The travel industry has been impacted by technology in a big way and has undergone fundamental changes in the past decade.
In this article, we discuss the future of travel agents and try to foresee what lies ahead for them. We also attempt to find an answer to the question that is bothering many in the industry; will travel agents become obsolete?
However, let us start by having a look at where the travel industry stands, as of today, and what are the challenges travel agents are facing currently. Read on to learn more.
The Travel Industry and Technology
Technology has brought about a sea of change in the way people plan traveling. From access to travel-related information to making bookings and travel arrangements, everything can now be done right from your home, at the tap of your fingers.
So much so, that at the first glance, it seems like there is no more need for a travel agent. The niche which was dominated by travel experts and planners for a long time seems to have been turned completely irrelevant.
Evolving Customer Preferences
Apart from the changes brought about in the digital mobile revolution and new business models in the travel space, the taste and preferences of customers have undergone a big shift over the years.
Gone are the days when travel meant throwing oneself at the hands of a travel agent. Today, travelers want personalized travel plans, special arrangements, and customized experiences.
The one-package-fits-all kind of approach is not going to work anymore. How the traditional travel agents who have been minting on their pre-designed standard tour packages will handle these changes in customer preferences, is yet another challenge for travel agents.
What Is The Way Forward?
So does it mean that this is the end of the road for travel agents? Does it mean that if the trend continues, that travel agents will become obsolete in the next few years?
There’s still a lot that a travel agent has to offer to a prospective traveler that a mobile app can never do. What exactly is it? What must a travel agent of the future possess?
Authenticity of Information
The authenticity of the information available may be regarded as the biggest downside of a digital technology-enabled travel planer. Therefore, it is important for travel agents of the future to turn this to their advantage by providing information that is 100% authentic and reliable.
Today’s travelers, as we mentioned before, need travel plans that are personalized and customized as per their needs. However, digital solutions can offer only limited personalization.
A travel agent, on the other hand, must offer complete flexibility in designing a travel plan that the customer desires to be able to survive and grow.
360 Degree Travel Support
Further, a travel agent of the future must provide an end to end travel service which comprised of not only meticulous planning and taking care of customer needs, but also handling contingencies and making special arrangements during travel.
Finally, the biggest strength of a travel agent of the future can be the cost advantage that it can offer to the traveler. This can be attributed to the years of experience and strong vendor relationships that the travel agents hold and offer to the end-user on a platter.
The Bottom Line
Travel agents are not going to become obsolete in the future. In fact, the changing times have brought about some new opportunities for travel agents to capitalize on and grow. What is important is to embrace the change, adapt to it, and make the best of it!