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 email@example.com or by phone at 763-244-0669.www.wanderingpuffin.com.