The Travel Agent Industry Still Surviving Against Innumerable Odds – The travel agent industry has been struggling to survive facing the worst type of challenges in the last decade. The main competition came from the popularity of the Internet where at the click of mouse all travel arrangements could be made in advance comfortably. To add to woes there was the 9/11 attack, the elimination of commission by airlines and then came the biggest blow of all – the recession. But despite all this the travel agent industry is still surviving against innumerable odds.
One of the old timers still faithful to travel agents is Larry and Bonnie Ohler. No matter what their destination from Italy to Argentina or to Tibet they never fail to contact Lynda Maxwell. She owns Destinations and has been assisting this couple from Ellicott City for many years to plan their vacations. The work is many pronged – tour booking, aligning pickups from airports, locating hotels and dealing with innumerable other details. Bonnie Ohler said, “We like the comfort of knowing someone who knows what they’re doing is working with us”. Larry added, “I can never ever get really final answers online”.
To others travel agencies might seem to be museum pieces. Although a good number has downed shutters, those who have survived are doing so by concentrating on certain pockets – business groups and selected travelers. They contend that the demand for their services is increasing.
Jay Ellenby of Safe Harbors Travel Group (presidents and CEO) based in Baltimore said, “What you might hear is that travel agencies are dead, and oftentimes people think that. We’re far from it, though the industry has decreased significantly. But we often find ourselves reinventing ourselves”.
Experts opine that the consumers are depending on professionals to comb through all the information, sort out the competing prices being offered, plan out customized travel and to keep in tune with conditions that are changing by the day; when trips go awry they even stop in to help out.
Chris Rosso of American Society of Travel Agents say that the latest trend indicates customers are returning to professionals in the travel industry because the pictures viewed on online are not all that they appear to be. The economy has made people extra cautious and they want to see that their money give me the best.
In the post recession period travel agents across the country are saying that business is picking up.