Should I Become a Travel Coordinator?
Travel coordinators make domestic and international transportation and lodging arrangements for an organization's employees. Job duties could include reserving hotel rooms and rental cars and booking airline flights. They could also handle expense reports, reconcile corporate credit card statements, and schedule meetings. These coordinators may spend many hours seated at a desk, talking on a phone, or looking at a computer screen. Although formal education is not always required, employers may seek applicants with a bachelor's degree or travel agent certificate and several years of related work experience.
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|Degree Level||Degree not always required, but a bachelor's degree or a travel agent certificate or diploma could be helpful|
|Experience||Minimum requirements can range from 1-3 years of experience|
|Licensure||Typically not required.|
|Salary||$35,600 per year (2015 Median salary for travel agents)|
Sources: American Automobile Association (AAA), U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indeed.com (July 2015)
Step 1: Complete a Travel Agent Training Program
Most travel coordinator positions require previous experience making accommodations for large groups. One way to meet this stipulation is to take on a job as a travel agent. Because employers often prefer to hire those who've received some formal training, consider completing a community college's travel agent certificate or diploma program. Some professional organizations, such as the American Automobile Association (AAA), The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), also offer training courses.
Topics of study include general procedures for investigating travel options and using computerized reservation systems. Students might also gain an understanding of lodging and transportation industry operations as well as the documentation required for international travel.
- Research state registration requirements. According to the Houston Chronicle, a handful of states require travel agents to register before selling travel services. Applicants generally need to submit an application and pay a fee.
Step 2: Gain Experience
After completing their formal training, aspiring travel coordinators can begin acquiring the necessary experience by working for 1-3 years as a travel or booking agent. Most of these professionals work with reservation services, though 12% were self-employed in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A travel agent's job duties include working with individual clients or small groups to determine itineraries as well as make hotel, rental car, cruise or airline reservations. Other responsibilities include preparing travel documents, creating travel packets, and addressing last-minute changes, cancellations, or travel emergencies.
- Join a professional organization. Professional organizations like the ASTA and The Travel Institute provide continuing education and networking opportunities to prospective travel coordinators. They might also offer certification programs that could help them improve their efficiency and customer service skills. For example, The Travel Institute awards the entry-level Certified Travel Associate credential to those who pass an exam after earning 18 months of work experience.
Step 3: Career Advancement
For an inexperienced travel agent looking to advance their career, becoming a Certified Travel Agent (CTA) may be an option in achieving this goal. Those with more than five years of experience can become a Certified Travel Counselor, which is a more advanced certificate and may yield career advancement in the field.