A job interview is not the place for winging it. To stand out in an increasingly crowded field, you’ll need top GDS skills, an understanding of your niche, and a few well-chosen key words, said industry insiders at a Travel Institute webinar last week. So hone your talents, do your homework, and dress professionally if you want to be taken seriously.
1. Be enthusiastic
First of all, though, be enthusiastic. “If you really want a job, you’re going to have to put your best foot forward and show that you really, really want that job,” said Gayle Walsh, president of the Travel Staffing Group and HotTravelJobs.com.
Walsh joined Travel Institute director of sales Patty Noonan, CTC, on the webinar, held for travel agents aiming to get a job at a bricks-and-mortar agency.
2. Corporate or leisure?
Next you’ll need to decide whether to sell corporate or leisure travel. Each segment requires different knowledge and a different skill set, so consider your strengths and personality before deciding.
Corporate travel agents need a higher level of organization and administrative skills than leisure agents, Walsh said. “You have to be highly organized and have strong GDS skills.”
But booking corporate travel is often less frustrating, and agents require less destination knowledge than leisure agents do.
“Leisure is much more complicated and not everybody wants that,” Noonan said. “But it’s a lot more interesting because of the destinations and cruise lines, and it has a lot more sex appeal than the corporate side.”
3. Know your GDS
“As a hammer is to a carpenter, the GDS is that tool to a travel agent,” Walsh said. “Without GDS skills it’s very difficult to find a job.”
There are four different GDS systems—Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo, and Worldspan—and knowing how to use them is a required skill for any agent. Agencies want new hires to hit the ground running, and only demonstrating recent experience on at least one of the GDS systems—most importantly Sabre, the most widely used system—makes that possible.
“A lot of people wonder how important it is,” Walsh said. “It can be the difference between getting the job and not getting the job.”
Be prepared to be tested on your GDS skills, sometimes even you are offered the chance to interview.
If you don’t have the necessary skills, hire a personal computer trainer offered by Sabre (MAYBE LINK HERE??), and practice, practice, practice. Learn the system and gain knowledge of fare and city codes before you apply for a job.
4. Catch the eye of an agency
The travel industry is having a comeback, and interest in working as an agent—and getting travel discounts—is on the rise.
Start attracting interest in your resume from potential employers by using the right keywords.
Then be sure to closely read the job description—while that sounds basic, you’d be amazed how many candidates just don’t do it, Walsh said. Take the time to customize your resume specifically for the particular job you want and the agency for which you want to work. If it’s corporate, emphasize your experience working for large companies; if it’s leisure, focus more on the many destinations you have already visited, for example.
If you are lucky enough to be offered an interview, research the company so you know exactly the qualifications and the type of travel it sells. “Find out everything you can about that company,” Walsh said, and think about how your skills fit its needs.
And finally, Walsh said, always be professional.
“Being presentable is very important,” she said. “Wear a business suit.”