Day 23/30 – Why working in a travel agency is the best and worst job ever

I’ve been in the travel business for near to 2 years now, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed a lot of things compared to others in the same line. Throughout my time, there are days where I think this is the best job in the world, and there are also days that I just feel like crawling under my bed and ignoring everything. Here’s what I think about the good and the bad of being a travel agent

You get to see the world

Obviously, this is one of the biggest perks associated with the travel industry, and it is also true. If you stay long enough in this industry, you do get the chance to lead tours and have the opportunity to visit various countries. For the past year alone, I’ve travelled 11 times to various destinations, both for work and for leisure.

A lot of the other experienced people in the travel industry are well travelled too. To the extent that they know which local stall sells good food; which shop around the corner sells the best coffee; or even which places are where locals hang out. I think that’s just beautiful


They say well travelled people are open minded. I say not necessarily. A big part of it depends on your willingness to accept and learn things. I’ve met a lot of well travelled people who are still close minded despite the things that they have seen. Having said that, being in the travel line does put you in a better position to be exposed to many things and to gain real-life knowledge; those different than what you gain from books and desk jobs

You learn a lot about the history of other places. You learn a lot about what makes a place special. You learn about the different food preferences of different nationalities. You learn about the different way people from different countries communicate and do things. You learn about the culture and believes of different people. You learn a lot about the ways of doing business in other countries

One thing that have particularly caught my attention was the way people in the travel line receive guests and their good friends from other countries. They really are the masters of doing so. One time when I was in Medan, my boss’ friend was so insistent on bringing us out for local durian and food (we just came back from a local tour and was dead tired) that she almost got the bellboy to drag us into the car. Just last week when we were at Vietnam, our local partner met up with us and wanted to bring us out for dinner, we wanted to go for some simple local noodles but instead we were ferried off for a Vietnamese fine dining dinner (which was REALLY good although I haven’t eaten half the things that were served before)

The incentives

People in the travel line are invited to many events – Introduction seminars to a certain country, promotional events of a new route (last year, a bunch of us were flew over to Medan as the inaugural flight celebration for MAS), meet and greet events for tour operators of different countries and more. Invitees to these events are usually treated very well and fed very well (earlier this year, I had soft shell crab lou sang, I didn’t even know this shit existed).

On top of that, we get pretty good trip incentives. From time to time we are offered to go to familiarisation trips at a very minimal cost or no cost. We are also very often offered steep discounts for our personal travels, even though many times these are leftover seats that needs to be filled, but who cares? (If you’re thinking about asking me to extend the steep discounts to you, I can’t! I’ve tried before but they are anal about only extending the offer to the invitee and spouses)

So I’ve spoken about the awesome stuffs, but we all know with the good comes the not so good too. Sometimes my job makes me want to claw my eyes (or my clients eyes) out


This is downright one of the most stressful jobs I’ve done. There are so many things that goes into arranging a tour and so many deadlines to be met. To make things worst, one mistake will literally cost the company tens of thousands of dollars. Think along the lines of missing a payment deadline for a group ticket (that was automatically released after), or a mistake in the guest name in their air ticket

There are also travel fair after travel fair, and the preparation that goes into preparing ourselves for one. Just last week, all my staff had to work through the weekend for 12 hours a day just to chase sales for the company

Dealing with customers

I think everyone in the service line will emphatize with this. Yes, there are extremely nice customers who eventually turn to our friends; but there are also some very, very weird people out there.

We’ve had requests from customers who wants to go on a tour alone but do not want to pay for a single room; customers who literally complain about every single thing; customers who want to squeeze you for every cent that you’re worth (just last week during our travel fair, there was one family who almost yelled at us for not giving them an extra RM50 discount on top of the early bird price, extra RM100 discount, free travel insurance, points to redeem free gifts, and on the spot lucky draws)

Apart from that, we’re on call 24 hours a day. What are you going to say to customers who call you at the night but are being super polite and say they are sorry (not sorry?) to disturb you at this time. Even worst, we can’t possibly ignore the call of a customer at 4am when you know they are either flying off in a couple hours time or they are in the midst of their trip.

Family time

This sucks the most for me. Being away on a trip means being away from my family and Alyssa. Imagine if you were a full time tour leader, half the time you won’t be in the country. Fortunately, the wife has been very understanding and supportive, and I thank god for the invention of video calling

Well, end of the day, being in any line of work has its good and bad. One of the most important things is to appreciate the job or business that we have and do the best that we can, and hope for the best!

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you if you have the good and the ugly side of your line of work to share!



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