Ever since the internet has taken a hold of our daily lives, many once vaunted services have since been disrupted and some even killed off (think Blockbuster Video or Borders). One of the strongly affected ones has been the travel agency. Online booking sites like expedia, hotels.com and booking.com coupled with travel suppliers who provide their own booking mechanisms has made it easier for wanderlusters to plan their own vacations. The internet, in its endless drive to economize everything, put the power of travel planning in the hands of the buyer. Naturally, it appeared that the dwindling need for the travel agency would eventualy result in its demise.
However, after years and years of pundits harpooning this outlook, the travel agency has persisted. In fact, there has even been a resurgence of some sort: the travel agency industry in the U.S. is projected to generate 17.3 billion U.S. dollars in revenue by 2020, up from around 15 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 and about 12.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2010. There have also been reports that more and more millennials are seeking the help of travel agents.
The reason why we're seeing this development is because the drive for the economization of the travel industry on the internet didn't account for three phenomena. One is that travel is still, if not more, complex these days. Second is that the ease of booking through tech can and will never replace the importance and impact of personalization and human interaction. Third, and most importantly, tech can only go so far in assuring client accountability and advocacy.
While booking travel has become as easy as reordering bathroom or kitchen supplies via your Amazon Prime account, what hasn't been easy is sifting through the competitive field of the hundreds of travel suppliers in the industry. We're not just talking about cruise lines and hotels. We're talking about the even greater number of inclusive travel providers out there such as Globus, Tauck or G Adventures - the ones who provide accomodations, tours and meals in a packaged price.
This market is saturated with rich travel suppliers like these, which sounds good for the discerning traveler! But with so many suppliers out there, who's going to take the time to do the research? It could be you, if you have hours and hours of free time on your hands. Or it could be a travel agent, who has been trained and learned in all of the premier travel products available in every country across the world.
If there's one thing that tech has the most difficulty disrupting, it's human interaction. As much as the improvement of artificial intelligence improves the allure of a fully automated world in which decisions can be made with the help of complex algorithms, there's just something you can't quite take away from a human to human experience. At Cruises & Beyond, we talk a lot about and place a premium on personalization. The mark of any successful business, regardless of what type of industry, is how well it can capture the trust of its clients. Travel is not cheap, and because of this our clients must entrust us with their well-earned dollars. They also want to know that they are getting the best value for what they spend, and we ensure that through honest and transparent communication. It's not only about the money of course. We genuinely care about our clients and because we do, they care about us. And when two humans care for each other, that just makes life that much better doesn't it?
Personalization takes on another added meaning when we talk about the biggest benefit and most important aspect of working with a travel agency. Travel agents don't just help plan and book vacations, they hold travel suppliers accountable to their client's needs and expectations. If the supplier fails to provide that service, they will not only lose the advocacy provided by the travel agent, but they will lose the customer as well. It sounds pretty cool to have an agent protect your interests as a traveler as you take in the sights of the Danube river from the comfort of your French balcony river cruise cabin doesn't it?
Tying this all in to our personal experience running a travel agency, the outlook is positive for us as we look to 2018 and beyond. We're experiencing the positive effects of a bustling travel market and as a result we're thinking of new strategies to further enhance the experience of our clients. In time, we'll be introducing a brand new way that our clients will be able to access their itineraries and all necessary travel documents while on their journey abroad. It is an exciting time for us and we hope you will share in our experiences as we pursue greater horizons.
The state of the travel agency is strong and the outlook even better. Now, more than ever, the travel agency is needed. Here are the benefits you receive if you book with a travel agent: