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Next year is shaping up to be a sellers’ market for travel agents, as fewer trained professionals try to keep up with a burgeoning travel industry. On the horizon are more opportunities, more freedom to change jobs—and the power to demand higher salaries.

At Hot Travel Jobs, owner Douglas Walsh said agents should be optimistic heading into 2016, as the stars seem to be aligning in favor of travel professionals.

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HotTravelJobs.com has released a comprehensive survey of the travel agent job market.

Hot Travel Jobs conducted a survey from August to November of 2015, collecting responses from both employed and unemployed travel agents.

The number of respondents totaled 477, with 43.4 percent being corporate agents, 30.8 percent leisure agents and 16.8 percent which worked as both corporate and leisure. 9 percent were classified as other.

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It may be the best of times for travel agents who are job hunting or looking to make a move, says Doug Walsh, director of marketing for Hot Travel Jobs, a subsidiary of the New Jersey-based Travel Staffing Group.

That includes home-based travel agents who want to remain home-based, he said in a telephone interview.

“You’re seeing more employers out there posting job opportunities for virtual positions. What’s happened is that employers are cutting their expenses. When you don’t have an employee utilizing a desk you eliminate some expenses. And, there’s no commute to work. If you live in New Jersey and commute to New York City, that can mean an extra $7,000 to $10,000 a year in commuting expenses. So, employers can offer lower salaries for those agents who work from home.”

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It may be the best of times for travel agents who are job hunting or looking to make a move, says Doug Walsh, director of marketing for Hot Travel Jobs, a subsidiary of the New Jersey-based Travel Staffing Group.

That includes home-based travel agents who want to remain home-based, he said in a telephone interview.

“You’re seeing more employers out there posting job opportunities for virtual positions. What’s happened is that employers are cutting their expenses. When you don’t have an employee utilizing a desk you eliminate some expenses. And, there’s no commute to work. If you live in New Jersey and commute to New York City, that can mean an extra $7,000 to $10,000 a year in commuting expenses. So, employers can offer lower salaries for those agents who work from home.”

For agents who are out of work or who have left the industry, now is the time to get back into a “dream” job market.

According to a survey from the Travel Staffing Group, more and more travel agencies are hiring at a time when experienced agents are in short supply.

The survey of 72 human resource departments and hirers throughout the travel industry was conducted from January through March of this year. It found that a majority of respondents, 70%, are having trouble finding qualified applicants.

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Contrary to what salary.com recently reported, travel agents are not “on the verge of extinction.”

In fact, based on the tremendous turnout to The Travel Institute’s ongoing “New to the Industry” webinars and our month-long “Preparing for a Career in Travel” promotion in February, the profession is alive and well and attracting quite a following of newcomers.

While we get a lot of inquiries at The Travel Institute, the two questions we’re often asked are:

  • I’m interested in becoming a travel advisor, but now what?
  • What are the steps I should take to secure a solid future in the travel agency community?

Here are five steps to help passionate and eager entrants land that new job.

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What’s a travel agency to do in a marketplace that demands top-notch skills in customer service, sales and management, but where training is both hard to come by and expensive?

Colpitts World Travel of Dedham, Mass., believes it has found an answer in a state Workforce Training Fund grant that pays consultants to come in and train its staff.

A range of courses designed for travel agents who sell international travel is now available at a discount through Hot Travel Jobs, a New Jersey-based personnel company for the travel agency industry, which has partnered with IATA.

The courses include topics that are useful for leisure agents, such as geography and international rail travel planning. Other courses cover GDS training for Galileo, Amadeus and Sabre, skills that are useful for travel agents, particularly those who book air and offer business travel services to corporate clients, said Doug Walsh, Hot Travel Jobs’ director of sales and marketing.

Gayle Walsh is president of the Travel Staffing Group.

Travel Market Report heard from several frustrated job-seekers after a recent article about the difficulties leisure travel agencies are having finding experienced travel professionals.

“This situation is a bit comical. There are thousands of highly qualified travel consultants looking for jobs,” one wrote.

Jennifer Walker, CTA, a travel agent in Washington, Ill., said, “I’d like to know where all of these travel jobs are that need to be filled.” Walker went on to ask for advice. Here’s an edited excerpt of her letter, followed by my response.

While many leisure agencies are challenged to recruit and retain talented staff these days, some have devised a winning formula that helps them beat the odds during any economic cycle.

Here are tips from agency owners and travel employment experts on creating a workplace environment where turnover is low and productivity high.

Corporate travel agencies are finding it more difficult than ever to find qualified agents given the dearth of training programs.

Demand for new staff was traditionally met by hiring former agents returning to the business or newly-minted travel school graduates. But neither of these groups has the up-to-date GDS skills called for in the current travel environment, according to corporate staffing experts and corporate agency executives.

Having trouble replacing a key business travel agent who retired last spring? You aren’t alone.

Curt Cobler, president of Infinity Travel in Houston, would like to expand. But the $16 million agency can’t find enough qualified candidates.

“The biggest problem is replacing experienced agents as they retire,” Cobler told Travel Market Report.

With the U.S. economy improving and vacation travel on the rebound, leisure travel agencies are facing their toughest staffing challenges since before the recession.

It’s not only strong demand that’s creating staffing issues. Leisure agencies are increasingly challenged to keep their current sales stars from departing for opportunities elsewhere.

One factor is the explosive growth of host agencies and the resulting growth in opportunities for talented leisure agents. Another factor is suppliers luring away retail agencies’ top salespeople.

American Cruise Line to Launch Agent Portal
American Cruise Line is building a new web portal for travel agents. Scheduled to go live this summer, the portal will feature a personal login for agents; agent training and certification program; promotional and marketing tools, including letterhead shells and product PDFs; a video and image gallery; an agent collateral order form; and details of FAM trips and the company’s commission structure.

Funjet Offers Custom Event Pages for Group Trips
Funjet Vacations has enhanced its Groups Your Way program with Custom Event Pages that allow agents to create custom web pages for any type of group booking, including destination weddings and family reunions. Once a page is created, group members can book anytime via their agency’s Go Funjet site. All bookings will be automatically credited to the booking agency. To participate, agencies must have a Go Funjet site set-up.

What’s a travel agency to do in a marketplace that demands top-notch skills in customer service, sales and management, but where training is both hard to come by and expensive?

Colpitts World Travel of Dedham, Mass., believes it has found an answer in a state Workforce Training Fund grant that pays consultants to come in and train its staff.

Job opportunities are growing for experienced travel agents, including home-based agents who are looking to make the transition from independent to employee, according to Doug Walsh, director of sales and marketing of Hot Travel Jobs, which operates a job placement service and online industry resource tool.

“Our leading indicators have identified a higher-than-usual rate of job advancement over the last three months,” he said.

This has created a positive environment for managers seeking advancement. Our data shows that changes in positions and responsibilities is up significantly from 2012, and that  opportunities remain prevalent at the managerial and higher levels which should continue through  2013.

Hot Travel Jobs has invested in software that will now allow interactive communications and detailed data transfer between prospective travel students and educational institutions worldwide.

“After tracking our visitors’ destinations on our website, we noticed an upward trend of more than 25% were browsing the Travel School Database. The need to enhance our existing platform with more detailed information was clear in order to meet such a demand.” said Doug Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing for Hot Travel Jobs.

“As a member of Skal Northern New Jersey, we are overjoyed to be viewed as such a valuable asset to SKAL.”

Hot Travel Jobs specializes as a job resource site for Travel Agents, Reservation Agents, Travel Counselors, Travel Management, Sales & Support positions in the Travel Industry.

Resources include reference databases for both Travel Schools and Host Agencies and Resume Writing Services.

“As a member of Skal Northern New Jersey, it is our sincere pleasure to be counted as such a valuable asset.”

Hot Travel Jobs specializes as a job resource site for Travel Agents, Reservation Agents, Travel Counselors, Travel Management, Sales & Support positions.

Industry directories and associations once bubbled over with numerous choices of travel schools. However, over the last 10 – 15 years, the travel industry has witnessed a large reduction in the number of travel schools, of course predicated on the lack of enrollment.

At Hot Travel Jobs, we are experiencing a reversal in that trend, but until now, there was no really good comprehensive list of schools that train students for a career in the travel industry.

“We are expanding our capabilities to both job seekers and employers by enhancing access to our website.” said Doug Walsh, Hot Travel Jobs Marketing Director.

“We have improved a channel of communication allowing our mobile users to search and apply for jobs immediately, thereby improving the response to employers.”

Effective immediately, veterans and spouses will have the ability to post their contact information, resume, work history and aspiration of employment.

Employers under the “Joining Forces” coalition wishing to hire veterans will be given free access to our pay to view database after registering online.

“Each resume submitted to our site is reviewed for content prior to acceptance on our job board; I believe one of the stumbling blocks in obtaining a job stems from a sub-par resume.

Job Seekers certainly have the experience but cannot articulate it on paper” said Doug Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing.

“Our resource page was created to help guide those interested in pursuing a travel career” said Doug Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing. The page includes a FAQ section of commonly asked questions about becoming a travel agent.

Also a separate registration page was added for posting resumes and accomplishments. A section devoted to training and professional development was included with resources from The Travel Institute & The Intrepid Traveler.

We have empowered the job seekers to post as much background data as they feel necessary to get their message out there!

We wanted to give the job seeker the freedom to express themselves said Gayle Walsh, President of the Travel Staffing Group.

The leading job resource board for the travel industry, HotTravelJobs.Com announced the release of their newly designed website with enhanced software today.

The Travel Staffing Group, which operates HotTravelJobs.com, enhanced their website by providing both job seekers and employers expanded capabilities to communicate with each while adding video presentations.

“We are quite excited about our new look and feel of the software”, said Gayle Walsh, President of the Travel Staffing Group.

The Travel Staffing Group, DBA HotTravelJobs.com provides a niche job board service for the travel industry.

ASTA, through its for-profit subsidiary, ASTA Marketing Services, Inc. (AMSI), is pleased to announce that the Travel Staffing Group (HotTravelJobs.com) will power ASTA’s Job Board.

The new board will offer ASTA members the chance to post job opportunities at a discounted rate and help to find the next generation of travel professionals.

Travel Industry Employers and Travel Professionals can now find each other faster with our new job posting and job search software, The Travel Staffing Group. DBA

HotTravelJobs.com will host a website that will empower job seekers to post their own resume and revise it as necessary. Both employers and job seekers will have the opportunity to upload pictures and videos.