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Words matter. I find myself thinking this a lot lately, as I witness ridiculous Twitter battles between so-called grown-ups, and media sound bites that are short on clarity but chock-full of venom.
And because words matter, I’m encouraged by what has become a widespread movement in the travel industry: to switch from using the term “travel agents” to “travel advisors.” Some organizations have been using this terminology for a long time, but a major milestone came last August, when the American Society of Travel Agents changed its name to the American Society of Travel Advisors. Following suit, many other companies and groups changed, as well.
For our part, TravelAge West has been using both “travel advisor” and “travel agent” interchangeably for years, but we’ve now shifted so that our preferred term is “travel advisor.” We’ll still use “travel agent” in stories to keep from being repetitive, but whenever possible, you’ll see us refer to “travel advisors” first.
We believe this change has a number of benefits.
First, it better conveys the consultative nature of today’s advisor-client relationship. Rather than stress the transactional side of the business, the term reminds clients that a travel advisor’s primary role is to provide guidance.
In addition, introducing yourself as a travel advisor initiates a more positive discussion — instead of a conversation that inevitably uses the phrase, “Yes, travel agents still exist.” In this way, switching to the term “travel advisor” gives the profession a much-needed fresh start.
Finally, for businesses that rely on internet search results, “travel advisor” is a better SEO term. “Travel advisor” has fewer search results to compete with — without giving up much in the number of searches per month.
Ultimately, you probably have your own preferred term, and that’s fine. But what is becoming increasingly clear to us is that the future belongs to advisors — not agents.