Six Reasons Travel Agents Are Back

by Jessica Montevago


1. Travel agents offer guidance.
It’s a scary world out there, and even seasoned travelers are a little nervous. Whether the destination they are considering is facing the Zika virus or the threat of terrorism, travelers are more inclined to talk through their concerns, and get unbiased information, from a live agent. “The tips we can give them, the advice, those things you just can’t get booking online,” says travel professional Diane Bower, at CruzDiva Travel in Huntersville, NC.

2. Travel agents give you more for your money.
Agents have access to deals and promotions travelers do not. From cruise lines to hotels to tours, suppliers know their top travel agents and slip them upgrades, bonuses, special offers and early entrance tickets that make their customers feel special, and save them an average $452 per trip.

3. Travelers are frustrated with online travel agencies.
Consumers are wising up. Online travel agencies (OTAs) often advertise one price, and then tack on fees and other hidden charges, or restrictions and blackout dates in the fine print. And there is just too much information out there to sort through. And doing the research is overwhelming. Among travelers who regularly seek information from an OTA when planning a vacation, only 13% typically book their reservations on OTA sites, according to MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers, compared to 36% in 2014. 

4. Better customer service.
While OTAs have call centers to assist customers with basic site navigation, they offer little further support. Travel agents help during the booking process and stay with you to make sure all goes right. And when there is a problem, they are there to intervene—whether it’s a supplier who doesn’t deliver or an emergency that makes them cancel the whole trip. Shawn Fitzpatrick, manager of Marlin Travel in Ontario, says suppliers work with his agency on a case-by-case basis, and often “help us out when needed.” And with an agent, “you have someone advocating for you,” says Stefanie DiBernardo, travel advisor at Contrino Travel, Inc. in Staten Island, NY.

5. Deep knowledge of the destination, and personal understanding of your interests. 
Agents often specialize in niche markets, so they can offer even more insight into a specific destination or segment of travel, like LGBT or destination weddings. And they spend a little time getting to know the customer, so they can make recommendations tailored to what you want to do. “It’s almost like your best friend is booking a trip for you,” says DiBernardo.

6. Travel agents’ customer base is skewing toward Millennials.
The percentage of travelers under the age of 35 who prefer to book their vacations through a travel agent increased 50% between 2014 and 2015, reports MMGY Global. They don’t have time to wade through all the options, and they understand there is only one chance to make a vacation perfect. Just as they hire an expert to do their taxes or maintain their garden, they want a knowledgeable professional to help them make this most important decision.

  105
  8
TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Sandals Gets Kudos for Travel Advisor Allegiance

Here’s a shining example of a travel supplier that shows their commitment to travel agents, as they say, ‘because we know our success depends on it.’

Italian Tour Operator Amandatour Strands Customers, But Travel Advisors Save the Day

'When something like this happens you are reeling from the shock; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Just break it down into pieces, just like you are planning the trip from the beginning.'

Travel Agents and Insurance Could Have Helped These Stranded Cruise Clients

With two days to go on a 13-day European cruise, thousands of stranded travelers needed extra help to enjoy the rest of their vacations and get home.

State Laws Impacting Travel Agents Could Extend Across The U.S.

Industry warns that detrimental legislation like California’s proposed IC labor law could spread to other states if agents don’t become politically active.

To Help, or Not to Help? What Do You Do When a Client Sends Out a DIY SOS

Their online booking is in a state of emergency and they’re asking for your expertise. But the only reward for your time and effort might be a thank you. What do you do?

New ASTA Campaign Connects with Local Media for California IC Battle

Amping up its advocacy portal, ASTA continues its grassroots effort to protect California ICs.

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

As travel advisors, we have to be curious. Curiosity leads to impactful connections that pave our road to success. - Jenn Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing, Travel Planners International

Daily Top List

Tips for Reaching $1 Million in Sales

1. Be consistent in your marketing.

2. Create systems and follow them.

3. Use your consortium’s marketing services.

4. Listen for personal details and use them.

5. Leverage your CRM.

Source: TMR

TMR Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
AmaWaterways - Christmas Markets