A Lonely ‘Y’ in a Sea of ‘X’s: Confessions of a Male Travel Agent

It's a jungle out there and the travel industry is certainly not a man's world
It’s a jungle out there and the travel industry is certainly not a man’s world

I can’t speak for how things are in the rest of the world, but when I broke into the travel field in suburban Long Island in the late ‘90’s, the industry demographic could pretty well be broken down like this: 70% middle-aged women, 20% older women, 8% young women, 1.99999% old men, and me. I don’t know why it was such a rarity for a young male to enter the field of selling travel. After all, the act of traveling is not the domain of only one gender. Why should selling it be any different?


Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against working with women of all ages, races, and creeds. Most of my life my bosses have always been women. In an earlier career as a graphic artist, for a time the restroom that I was accustomed to use wasn’t called the men’s room, but the man’s room, so I’m quite used to being the only rooster in the henhouse. I just always found it intriguing as to why that would be the case.


Part me of thinks that it has to do with dispositions toward patience.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m male or because I’m me, but when I see the minutiae of price breakdowns and fare codes my eyes glaze over. I’m inclined to think that women generally have more tolerance to such tasks, and I’ve witnessed many an agent (all female of course) delve into the most banal details with such aplomb that I know I could never compare.


Another thought is that in general women tend to be more empathetic in their interactions, which is a fine quality for a travel agent—after all, the object isn’t just to sell travel but to keep & increase clientele. Most men I know aren’t all that interested in the small talk and would be disposed to irritation at the fickleness of some clients. I consider myself a generally empathetic person, but I know that my limits as to how much I’ll indulge the whimsy of my clients or listen to them unload their life story, is well short of most of the ladies I’ve worked with. Of course, that might not be a gender thing at all. It may be that I’m just a jerk. In that case, I offer my apologies.


Lastly, the travel industry is not something that gets promoted to young men as a suitable career for a future family head or potential success story. Sure it’s a tough field subject to the vagaries of an interdependent economy, but hey—you get to travel the world. I’d take the experiences over money any day. And as for money, well, it can be made for those willing to use their brains, charm and wit, just as it can in any other field. Yeah, the title ‘travel agent’ doesn’t sound all that prestigious next to ‘doctor’ or ‘law associate’ but when you post pictures taken on the job on Instagram, who will be the jealous one?


It may be that there really isn’t any specific answer, and if so, that’s fine. Kudos to all you ladies who are exemplary in your field. I’ve learned a lot from you, and thanks for keeping things going. And for you handful of guys out there, hang in there and keep representing. The other guys don’t know what they’re missing.