When employees need to attend a business conference, they don't often book all of their own transportation and lodging. Corporate travel counselors are travel agents that work for a company. Their task is to make travel arrangements specifically for employees on business trips.
Corporate travel counselors, also known as corporate travel agents, are responsible for making sure all employees of a company have the bookings and reservations needed for all of their business travels. Unlike traditional travel agents, corporate travel counselors are typically employed by a single business organization to oversee all their corporate travel needs. This job typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent; however, many employers prefer candidates who hold additional formal travel training. This can be accomplished by earning a six-month certificate or an associate's or bachelor's degree in travel and tourism.
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training preferred by many employers|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||-12% for all travel agents|
|Median Salary (2015)**||$35,660 for all travel agents|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Corporate travel counselors work in a variety of settings helping clients plan and book trips. Their job is to ensure that all business trips that employees take are planned out, and all bookings are made. They may research the best route and the lowest prices. Because of the many details involved in traveling, a travel counselor's job requires them to keep an extremely organized calendar and listings of all the reservations they make as well as making sure they inform the employee of his or her itinerary.
Corporate travel counselors must make flight reservations (both domestic and international) that frequently require multiple stops and layovers. In addition, they must make sure that everything is taken care of once employees land in their locations. Often an employee needs a rental car, hotel rooms and meals, all of which a corporate travel counselor takes care of in advance. Although it is often left up to the employees, corporate travel counselors occasionally ensure that employees are registered for the appropriate conferences or meetings.
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The first step to becoming a corporate travel counselor is to get a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Many travel counselors get either an associate's or bachelor's degree in travel and tourism (sometimes called a hospitality management degree). However, some vocational, adult education and online schools offer programs for travel agents that can be completed in as little as six-months.
The job of a corporate travel counselor often requires lots of paperwork, phone calls, Internet booking and working around schedules. Therefore, potential corporate travel counselors need to be able to handle large amounts of information with a strict attention to detail and strong organizational and problem solving skills. It is also paramount that they communicate concisely and directly and be proficient in business writing. They must be knowledgeable about negotiating contracts and manual and automated ticketing. In addition, a good sense of geography and the workings of the travel industry are necessary for understanding how to plan trips, construct itineraries and calculate international fares.
An employer may specify that applicants have experience with global distribution systems or GDS. This is a computer reservation system that is used to sell and book airline reservations for many airlines. In addition, good computer and e-mail skills are an asset.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Job opportunities for travel agents are projected to decline by 12% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS. The fact that most people now book their own flights online is a major contributor to this decrease in jobs. However, corporate travel counselors deal with more complex travel plans that aren't as easy for individuals to make themselves, which may continue to create demand for these professionals. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for travel agents was $35,660 as of May 2015.
Corporate travel counselors make travel arrangements for their company's employees. A high school diploma is the minimum requirement, and most employers want someone with travel industry knowledge. Jobs for travel agents are expected to decline, but demand for corporate travel agents, a specialized field, may not follow this trend.