Over the last few weeks a few comments have been made, questions posed and issues raised about what has become a controversial subject. I’ve thought a lot about it and I am pretty sure I have formulated my opinions, but I’m really curious to hear what you think.
A few months ago an article on the Woman’s Day website discussed the utility of travel agents in 2013, making the argument that thanks to technology they are no longer necessary. The article wasn’t shy either; the author took a lot of digs at the agent world calling them opportunistic and driven by money more than anything else. Since this is the Internet, the post drew worldwide furor and agents from all walks of life left hundreds of comments decrying the inaccuracies in the post.
Since then there have been follow up articles, both for and against the use of travel agents, but one thing is for certain, Woman’s Day hit upon a very sensitive topic. While the travel agent world may have been on life support at one point, the truth is today that the industry has rebranded itself and is actually thriving. But this debate made me wonder, who is actually using agents? Is it mostly corporations and large entities that book a lot of travel, or is it really the individual traveler?
Personally, I have never used a travel agent. It’s not because I have anything against them per se, I don’t. I happen to love travel planning and spending hours online checking flight and hotel options is a hobby for me, not a chore. I also know many travel agents, I like and respect them, I just haven’t used them. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they are useful, they are. There are cases though in which I can see myself using an agent. If I were to plan a very special trip and wanted some extra perks like hotel upgrades thrown in, I would use an agent. If the trip was excessively complicated and included hotels with which I am not familiar, I would use an agent. If I were to go on another cruise, which I hope to, I’d probably use an agent because they can get some incredible upgrades included. But I think that’s about it really.
My first thought about all this is that my friends at least don’t typically use agents because of the lack of transparency. If you go online, you can see plainly what the best deals are. It’s hard to put all of one’s trust in an agent that the offers they present are actually the best deals, or instead the best deals for them. It’s just human nature and if agents can help assuage these fears that would encourage my friends to use them more.
SO, my question to you – have you ever used a travel agent and would you again? Please give some details about your own experiences.