There are those historians who believe that the 21st century really began on Sept. 11, 2001. Without a doubt, that day marks a turning point in the history of our country — and, in many ways, the world. The travel industry unwittingly found itself on the front lines of these events. On that day, airplanes were turned into instruments of destruction, and innocent travelers, among others, either became victims or heroes.
In this issue’s cover story, “Voices From 9/11” (page 12), hoteliers, travel agents, tour operators, airline executives and others share their personal accounts of that day. Whether by calming hysterical guests, locating clients around the world or accounting for missing aircraft, these professionals exemplify the dedication that was seen throughout the travel industry. Their stories also show an industry at the very start of what would become a long journey of adapting to a new normal.
Of the many industries and occupations affected by Sept. 11, travel agents certainly experienced some of the greatest upheavals. The industry saw a long period of consolidation, and many agencies didn’t survive the transition. The ones that did, however, learned a new way of doing business and have continued to thrive in today’s difficult landscape thanks, in part, to the tough lessons learned after 9/11.
Of course, the accounts that we share in this issue are just a few of the many incredible stories from that day. I hope that you will share your own story from 9/11, either on our website (www.travelagewest.com) or on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/travelagewest).
Many things have changed for travel agents since 9/11. However, the dedication and the sense of responsibility that agents show to their clients have only grown. Our industry should be proud of the professionalism that it continues to show in the face of a crisis.