Smarter Travel Agents and Travel Agencies Rise from the Ashes

Mark Twain’s famous, “the report of my death is an exaggeration” quote certainly applies to the travel agent and the traditional travel agency business model. The retail travel agency community has sustained considerable losses due to the combined impact of the rise of the internet, industry consolidation and the economic downturn – 30% of retail travel agencies have closed since 2000. Despite the hardships, a new breed of smarter and more innovative travel agents is evolving.

Secret Agent
Creative Commons License photo credit: saikofish

Being a 'secret' agent in the age of social media could get your travel business killed

Forrester Research recently reported that there are 15% fewer travelers who enjoy using the Web in 2009 than there were in 2007. Many are seeking the expertise of offline travel agents able to provide relevant recommendations, expert validation and most importantly, a time saving rescue from the labyrinth of internet travel sites.

The challenges facing modern travel agents are not unique to the travel industry. The relationship between agencies and their clientele is under duress across all industry verticals. Avoiding the impassioned and emotional specifics that illustrate the travel agent’s plight, a slightly higher level perspective is required – how the internet impacts the Agency-Client relationship across all verticals – not just the travel space.

Traditionally, agencies have been required to provide specialized expertise in their respective discipline – travel, real estate, insurance, advertising, etc.

The best agencies always offered:

  1. access to information that was not otherwise readily available to the client, and
  2. the ability to both develop strategies and apply tactics that were tailored to the client’s specific future goals, available resources and current circumstances.

The internet has dramatically changed the environment and travel websites now compete (with a relatively good degree of success) with traditional travel agencies.

Expedia and its brethren have not eliminated travel agents, but with broad access to travel pricing, inventory, descriptive & multimedia information for thousands of destinations, online travel agencies offer product well beyond even a great agent’s reach a dozen years ago.

Similarly, Zillow has not eliminated real estate agents, but it has armed homebuyers with information that was previously only available through an agent.

Esurance promotes an accurate rate quote in six minutes, hundreds of dollars in average savings and access to other providers if Esurance did not offer the lowest price. Again, a good step beyond a traditional insurance agent’s breadth of product.

In each case, the Internet has enabled consumer-driven product search and returned available product. In many cases, the websites also enable filtering of alternatives based on product attributes. The Internet works particularly well for comparison shopping among commoditized products. As many travel suppliers have unintentionally commoditized their products, this has helped accelerate the growth of many travel internet sites.

The internet does not work well yet (assuming the promise of semantic discovery is fulfilled) for identifying the best strategies & tactics based on a myriad of inter-related conditions. This is why quality agencies will continue remain relevant for the foreseeable future. Travel planning can be a complex exercise, with decisions based on intensely personal motivations. The challenges increase geometrically as additional parties and/or destinations are added to the itinerary.

Iindividual travel agents and agencies that served merely a transaction processing or order taking role quickly become redundant when compared to online travel sites. If one does not provide incremental benefit at an appropriate cost – i.e. create value, any system or process seeking efficiency will eliminate the resource drain. The travel industry provided a perfect case study.

As a result, many marginal agencies closed. Those that remain now continue to provide value by 1) clearly understanding customer needs, 2) providing specialized knowledge regarding available solutions, 3) creating strategic and tactical travel plans that efficiently and cost-effectively align and prioritize those solutions to best address the customer’s needs. These are the very traditional hallmarks of quality travel agencies – traits that are also embodied by their front-line agents.

The agencies that will flourish in the future will be more customer focused, nimble, flexible, and intelligent than those that merely survive by being relegated to providing generic services at commodity prices.

Exceptional agencies will be able to compete effectively against internet-based services, but it will not be easy. New technologies, social computing and semantic search will continue to enhance communications and make increasing amounts of information available to more people with a lower cost and time investment.

While many may say these advancements signal the demise of any function with a title including the term “agent,” I disagree. These same technologies can also enhance the capabilities of the innovative agent or agency by creating opportunities across diverse geographic regions and/or market segments. The smart and resourceful travel agent will embrace the latest technologies, develop strong social networks and maintaining their primary focus on the customer.

The greatest opportunity for success will be for those agents and agencies specializing in specific niche markets or addressing highly complex or challenging needs – at a reasonable level of compensation. Travel suppliers, major online travel agencies and large corporate travel agency groups will satisfy a considerable portion of mainstream travel needs. However, those agencies with the best agents can continue to build a large and loyal following by providing exemplary customer service throughout all aspects of the trip planning and travel experience life cycle.

Agents will need to work harder and smarter to earn compensation from customers presented with an unlimited array of free travel planning tools. The days of agencies milking the cash cow client – getting paid big for relatively little effort – are gone. Value is king, but that does not mean the cheapest cost wins; the world is seeking quality product at an affordable price. While “free” buys traffic, most internet companies have learned that charging for legitimate premium services is a viable business model.

A great example is Stacy Small, the Owner of Brentwood, California based Elite Travel International. Her niche is luxury and she excels at it. Like most agencies, she has a website. She also has a blog that allows her to present her perspective on topics that her audience may find of interest. Recent blog posts have included updates on luxury travel pricing trends, recap of a recent trip to Peru, and Small Luxury Hotels supporting her Birthday Breast Cancer Research fund raising campaign. The blog helps drive engagement with her clients and followers and drives business via links to her website and office via telephone.

Stacy is also known as @elitetravelgal on Twitter where she has 6,200+ followers and has tweeted over 15,400 times. She has generously shared her expertise with no strings attached. She has created a community and fan base. Her twitter account helps drive traffic to her blog and website, but as she also follows back over 4,900 followers, she can also receive direct messages. She does not aggressively pitch her services or spam her followers – she respects them and listens to them.

EliteTravelGal does not trade in deeply discounted fire sale product. While she is always on the lookout for the best deals for her client, she seeks the greatest value, not the lowest price. She thrives in a market segment that has been abandoned by others – Luxury Travel. How does she do it? Stacy adds value. She knows the luxury product and the needs of the luxury traveler. She travels extensively to gain first hand experience with new destinations. She knows the right people to contact to get her clients upgraded in the best hotels and how to get special amenities delivered to their guest rooms. She provides outstanding service delivery and only works with travel suppliers that offer a similar level of consistent service. She is smart, creative and passionate about travel.

One important note – Her first blog post was one year ago and Stacy has been on Twitter less than a year. That is a lot of progress over the course of one year. Stacy did not sit back and wait for the economy to rebound. She did not retreat to solicit a mid-market client. She focused on what she knew best and expanded her territory to attract new clients. Her new territory is global.

She now has clients that she has never met face to face, but they trust her nonetheless. They have shared and interacted with her – they know her personality, some of her causes and her perspective on luxury travel. Many brick & mortar travel agents lack this degree of engagement with their clients. Stacy epitomizes the new breed of successful travel agents.

Smart, experienced agents have been providing great value for years and there is every reason to believe that with a little creativity and hard work, they can continue to do so for a long time into the future. They do not fear or complain about the advancement of technology, they embrace it. As Charles Darwin so eloquently stated, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.

  • Well said. As Stacy has demonstrated, extending ourselves through social media tools and sharing our passion and expertise with others in the industry as well as our clients (and soon to be clients!) is a great investment in future success.

  • Tom Lewis

    Great article! As a friend and admirer of @elitetravelgal I think you picked the perfect travel agent to profile. The internet can never replace the ease and security of dealing with a knowledgeable trusted person. Internet travel sites have a very low level of satisfaction and return business. Savvy travel agents have near 100% satisfaction rates. Not only do clients return, they refer their friends. Often those booking on the web for low prices spend more than they would with an agent. The travel agent has survived and can win back market share in the future.

  • Michael K.

    I personally know Stacy and the reason why she has so many followers and follows so many and has so many tweets is that she is always on her blackberry doing it. Its no great skill and its possible for anyone to accomplish this – its just depends if you want to be tweeting at dinner, at a show, while walking your dogs, with friends at a party. Its not only obsessive but rude to others. Nothing against Stacy I just think its funny that she's getting all this hype when clearly she just has no problem disrespecting others and lots of time.

  • LK

    I agree Michael. She is on on BB every second of the day it seems. But thats her choice. Single, no kids, affords you to do what you want. At travel Mart and Pure alot of people whispered about it. Its definitely obsessive but a free country none the less. There is really nothing special about what she does – she's a independent travel agent that works from home. In fact alot of us hoteliers dont care for working with her she has a horrible temper and bad manners. Even some of her clients have booked directly with us after using her because she is difficult to work with.

  • S397

    I used Stacy once and found her to be rude and unprofessional. Customer Service is important when you deal with “industry” folks.

  • Michael – Thanks for the comment. I think you bring up a great point – for three reasons:

    A) The impact of social media and digital relationships impacting traditional analog relationships. I have a 19 year old daughter (no intention of comparing Stacy to her) who texts constantly and as parents, we have declared meals a “text free zone.” Agree that it is obsessive and rude, but we have found that literally all her friends have similar behavior. I am hoping that this is not the new normal and that she and her friends will eventually discover that one does not need to be socially networked 24/7 to be fulfilled.

    B) The real-time nature of Twitter. With 6,000+ followers, I imagine that Stacy is beseiged by constant messaging. Twitter can be an immersive experience and one may be tempted to keep pace and reply in real time as well – Obviously, at some point, either new tools or processes are adopted to manage the communication flow, or interaction levels are reduced. While I agree that anyone can tweet with the same frequency as Stacy, I would tend to disagree that they would be able to cultivate a similar following if they did not provide relevant content and personality. Stacy is not trading on celebrity that was secured in another medium and I do not see her following in the footsteps of @adventuregirl who has 1.3 million followers and counting. I believe her intention is to monetize her followers by developing business and not simply self-promote.

    C) As someone who also has their own company, I am very cognizant that work can also become an obsession – especially in recessionary times. Everyone needs a healthy work life / personal life balance. It sounds like, as a friend you are concerned that Stacy has lost some perspective on that balance. I think that is a very important point for true friends to raise.

    My purely subjective, non-clinical guess is that Stacy is rewarded emotionally, professionally and financially by her social networking activity. It sounds like she needs to chill a little bit and carve out some quality time with friends. The next time I see her at a conference I'll organize a little group for an old-fashioned, tough love, crack-berry intervention. 🙂 Hopefully you and your friends can do the same.

  • LK, you raise a couple interesting points – when does pushing suppliers to get the maximum value for clients go too far and result in a win-lose scenario?

    After personally spending eight years with Four Seasons, and another seven representing upscale and luxury hotels (frequently working with entertainment industry clients) I have certainly seen my share of unfathomably demanding clients and travel agents – many that crossed the line. Temper and rudeness rarely served to accomplish an objective more effectively than reason and logic (unfortunately, patience was not always a virtue.)

    Do you feel that Stacy is responding to unreasonable requests made by her clients, or is she independently raising the bar for properties to unreasonable levels in an effort to produce an exceptional experience for her clients?

    When you say clients have found her difficult to work with, does that mean that they were reacting to her aggressively working with the suppliers, or was she unresponsive / indifferent to her client's needs? I would find the latter issue highly unlikely, but would like to hear your perspective.

  • S397, can you clarify – In your interactions with Stacy, were you the traveler, or the travel supplier?

  • safari2success

    I completely agree with the message of your article. Travel agents can look at the travel industry glass as half empty or half full. I see huge opportunity for travel agents today, thanks to a fantastic source of where potential clients exist – on the internet. Travel agents just need to put their fishing rods in the water – i.e., get marketing online AND fish with the right bait. By that, I mean they need to stop promoting their travel products and start marketing the benefits, results and solutions they provide for travelers. They need to weave themselves into their marketing message. Stacy Small does that very well.

  • Real estate agents aren't going away, nor should they. They provide a very valuable service to buyers and sellers in the midst of the largest and most complicated transaction of their lives.
    Real estate agents and travel agents play very different roles and while SOME travel agents have been able to survive in the Internet era, most have gone by the wayside. The same is definitely NOT true for real estate agents. They are here to stay, which is a good thing.

  • Thanks for commenting Spencer. I know last year around this time, the National Association of Realtors quoted the number of working real estate agents as falling 10% from its peak in late 2007. As I mentioned, the number of Travel Agents fell about 30% after peaking in 2000.

    I would tend to believe that similar to travel agents, the more marginal real estate agents were the ones that dropped out.

    Undeniably, real estate transactions are larger and more complicated than travel transactions (aside from perhaps come high-end destination weddings) but despite the differences in industries, I see some strong similarities in the attributes that make a great agent.

    Perhaps to compete effectively as a great travel agent, one should study the traits that make a great real estate agent. It is interesting that some of the criticism of Stacy in the comments sounds a lot like some of the very successful real estate agents I know…

  • I absolutely agree that the focus must be on the benefit to the customer – that is the only way to establish long term relationships and repeat business. Catching a customer is one matter – keeping a customer is sometimes the greater challenge. Social media makes keeping the customer even more important.

  • johntpeters

    This is just my opinion, but do you want to know the problem with this industry? Some people line up to knock other people down. Did you get some press? There's always someone willing to zing you, especially since they can hide behind anonymous accounts. We should be helping each other. We should be propping one another up. We should watch out for one another. We should embrace change, for everything it's worth and help one another through the tough times. I promise, there are more tough times ahead and we need each other to get through them.

    As for travel agents, I'm a firm believer some “get it” and some don't. I've been working with travel agents for 20+ years. I adore travel agents; always have, always will. However, let me share some research with you. Most people under 30 have no idea what a travel agent does or why anyone would use them. If you ask how they plan to book travel, they'll either say “Travelocity” (read any OTA) or “I'll book it online,” meaning direct to the supplier. If they want a travel referral, they'll log into facebook and ask their peers. They won't *call* their friends by the way and most don't even email anymore. They text, they facebook; that's what they do. To the point of other comments here; you have to fish where the fish are and with bait they'll go after.

    At Tripology, we have 13,000+ forward thinking travel specialists. Most “get it”. They know specializing is key and the age of the offline, disconnected travel agent generalist is ending. They’ve learned how to sell online just as adeptly as offline and how to blog and tweet and yes, post to facebook. Put simply, they’ve adapted to changing times. Please, don't take my word for it, go to http://bit.ly/TripologySuccess to see some of these fine folks.

    By the way, I’ve also seen some very expert travel agents try Tripology and fail. They usually fail because A) they don’t understand the nuances between selling online vs. selling face-to-face, i.e. offline B) they give up too quickly before they figure it out C) they don’t appreciate the need for specialization and finally D) they don't appreciate the new age of communicating through social media. Some too, couldn't see past weeding through price shoppers to find great leads but that, my friends, is the world in which we live now.

    Online consumers have no need for offline travel agent *generalists*. This is not a newsflash. However, they would love to find a travel *specialist;* someone who specializes in the very trip they're looking to take, someone who'll save them time and give them the “inside scoop” on what to see and do and not offer rregurgitated information they can find online themselves.

    To prove my point, since launch in 2007, we’ve processed over 100,000 trip requests and we will continue to fight on behalf of the travel specialists that “get it” as the best option for booking non-commodity travel.

    As for Stacy Small, all Robert did was mention her as someone who has embraced social media. Don't pay attention to people that “whisper” about it negatively. Rather, use her as an example of what the future holds. Her posts from around the world are interesting to say the least and guess what they show… that SHE TRAVELS, refining her skills and seeing the world! Her posts show the passion and expertise online travelers are looking for. More travel people need to do this. And, her personal posts allow the reader to get to know her as a human being. Yes, she's sans kids and has dogs. Single facebookers relate to her. Dog lovers relate to her. Travelers and people looking to travel relate to her. Get the picture? They *trust* her. This is the hardest thing to do; get online consumers to trust you. I promise you, she's right on. This is exactly what the next generation of travel specialists needs to be and what successful Tripologists do every day.

    Great posts and a great blog Robert. Keep them coming. And HI to all the other forward-thinking folks like Tom Lewis and @twoandahalf and @safari2success. They've got great travel posts as well.
    Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    John Peters of Tripology
    (follow me on twitter at @tripology & @johnTpeters, and on facebook and LinkedIn)

  • Robert,

    Through many years of working on the agency side with industry suppliers, I came to the amazing realization that suppliers are people just like me. I have seen agency managers and execs treat suppliers with great rudeness and disrespect, simply because they felt they had the upper hand being “the buyer”. The result is usually unfruitful and unbeneficial to the agency and the client. Bridges are burned this way and once a supplier has been the subject of such rude demands, it is extremely hard to get them back on “your side”. Whenever I dealt with suppliers – hotels, airlines or any other on behalf of clients or on behalf of the agencies I worked for, I always made it a point to treat them with dignity and respect, taking the time to understand their point of view and how things work on their side. I am happy to say that as a result, I have always had positive responses from suppliers for just about anything I needed. And as for your question if Stacy is responding to unreasonable requests made by her clients, allow me please to respond and say that in my belief, an agent with some experience should know which requests can be accommodated and which can't. And if they don't know, there is never a problem in simply emailing or calling the supplier and asking. Demanding something on behalf of a client will almost never get an agent what they want. Good working relations with the suppliers are key to any agency's success.

  • S397

    Robert,

    Interesting to read comments how great a travel agent is when they havent used them personally. However, definitely gotta respect the comraderie! I think personality also comes into Play. As a former client, my experience was not great for others it might be more than. Different strokes.

  • S397

    Robert,

    Interesting to read comments how great a travel agent is when they havent used them personally. However, definitely gotta respect the comraderie! I think personality also comes into Play. As a former client, my experience was not great for others it might be more than. Different strokes.

  • S397, the personality / fit is an absolutely essential ingredient in the agent-client relationship. Style points definitely count. I have seen very good clients and agents not work well together just because they have totally different approaches.

    Online, when there is not the ability to look a client or supplier directly in the eye, this may become an even greater issue. As one can't pick up any clues from intonation, body language, etc. that might impact one's interpretation – there is the risk of getting off-track, especially if it is a new relationship.

    In travel, one size definitely does not fit all – that's why organizations like John Peter's Tripology exist – to help match the right agent with the right client – especially because it is not always about price either.

  • John,

    Thanks for the insightful comments. Great points for all agents to consider.

  • S397 – we seem to have a bit of an issue – email to your gmail address bounces back. I am all for anonymous commentary and an absence of moderation on blog comments, but that is based on individuals providing valid contact information (even if it is anonymous.)

    Please send me a DM on Twitter, a message from the contact form on my blog or website, or a comment from a valid e-mail address – otherwise, I will have no option but to remove your comments.

    No, it is not because they are negative – I like negative comments – they inspire discussion. It is because spoofed comments are fundamentally non-authentic and there is no room on this blog for that nonsense. Sorry.

  • GREAT article, Robert! Stacy was one of the first tweeps I followed on twitter. She has kindly mentored me in my twitter experience. Stacy and I often share our expertise with one another. I agree wholeheartedly with the points you have made: it will be the agents who are dedicated to our industry, offer service, value and constantly seek education and experience that will succeed.
    –Stephanie

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  • Robert, this is a very thoughtfully-written post. Well done.

    I'd like to add my accolades for the professional travel agents who add value to our lives as travelers, to the suppliers, and to industry overall.

    Yes, using the Internet is helpful for simple, straightforward trips. I doubt there are many agents out there who are sorry that they're no longer stuck spending hours to help Aunt Tilly get the cheapest fare for her every-three-year trip to see her relatives. Instead they can focus on adding value to the more complex trips their clients take, trips that hopefully allow the agent and supplier to make money, while travelers are freed up to focus their time on other tasks — and oh yes, focus on enjoying their trip.

    As for Stacy, I've used her for a personal trip, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Stacy provided great guidance on hotels and followed up to make sure everything was going well. I've recommended Stacy to friends as well. Stacy is a great example for how a smart, motivated, creative, thoughtful, nice, and intellectually curious business person can benefit from technology, including social media. Stacy's not alone, and I hope that she will be joined by even more travel agents who use the Internet successfully to grow their businesses.

    Well done, Robert and Stacy.

  • I'm Arantxa, from Tenerife in The Canary Islands.
    I also have an agency with soul, the soul and the heart our small team-family puts in every booking we make, the passion we have for our job, for the travel and tourism industry, we adore selling holidays, we enjoy working with fantastic destinations and hotels or resorts, we believe in quality and good service and we are very proud of being agents.

    During this hard financial and social time we also decided to start exploring social media and I'm so thankful we did it, we have to adapt our business as Stacy has done, if customers are facebook users, check youtube and use twitter, agencies have to be there as well , close to our customers.

  • stacysmall

    Thanks so much to all for the insightful comments, and thanks most of all to Robert for highlighting me as an agent who has embraced social media as a way to connect with and engage with my clients and potential clients. I am thankful that these tools have emerged at such a challenging time in our industry as we are all forced to be creative and come up with ways to target new clients–including many who've never used a travel agent before. Happy Thanksgiving to all!! Stacy Small

  • Go Stacy!

  • This is the best post on the future of travel agencies I have read recently. Very sobering and calling for all TA to wake up and smell the coffee. An advice I am giving to my clients: if they don't find their niche, uniqueness and baby their clients, they will die. This is confirmed by the 10 trends which came out from the WTM – a travel agency should be a concierge of travel services, know the destination in detail as a local person and market it globally to the right audience.

    I would add also that with the new technologies the “dynamic packaging for dummies” will replace a lot of the functions of the travel agents. The added value that they can offer is only the real, on ground and individualized advice.

    Once again, congtats for the great post.

  • Thank you very much for the kind words Rossitza. I firmly believe great agents can accomplish great things and provide great value to their clients. Some great agents may experience challenges if they can't find a good niche that is not too crowded with other great agents.

    Dynamic packaging is very close to my heart – I was on the team that got the patent on the process when we started up Neat Group.

    One incredible missed opportunity was that the dynamic packaging platform was intentionally developed to help Travel Agents as well – there was a Neat Agent application that had several capabilities that were not included in the consumer-direct or white label supplier / distributor products.

    I won't go into the exact reasons for the demise of the agency dynamic packaging platform here, but let's just say that some individuals decided to change the business model to follow Expedia as opposed to providing an innovative & game changing tool.

    Most of the “dynamic packaging” tools that are currently on the market do not provide a complete rules-based feature set to make the combinations & pricing truly dynamic. In almost all cases, it merely serves as a rebundling tool that applies margin & pricing parity defined by the wholesaler; removing supplier and retailer (including agency) flexibility that rewarded the distribution channels providing the greatest value at the lowest price.

  • Go Stacy!

  • This is the best post on the future of travel agencies I have read recently. Very sobering and calling for all TA to wake up and smell the coffee. An advice I am giving to my clients: if they don't find their niche, uniqueness and baby their clients, they will die. This is confirmed by the 10 trends which came out from the WTM – a travel agency should be a concierge of travel services, know the destination in detail as a local person and market it globally to the right audience.

    I would add also that with the new technologies the “dynamic packaging for dummies” will replace a lot of the functions of the travel agents. The added value that they can offer is only the real, on ground and individualized advice.

    Once again, congtats for the great post.

  • Thank you very much for the kind words Rossitza. I firmly believe great agents can accomplish great things and provide great value to their clients. Some great agents may experience challenges if they can't find a good niche that is not too crowded with other great agents.

    Dynamic packaging is very close to my heart – I was on the team that got the patent on the process when we started up Neat Group.

    One incredible missed opportunity was that the dynamic packaging platform was intentionally developed to help Travel Agents as well – there was a Neat Agent application that had several capabilities that were not included in the consumer-direct or white label supplier / distributor products.

    I won't go into the exact reasons for the demise of the agency dynamic packaging platform here, but let's just say that some individuals decided to change the business model to follow Expedia as opposed to providing an innovative & game changing tool.

    Most of the “dynamic packaging” tools that are currently on the market do not provide a complete rules-based feature set to make the combinations & pricing truly dynamic. In almost all cases, it merely serves as a rebundling tool that applies margin & pricing parity defined by the wholesaler; removing supplier and retailer (including agency) flexibility that rewarded the distribution channels providing the greatest value at the lowest price.

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  • The emerging tourism business is helping the still-suffering villagers rise from the ashes. Several travel agencies, struggling against a slump, have turned to Pinatubo, targeting foreign and local tourists seeking adventure, unusual nature or a glimpse of history.

  • I agree to your post, people today much preferred buying or purchasing online because they think they can benefit from it and it's much easier and safer just be aware of the scams. Having a website for your business will give you benefits.

  • The luxury travel industry is thriving with online marketers like this…congrats!

  • risi13

    It's also important to stay loyal and transparent to the customer. I've seen a few ads for work at home travel agent and most of them rely on the agent's social media contacts to expand their client database. This is ok as long as the agents admit they're working for a travel agency and don't claim to give “personal tips”.

  • I can’t wait to read lots of your posts because this nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need, thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.

  • Great read and advice, traditional travel agencies need to be very pro-active to stay relevant in today’s online-first travel industry.

  • Just wasting some in between class time on Stumbleupon and I found your article . Not typically what I prefer to read about, but it was definitely worth my time. Thanks.

  • PurpleHope

    I prefer the safest way ! To go with someone or at someone’s place, where I am sure it’s all ok.

  • Conceptual Travel

    I am a travel agent now and it is true we have had to change our marketing strategy but I have been around long enough to have a decent customer base and most of my customers are return customers. It really helps me because I know each one by name and I am able to work more closly with my clients and create a travel package tailored to their own needs and desires.

    • Dustin, you nailed it – it is all about engaging with the customer and providing them an experience that is tailored to their specific needs & desires.