I told the New York Times a thing or two | TravelResearchOnline

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I told the New York Times a thing or two

Are you the sort who talks back to the TV news? Or comments loudly to no one in particular as you take issue with something in the newspaper? Me too.

This sort of thing accomplishes nothing, beside annoying my wife, but I took things a step further when I read a review by Barbara Ehrenreich of “Rise of the Robots” and “Shadow Work” in the New York Times Book Review. I was brought up short by this sentence: “Booking travel reservations is now a D.I.Y. task; the travel agents have disappeared.”

This time, after a loud harrumph!, I took electronic pen to hand and fired off a letter to the editor of the Book Review. Thinking that I’d accomplished nothing besides getting something off my chest, I forgot all about it. Then, lo and behold, they printed my letter in last Sunday’s issue of the Review!

In the letter I cited statistics about the size of the travel distribution channel and reassured the readership of the Times that “travel agents are alive and well and, in many cases, thriving.”

I bring this up not to brag about what a clever fellow I am (well, maybe just a little), but because the experience made me realize something important.

The travel agent profession is being besieged by misguided, misinformed, and sometimes just plain dumb comments about how “there are no more travel agents” and “no one uses travel agents anymore.” Even the President has gone on record as believing travel agents don’t exist. — twice!

Travel agents need to fight back. True, the travel trade press tries to set the record straight. But I wonder how many of those in the “lamestream media” read the travel trade press.

So the next time you see a local news anchor or an article in the paper say something dumb about how travel agents don’t exist — and you will! — write a letter to the TV station or the editor. If you see something online, make the truth known in the comments thread. If there’s no comments thread, send an email to the site.

Be firm but polite and arm yourself with facts. I relied on good old Google to come up with the statistics I used. Use anecdotes from your own experience that illustrate the value travel agents afford their clients.

You may think there’s little point in going to the trouble, that the chances of your letter being published are minimal. You may not want to expose yourself to the nastiness that is endemic in online comment threads. Point taken.

But as my experience with the Times shows, sometimes the message gets through, and if several travel agents wrote their small town newspaper about the latest misinformed comment about the demise of travel agents, my guess is the editor would sit up and take notice.

I can guarantee you one thing, however. You’ll feel better for getting it off your chest. And call me a sap, but I believe that together we can make a difference.

Kelly Monaghan, CTC, is a writer and publisher who has been covering the home-based travel agent scene since 1994. Prior to his entry into the travel industry he was a sales trainer for major companies such as AT&T, Arrow Electronics, and Brinks and wrote widely on sales and marketing for a number of professional publications. His Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course  has been endorsed by OSSN and The Travel Institute. His publishing company, The Intrepid Traveler  specializes in Orlando area attractions and offers discounts to travel agents who wish to use its guides as gifts or premiums.

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