When the Internet first became a powerhouse in the travel industry, many said it was the death knell for us. We persevered. Through fees and specialties, we shrunk in numbers, but grow in profitability. Whether it was incredible prescience or dumb luck I will never know, but today’s travel agent is a far cry from the one of yester-year. Those of us still in the business can attest that our office today is nothing like the old ones. Many agents have no idea what the ARC is. Many are not familiar with a GDS. That is why, when I was catching up on my reading that I was thrilled to see Vogue magazine understand what we’ve known for a long time. We are here and we are strong. Vogue magazine gets us. They really get us!
While there have been some agent-positive articles in the past in various publications, I think that this one really nails down what the industry has become.
- One that offers resources far beyond the basics of organizing flights, lodging, and tours
- One that offers trips that can’t be planned with a quick visit to Expedia and TripAdvisor
- One that doesn’t tell clients what they should do in each place they go
- And one with personalized attention that doesn’t stop once an itinerary is sent out
But the one aspect of the new travel agent that they really honed in on can be summed up in one word—relationships. And Vogue pointed that out in several places.
While the relationship with the client is critical in any business; it is more so in travel—personal travel. And rightfully, they point out that it is not just about relationships with the travel suppliers and tour operators.
Today’s agent is forging relationships with people in the destinations they sell and involving them in the process. Today’s agent understands that booking “Package B1” for Cancun will very likely not cut it any longer. There may be elements of Package B1, but today’s traveler wants so much more. One agent cited in the article says that her “boots on the ground” in the destination will often meet up with a mutual client (a true mutual client) for a cup of coffee just so the relationship can be fostered.
Vogue summed it up pretty well:
These new travel agents rely heavily on developing personal relationships with their clientele before organizing a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
So how do these agencies get the inside scoop? Most have feet on the ground in the locations they’re sending their clients or focus on one specific area.
I’m not sure about you, but I think they nailed it. Leave a comment, let’s discuss!