Well, I’m just back in the office after having spent last week in Hollywood CA at PhoCusWright; one of the leading conferences for our industry. The conference was packed and all the movers and shakers were there; OTAs, Research Analysts, Hotel companies, technology companies, etc. I attended as many presentations as I could, though the event for me has always been about networking and creating strategic partnerships.
One of the presentations had to do with the “next generation” of travelers and a section in the research came up about travel agents. Guess what they were saying; OTA’s get consumers cheaper airfare than travel agents. Or at least that’s what they’re saying. They also went on to show how many crusies are booked though travel agents; far more than through the OTAs. (So there!) Most everyone was talking about booking direct, booking engines, agent bypass (in one form or another), etc… That is, except for one company; ours. We continue to fight on behalf of the travel agents and I’ll keep fighting; that’s how much I believe in the travel agent channel (and the majority of the community.) Now, I’m not some Don Quixote on an imaginary battle. Research clearly shows that at substantial percentage of online travel consumers say they would use a good offline travel agent (that’s you) if they knew how and where to find one (that’s where we come in). More and more consumers are expressing dissatisfaction with online booking engines, especially when their trip is just complicated enough to require a conversation with someone to ask for help. In addition, sometimes consumers simply want to talk with someone about their trip; namely a specialist with passion and expertise. Travelers come to our site because they don’t know the best time to go, or maybe even where to go, or what other services they will need, etc. This is why they need an agent. So, we help consumers find you. Then you need to sell them.
These are tough times and I suggest getting out there and turning over every rock to find new clients. If Tripology is part of your plans, that’s wonderful. We endeavor to help you however we can. We’ll continue the course and tell as many consumers as we can that travel agents are still the best bet for booking travel! We hope you will join us and support our efforts.