Travel Counselor: Job Description and Requirements
A travel counselor is a travel agent who has gained years of work experience in the travel industry and has a certified mastery of his or her field. Travel counselors may obtain corporate employment and put their travel expertise to use advising customers of large companies.
Travel counselors are essentially certified travel agents. That means they perform all the usual tasks a travel agent would. They advise clients on vacation destinations that will be to their liking. They handle airline, hotel and rental car bookings. They inform clients about attractions at their destination and explain local customs and conditions so the travelers will be well-prepared. Because travel counselors have a great deal of experience and are certified, their knowledge of the travel industry may be called upon by premium clients planning luxury vacations.
Travel counselors earn certification through a travel industry organization, such as The Travel Institute (www.thetravelinstitute.com). There are several steps one must take to earn certification:
Step One: Earn a CTA (Certified Travel Assistant)
A CTA credential requires at least 18 months of full-time travel industry experience. Applicants must complete the self-study training program, which consists of eight core courses and four electives. Core courses include customer service, professionalism, business writing, touring the world and special interest travel. Electives range from itineraries to all-inclusive resorts to travel insurance. Once individuals complete the courses and pass the CTA test, they will need to submit to recertification every year.
Step Two: Earn a CTC (Certified Travel Counselor)
Those wishing to earn the CTC must be CTAs and have at least five years of full-time industry experience. They must successfully complete the CTC curriculum, consisting primarily of business, finance and management courses. They must complete an exam and a 2,000- to 3,000-word 'white paper', which covers a topic timely and relevant to the travel industry. Once certified, travel counselors must recertify each year.
To begin this process, one must first find employment in the travel industry. Individuals can prepare by attending a college that has a program in travel and tourism. These tend to be 2-year programs and are offered at many community colleges. These curricula teach students about the basics of the travel industry as well as essentials of other related fields like geography and marketing.
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