Technical Director of Travel Agency

The technical director of a travel agency is the person responsible for running the company and carries out tasks of a technical-specialist nature, concerning the production, organization or intermediation of travel and other tourist products.

Definition of the type of occupation

The tasks performed by him are strictly connected to the organizational structure assumed by the company; the problem is that in the travel agency sector the organizational structures are among the most diversified and differentiated. In fact, in the first place there are tour operators and retail travel agents, but even the latter often produce “packages” (“tailor-made” or “pre-packaged”), both for individual travel and for group travel.

In this way, the production activity is inseparably mixed with the distribution activity which concerns (as far as the reseller agents are concerned) both the distribution of packages packaged by tour operators, more or less specialized in “catalogue trips”, as well as the direct sale own proposals and travel combinations often formulated at the request of the customer or “personalized” to his needs.

Then there are travel agents who mainly deal with outgoing tourism and those who pay particular attention to incoming tourism, specializing in the so-called “receptive”. To these are added the agents who in practice do not do “tourism” but limit themselves to selling almost exclusively ticketing and ancillary services.

From what has been said, it can be seen that the technical director often comes to carry out tasks specific to different functional areas, from tasks of a managerial nature to others more directly operational, for the creation and marketing of travel and tourism products and services.

Therefore, he must be able to manage any type of agency activity or, at least, be able to understand the essential points, including possession of the principles of corporate accounting procedures. He must also know how to create, generate and promote the sale of all agency services.

Evaluates the functionality of the agency’s needs of internal information media and telematic systems for booking, issuing, reporting the various products handled (airline and railway tickets, catalog travel packages, etc.) and supervises their use.

It prepares the organization charts and personnel duties, takes care of internal company relations and determines the general guidelines for human resource management, which is particularly important in the travel industry; the latter is in fact characterized by the inviolability of the products offered and by the close relationship of trust between those involved in the production and/or distribution of the products and the end customers, with the fundamental aim of creating the psychological climate suitable for ensuring professionally correct external communications from part of the employees and those tasks (front office, reservations, promotional visits, etc.) which are in more direct contact with the potential users of the services offered.

Plans and decides on the management of financial flows also in the light of the fact that, in tour operating companies, the correct and careful management of liquidity determined by the lag between payment times assumes a decisive impact on the economic results of the activity of the trip by the client and payment by the tour operator of the assembled service providers; therefore determines, in collaboration with the administrative manager, the forms of optimization of the active and passive invoicing procedures and the financial investment of the consequent liquidity.

Plans and takes care of the procedures for finding the financial means suitable to guarantee travel and tourism companies both the resources necessary for the normal functioning of the company, and those for the realization of investments exceeding normal management.

Generally there are no further steps to climb also because this figure in small-medium sized companies almost always coincides with the owner while in large sized companies with the general manager. However, having acquired experience and professionalism, the technical director can move on to manage ever larger agencies, with greater turnover, or become a consultant.

Typical job situation

The type of professional requisites proper to the technical director means that, when the qualification is held by the holder, company management functions are exercised; is the person at the top of the corporate organization, responsible for the choices that define the travel agency policy and therefore for the planning, organisation, decision, control and evaluation processes aimed at its implementation.

On the other hand, in the hypothesis of a technical director in charge of a branch or branch, the functions performed are, in fact, minor as all those functions centralized in the main company (programming, administration, etc.) remain extraneous to him, limiting himself to promotion and sales activities.

His activity is therefore mainly carried out in the agency. Especially in medium-small companies, there is a necessary correspondence between possession of the qualification of technical director and the effective performance of the functions of the “production manager” and of the marketing area as an integration of the managerial ones.

In this case it does not limit itself to determining the basic choices of the organization and business management, but it intervenes directly in the operative sectors. We are therefore faced with a professional figure who is characterized in different ways according to the size, organizational models and specialization of the agency.

When there is a concrete correspondence between the technical director and the general manager, the assumption of strategic choices concerning the catalog planning, the recharges and the relative contractual techniques and the evaluation of the opportunity to insert the pre-packaged trips in electronic catalogs fall within his operational field or in telematic booking and reporting systems.

The technical director generally carries out his profession with an open-ended contract and on a continuous basis, since, as has been said, there are very many tasks to be performed and also the responsibilities to be fulfilled, so his presence in the agency must be assiduous.

He is autonomous in carrying out his duties, being a profession with distinctly managerial and organizational characteristics. In some cases, especially when the figures of the director and the owner of the agency do not coincide, he may encounter limits which may concern above all the eventuality of undertaking new financial commitments, new objectives, new strategies.

Training and requirements for accessing the role

State legislation has identified the following as minimum requirements, which can be developed by the regional legislator during implementation:

  • knowledge of two foreign languages;
  • knowledge of the administration and organization of travel agencies;
  • knowledge of technique, legislation and tourist geography.

The legislator centralizes in the technical director a series of knowledge belonging to different professional figures; general manager, marketing manager, production manager. It is therefore necessary, for those who want to qualify for the exercise of this profession, to plan an extremely articulated training itinerary that complies with the requirements set by the individual regional laws.

As far as the educational qualification is concerned, a high school diploma is required, preferably in tourism, with a good basic cultural level integrated with multi-year training courses.

This training plan must in any case follow an initial basic course aimed at the “homogenization” of all the introductory knowledge to the main problems of the tourism-agency sector.

Mastery of the economic and juridical phenomena that characterize and condition the tourism and transport industry sector is considered indispensable, combined with an in-depth knowledge of consumption patterns and the socio-psychological motivations of the tourist-customer.

To this end, the technical director must possess, in addition to a good cultural basis (especially geographical) and knowledge of the general principles of the various subjects, an accurate preparation in:

economics of tourism and transport enterprises; budget and price formation techniques; tourism marketing, with particular attention to applications in the production, organization and distribution system of travel and individual primary services (accommodation, transport, etc.); management of tourist intermediation companies; financial management; work organization and personnel management; advertising and public relations techniques in tourism; consumer psychology and sociology of tourism products; IT and telematics systems and programs for travel agencies.

To this complex framework must be added the knowledge of the legal principles and regulatory sources that regulate the activity of production, organization and intermediation companies, with particular attention to the typical contracts of the sector and to the authoritative procedures of the public organization affecting the tourist industry .

For further information on the methods of acquiring the professional qualification, see the Travel agency technical manager section of our Forum.