All jobs that involve helping people make successful travel plans require a high degree of professionalism, but this is particularly the case with business travel jobs.
Anyone travelling will expect their agent to be excellent at their job: nobody likes to think that they may suffer problems that could have been avoided had their agent been a little more proficient!
But this not only applies in the context of problems. A private or professional traveller is extremely unlikely to be amused if they find that their plans were sub-optimal (e.g. overly expensive) simply because the travel agent didn't really know their trade. So, 'getting it right' and providing an exemplary service is important if you work in a travel agency. Yet in the case of corporate planning, it becomes potentially even more complicated and your customers may well be considerably more demanding.
What makes corporate travel different to recreational travel?
• Business travellers need to depart at their convenience and in line with the demands of their business, meaning that they may be very reluctant to fit in with any plans that do not conform to their needs. Compromise may sometimes be impossible for them to contemplate.
• Clients may have multiple requirements that involve them travelling around the globe, stopping and changing flights regularly - that can be a major logistical and coordination effort for the travel agent.
• Clients may need to depart at short notice and they will expect a fast, efficient and above all, knowledgeable, service.
• Sometimes vast sums of money may depend on the business traveller being somewhere at a specific date and time - if things go wrong, they may be very pointed in demanding an explanation and an alternative from their agent.
How does this affect business travel jobs?
There are some agents that specialise in providing dedicated services to corporate clients. Some other agents may offer general travel agency services but also have a dedicated department/office/team to cope with the specific challenges presented by business travellers.
Typically, agents tend to put more experienced and knowledgeable employees into their business operations, although that may not always be the case and some may offer training opportunities for beginners. There are City and Guild (plus other) qualifications in many aspects of travel and leisure, and some of these may offer specific modules or courses on business travel.
If you are interested in business travel jobs specifically but lack any previous travel agent experience, it may be advisable to consider finding a position in an agency to learn the basics of the trade, then seek further qualifications and the opportunity to move into the business field. If you would like to search for business travel jobs directly as a trainee, and without previous travel agent experience, you may find this difficult unless you can show a relevant higher academic qualification.
The route to take towards business travel jobs will depend on a number of things, such as your experience, qualifications and perhaps your overall financial position in terms of whether you can support yourself through academic studies on either a full or part-time basis.
Barbara Kolosinska (MREC CertRP) is a Sales Director for C&M, a leading travel recruitment agency who specialise in finding their clients the perfect business travel jobs across all sectors of the travel industry. C&M have access to the largest choice of business travel jobs from the UK's top travel employers.