I received an email from a random blog reader (must have just stumbled upon my blog when she searched “a day in the life of a travel agent” on google) which said:
Hi! I read your post and it’s funny and very insightful. I wanted to know how to apply for a job in your company?
I remember my very first job as a travel agent. It was in a small, newly opened travel agency along Ayala Ave. in Makati and I was very eager to be working with them. I aced all my exams and trainings and I was so happy to be assisting passengers, booking their hotels and plane tickets. Right after my probationary period, the manager of the company told me that I’m not good enough for them and so they are letting me go. Hah! The next day, the previous manager of the same company who found a better job in a bigger travel agency called me up and asked me to work for him – so I immediately said yes. When the small agency found out about this little scenario, they offered me my job back and I told them to f*ck off. I transferred to the bigger agency and worked for them for about 3 years before I came here to Dubai – then Dubai changed my whole outlook about being a travel agent.
You see when I was in the Philippines dealing with Filipinos who are very easy to please, I had a great time. Seriously. I woke up each morning very excited to go to work specially when I’m handling a group and about to issue those tickets. Staying back in the office is the most normal thing for me to do just so I can finish everything up. But now, I think I’m already burnt out doing the same job for over 7 years now and I would very much like to be in the back office without having the need to please a customer.
The customers here in Dubai are different. Well first of all, you have to deal with all the nationalities that you can ever think of and even those that you haven’t heard of. The way you speak to all of them should not be the same because one word can be received by two different nationalities in two very different ways. Like take the word “listen” for example. Some normal people will take this word as it is – to listen to you, they will stop talking and will listen to what you’re about to say. But for some nationalities (I’m not even going to mention which one but it would be pretty easy for you to identify when you come here to Dubai), this will go out of hand because they would think that you are commanding them and telling them what to do and that is very inappropriate specially because they are the customers and you’re supposed to listen to them and not the other way around. So yeah, you have to have a very rich English vocabulary for you to survive.
Also, you have to be patient enough to handle people asking for some ridiculous things like a seat which is not on the sunny side of the plane (because you’re supposed to move mountains, heaven and the whole constellation for their convenience); a seat which has the next one to it empty or without a screaming child next to it (because you’re supposed to know how to foretell the future and be able to see their specific flight and where people would sit in that flight); a Filipino meal (I’m a Filipino and I don’t even know what a Filipino meal would consist of) and last but not the least a 15-day holiday to Europe without spending any money. Trust me, all of these are true and based on my personal experiences.
As a travel agent, you are expected to smile, advise, empathize, sing, dance, fix the printer, fix the fax machine, answer the phone calls, answer the emails, fix the mistake the call center agent did, fix the mistake the airport agent did, tell passengers which floor they should go if they want to refund their tickets and apologize for anything and everything that you were not able to do while multi-tasking all of the above things at once. Oh! And you’re also supposed to know when the fare of each airline will increase or decrease because clearly, this is in your hands. Oil prices, traffic jams, economic status of a nation, riots, rallies and volcanic eruptions can also be thrown in to the list of MUST KNOWS. UNFORSEEABLE EVENTS are just words – apparently.
So yeah, if you’re not yet stressed with all of the above things and would still want to join me here then you can send your CV to: [I have sent the website on the email address you used on your comment :)] so you can enjoy the perks of being a travel agent:
1. Unlimited free tickets for you to any destination that you can think of (as long as the airline flies there):
2. Unlimited free tickets as well for your family and extended family (cousins, aunts, brother-in-law, cousin-in-law)
3. Familiarization Trips sponsored by the company to stay 5-star resorts and flying in business-class cabin.
4. 50% staff discounted rates in most of the bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels all over Dubai that you and your friends can go to on an all-nighter without getting a dent in your wallet.
The above 4 reasons are the main things why I’m still a travel agent. 🙂