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All hail to travel agents! Critics suddenly heap on praise

March 31, 2015 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The occupation of travel agent, once seen by some as heading for extinction under the relentless advance of the internet, is suddenly gathering a lot of praise. The age of the agent may have arrived!

Increasingly, media analysts are switching tack and hailing agents as a way of saving money and getting the best deals without hassle, worry and risk.

A recent article in Forbes magazine, one of the most influential US financial publications, goes so far as to say that some travel agents have used the internet to become superstars.

“Maybe they aren’t quite like Food Network’s Iron Chefs in terms of public stature, but they’ve got a bigger spotlight than ever before,” the writer declares.

It notes that travel magazines have started regularly publishing lists of specialist agents, “and web savvy retailers use social media to gain large followings and generate business”.

Attempts in the 1990s by airlines and hotels to “cut out the middleman” and deal directly with customers hadn’t worked out, the writer declares. Instead, OTAs (online travel agents) had emerged “whose dominance has led to even higher mass travel distribution costs” for those same airlines and hotels.

The Forbes article says hoteliers now spend much time and money attending luxury travel trade shows, “so they can network with top agents and fly them in to see new properties or get a first look at new amenities and renovations”.

It quotes Matthew Upchurch, chief executive of the high-end Virtuoso consortium, saying the rates his advisors book are higher than the rates hotels get directly on their websites.

Many of the best travel agents work virtually, not only from home but from around the world, the writer observes. They post pictures on Instagram and they tweet. Their lifestyles are the envy of many clients, in turn filling them with a desire to travel.

Meanwhile, another article is also getting a lot of play. This one is published in Yahoo Travel and is entitled “6 Myths About Travel Agents, and Why You Shouldn’t Write Them Off”.

It goes on to debunk what is says are six commonly held misconceptions about travel agents.

The myths are, in a nutshell: 

  1. All Travel Agents and Agencies are the Same

They are not, the author observes. They specialise. 

  1. No One Uses Travel Agents Anymore

Very wrong. In the US, agents still sell over half of all airline tickets, 87% of all cruises and 81% of tours. 

  1. I Don’t Need a Travel Agent

Agents can save you time and money, the article points out.

  1. Travel Agents Have Been Replaced by the Internet

Oh no they haven’t, the Yahoo article says. Agents know travel better than other people do. They can provide inside information and prevent holidays from being ruined.

  1. Travel Agents Are Expensive

No, they’re not. The consumer doesn’t pay the commissions, the article explains.

  1. Travel Agents Only Book Flights and Hotels

“This is a very common misconception,” Yahoo says. A good travel agent will take care of everything, not just the flight and hotel.

Written by : Peter Needham

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