It seems like every other day a new survey comes out featuring good news about the state of the travel agent profession.
One of those, American Society of Travel Agents’ “Traveler Decision-Making Survey,” highlighted a major trend: an increase in the use of travel agents by millennials. I was especially happy to see that 59 percent of millennials who used an agent felt they got a better deal and had a better experience than they would have if they had booked a trip on their own. That kind of customer satisfaction bodes well for the future of travel agents.
I just spent some quality time with travel agents at the second annual Global Travel Marketplace West conference in Tucson, Ariz. The event, which is co-sponsored by TravelAge West and Travel Weekly, brought together highly qualified agents with top suppliers for three days of networking, education and, of course, fun. It was a great event, and it gave our editors a chance to have some big-picture conversations with agents.
A few themes clearly emerged. First, travel agents are incredibly busy. The increase in business is great, but the cost has often been the sanity of the overwhelmed agent. Another common theme was the need for agents to keep up on a wide range of destinations, because today’s travelers — especially those millennials who are using travel agents — are often determined to go someplace exotic and unique. A destination such as Iceland, which is the subject of this issue’s cover story, “Iceland In Demand,” is exactly the sort of place travelers are looking for, so it’s no surprise that it has become popular.
These two forces — the need for continuous education and a lack of time — seem to be constantly at odds for agents. It’s a tricky dilemma with no easy answers. For our part, we know there’s much for agents to stay on top of, and precious little time to do that, so we will continue to provide you with the information you need to stay ahead of the pack. That’s at least one less thing you have to worry about.