Thursday, August 25, 2011
This has been a fantastic summer reuniting with old friends and meeting new people. While getting to know the new and catching up with the old, a common thread keeps coming up in the conversation, "You're a travel agent?!!!" Followed up quickly by, "I thought they went the way of the milkman", "Doesn't everyone just book on the internet?"
Regular readers of my blog know that before I joined the travel industry, I used the services of a travel agent. Even though I had thoroughly investigated where I was going and in many cases had already been there and wanted to replicate a former itinerary, I have always used an agent. Travel agents have access to travel companies (often with the best deals) the general public does not. They also are able to view multiple airline intineraries at the same time (many many more that are posted on internet wholesalers like Orbitz or Travelocity). And what most sets them apart from 'just booking on the internet' they are a living breathing resource for questions and comments and most importantly a traveler's advocate when something goes wrong.
According to a 2010 study by Forrester Research indicated "28% pf leisure travelers in the U.S. who booked their trips online said they'd by intersted in going to a good tradtional travel agent." That's up 23% from 2008. Another Forrester report finds "the number of leisure travelers who enjoyed using the Web to plan and book their vacations dropped to 46% in 2010, down 53% from 2007".
In a recent USA Today article, traveler Ken Kushnir 62says, while he conducts many transactions online, booking a vacation is no longer one of them. He veered away from tradtional travel agents for a short while, "but then after maneuvering around the internet trying to get some stuff done, I figured it wasn't worth it for any of vacations or trips that were the bit more complicated than buzzing down to LA." Kushmir who lives in Healdsburg, CA says he has dealt with broken links, pages that don't load correctly and travel websites that don't accomodate specific needs like bringing along a pet or making sure he gets a room on the ground floor due to his back problems."
So while you may not be able to get milk delivered to your home or soon to have mail delivered to your home on a Saturday - I am here to make sure you get the best bang for your hard earned travel buck. And most importantly to make sure not a minute of your precious vacation time is wasted.