In an open letter to the industry, The Travel Institute President Diane Petras, CTIE, shared her views on the organization of the important steps is taking now to educate consumers about the distinct value certified agents provide travelers.
Consumer education around using a true travel professional is key to ensuring travelers maximize their travel ROI and have a positive travel experience which, Diane believes, is critical to the industry’s full and long-term recovery.
Petras writes that in addition to saving time and often money, travel advisors provide travelers with peace of mind, expertise, and much more compared to booking on their own—the COVID crisis of the last 18+ months has illuminated that value for countless travelers and for the industry.
“At this critical time when travelers want desperately to travel but are apprehensive about navigating ever-changing travel risks, options and protocols, the time is right for The Travel Institute to emphasize and educate consumers about the value certified travel agents bring to the travel planning process before, during, and after a trip. I believe successfully supporting travelers now will impact the reputation and success of agents for many years to come.
“To be clear, there is a distinct difference between a travel agent and a travel professional. Anyone can hang out a shingle as a travel agent today, but saying ‘I’m a travel agent’ is very different from achieving and maintaining the level of education and experience needed to do the job well. Our goal is to create better agents and to help consumers find them. Doing so is particularly important during a time when travelers are so apprehensive and serve travelers, travel agents, and the travel industry all very well.”
Petras said if The Travel Institute’s efforts over the coming months are successful, the industry will see mainstream media highlight the advantages of working with a certified professional agent. TTI also plans to highlight its Certified Travel Agent Directory as a way to help travelers find, qualify and contact a certified agent.
“Our mission as a non-profit, independent third-party hasn’t changed. We build strong career professionals and educate our industry and consumers about their value. It’s clearer than ever—not all agents are equal. Truly professional agents are certified industry consultants able to navigate complex protocols, policies, and fees, provide counsel on the fine print, and much more.”