With so many people booking their own travel plans on the Internet, it’s a wonder any travel agent can find a decent job, yet alone one that provides health insurance benefits. As a matter of fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 12 percent decline in the number of new travel agent jobs between 2012 and 2022, but fear not, trusty travel agents, you can still find jobs that allow you to practice your trade and rely on company benefits.
With the Airlines
Southwest Airlines landed the No. 2 slot on "Forbes’" 2012 list of best travel companies to work for, after holding the No. 1 spot for the previous two years. The company offers medical, dental, vision and more to employees for as low as $15 a month. Working for an airline provides travel agents with a job with benefits as well as career opportunities for advancement. In addition to working with travelers and setting up reservations, you’ll likely have opportunities to move into management. Additionally, you often can work at an airport, where you’ll come in contact with a wide range of different people.
For Online Ticketing Companies
Online travel agency Orbitz is the company that actually pushed Southwest out of the top slot on the "Forbes" list. Employees say they appreciate the open-door policies at the company and rave about the fun and technologically advanced workplace. As a staff member, you’ll get medical, dental, and vision subsidized or paid in full, as well as a number of other perks. To work at large online ticketing companies that offer employee health care benefits you’ll have to live in the area where the headquarters is located, though. For example, Sabre, which owns Travelocity, is located in Southlake, Texas, while Orbitz Worldwide is in Chicago.
Serving Travelers at Big Agencies
Personal travel agents aren’t completely lost to the Internet either. You can find work at an agency that has tailored its services to business travelers, for example, who don’t always have the time or the inclination to book their own airfares and accommodations. In an "Inc." magazine article, a travel consultant with Willett Travel in California said he’s seen the resurgence of business travelers calling travel agents in 2011. As small one-woman shops are bought up by the larger agencies, those big firms can offer benefits like health insurance, especially when they’re owned by big corporations like American Express, where they provide a self-funded health plan that, as of 2014, even includes coverage for autism.
At Companies with Government Contracts
Travel agencies that do business with the government and land those lucrative government contracts year after year are ideal workplaces for travel agents looking for security and health coverage. Companies like Omega World Travel, for example, keep full-time agents busy with a slew of government and corporate accounts and even place agents on-site for busy clients. Omega is the third largest travel business in the world with annual sales of more than $1 billion, as of 2012, and pays a percentage of health and dental coverage; your portion of the cost is taken out of your check on a pre-tax basis. The company utilizes agents in its Fairfax, Virginia, corporate office and on-site for many clients. Many of the agents also telecommute from home offices around the country.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."