Stand Up for Your Favorites

Google and TripAdvisor executives were the latest online providers to acknowledge the importance of travel agents By: Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro

In case you missed it, Google and TripAdvisor executives were the latest online providers to acknowledge the importance of travel agents. According to the website Travolution, reporting from ITB in Berlin, TripAdvisor for Business president Christine Petersen told an audience: "We are far from satisfying bespoke needs or [meeting the demands of] those who have not  been to a far-away destination and donít have a friend who has been there. Agents will need to change the way they do business, but I don't see the travel agent going away."

This view was confirmed by Bernd Fauser, Google's head of global travel accounts.

"I recently bought a family trip using different modes of transport and it was very complex," Fauser said. "We see people search online and purchase offline. Agents need to know people do their homework before they come in [to the agency]. They need to step up and not just sell commodity trips."

Of course, Peterson and Fauser are a little behind the times when it comes to a conclusion that most of the travel industry has come to long ago, but itís good to see some of the biggest companies in the industry on the record as officially endorsing the role of agents.

Fauser's point about how people research travel is an important one, too. Successful agents are well aware that the clients they are dealing with today are more educated about travel products, suppliers and destinations than ever before in history. When it comes to travel, everyone is sure the latest app they downloaded has made them an authority, and they see themselves as being a full partner in the decision-making process. This is one reason agents need to stand up for the companies that are not only good at pleasing their customers but that are also good at working with agents. 

With this in mind, in this issue, you'll find the ballot for our annual WAVE Awards (pages 10-11), which are designed to acknowledge the companies that are the best of the best. You can cast your vote online and support the companies that support you. The last day to vote is April 30.
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