Business travel jobs are frequently seen as requiring special skill sets and considerable experience. In many travel agents, corporate travel is quite distinct from the general service provided to holidaymakers and other members of the public. The reality is that securing a position may not be easy – particularly if you have no previous experience of either general or agency work.
From this point on, it will be assumed that you have no previous background working in a travel agency. There are academic qualifications relating to both general and corporate travel disciplines. Although these may help secure an entry-level position, not all travel agents will necessarily apply the same weighting to these qualifications (BA, HNC, City and Guilds etc).
Certainly, however, having such qualifications cannot do your application any harm. In fact, if you are able to secure a trainee position in a business travel section or company, they may look favourably on you studying part-time to obtain such qualifications.
Whether you have these qualifications or not, you will be required to attend an interview if your initial application generates some interest in the potential employer. General interviewing skills and techniques are critically important, but in the case of business travel jobs there are a few things that the interviewer(s) will typically be looking for, over and above the requirements for a general travel agent position:
- You will need to demonstrate excellent verbal (and written) communication skills, as in-house corporate travel departments will typically be extremely demanding and will expect exemplary service by telephone, email and fax/mail etc;
- You must be able to show a very good knowledge of basic global geography;
- You must also have at least a basic grasp of business fundamentals such as invoicing, statements, debits/credits, business accounts, volume discounts and so on;
- Basic numeracy skills will be very important;
- You must be presentable and capable of being seen as someone that would be able to represent the values and professionalism of your employer.
Business travel jobs do not necessarily demand fluency in other languages, however, having an understanding of one or more of the world’s major languages might prove to be a huge advantage in your application.
Perhaps above all, potential employers in this sector will be looking for indications that you are a problem solver and are capable of working under severe pressure.
Business travel is a lucrative area for some travel agents, but if business travel clients are paying for a premium all-round service then they will be extremely demanding – and rightly so.
Travel agents may, therefore, be equally demanding in their selection criteria when they are looking to fill business travel jobs. Preparing for your application thoroughly and with great attention to detail will be to your definite advantage.