I was catching up on some long-overdue reading this weekend and came across this fantastic headline in the Kansas City Business Journal—“Millennials are driving the comeback of travel agents.” How awesome is that? But as many of us knew, we never really went out of fashion in the first place. Nonetheless, it is good to see that others are recognizing us as a viable industry and not a dying one!
The study referenced in the article brought up a few interesting points that I wanted to run by the TRO readers.
More millennials (1980-2000), as a percentage, are using traditional agents than Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Generation X (1964-1980). The study cited that the Boomers and Generation X members are fairly set in their travel ways and are comfortable with booking online and doing their own research. The millennials however, are looking for unique adventures when they travel and seem to understand the value of their time—both working and for vacation. As a result, they are more apt to allow a professional to handle their travel. This makes a lot of sense to me. Back when the Internet really began to take hold in our industry, I specialized. And we are still doing very well; but I question if other TRO agencies are seeing a return of the younger crowd for basic, non-specialized travel? The study did not specify if there was a return to the “basic trip,” but it seemed to allude to it. Of course, looking to the future, one has to wonder what Generation Z will bring—or will we all be magically teleported to our destination by that time?
The other point they made was that travel agents are even more relevant in 2015 and that returning to a travel agent was a top ten trend in the study! Yay—go team! Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global said that we “became more valuable to the people who might use them because they were forced to become better at what they do.” This is a powerful statement and a testament to the tenacity of the industry. I can think of no other industry that has been written off more times than the travel agency industry. Twenty years ago, the writing was on the wall when our “partner” Delta Air Lines decided to cap commissions on February 10, 1995. And we all know where that led. Well, here we are, two decades after we were “supposed” to go out of business and are labeled as stronger than ever and a top trend in travel. Take that Delta!