Travel Agents

Forbes says you need a good agent now more than ever

First, it was Vogue touting the merit of travel agents, and now it’s the internationally acclaimed news publication, Forbes.

You guys really are the new black.

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Now, Doug Gollan, a Forbes contributor, has penned a piece in which he says travel agents are high in demand and making a serious comeback.

Gollan refers to Bill Gates’ comment 20 years ago, when he was plugging his new OTA Expedia (you might’ve heard of it?), and how it’s no longer relevant.

Gates said, “Now you can throw away your travel agent’s phone number”.

However, Gollan retorts, “At any rate, the travel agents that Gates dogged have done okay”.

Quoting Accorhotel’s CEO Chris Cahill, Gollan writes, “The crème rises to the top”, claiming that the agents that are in existence are “doing very well”.

Gollan attended the Virtuoso Travel Week last week, when he wrote the article, and talking about the US specifically, said there’s about 100,000 travel agents in America alone.

“Virtuoso is an umbrella for independently owned agencies that generate over $21 billion in travel sales. Not shabby for a group often labeled as dinosaurs,” he wrote.

And while he was adamant that OTAs have still made a mark on the traditional agency model, he suggested agents don’t seem to be too bothered by them.

“Multiple research surveys show consumer use of retail travel agents – read human beings, has been on the rise for at least five years and is strongest with Millennials, a good sign for the future,” Gollan said.

Gollan referred to Virtuoso’s CEO Matthew Upchurch, who said it’s not surprising that younger consumers use travel agents, given they’re willing to pay for expertise in other areas, like personal trainers.

“Booking travel isn’t as easy as Gates wanted you to think and as many of us have found out,” said Gollan.

“If you have a bad flight on Airline X or stay at Hotel Z when you take your business elsewhere, there is no real impact to the supplier.

“Agents, on the other hand, rely on keeping their profitable clients happy, so the good ones take the time to know you, what you like and what you don’t.

“That means if you use an agent you are less likely to find yourself in a hotel or on a cruise ship that doesn’t fit your personal tastes.”

You can read the piece in full here.

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