When 'Travel Agent' first became a profession, planning a complete round-trip vacation was incredibly difficult. Airlines, hotels, and entertainment venues had to be called personally and reservations made one at a time. The value of having a professional who could put together a coherent and enjoyable trip was undeniable. Needless to say, times have changed. With the rise of online booking sites both for trip-planning and individual venues, most people plan their travel with a few clicks of the mouse.
So why, then, are travel agents still a thriving profession? And why do your clients choose to hire a human travel agent when they could simply plan their vacations and business trips through an online platform? The answer is simple: The value of human creativity, personalization, and problem-solving.
As a travel agent, you are more than just a time-saver for your clients. Quickly booking a room and a flight now takes less time than talking to a travel agent, describing the trip they want to take, and collaborating through the planning process. This means that your clients are looking for more than just the convenience of not planning trips for themselves. They are looking for the value of having a real human mind behind their travel plans, someone who has the time and dedication to not just book a room, but to make sure they have a great time from the beginning to the end of their trip.
The most important thing a travel agent can offer is personalization, the ability to understand your client's idea of a perfect trip and to see the big picture when planning their travel experiences. Automated services can't understand how to help clients reduce jetlag symptoms with careful scheduling, the needs of their small children, or the importance of having a working desk and wifi connection at every point during the trip. You can.
Modern travelers seek the help of travel agents when they care more about the quality and details of their trip than quick and easy booking. They would rather spend half an hour describing their priorities and what an ideal trip is like for them so you can make it happen than get a mediocre trip for a 'few clicks'. Only you can make sure their trip, including restaurant reservations, theme park tickets, and transportation, are all perfectly booked to suit their needs.
Travel agents are also wizards at finding opportunities that automated booking sites would never consider or offer. Because you put your creative mind to the task of creating the ideal vacation or business trip, you know how to look for fun activities or convenient opportunities your clients will love. Perhaps there is a local fair in town when your clients are vacationing with their kids and you arrange for them to have two hundred tickets waiting for them at the entry stand. Or there is a charming local trolley between their office building and hotel that is both more enjoyable and affordable than hiring a car.
Your creativity and opportunism on behalf of your clients are one of the reasons people in the know have relied on travel agents for decades to plan a better vacation than they ever could.
Another great benefit of working with travel agents is access to insider discounts. Unlike your clients who travel rarely, you are constantly in touch with airlines, car services, hotel lines, and local attractions. Not only can you connect your clients with the best dates, rooms, and services for their needs, you may also be able to get them reduced prices because of the number of airline tickets or reserved dinners you book in a year.
You may have contacts who get in touch with you about discount opportunities because you talk so often or be in the loop on travel communities that share timely discounts with each other on a regular basis. And your clients love when you pass savings onto them that they never could have found on their own.
Finally, there is your irreplaceable value in the event of a travel emergency. Let's say your client's flight is canceled, their hotel denies their reservation, or their driver never arrives. What could be a terribly stressful disaster for someone planning their own travel turns into a quick reassuring phone call to you?
From the comfort of your travel office, you can book them a new flight, sort out the confusion with the hotel, or track down the missing driver while allowing your client to sit for a few minutes and relax as problems are taken care of for them. No desperately seeking a wifi signal or worrying about having to sleep in an airport with small children in tow. As their travel agent, you can make sure your clients are never stranded or left in the lurch because, in a worst case scenario, you can always book them a new hotel and a driver to get them there.
Your value as a travel agent is what you can offer that goes far above and beyond anything an automated booking service can do. It is your personal understanding of your clients, your ability to see the big picture and to respond to unexpected circumstances. Not to mention your ability to find hidden opportunities your clients will love. Remember this when dealing with clients and marketing your services and you will quickly build a following of delighted and devoted clients who can't imagine traveling without your expert human assistance.