The Travel Factory Blog
Surviving In The Travel Agent Profession
Several professions are becoming extinct, and some have been predicting for many years that the travel agent is quickly becoming a relic. One group asked this question: with technology, online, mobile and user experience all firmly entrenched in travel, where does the store-front travel agent fit in to the buying cycle?
A highly respected research company, Phocuswright has been researching the travel agency distribution landscape in the United States since 2006. They admit that in the initial study, they assumed travel agency extinction, and because of their research, were proven wrong. They report that their most recent research shows that travel agents aren't only surviving, they are being courted. They report that the overall U. S. travel agency market is forecast to reach $127 billion by 2021, up from $112 billion in 2017. Driving this growth are air, cruise, and specialized tour sales along with customers who are ready to pay someone to take care of their travel needs rather than them having to spend hours trying to find the “best deal”.
Travel agents are specialist when suggesting and booking travel products. They have not only sold certain products for many years, and in the process followed up on those sales to make sure that things went as expected and to get feedback on the experience, but have also personally visited many of the properties they recommend. One travel agent in New York, Kimberly Wetty, had this to say about the business, “very few careers give the ability to truly make a difference in people's lives. You become a valuable resource for clients on how and where they spend their hard-earned vacation time”.
Another agent from Dream Vacations expressed this positive outlook: “There has never been a better time to be or become a travel agent. The vacation booking process has become more complex and the internet further complicates the planning process by providing thousands of search results and recommendations. Travel agents are able to not only qualify consumers into selecting the right vacation to meet their needs and exceed their expectations, but can also provide personal recommendations based on their own travels.”
Locally, one can understand how someone might think that travel agencies are a thing of the past. When I started in the business in May, 1976, there were two store-front travel agencies in Abilene. Then when deregulation of the airlines began in the early 80's, Abilene was supporting 8 agencies for the same business. Then when the airlines ceased paying commission for agents sales in the late 90's, the store-front agency business morphed back to the two agencies in operation today. The airlines still don't pay commissions but we continue to service clients who have no other place to go to plan their trips. Just last week one of our agents worked with a person who had a complicated international itinerary, in addition could not speak very good English.....but they had not other place to go for this service.
I read a story the other day about a company called AxionSpace that is putting together a trip to the International Space Station. The “tourist' will be given about 15 weeks of training, led by former astronauts, and guests will be expected to learn how to handle weightlessness, safety, launch procedures, and how to navigate restroom facilities. Bookings are being handled by an agency in New York and the commission will be substantial. The current cost of the trip is expected to be around $55 million a person. Any takers? I would be happy to help with that connection, then just might retire!!!
Call the travel professionals at The Travel Factory, located at 4150 Southwest Drive. Call us at 325-698-1421; our web site is: www.thetravelfactoryabilene.com. We love the opportunity to be of service!