos sent by airline offices about new fares and schedule changes. (1)
  • Read information sheets providing the terms and conditions of tours. (2)
  • Read catalogues, brochures and guides from travel companies, government travel bureaus, hotels and resorts to learn about destinations which might be of interest to clients. (3)
  • Read travel insurance policies so that they may explain them to clients. (3)
  • Read procedures manuals used by their company or agency to guide their handling of such matters as ticketing and refunds. (3)
  • Read trade magazines and newsletters to learn about developments in the travel industry. (3)

Document use

  • Read signs and promotional posters in the office. (1)
  • Read lists for information, such as lists of tour companies and hotels. (1)
  • Read airline tickets and invoices. (2)
  • Read forms, such as application forms for youth hostel cards and reservations forms. (2)
  • Read a variety of schedules, such as schedules for ferries, airlines and trains, as well as their own work schedules. (2)
  • Refer to maps in order to provide information to clients about destinations or routes. (2)
  • Read graphs, such as graphs showing the temperature of various cities in each month. (2)
  • Enter information on forms, such as client booking forms which record clients' destinations, fares and payments. (2)
  • Refer to tables, such as insurance tables which show the costs of different levels of coverage. (3)
  • Interpret scale drawings, such as the layout of cruise ships. (3)


  • Take telephone messages for office staff and job reminder notes. (1)
  • Write itineraries for clients in a standard format. (2)
  • Write letters to clients and travel companies to provide information or explain problems. (2)
  • Complete booking and reservation forms. (2)
  • May write promotional materials, such as information sheets or flyers, to highlight special events. (3)
  • May write descriptions of tours for an annual catalogue of events. (3)


Money Math

  • Accept cheques from clients and issue receipts. (1)
  • Calculate prices taking into account the exchange rate between currencies. (2)
  • Calculate commissions on sales to ensure they have been properly recompensed by suppliers. (2)
  • Calculate clients' bills for travel services purchased, including taxes and discounts. (3)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • Schedule itineraries for clients, taking into account time zones and the amount of time required to make transportation connections. (2)
  • Compare the various price components of trip packages to ensure that the client will get the best price. These comparisons may be complex since packages do not always have similar features. (3)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • May measure text when laying out pages for printing. (1)
  • Take measurements from a scale map to determine the distance to a destination. (2)

Data Analysis Math

  • Count various types of services used, such as day trips, cruises and bus tours, and calculate monthly averages by user groups. (2)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate the price of a trip for a client who is looking for a general idea of costs. (1)
  • Estimate the amount of time involved in setting up a group vacation package. (2)
  • Estimate the cost of a vacation for a customer. They use discount information, information given by the client, the travel wholesaler and airline. The consequence of a significant error could be a loss of business or a very dissatisfied client. (3)

Oral communication

  • Interact with couriers who are picking up or delivering air tickets or promotional brochures. (1)
  • Communicate with service personnel who come to maintain or update computer systems in the office (1)
  • Interact with clients to discuss vacation packages, insurance coverage and costs of travelling to various locations. (2)
  • Communicate with co-workers to co-ordinate activities, share knowledge gained from suppliers and discuss ways of solving problems which have come up when planning itineraries. (2)
  • Talk to supervisors to receive instructions, exchange information and plan work activities. (2)
  • Discuss and negotiate details of tours with tour operators, airline personnel, car rental agencies and hotel staff. (3)
  • Present information on travel destinations at meetings or theme events held to attract new customers. (3)


Problem Solving

  • May have a client arrive at a destination to find the ordered rental car is not waiting or the hotel has no record of reservations. They refer to the registration card for confirmation numbers and call directly to booking agents for assistance. (1)
  • May have a malfunction of the computerized ticketing machines which print airline tickets. They may call a customer support line if all efforts to print the tickets fail. (1)
  • May find that an airline has changed its schedule, complicating connections between flights. They call other airlines to see if routing can be improved using another carrier. (2)
  • May find that even though a tour abroad has been cancelled because of too few registrants, several customers still want to go. They call other tour suppliers and investigate whether these companies can provide comparable services on a last minute basis. (2)
  • May find that a price recently quoted to a customer has increased by the time the customer arrives to put down a deposit. They call suppliers to convince them to accept the previously quoted lower price and may offer their own discount on other related services if they fail in their bid. (3)

Decision Making

  • Decide which tour companies are most likely to offer services appropriate to their customers. (1)
  • Decide which hotels to contact when seeking accommodation for clients and which hotels to recommend. (2)
  • May decide what routes to recommend to clients seeking information for a road trip. The decision is based on whether the clients are seeking a quick trip to their destination or a scenic route. (2)
  • Decide on the sequencing of tasks which will lead to meeting the needs of all clients within appropriate time frames. (3)

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Travel counsellors' job tasks are customer driven. They prioritize tasks taking into account the number of customers to serve, the complexity of the services to be provided and the urgency of the clients' travel needs. Travel counsellors respond to frequent interruptions from phone calls, walk-in clients and sales representatives. Their work plan must be integrated with the work plan of colleagues and managers. (3)

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember flight numbers and times for frequently booked flights.
  • Remember codes, such as the codes for various cities, to enter in the airline reservation system.
  • Remember travel preferences of past clients so that they can supply them with the most suitable brochures the next time they see them.
  • Remember the features of different hotels in many cities so that they may advise clients of aspects which may appeal to them.

Finding Information

  • Refer to manuals for information on airline pricing and scheduling. (1)
  • Contact hotel and tour personnel directly to find out about space availability and pricing. (1)
  • Use a computer to find information on specific destinations, supplementing print information on hand in the office. (2)
  • Obtain, analyse and filter information about destinations and flights received from travel salespersons, wholesaler representatives and travel companies. They compare rates between companies to make the best choice for their clients. (3)

Digital technology

  • They type itineraries for customers. (2)
  • They enter and access information on tours and clients. (2)
  • They enter the amounts on invoices. (2)
  • They use computerized ticketing systems. (2)
  • They may lay out promotional materials. (3)
  • They may produce tables showing services and prices of hotels and tours. (3)
  • They may use the Internet to find information on a particular travel destination. (3)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Travel counsellors mainly work independently as part of a team. They co-ordinate their activities with co-workers and managers as required. At times they may collaborate with their colleagues in serving a client's needs, through sharing tasks such as conducting research on destinations or checking availability of travel arrangements.

Continuous Learning

Travel Counsellors must continuously keep up to date with the policies, the procedures and the practices of industry and update their competences in data processing. They acquire knowledge by reading reviews and articles and by participating in official training sessions.