For The First Time In History, More Than Half Of U.S. Travel Agents Are Home-Based
by Cheryl Rosen
For The First Time In History, More Than Half Of U.S. Travel Agents Are Home-Based

Photo: Kathy Ponce


Every industry has its tipping point, a time that marks a fundamental change in the way it conducts business—and if the research being done by The Travel Corporation is correct, this is one of those times. For the first time in history, more than half of U.S. travel agents are home-based.

“When more than half of the people are doing something, that is a tipping point in the industry—and from what we can see in all our data, more than half of all U.S. travel agents are working from home,” Trafalgar president Paul Wiseman told TMR at the USTOA reception on the eve of the NY Times Travel Show in New York this past weekend. “I don’t think that is true in any other country.”

It’s an elusive number, Wiseman acknowledged, and The Travel Corporation—parent of Trafalgar, Uniworld River Cruises, Brendan Vacations, African Travel and Insight Vacations and Insight Gold among other notable travel brands—has spent considerable time and resources trying to track it down.

“What we see in our research is that nobody actually has a complete list [of all the home-based travel agents]. But we have combined all of our data from many sources” to come up with the percentage, he said. “It’s a big deal for us in terms of how we structure our business and our approach to the market—it has an impact on every single piece of our business.”

At the New York Times show, meanwhile, suppliers and travel professionals were definitely in an upbeat mood. Wiseman said sales at Trafalgar are soaring this year—at the halfway mark of the 2017 selling cycle “we are ahead of all the years since 2013, which was our best year in Europe in seven years. Russia is big, big, big, I think just because it is in the news so much and customers want to go and take a look at it, and eastern Europe is not perceived as a safe destination.” The “value destinations” of Spain and Portugal are very popular, and even France, which “has been soft, is coming back.”

Further afield, Asia has been doing well, and demand is growing for India, where Trafalgar is headed for the first time in 2017.

Other tour operators agree
Providence, RI-based tour operator Tauck also reported a record-breaking year—“in 2016 our customers were going. The only question was where,” said Steve Spivak, VP of global sales. “I think everyone has adopted the mentality that you can't take it with you.”

But he too noted that “the biggest change was the emergence of the travel agent, emboldening them to go, and in that sense the partnership with the travel agent increased,” helping to convince their shared customers that “you deserve this, you have earned the right to travel. And we believe that with your help, it's going to be another up year for us.”

“Prior to the election we were looking good; post the election we just cannot answer the phones fast enough—and they are buying expensive, long-haul destinations,” agreed Mark Grundy, managing director for Asia at Avanti Destinations.

CIE Tours president Elisabeth Crabill also gave a shout-out to travel agents for “helping to inspire confidence” through a year that included terrorist shootings and Zika scares. “Travel agents do three important things for us: they help us inspire confidence, customize, and communicate.”

  0
  0
Tip of the Day

 

Best place to buy leather gloves in Rome? Best pupusas in San Salvador? Where to rent bicycles in Hoi An? This is the "gold" you offer your clients. Send them the links that will connect them to the destination and to travel bliss.
Steve Gillick
Daily Top List

Best Travel Gadgets 2017

1. Lenovo Yoga Book

2. Beeline

3. Logitech M330 Silent Plus Wireless Optical Mouse

4. Olloclip iPhone 7 clip-on camera

5. Jaybird Freedom F5 Wireless In-Ear Headphones

Source: The Inquirer

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Travelport CEO Says Merchandising Moves Are Driving Agency Share Gains
Travelport CEO Says Merchandising Moves Are Driving Agency Share Gains

Airline customers have implemented Rich Content & Branding, which provides travel agents with 'state-of-the-art abilities to show and sell all of their products, fares, fare families and ancillaries.'

Seven Ways To 'BE' My Travel Agent
Seven Ways To 'BE' My Travel Agent

'Being' the travel profession is very different from just working at a job in the travel industry, says Steve Gillick.

Warren Buffett Mulls Buying An Airline
Warren Buffett Mulls Buying An Airline

The chatter on Wall Street has turned into a fascinating prospect: that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Group will buy an airline outright.

ACTA Restructures To Improve Effectiveness
ACTA Restructures To Improve Effectiveness

President Wendy Paradis outlines the future of the leading association for Canadian travel agents.

Condé Nast Says 'Use A Travel Agent'
Condé Nast Says 'Use A Travel Agent'

A leading U.S. consumer travel publication promotes the value of travel agents and recommends they reframe themselves as 'specialists.'

Eight Ways Travel Agents Add Value To Your Vacation In 2017
Eight Ways Travel Agents Add Value To Your Vacation In 2017

There’s no do-over for a vacation gone wrong. Every moment of the time you take off from work to travel with family and friends is priceless. Here's how a professional travel agent can help.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: TRAFALGAR