Each year, we do something that no other trade publication does by seeking out the latest research in the industry and examining it with a regional perspective that makes it more relevant to our readership here in the West. This year, we took a slightly different approach with this issue’s cover story,"Portrait of an Agent"
. Along with the dollars-and-cents statistics, we also took a look at the moods and attitudes of today’s travel agents in order to get a fuller picture of the current climate of our industry.
In order to accomplish this, our parent company commissioned an exclusive study conducted by renowned researcher Stanley C. Plog, PhD. The study (shared only with our sister publication, Travel Weekly) sought to understand the psycho-demographic aspects of today’s agents. As you’ll see in the story, the findings suggest three mind sets: Careerists, Contenteds and Searchers.
It’s this last group the Searchers that I find troubling. According to the study, these agents are dissatisfied with their career choice; they have a negative view of the current industry and dread future changes; and they find their jobs tedious. The good news for the rest of us at least is that they say they plan to leave the profession entirely in the next few years.
While I would love to endorse reaching out to this group and nurturing them back into the happy fold, my gut response is to simply say good riddance! These agents can’t get out of the industry fast enough for me. In a time when travel is booming and consumers and suppliers are once again valuing travel agents for their expertise, these Searchers are most certainly better off in another career.
In all seriousness, just as companies such as RCCL are making positive steps to clean up our industry by refusing to work with card mills, the pessimism of some agents puts a drag on agents’ reputation as a whole and shouldn’t be tolerated. It’s one thing to get something off your chest during a gripe session within your own community, but it’s a whole other thing to do this outside “the family” and give consumers the impression that all agents are in this profession because they are too overwhlemed to do something better. Maybe by not putting up with this pessimism we can help these Searchers begin their job search that much sooner. K.S.