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A recent article in the Washington Post Lifestyle section discusses how the travel agent, once considered a moot job in the advent of online booking, has seen a comeback, due to the difficulty in planning trips with increased and hidden fees, unexpected disasters on the road, and an overload on Internet data.
A study by Forrester Research found that the number of leisure travelers who enjoyed using the Web to plan and book their vacations dropped from 53 percent in 2007 to 47 percent in 2010. And in an American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) survey, 44 percent of agents said that they had more clients in 2010 than they’d had the previous year, with the strongest rebound in rail and hotel reservations.
However, the travel agents who have managed to survive the battered industry have had to adjust. No longer making commissions directly from airlines, agents now pass those fees to clients, and most agents are expected to be available to their clients on weekends and at all hours, to deal with crises. Additionally, most agents find it preferable to become an expert in a certain type of travel:
“Consumers are looking for specialists. They want a destination wedding specialist, an Africa specialist, a Puerto Rico specialist,” said Tony Gonchar, chief executive of ASTA.
To read about the new and symbiotic relationship between travel agents and online booking websites, read the entire article.