What are you? | TravelResearchOnline

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What are you?

I wanted to thank everyone who read my last piece on sales contracts and fees. I received many requests for copies of my sales contract and hope it was helpful. That said, I have been thinking about other issues that have come to the forefront of our industry recently and with the recent Woman’s Day article, a Lending Tree advertisement back in May that portrayed travel professionals in negative light, and more recently, an article by Kyle Kensing who wrote that if all else fails, consider a “useless job” (his words, not mine) which lumped travel agents into the “useless” category.  These three pieces brought out ire that I have not seen from this industry since I have been in it.  I am proud of those who spoke out at the grassroots level to express their anger.  It is evident that many still regard our profession as a lesser profession than others.  Of course, using the term agent, a term I dislike, is still perpetuated by organizations that represent us like ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) and others.  

Do you consider yourself a professional or an order taker? Many years ago, the travel “agent” was more of an order taker, a ticketing agent of the airlines and railroads; so the perception for decades, if not longer, has been that we are representing these entities. In fact, we are representing our valued clients and ourselves. The public has never really understood what we do until we have had the chance to sit down and plan a trip.  The public simply assumed we sold tickets and made commissions from the sales. And in the beginning, that was exactly how it worked. Recessions, wars, commission cuts, terrorism and greedy corporate culture forced us to change—and we did. But we failed to let everyone else know.

This perception is still there. Granted, it has started to change over the past decade as more and more clients actually see and realize what we do and that we are not order takers, but a valued professional. I don’t consider myself a travel agent, but a professional travel consultant and planner. I think the word “agent” is archaic and many may disagree.  I do not represent the airlines, the railroads, or any other travel entity as their agent. I represent myself and my client—period. Yes, I may (not always) receive compensation from the travel suppliers, but my representation is to the client.

As much as these negative impressions get my ire, I am equally angered by our collective lack of educating the public at exactly what we do. We have compassion for our valued clients, passion for what we do. We are not autonomotrons, nor are we order takers with an OLA. We train like other professionals, attend conferences like other professionals, travel like other professionals to destinations, so we can educate ourselves to better be able to provide qualified professional consultations and planning to the best of our abilities.  We do not compete with the OLA’s and we should not fear them.  The pendulum has started to slowly swing back to a point where the public understands our value. Do you consider yourself a travel agent or a travel professional? I know what I consider myself. Let’s let the rest of the world know!

Jamison has traveled to over 35 countries, including most of Europe. Wandering Puffin LLC. Is located in Minneapolis, MN. Jamison can be reached by email at jamie@wanderingpuffin.com or by phone at  763-244-0669.www.wanderingpuffin.com.

  7 thoughts on “What are you?

  1. Jamie Bachrach says:

    I wanted to add a comment to my article. I was reading on some of the travel articles this morning and low and behold, Travel Mole posted about that Time Magazine has now chimed in ‘Travel agent obsolete’ debate hits Time magazine. For better or worse, it’s publicity….

    I like that others have noted that they are not going away any time soon. Neither am I. Just my thoughts. Curious about your thoughts. Thank you.

  2. I agree with getting the message out there that we are not obsolete and are well educated and well traveled, and are not going away. And we should have a Travel Consultant/Planner on the Today Show or any morning show once a week and teach the world exactly what we do. I am tired of hearingm go to Expedia etc. for the “DEAL” . The “Deal” is “not” what the general public is looking for. Everyone these days thinks they are a “Travel Agent”. Stopping wasting hours on the computere and come in to our offices and call us and see what we are all about. Schools should have professional days and invite us to educate the students on what we do and get the younger generation interested in becoming consultants as well.

  3. Piper Fenton says:

    Thank you for posting. Your comment about ASTA especially caught my eye – and it is true! Maybe it is time for them to change the name/focus on what we really do!

    I do take issue with your comment about corporate greed. The goal after all, is to make a profit. Businesses do what they have to do – just as the travel “consultation” industry has evolved – in order to make a profit. We are in a free market economy. The class warfare has to stop or we will turn into the mess that we see in Europe.

  4. One word: Brilliant!

    This must be mandatory reading for the incomiing ASTA Board of Directors.

    I personally find the term “travel agent” demeaning.

  5. Jamie Bachrach says:

    Hi Christy,

    Thank you so much for your reply. As a former educator, prior to becoming a part of this industry, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    I know that Mark Murphy gets on the TV circuit and speaks on our behalf, which is appreciated, but you are right, a real travel professional that is on the front line, so to speak, should be asked to come onto the national TV programming scene and express that we are not simply what the public has perceived those in the industry to be forever.

    Talking to the real people would allow those who think they can do what we do just by looking things up on line, makes them one of us, is nonsense. There is more to this, of course, and happy to hear your comments.

  6. Jamie Bachrach says:

    Hi Piper,

    Thank you very much for your comments. I do appreciate your comment about corporate greed and to clarify, it was noted simply to present one of the many factors involved that we as travel professionals have had to endure in order to grow and build our businesses. We have had to change our paradigm, due to many factors and that was one of many and the list is not exhaustive. I am sure there are many more. I am also in business to make a profit and earn a living. This is my profession and my passion, as well and I want to continue to grow, as you do. Again, thank you for your comments on the subject.

  7. Jamie Bachrach says:

    Thank you Larry for your comments. ASTA is one of a number of representative bodies still using and perpetuating the “agent” term, and not the professional or other more acceptable term. What’s in a name? Everything! We can also look at NACTA (The National Association of Career Travel Agents). There is that word again. If this is a profession and it is for those who take it seriously as our careers, then here again is a chance for the travel organizations of which we can become a part, and which represent the travel professional to change it name to get rid of that word which lingers from an earlier time. Thank you so much for your comments. Times are changing and we have had to change; so should the organizations that “represent” the industry and members in the industry. Thank you again for your comments. They are appreciated.

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