At a recent mother-daughter school event, I had the unique opportunity to sit and mingle with several other working Moms. The professionals seated at our table ranged from a lawyer and restaurant owner to an accountant and interior decorator, to name just a few.
Being the sole travel journalist in attendance and one always interested to hear the trials and tribulations of the average traveling public, the announcement begged the question: “Are you planning on using a travel agent to book your trip?” I asked.
I recently returned from a river cruise where I also had the opportunity to sail for nine days with dozens of couples who had booked their respective trips through travel agents. The feedback from these travelers about their agents was downright endearing. “Cassie takes such good care of us,” said one woman from Texas. “I’m not sure what we would do without our agent,” added another from New Jersey.
So, here is my substitute for that phone call – I hope it does the job.
According to a consumer survey of six focus groups of American travelers done in 2017, a whopping 78 percent of those who have used a travel agent in the past five years feel their agent “looks out for them.” This is coupled with a high satisfaction rate that found almost half (49 percent) of those same travelers are “very satisfied” with the service they receive from their agent.
And Millennials may be the most surprising trailblazers of all. The same research showed that this group sees agents as advisors, rather than just “bookers” of travel. Millennials who use travel agents are less likely than older clients to have their agents pick flights but more likely to have them plan activities and experiences – and even help them decide their budget.
The travel agency industry in the U.S. is projected to generate 17.3 billion dollars in revenue by 2020, up from about $15 billion in 2015, according to Statista, a leading provider of consumer and marketing data. Profits of travel agencies have also increased annually in recent years. A decade ago, the industry’s average profit-to-revenue ratio came to six percent. This figure is estimated to have doubled to 12 percent by 2015.
While some consumers mistakenly declare the era of travel agents is over, this combined research proves quite the opposite. In fact, in 2015, over 60 percent of travel agents reported an increase in sales over the previous year, and the share of agents reporting a decrease dropped from 80 percent in 2008 to just 12 percent in 2015.
In case the traveling public has forgotten, here are “Six Reasons Why Travel Agents are Back Stronger Than Ever.”
When you work in an industry where the value that travel agents bring to the table is apparent on a daily basis, sometimes we forget we need to share that knowledge – and perhaps more than just once a year.
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