Travel advisors received a major pat on the back this week, when CNN reported on how travel professionals are in high demand for the “incomparable benefit” they generate for consumers planning vacations.
In a May 20 story entitled, “The Perks of Booking Your Next Trip Through a Travel Advisor,” writer Shivani Vora challenged the concept that “travel agents are obsolete.”
“At a time when travel booking sites and apps are a dime a dozen, and travelers can plan an entire trip without speaking to a real person, travel professionals are actually in high demand,” she wrote. “Just don't call them agents.”
Vora noted last year’s rebranding by The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), previously named the American Society of Travel Agents.
"Travel agents have become trusted advisors, akin to financial advisors, who make the overall travel experience better and get travelers maximum value for their travel dollar," CNN quoted ASTA spokeswoman, Erika Richter.
Also quoted was travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group. Harteveldt said he believes “there are many perks” to using a travel advisor, including the fact that “travel advisors can typically find great deals,” just like online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch engines.
CNN quoted “a real-life example” of an online search for three nights this October at Le Royal Monceau, in Paris. The OTAs returned an average price of $930 a night without any additional amenities such as breakfast. Given that a la carte breakfast for two at that hotel can cost more than $100, CNN was happy to find that Skylark, part of the Virtuoso network, offered $832 at the hotel for the same dates, including a guaranteed room upgrade, daily breakfast, a welcome amenity such as a bottle of champagne, a $100 food and beverage credit, and a late 4 p.m. check-out.
Harteveldt also told CNN that travel advisors support their customers “if anything goes wrong during the trip.”
Vora wrote that “advisors are especially useful for people who are too time-pressed to plan their own vacations or for people who simply don't enjoy the research part of travel.”
Also quoted in the story was Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch. "Creating that perfect trip involves a back-and-forth discussion with clients about what they want and don't. Advisors do the work to make it happen and share their expertise to make your getaway as seamless and memorable as possible,” he said.