Was there contraction after the airlines stopped paying agent commissions in the late '90s? Yes. Was there a decline in travel after 9/11? Yes. Was the advent of online travel agencies a threat to the traditional agent? Yes. However, what business is exempt from facing serious challenges?
Miami, FL (PRWEB) June 11, 2008
Are travel agents dead?
Not according to Lorri Robbins, publisher of Miami-based Recommend magazine, one of the leading national travel industry magazines. And indeed, the just-released Ypartnership 2008 National Leisure Travel Monitor report shows that traditional travel agents are not dead at all.
"I have never seen a group of professionals so totally written off by perception in my life," Robbins says. "Was there contraction after the airlines stopped paying agent commissions in the late '90s? Yes. Was there a decline in travel after 9/11? Yes. Was the advent of online travel agencies a threat to the traditional agent? Yes. However, what business is exempt from facing serious challenges?"
In fact, the 40-year-old magazine, which is a division of Worth International Media Group, a privately owned company, has seen exceptional growth in the last few years. According to MIN Online (Media Industry Newsletter), Recommend has not only seen ad and revenue gains in the B2B publishing field, but specifically in the travel sector. Their report of the top 20 B2B titles by % gain ad pages and revenue of 20 magazines measured by their November 2007 issues, showed Recommend as number 13 across all titles, and the only travel magazine on the list (a 56.22 increase over 2006). Additionally, Recommend was cited on June 2, by the same source, to be amongst the top 5 B2B travel magazines based on their March issues (24.99% increase over the previous year).
At the end of the day, says Robbins, "the two established national magazines that we compete with will naturally have more ad pages, based on the frequencies of their publications--one is a weekly and the other recently switched from weekly to bi-weekly frequency." Robbins adds, "The fact is, advertisers want to reach this audience because the truth is not only do they exist, they are the largest contributor of travel bookings and while once considered 'order takers,' travel agents are professional and they are specialists in a field that is complicated, and made more complex by websites and promotions that are often inaccurate. Most consumers have the false impression that they can book their travel at a lower cost than an agent can, which is simply not true. Additionally, you get the benefit of agents who have supplier relationships, which translates into better accommodations, preferential treatment, and an advocate that is on-hand to assist if anything should go wrong."
To back up the publisher's statement is the just-released Ypartnership 2008 National Leisure Travel Monitor report, which shows that traditional travel agents are not dead at all.
According to the findings, leisure travelers have been more likely to use a traditional travel agent this year--to obtain travel information and prices, or to make a reservation--than last year.
In 2007, nearly two in 10 leisure travelers used a travel agent to obtain information and prices, or to make a reservation. Among those seeking information/reservations for airlines and hotels, the number of travelers who used a traditional agent is even higher--three in 10. In addition, three in 10 airline/hotel travelers are planning to use a traditional travel agent during the next 12 months. These findings represent a significant increase of five percentage points over last year.
Travel agents are also very influential on travelers' decisions. Six in 10 airline/hotel travelers who used a traditional travel agent perceived the agent to be influential on their travel decisions. More than four in 10 leisure travelers felt their travel agent influenced their decision regarding a vacation package, tour or cruise line.
Reasons for using a traditional travel agent vary. Nearly nine in 10 airline/hotel travelers find a travel agent's ability to find the best available fares or rates extremely or very important when selecting an agent. But more than eight in 10 also cited the importance of an agent's product knowledge.
Other factors important to choosing a traditional travel agent include: agents' ability to provide alternatives and assistance while on a trip (six in 10); convenience of agency's location (nearly five in 10); plus the recommendation of a friend and an agency's affiliation with a recognizable national agency brand or franchise.