I have to get something off my chest or I think I’ll explode. The travel trade press has been overflowing lately with everyone talking about the “distribution network” and the “travel agent distribution channel.”
To be fair, I know what they mean. I am filled with gratitude for the efforts of suppliers to keep agents in the mix. But, travel consultants are not “distribution channels!” Grocery stores that sell different brands of cereal, or hardware stores selling hammers are distribution channels.
Yes, travel consultants do provide cruises, tours and business travel. But that’s not what they sell. They sell themselves. They sell expertise. They sell support. They sell service. They sell supplier connections. They sell human attention. They sell relationships; and a whole lot more.
Listen up travel consultants–you are not “distributors!” That’s what they called me when I lost my senses and joined a multilevel vitamin-marketing thing. Distributing is not about adding value, creating dreams or being a consultant. It’s just, well, distributing.
So while I do hope our supplier partners continue to recognize the critical role travel agencies play in this industry, I also hope a mindset shift is coming. And maybe a change of terminology as well.
Agents distribute. Consultants do something entirely different. But don’t worry–cruises, tours and business travel are part of the service, so everyone still wins.