“Travel agents?! Weren’t they a thing in the ‘90s?”
Fax machines, cassettes, landline telephones, and… travel agents? To many people, travel agencies are just another number on the list of obsolete industries. Millennial travellers in particular often struggle to understand the value of anything but do-it-yourself booking.
However, in corporate travel, travel agents aren’t just surviving - they’re flourishing.Below we outline four reasons why travel agents still matter.
1. Travel Agents Offer Personal Service
The travel industry has changed immeasurably since the days when agents ruled the land, to the point where many ask why the profession is still necessary.
Well, there are several reasons why agents still matter (as you’ll read below), and personal service is one of the most significant.
In our article, “Is Personal Service a Travel Agents Greatest Asset” we examined the relationship between a market of technologically empowered travel consumers and the need for an agent’s services. We concluded that despite travellers having the capability to organise their travel by themselves, they couldn’t do so as accurately, as quickly, as economically or with as little fuss as travel agents can.
Do-it-yourself corporate travel is possible, but those who take the DIY route quickly discover how time-consuming and costly even small itinerary changes can be. Leaning on an agent in times when things go off-plan is an attractive safety net.
2. Travel Agents Leverage Supplier Relationships
Travel agents hold a powerful trump card over the do-it-yourself travellers who go it alone: existing supplier relationships.
Agents can leverage relationships with hotels and airline to deliver the kind of personal service that makes a good travel experience a great one.
According to Ann Scully of McCabe World Travel, “If [travellers] book themselves, they’re just a credit card number.”
“I make a point of knowing the general manager of the hotel where they might be staying. I usually call the GM the night before one of my clients arrives and see if they might be upgraded. If they book with a good agent, they’re known on arrival,” she says.
3. Travel Agents Are Experts at Their Trade
Some people argue that travel agents have been around for a long time, and are obsolete in today’s hyper-technical market. Yes, travel agents have been around for a long time, but that doesn’t mean their service hasn’t evolved with technology.
Today’s travel agents are technologically equipped to deliver a premium service, unlike that which can be easily achieved by going it alone. For example, leveraging a streamlined travel management platform empowers travel agents to make strategic bookings and provide in-depth policy analysis to ensure you get the most out of your corporate travel program.Furthermore, agents who use a travel management platform have access to sophisticated risk management and streamlined communication tools.
4. Travel Agents Facilitate Continuous Improvement
Your business may embark on an unmanaged travel program whereby your employees are tasked with the organisation of their end-to-end business travel. You may still implement a travel policy with budgets and parameters unique to specific employees, however you place the majority of the responsibility on the shoulders of your travellers.
While an unmanaged travel program may be suited to your younger, savvy employees who value personalisation, it leaves room for noncompliance, makes exercising duty of care difficult and leaves you with little data to make any strategic policy improvements in the future.
A travel agent who uses an effective corporate travel management platform can assist your business in making strategic policy improvements, fuelled by data from prior travel.
For more information on how travel agents can safeguard the future of their businesses, download your free eGuide 'The Travel Agency Growth Guide' by clicking below: