A plethora of travel agencies have mushroomed up in the last five years claiming to provide lucrative tour packages and improve your booking experience by making it quicker and easier. In the U.S. alone, there were 13,513 retail locations of travel agencies in January 2013, let alone the increasing number of online travel portals.
Travel agencies like Liberty and Delgado have been a great source of assistance to travelers over the years and have survived the changing landscape of industries. On the other hand, online travel portals. like Expedia, Travelocity and Kayak, have become popular in the last five years and are posing a tough competition to these conventional travel agencies and agents.
The older generation, which has spent more than half of their lives depending on travel agents for their travel related issues, is still reluctant to switch to online travel bookings. On the other hand, the younger generation finds it tedious to go meet a travel agent and make a booking, when they can do the same job in almost no time with just a few clicks on their computers and smartphones.
The online travel agencies are even opting for apps on smartphone operating systems like iTunes and Android, enabling you to book a tour package anytime, anywhere.
Feeling the nerve of the younger generation, Becky Powell, Senior Vice President of Member Sales at Virtuoso says, “We have to reach out to younger people using social media, we have new, young advisers coming into the business and they are building their own travel businesses by serving younger clients.”
According to a report by Consumer Trends 2013, even though there are many preferring online travel agencies, as many as 30% of total packaged tours are still booked through traditional travel agents in comparison to a mere 17% through online travel portals.
In a survey titled Travel Agents vs. Online Booking: Tackling the Shortcomings of Nowadays Online Tourism Portals, it was found 65% of the travelers found travel agents to be better for booking international tickets, whereas, 50% were of the view that online booking was cheaper. According to 78% respondents, social interaction with the agent is crucial.
The online travel portals are quicker and enable you to carry out research and help you compare the price offered while sitting comfortably at home, but there is no denying that conventional travel agencies have remained intact, seemingly against all odds. The loyalty and human interaction that they offer, combined with several years of experience in the field, has helped them carve their own niche.
~ by Deepika Sharma Grover