Travel agents work hard on behalf of the consumer. The role of a travel agent is to make a trip – whether for work or pleasure – a stress-free and memorable experience. Travel agents spend time not only booking tickets and searching for affordable prices, but also personalizing their services for individual clients. “Without a Travel Agent, You’re on Your Own,” exemplifies the importance and way professional travel agents view their role in today’s changing market.
The job of a travel agent has grown and adapted to reflect the changes within the travel industry and the difference in the way people think about travel. Travel agents recognize that consumers today have done their homework and are more knowledgeable about what they want. Clients who turn to an travel agent desire an in-depth, personal approach and want the advice and expertise of a professional.
What a great travel agent does:
- Distills product information to provide their clients with the most competitive options;
- Stays abreast of the most current and timely promotions;
- Clarifies the fine print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions;
- Makes recommendations on travel-related options;
- Simplifies the research and subsequent transaction;
- Enhances the trip with value-added benefits and amenities;
- Uses their clout to obtain the best possible arrangements in seemingly impossible situations; and
- Gets problems resolved.
Travel & The Internet
How is the Internet affecting the travel industry?
The Internet has helped transform the travel industry. It helps educate the consumer by providing vast amounts of information about destinations and different travel options. Both consumers and travel professionals have benefited from the Internet, which makes the possibility of travel to exotic places more imaginable. It has helped consumers see in full color and, in some cases, real time, where they would like to visit. The Internet gives travelers the ability to do comparative shopping for attractive deals or packages. It also has helped many travel agencies, hotels, resorts and other travel-related suppliers flourish by bringing in business through Web sites.
How is the Internet affecting the travel industry?
There are some things technology cannot replicate, and the personal touch is one of them. The Internet is a valuable resource, but it cannot replace the expertise, guidance and personal service of a travel agent. At a time when travelers are stressed out with hectic schedules, travel agents have all of the information at their fingertips, saving valuable hours of surfing on the Web. Agents also can offer insider tips based on personal experience.
What are the benefits of using a travel agent compared to the Internet?
The Internet can be a powerful tool. It can increase the scope and reach of a consumer’s efforts and allow a person to check hundreds of options or research destinations in depth. But to make the Internet work effectively, a person has to understand where to look and what questions to ask, otherwise hours can be wasted surfing the Web and ultimately produce unsatisfactory results. This is where a travel agent can make a world of difference.
A professional travel agent is trained to guide a client through the entire process of planning a trip, whether for business or for leisure. Travel agents take classes, participate in seminars, become destination specialists and join professional associations, in order to ensure they make each client’s travel experience as personalized, convenient and memorable as possible. When planning a business trip or family vacation, the Internet can be a valuable resource, but it cannot replace the expertise and guidance of a travel agent. Also, during travel crises, the Internet can’t replace a human being who will persist to help a client get restitution.
Travel Agent & Business Trends
How has the travel industry changed, and what factors affect travel?
Over time, the leisure travel industry has become price driven. Many people today base a large part of their travel buying decisions on cost and convenience. Additionally, more people are booking closer in to their travel dates. Thanks to dramatic discounting across the industry, consumers have been conditioned to wait until the last minute before booking in hopes of securing a deeply discounted package deal. However, increasingly, as personal time is in increasingly short demand, people are once again finding the value of working with a professional travel agent to make their vacation plans.
What is the history of commission cuts and how are travel agents adjusting to them?
After decades of offering travel agents a standard commission of at least 10 percent with no cap, many of the larger airline carriers in the United States stopped paying base commissions to travel agents, beginning in March 2002. ASTA sees the elimination of base payments to agents on the part of air carriers as anti-consumer and as a missed business opportunity. Consumers value the services and unbiased expertise offered by professional agents who represent an impartial source of information for travelers. Travel agents have and will survive in the new marketplace, because consumers know the value they provide.
While there has been contraction and consolidation of brick-and-mortar travel agencies, the number of travel agents has remained fairly steady. Some travel agencies have grown and improved their businesses through new business practices. For example, many travel agencies have focused on providing an increased value to their customers by becoming experts or specialists in certain types of travel or specific destinations. Some agencies have implemented new services that add value to client transactions, such as tracking of frequent flyer accounts or discounted upgrades.
After selling travel for nearly 20 years, I joined the Travel Planners International family, and all I can say is there is no one better! In just one short year I’ve become incredibly efficient and have made twice as much money. TPI is the backbone to the success in my travel business. They support me across the board including marketing efforts and accounting. It is such a relief to be with a company that wants to see AND help me succeed!
On Deck Travel