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What Does a Reservation Agent Do?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

A reservation agent works with customers of hotels and various types of transportation by answering questions, assisting customers in making choices about their travel and then booking reservations for rooms or travel tickets. Depending on the type of business of the reservation agent works for, he may communicate with customers on the phone, online or in person. The reservation agent is typically expected to combine strong customer service skills with sales techniques in order to ensure that customers obtain the services and products that they need while also maximizing his employer's profits.

For many travelers, the reservation agent is a first point of contact when booking transportation and accommodation. While some travelers prefer to work with a travel agent, many like to seek out their own travel options and book directly with vendors. While it is certainly possible to book many different types of travel online, some travelers prefer to book tickets and reservations by talking directly to a company agent. Even online travel booking sites often employ agents who can assist customers in chat or via e-mail when the customer has questions, runs into technical difficulties or there is a problem with the reservation.

Individual employers may prefer to hire reservation agents who have experience in telemarketing.
Individual employers may prefer to hire reservation agents who have experience in telemarketing.

Reservation agents typically do not need to have formal education beyond a high school diploma, as they will usually be trained on the job. Individual employers, however, may prefer to hire representatives who have significant experience in customer service or telemarketing. Agents will typically need to have strong language skills and be comfortable working with computers, as they will rely on computers to provide customers with information about their travel options and will enter the customer's information into a computer system when the customer books travel.

A reservation agent may try to upgrade a customer to a more expensive hotel room.
A reservation agent may try to upgrade a customer to a more expensive hotel room.

In addition to booking travel, a reservation agent may need to perform various types of customer service duties. This can be tricky, as many people, even those who originally booked travel plans online, may contact an agent when their original travel plans fall through or are disrupted. These callers may be in a fair state of distress, requiring the representative to both address the travelers needs while also providing a calming presence. In many cases, a reservation agent may be expected to “upsell” callers to more expensive travel options such as more expensive hotel rooms or airline seats. The reservation agent may also assume responsibility for encouraging customers to sign up for loyalty programs or even co-branded credit card offers.

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Discussion Comments


@wander - Reservation agents are an amazing way to get discounts and find rooms that may not be available to the general public. The last time I traveled the agent I talked to hooked us up with all sorts of discount cards and even found us a room at hotel we were told was fully booked on their website.

I think that sometimes just going the old-fashioned route of someone who can actually talk to hotels and businesses on your behalf can do wonders for your service. One of the most amazing things I found was that not only did we get that hotel room, but we were allowed to check-in really early, with no extra charges because the hotel desk manager was buddies with our reservation agent.


The reservation agents at airports in the tourist information service area have always been amazingly helpful in my experience. I love that they will really try to stick within the budget you give them. So whether you need a backpacker hostel or a 5-star hotel, they can find something for you on a moment's notice.

I was recently speaking with a reservation agent who managed to stick within my budget even though there was a big event in town. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get a room. She was on the phone for a good 30 minutes looking a place up for me. I was very impressed with the service.


@julies - I know what you mean about finding special places that many reservation agents would not be aware of.

One year we went on a cruise to Hawaii with several friends. Every island we stopped at, we would all pitch in and rent a van for the day.

We found some amazing places off the beaten path that we would have never known about had we solely relied on a reservation agent.

On one island we found a small fishing village that was the last working fishing village on that island. It was in a remote place and we had the opportunity to visit with the village people who were still there.

We also used a reservation agent during that trip to schedule a luau and a couple other expeditions that we enjoyed. The most memorable events were those that we found on our own though.


I have planned many trips on my own and have also gone a few trips that were handled by a reservation agent.

There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to both. I will usually save quite a bit of money by doing my own research, planning and booking.

This is also quite time consuming though, and if I don't have much time to prepare, don't mind spending some extra money to have this done for me.

There is a freedom in just being able to show up and know all the details have been taken care of for me.

One thing I really enjoy about planning my own trips though is the unique, out of the way places, that I find that many reservation agents have never even heard of.


@oasis11 - I think you're right. I've been on flights that were seriously delayed and/or canceled, and I think those must be the days that reservation agents contemplate suicide.

I actually have a friend who used to work in this field. She says that with any kind of customer service, you're going to get a lot of people who are unhappy. To be abe to succeed, you need to be able to detach yourself from the stress.

The problem with that, of course, is that you can start to dehumanize the customers and forget that they are real people with a problem that you might be able to solve, or at least sympathize with. My friend says that biggest challenge with this kind of work is to feel enough that you stay human, but not so much that you have a stroke!


I think that being a reservation agent can be stressful especially when flights are overbooked or people are considering flying on standby on another flight. These people are anxious to get home and might pressure the reservation agent into to finding space for them.

Sometimes the airline directly cancels flights because of weather conditions which add to the stress of the reservation agent. I remember I was supposed to get on a flight from Los Angeles to Miami and everyone was completely on board the plane, but then the pilot made an announcement that the flight had to be canceled because under FAA regulations he was not able to fly the plane because he did not receive enough rest between flights.

Not only was everyone on the flight upset at this short notice, but some passengers took it out on the reservation agent because they were looking for the next available flight. These reservation agents are often on the receiving end of the frustration that many of the passengers feel with the airline travel process in general. I think that this can be a really stressful job.

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    • Individual employers may prefer to hire reservation agents who have experience in telemarketing.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      Individual employers may prefer to hire reservation agents who have experience in telemarketing.
    • A reservation agent may try to upgrade a customer to a more expensive hotel room.
      By: chungking
      A reservation agent may try to upgrade a customer to a more expensive hotel room.