Travel Agents on the Rise?

Slow Travel Agency, Sustrans

I’ve said it before: my dream is to be a travel agent. Unfortunately for me, and anyone who’s already pursued this career path, the travel agent profession is floundering (read “is caput”). And yet, despite its lack of growth potential, I still dream of sitting behind a desk, scouring the internet for travel deals and flight sales and vacation packages and — wait, I do that now. 

But to get paid to do that? Now that’s the dream! There’s a travel agent’s office in the lobby of my new office building. The walls are plastered with world maps and pictures of cruise ships and Disney World and Asian temples. The agents all sit behind their trinket-covered desks searching away for the next vacation sale. They got it good. Granted, I have yet to see anyone working with a client, but business is online these days. Maybe they’re working for corporate clients and doing transactions over email. Who knows. Long story short, I was impressed to see a travel agent office in downtown Chicago in the year 2012. It gave me hope. 

Then I read this article from Gadling: Travel Agents on the Rebound with Inside Information. Hope rising, it piqued my interested for two reasons. First, I wanted to know what these agents know that the average Joe doesn’t know, and second, I wanted proof that travel agents really were on the rebound. It didn’t give me any proof, but it did have this to say:

Some good reasons to use a travel agent, once you find a good one, include:

  • They may have access to deals you can’t get- Travel agents are notified of the latest offers, bargains and discounts first. Connected agents know even more, including what travel options are likely to go up or down in pricing and/or availability, and what can be critical information in a buying decision.
  • They speak the language of the service provider- Anyone who has ever tried to work with airline fare codes, codeshare rules or other cryptic travel speak meant for behind-the-scenes travel pros knows having one in their back pocket can bring huge advantages.
  • They almost always result in a better value- They may not be able to get a ticket to paradise for less than Discount Joe’s Travel Barn but they’ll probably be able to match it and throw in a perk or two that Joe knows nothing about.

I’ve never found any of those true, BUT I’m willing to give it another try. After all, if start-ups and marketers and food trucks and almost everyone else on the planet can redefine their business in the age of social media and travel sites, why can’t travel agents? I’ll definitely consult a travel agent for my next trip, just to give them a try. Here’s hopin’…

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