Ripped From the Headlines

Kenneth Shapiro Whenever we profile a company that has been in the travel industry for a long time, such as Trafalgar Tours, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2007 (“Trafalgar Turns 60,” page 14), I’m struck by how much the travel industry has changed over the years. The industry has seen so ma

By: Kenneth Shapiro

Whenever we profile a company that has been in the travel industry for a long time, such as Trafalgar Tours, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2007 (“Trafalgar Turns 60,” page 14), I’m struck by how much the travel industry has changed over the years. The industry has seen so many trends come and go, and so many trials and tribulations, that the ability of suppliers and agents to adapt to these changes has been no less than remarkable. As John Severini, president of Trafalgar, points out in the story, despite the naysayers of the last decade that said the escorted tour business is dead, “The agents who are selling us are making a fortune!”

In fact, these naysayers have a pretty terrible track record over all. Not so long ago they said that travel agents were a thing of the past. Today, the word most associated with travel agents is “comeback.” If you’ve been reading the mainstream press, as I have, it’s certainly gratifying to see so much new-found respect out there for agents.

For instance, The Kansas City Star recently ran a story titled “Travel Agents Make a Comeback” that heralded agents’ ability to help in a crisis. The article also noted that average weekly sales for agents rose 15 percent in 2006, even as Internet bookings dropped from 28 to 20 percent in the same time period.

“Many people aren’t book-it-yourself travelers and prefer the extra hand-holding and assistance they can receive from agents. They are also willing to pay the additional fees that go along with it,” the article read.

A column by David Grossman in USA Today titled “The Ever-Changing Role of the Travel Agent,” focused on agents’ trend toward specialization as a key factor in their “comeback.”

Finally, an article in Smart Money, “Travel Agents Are Staging a Comeback,” pitted agents head to head with some of the Internet’s biggest players and agents beat the Web sites’ pricing and options every time.

All of these articles are available at their publications’ Web sites. While the benefits of a travel agent may be old news to you, these stories would make great PR pieces for potential clients, and could help generate a more positive image for travel agents as a whole.

Don’t be too shy to do a little bragging. You’ve earned it.

[NOTE: Another article just appeared in The New York Times entitled "Happy Returns for Agents." K.S.]

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