One lurking issue that threatens the future of the travel agent distribution system is the fact that, as travel agents themselves get older, fewer young people are going into the profession and, perhaps not surprisingly, agents are not pursuing younger clientele as aggressively as they could. When you put these factors together, you have an aging group of professionals with an aging client base, which is not exactly the ideal recipe for future success.
This issue’s cover story, “Why Gen Y?” (page 12), is meant to address the second part of this equation — how to attract younger clients — by examining the strategies of some travel suppliers who have had proven success with Generation Y (as they are now called). In addition, if you check out the cover story on our Web site (TravelAgeWest.com), you’ll see an example of an agency that is taking an entirely different approach to reaching this younger market. San Diego-based Ask About Travel makes a determined effort to not only bring in younger clients, but also to hire younger salespeople. In this way, they are addressing two problems at once — reinvigorating their agency staff with new blood and nurturing future clients with a sales force that better understands their needs.
After all, ultimately, it’s worth taking the time and effort to get to know this next generation, before you discover the future has passed your business by.