Who is a travel agent?
Travel agents are the individuals or companies (travel agencies) who provide entire travel packages as well as consultation services to simplify the complicated and time-consuming process of planning a trip. Travel agents book resorts and hotels as well as cars, cruises, and flights. Travel agents indulge to a large demographic, thereby serving both corporations as well as individuals.
What does a travel agent do?
Travel agents make the travel process easier for their customers and ensure the best travel experience possible. They work directly with the public and discuss the best possible destinations, accommodations, and transportations arrangements with the clients.
A travel agent suggests the best possible travel plan or offers a complete travel package according to the financial limitations and expectations of the customers.
Travel agents secure travel arrangements by working with computers or call airlines, resorts, rental companies, and cruise lines. They also research and keep updated knowledge about travel advisories, weather conditions, and other requirements for travel plans including the safety of the destinations for the customers.
TRAVEL AGENCIES AND INTERNET:
The increasing competition in tourism all over the world encourages tour operators to invest in the resources, promotion, knowledge, as well as quality to achieve satisfactory growth. To achieve this, it is important to stay in touch with modern technologies and to have a basic knowledge that is necessary to respond effectively to global competition and challenges. The Internet provides efficient and high-quality operations in all sectors including tourism. Therefore, the internet poses a high impact the marketing activities as well as other essentials of present-day travel agencies.
ARE TRAVEL AGENTS AFFECTED BY INTERNET GROWTH? HOW?
The Internet has significantly reduced the role of travel agents because customers can easily find information about trips and can easily book through the internet. Therefore, they do not bother to use the services of travel agents. Customers no longer need to visit a travel agency, instead they can opt for companies such as Priceline or Expedia and book a complete trip themselves.
Secondly, some customers get to find the price of a trip of a room cheaper by themselves with the help of the internet. So, they think of the internet as a cheaper source of travel services and products than travel agents.
Moreover, with the advancement of the internet, the competition in the travel market has increased significantly by direct selling and passing the travel agents to the customers. So, this case increases competition among travel agents.
The advancement in the internet has caused some other problems to the travel industry such as structural changes to the organization, and the employment problem has been the most important and detrimental effect of internet growth over the travel and tourism industry that has particularly affected the travel agents.
Furthermore, the growth of the internet has led the suppliers to contact the customers directly without involving an intermediary. Even airlines nowadays encourage to book online which avoids the travel agents to get paid 10% commission. Thus, it is an urgent need for travel agents and travel agencies to find new strategies and methods to stay in the business.
SHOULD I CONSULT A TRAVEL AGENT OR BOOK ONLINE?
Certain factors encourage the hiring of travel agents instead of online booking. Some of these factors are discussed:
- Travel agents offer a less stressful trip:
While booking online for a vacation, wedding, honeymoon, or destination, a traveler just has to worry. Instead, travel agents take the worry and tension off of you and make the special memory of a traveler lasting as a pleasant experience. Travel agents plan the special memories for the travelers and let them focus on their exciting events and guide them on what to pack.
- Travel agents save you time and money:
Travel agents have access to special promotions and discounts through various supplier companies. They often save a significant amount of money or provide an additional spa or dining credit that is generally not available while booking inline.
Moreover, while booking online, nearly one-third of customers spend an average of 3 hours each day planning their vacation. Instead, travel agents are specialized to create a custom plan including flights, accommodations, transfers, visits, tours, meals, as well as exclusive visits based on customer preferences.
- Travel agents do not charge hidden fees:
More often, the prices mentioned on the internet or online booking platforms, do not include fees and taxes. The additional charges at the time of payments will be a bad experience. On the other hand, most travel agents do not charge fees, and those who charge, are upfront.
Moreover, if the travelers get to cancel their trip, travel agents offer a full refund of charges, unlike the online traveling companies who do not offer a refund and are a risk for travelers.
- They provide personalized attention:
Travel agents modify their services according to the personalized and customized needs of their clients, unlike OTAs that provide the service of one-size-fits-all and do not consider the numerous variables of different customers.
- They offer insurance:
Travel agents make sure their customers do not get fooled. They provide insurance for cancelation of trips and medical emergencies. Hence, they work from providing a guarantee of hotel availability to knowing the legitimation of the excursion company.
- They are available all the time:
Travel agents are available to call each hour of a day, and seven days a week. They are present all the time to guide you throughout the booking process and also follow up afterward. Instead, contacting the customer service line of an online travel company may often mean splashing through a chain of people.
- They’re specialists:
Travel agents develop a personal understanding of the customers. they spend time to get to know their customers so that they can make personalized and customized recommendations to what the customers want or would like to do.
Travel agents have been an essential part of the tourism and travel industry. They are an integral guide to travel destinations and offer customized and personalized packages according to the desires and budget of the customers. with the development of internet and information technology, the customers get to know about their desired destinations and travel packages through the internet.
However, travel agencies and travel agents need to design advanced strategies and marketing techniques so that they stay in the business.