Travel Agency Courses

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Becoming a Travel Agent by night What Do You Learn – by Mark Godfrey

I’ve long wondered about the process of becoming a travel agent. Having the inside track on the hot destinations and enjoying tasty discounts on trips could attract many to the career, I reckon. Those who make it into this career have a tough time though too, dealing with crazy airport scheduling and often irate customers – not to mention those occasions when the resort package you’ve sold comes with uninvited biting bed bugs included ! And, you’re the poor devil who’s got to take the resultant furious phone calls from your customer and their spouses and relatives!

Evening courses in the travel and tourism industry are designed to teach some of the basics of the travel industry, with an emphasis on becoming a travel agent or consultant. From this writer’s trawl through the available courses in Ireland for prospective travel agents, it’s clear that there are two basic components involved. There are lectures and then training in the various computer systems essential to the job.

The computer training part of the class will get you hands-on with the SABRE system, the most widely used travel computer system today. SABRE is a personalized travel computer system that files and provides all information about an individual’s travel plans – 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week around the world. The SABRE system enables you to search, reserve and service your travel clients, thanks to the pool of knowledge available and shared through the travel world. Travel agents must be connected to the SABRE system and have their own personalised account or PNR in order to be able to book flights and change flight times in co-operation with other agents around the world. The lessons will provide you with a working knowledge of maintaining a basic SABRE system, and how to book a tour, car or hotel.

There are lecture-style sessions which intertwine with the computer training. This part includes an extensive study of geography and the terminology used in the travel industry. You’re also primed, through lectures, to understand the everyday workings of a travel agency.

Once you’ve finished your course, you should be able to search for availability, book flights and compare fares on airlines around the world. Colleges will normally supply a SABRE manual, and a course workbook which you can keep for future reference. Courses are normally completed in ten to twelve weeks, two nights a week. Classes normally run for two to three hours a night. Make the best of it and attend all classes as the colleges usually give an exam on the last week!

There is a great choice of part-time courses available related to travel agency – in Portobello Institute for instance. Good luck and send us a postcard!

Frank Bolger

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