The Changing Role of a Travel Agent
What’s that? You thought travel agents went extinct? That’s ok, I don’t blame you. We all heard about how once the online vacation booking sites came alive, travel agents suffered. What once kept them so busy – taking orders for vacation bookings – could now be done online. Sort of. Close enough, people supposed. So what happened to the travel agent? They evolved.
The new breed of travel agent, (some, like myself, calling themselves Travel Consultants instead), are not order takers. Travelers today want so much more, and that’s what we do. What can an online booking engine NOT do? Well, for starters, it can’t personalize your trip. It can’t offer expert advice on your destination. It probably won’t even tell you that the pool is currently being refurbished at that resort and you won’t even get to go swimming. It offers you a DIY experience, which was pretty cool at first – but as some travelers are finding, it lacks that personal touch and the one on one expert experience.
Travel consultants, today, are specialists. They come in all kinds of flavors. African safari experts? Yup. Bird watching tours? Yup. Europe independent travel planners? Uh huh. Adventure tourism? Of course. Destination weddings? Indeed. And in my case: a family vacation consultant, specializing in Disney destinations and tropical getaways. The key is that these agents spend their time perfecting their knowledge of these specialties, which means that when you are seeking an experience that falls into their category, they are 1000 times better than an online booking engine. The KNOW the products and destinations, and they will help find the absolute best fit for you. They study in special courses, they visit the destinations, they have contacts at the properties and destinations, they travel to conferences that speak to their topics, and they stay current on all of the latest news.
No longer simple order takers, a travel consultant will talk with you to develop an understanding of your travel tastes and vacations needs. She’ll help you select the best resort, best flights and best activities. She’ll save you the time taxing chores of endless hotel and flight shopping, of reading hundreds of conflicting reviews, and she’ll still find you excellent values and deals. She’ll offer touring tips, make activity reservations, spa reservations, dining reservations and more. She’ll take care of all of the bookings for you and make sure you are prepared for stress-free travel. And once you are on your way, she’ll be your go to contact – not a call center, but a real person you have a relationship with, to answer your questions, or solve any problems that arise.
So are travel agents extinct? Not at all. The industry has just undergone a significant change, and on the rise is the new, improved Travel Consultant.