Old-school Travel Agents Stage Comeback

15 August 2012

A recent Reuters article argues that traditional travel agencies are enjoying a comeback from their declines in the wake of online travel sites have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. The article says that agencies made $95 billion in sales in 2011, which is almost one third of the American travel market, according PhoCusWright. Agents are mainly booking business travel but  leisure bookings still weigh in at $20 billion.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, Generation "Y", or those in their late twenties, are actually the largest group being served by agents.

However, there have been shifts from latter days. Most people are booking simple trips themselves online and consulting agents for more complex, expensive or far-flung itineraries. In response, travel agents' have shifted more towards an advisory or consulting role, and are tending to specialize more, while still offering crisis-management for travelers on the road.

Reuters reported:

"What we're seeing is more of an indication of information overload," says Dwain Wall, senior vice president of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based CruiseOne, which has 750 franchisees and another 500 contracted independent agents. "I think consumers are more confused when they're done than when they start  and what information they can trust when they're on the Web."...

Interior designer Phyllis Harbinger, 49, says she used a travel agent because she experienced one too many fouled-up reservations with online services.

"I'm a great traveler, and I've been all over the world," she says. "But I don't know who has the best amenities. Having that trust factor and having the trusted adviser , that's worth gold."

For more information on how agents have changed and pricing in this industry, read the entire original article