It’s Travel Agent Appreciation Day, so TMR asked a handful of suppliers to give us some thoughts on the one thing travelers should never leave home without – a professional travel agent!
We asked them, Why do you hope your customers will use a travel agent? And here’s what they said.
Now more than ever, travelers are recognizing the value of travel agents – not only have discerning customers begun to expect this value, but they are also demanding it as part of the vacation experience. A recent survey from MMGY Global shows that 19 percent of travelers used an agent in 2016, up from 13 percent in 2013. And as such, we believe the time of travel agents is now, and will be well into the future. What is this value, and what can an agent provide in experience and value that a client can’t get online? Being an organization that works with over 70,000 travel agents worldwide, we’re deeply interested in understanding what makes travel agents relevant in today’s world. There are also nontraditional ways agents help clients every day, including:
- Booking a high-end destination or a “premium” experience, such as a luxury hotel. A trip like this requires expertise and a trusted advisor who can help guide clients through the planning process.
- Booking less traditional destinations such as foreign countries and “once-in-a-lifetime trips,” with which travel agents have become much more experienced.
- Booking destination weddings, which continue to grow in popularity, and which more agents are becoming experts in.
- Support throughout the end-to-end vacation experience.
"Technology is, indeed, changing the industry, but it is changing it across the board – for clients and travel professionals alike. Travel suppliers continue to invest heavily in technology and data as differentiators, allowing travel agents to customize and personalize vacations based on consumer preferences and behaviors. It’s important to note that travel agents specialize in and can use this new technology to clients’ advantage. Ultimately, we understand that clients are looking for a high-touch, end-to-end experience. We find they’re looking for highly customized, extremely unique experiences that fit their unique personalities and interests. Agents know destinations like no other travel professional and can help generate these one-of-a-kind experiences for clients."
– Barbie Groves, vice president of sales, The Mark Travel Corporation
“Simply put, because they’re the experts! They know the destinations and the suppliers; they have all the right contacts; and we know they will guide the customer to the right product. They know what people are looking for and what destinations are hot in any given year. This year it’s Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Portugal and Scandinavia.”
– Phil Cappelli, president, Insight Vacations
“We encourage travelers to use a travel agent to ensure a wonderful vacation experience. Our travel agent partners represent us and our travel experiences extremely well. They know our travel products inside out, thanks to intensive training as well as personal experience. Their firsthand knowledge allows agents to vividly explain what makes our vacations unique and special. From being experts in destinations, to offering time-savings and convenience for their clients, a travel agent handles the functional details of a vacation so travelers can focus on the fun that comes from a great, well-planned getaway.”
– Vanessa Parrish, channel marketing manager, Globus family of brands
“We believe in the travel agent community because, being travelers themselves, they know and understand consumers wanting to go to Africa. Clients are looking for more than just experiential travel; they want to be transformed by travel, and Africa is a destination that allows guests to be totally immersed and forever changed. The travel agent community is African Travel, Inc.’s voice to travelers. We are motivated to strengthen and protect our relationship with agents to ensure they grow and continue to add value to their clients. We are looking for a strategic partner in an agent, someone who wants to grow the portfolio of travel to a client base looking for something unique, meaningful and different. A great agent is one who understands the diversity that Africa has to offer, and has taken the time to understand or has been to Africa, someone who can match the right traveler with the appropriate African destination and is committed to selling the continent consistently and actively to clientele.”
– Sherwin Banda, president, African Travel, Inc.