The story of why travel agents are back in style
- Once upon a time travel agents did all of the work for you when you went on vacation.
- Then along came the internet, lots of great travel blogs like ours, smiley face here, and articles…and along came review sites, and the people all read them
- Many travellers decided that they could cut out the middleman and do it for themselves.
- The travel agents floundered.
- The travel agents realised that they needed to meet the new age and many became travel professionals.
- The travellers realised that they had the power of the internet, their research skills, great blogs for their inspiration, travel review sites, and the travel professionals to help them out when needed.
- And everyone lived happily ever after….
Not let’s unpack this.
I am going to state here, that travel agents are back in style and can be a part and parcel of your decision-making process when you travel. You are probably surprised to hear me say that, as we are people who are more than capable of organising our own travels and getting exactly what we want, bar for the odd missed train, a couple of wrong turns, and a few other mishaps. Truth be told, these make some of the best stories and is why we believe in serendipity.
Travel Agents Got a Wake Up Call
With travellers becoming so tech savvy, and aware of their rights to get what they want, and not to compromise when they travel, travel agents got a wake-up call, loud and clear when many people decided to do it for themselves. While there was always a core of people who were time poor and were prepared to let a travel agent tell them where they could go, where they could stay and in effect what they could do, they lost a lot of business to indie travel organisers like us.
Travellers Call the Shots
The problem was that with the internet, the plethora of travel sites, travel reviews sites and blogs offering hardcore and palpable information, many people became more aware that they wanted more than the just the packaged holiday. They were and are aware of how to get the best bang for their buck, and how to get the experiences that they wanted. Travellers are aware that if travel agents want a part of the action, then they need to deliver on a lot of fronts.People work hard and want their vacations to be exactly what they want them to be, and we acknowledge that there are as many travel styles as there are travel sites.
How have the travel agents responded to this?
With travellers having the skills to undercut the prices quoted by travel agents, the travel agents had to re-look at their industry before they slid into the history books. And they did and they responded with a new direction and a chance to keep their heads well and truly above water.
We have had a lot of overseas travel with our work at Contented Traveller in the last few years. Many involved a lot of interconnecting flights. While we had done the cursory work, we went to our local travel agents and asked for her take on what we had done. I will be honest in that she did better than what we had done. Not only did she come in under our costs, and we are very good at this, but she was also very open to sharing some tips to make sure that we got as much room as we could on flights, had the least amount of hours at stopovers, and a few other gems…which I might share later. It was a very good experience and one that we have repeated on some occasions, and generally only with flights. However as a travel writer, I enjoy talking to our local travel agents who are a wealth of knowledge on a lot of things.
Travel Agents are now called Travel Professionals
I think that based on our experiences and the experiences of other people we have talked with and worked with, that the change of name from travel agents to travel professionals is significant.I respect an industry who see that they have been backed into a corner, but who respond by meeting the market needs.Click To Tweet I like that they are savvy with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a start, and as fellow travel professionals are prepared to talk travel with us as writers and indeed share ideas.
There are Travel Professionals and there are still Travel Agents
Speak to your travel professional and you should find a big difference. If you don’t, dump them.
I know some companies are still baulking at the changes, but many are industry leaders.Travel professionals know that one size does not fit all travellers.Click To Tweet Challenge or change travel agents if they are not delivering exactly what you want. Actually, don’t even challenge them, just walk out the door and tell everyone you know that they suck.
I am not being sponsored to write this, but I am giving a shout out to Flight Centre for being true travel professionals, and Hello World, who are also being innovative in meeting the needs of travellers. I only know of these companies, but I am sure that there are others.
Remember a good travel professional knows your destination and wants to help you to achieve your dream vacation. They also know that you will be mixing it up. You will use them for some parts maybe, and you will do the rest yourself. They will show no resentment to this new approach of travel organisation. In fact, they should openly say to you that you will do better to go to an online site for some things, and let them help you with others.
The Times Have changed yet again, and Travel Agents are Back in Style.