Study Shows That Travel Agents Can Calm Fears

As the world feels more chaotic, travelers rely on travel agents to ease safety concerns By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West

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In case you’re keeping count: This summer, we’ve seen flights canceled due to power outages, computer failures, international terrorism, false alarms of an “active shooter,” hurricanes, tropical storms and floods.

Just your typical summer.

With so many random factors influencing travel, as well as the generally fickle nature of our world, it sometimes feels like making a flight is as much a matter of good luck as good planning. All of us in the travel industry should feel very thankful that, for the most part, consumers are still willing to brave the chaos and fly at all.

This issue’s cover story, “An Immoveable Feast,” is focused on a beloved destination that has seen more than its share of trouble this past year. Despite all its difficulties, France is still a top choice for travelers, with fascinating regions that relatively few Americans have explored in depth.

As a study from the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) shows, travel agents are in a great position to provide clients with the positive reinforcement they often need in order to book a trip. Under the umbrella of USTOA’s Innovation Lab, MBA candidates from Cornell University’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Management found that travel agents are considered a trusted resource for travelers who are trying to decide whether to take a trip despite alarming headlines. These “Receptive Cancelers” look for guidance before making up their minds, which gives agents an opportunity to discuss pros and cons and possibly save their clients’ vacations.

Of course, with this trust comes an obligation for agents to stay up to date on current news and to remain in close contact with their clients — even checking in with them from time to time just to gauge their concern over world events. Agents who take this responsibility seriously will no doubt make themselves more valuable, helping to build and maintain long-term relationships with their customers.

It may not be easy — or fair — but as international travel feels more unstable, agents are going to be rewarded for their sage advice on an even wider range of topics, including safety and security.

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