This guest post is by Liam McEvilly, our travel agent friend who works for M & K Travel Services, Inc. Although Dave and I are yet to use a travel agent on our adventures, we’re open to using one. However there’s no doubt the industry has changed over the years as social media becomes more prevalent and more travellers book their holidays online.
In this guest post, Liam argues why digital media won’t kill off travel agencies.
I’ve worked here for 2 weeks now; most people I talk to about my job or customers who walk in our doors are surprised that we are still in business; surely everyone is booking their travel online themselves?
It is true that the industry was in some decline there for a while, but the travel agent is beginning to bite back.
Here are five reasons why digital media won’t kill off the travel agency industry:
1. Travel agents are adapting
Gone are the days of shelves lined with brochures, they’re being replaced by PDFs and shared information on Facebook or retweets on Twitter.
Travel agencies are using digital media as an effective tool themselves, as well as still offering the traditional walk-in services that they have always offered.
Smaller agencies, like ours, are contactable by phone, e-mail or even social media. Not just when booking a trip either – they are also on hand during your trip, in case things go awry.
This would have come in handy for me personally when I was left stranded between flights in Amsterdam for four days in 2010 because of the volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in Iceland, causing all air travel in Europe to screech to a halt and I had no choice but to sleep on the airport floor.
2. Travel agencies are using social media
Social media makes it easier to instantly see what is happening in the world of travel and easily share that information with clients and potential clients in an instant. Done the right way it can be an incredible tool for building business relationships.
3. Travellers are becoming fed up with online booking systems
Travellers are getting annoyed with the sheer number of flight consolidators out there like Kayak, Travelocity or Expedia.
It’s becoming a lengthy process to find the right flight or vacation.
I know I get fed up with hotels especially; websites seem to always suggest places to stay that are miles away from where I want to go. Surely it’s easier to let a travel agent get the headache for you, plus they have connections and may find a better deal.
4. Using digital media actually makes being a travel agent easier
As travel agents become more mobile we may well eventually do away with actual agency stores but it this mobility means your travel agent is available 24 hours a day, instead of just regular office hours.
5. Quality is not sacrificed
Finally, and most importantly, quality isn’t sacrificed.
The same services are still offered, just in a different way.
Travel agents often have more travel experience than the average Joe, they know about the industry than a consolidation website. They can tell you what days or months are cheaper to fly, current deals by airlines, hotels and vacation companies as well as the cheapest airports to use, just to name a few.
A travel agent can also help with all those other little things you need when travelling, seat assignments, frequent flier credits, hotels, car hire, and travel insurance. They are essentially a one-stop shop for a stress free, more personable trip that leaves you satisfied once you return home.