What will travel agents do differently in 2020?

This article talks about the IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) annual convention with the theme, ‘The travel agent by 2020 – Goals and challenges.’

One of the more interesting comments was this one, which makes it sound like travel agents will rely almost exclusively on wealthy customers (those who are willing to pay a travel consultant to help them plan a vacation):

Later, Raghavan offered travel agents a way by which they can resurrect their fate, considering the impending danger of zero per cent commissions by airlines. “With their major source of revenue being usurped by the online medium, now travel agents should no longer be agents; they should become consultants. They should start a system, wherein they charge a fee for every service that they offer. This will ensure a regular source of income for the travel agents,” he said.

Would you pay for a travel consultant to help you with your vacation plans and reservations?

Filed Under: Travel & tourism jobs

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  1. Bud says:

    Car dealers, realtors, and travel agents…all useless transcients that get paid to stand in the way to push something they generally know little about.

    The internet has made them obsolete, thank goodness. At best, they are clerks that hinder the transaction. At worst, they earn more money on the backs of the uninformed.

  2. Deuce says:

    Travel Agents are fantastic for those of us that need information and have little time, or desire, to find all the information ourselves. I agree with the article. I, for one, work with travel agents when I am going oversees to new destinations or want something unique. I see them as consultants, not as agents. And, unlike Bud, I also use (certain) real estate agents to do the leg work. I gladly pay for that service. They must be well informed.

    Agents, no matter what type, cannot satisfy the average or normal. I can get my own cheap tickets, find a house for sale, etc. However, when I need information, I would rather spend my time interviewing agents than sitting in front of a computer screen.

  3. David Wood says:

    Actually agencies have forever helped their clients save money. In many ways, some where to advise the traveler that the airline they asked for did not offer the best price, or the best connections. We moved the traveler to a different airline than the one they wanted. This is why the airlines stopped paying commission to agencies. This is why the airlines created frequent mileage programs.

    Today most customers “know” southwest is the cheapest airline and that is what they book, or ask for. Well Southwest is Very Often no longer the least expensive airline. Agencies have always worked for the traveler. Assisting them with gaining knowledge at no cost. The more you know the more money you will save.

    It is the ignorant American that airlines take advantage of. The airlines profit by offering sometimes several hundred prices in just one market. Try New York to Los Angeles … there are about 900 fares.

    Without a professional to assist you in understanding what all these fares are and how to use them you are on your own.

    Looking at what Bud has to say above, he qualifies as one of the many ignorant, and arrogant individuals that believe what the large corporations want them to believe.

    I must pay these airlines $15.00 for every ticket I issue for them. If the ticket cost is $800.00, the airline charges us $815.00. So we ask our clients to pay $830.00 or we can’t afford to stay in business.

    If your flights are delayed or canceled, what do you do if you purchased from the airline or worse yet a travel web site? You have no access to immediate assistance. If you call me, I answer my phone 24 hours a day. I can assist you before anyone else. If you are in the back of a long line, you will be all set before you come close to reaching the counter.

    The only thing I can say is to find out for yourself.

    At 15.00 “profit” on airline tickets, agents are not out to take advantage of you, we are out to help you take advantage of the airlines! This is what we have always done.

    Bud, do some homework before you generalize 3 industries you know nothing about!

    David Wood


    A professional travel agent for 27 years and counting!

  4. Bud says:

    David, I would expect a defensive comment from one of the representatives of the aforementioned endangered industries.

    Maybe you are an exceptionally talented travel “consultant” that is well versed in the many destinations that earth provides.

    To assume ignorance leads some of us astray from you middlemen is presumptuous, and to suggest that you can obtain rates better than the individual – a little due diligence will negate that statement as well.

    The rules have changed and you are bargaining from a declining position. The internet and the global marketplace of real-time information will bear this out. Nothing personal. Best of luck to you.

  5. steve says:

    With sites like Kayak, travelocity, and expedia getting better and better, the average traveler will not only replace the travel agent for the mechanics of travel arrangement in the before-trip phase, but enroute too. With the help of the ubiquitous cell phone (most by the end of the decade will be internet and wifi enabled) when travel delays or bumps happen they will make alternative plans without standing at the counter, and probably get a discount for doing it. The self-service economy is here (banking, travel, check out, tollway collection, on and on) and the customer will do the work cheaper even than call center workers in 3rd world countries. The people formerly doing those perfunctory tasks can now focus on delivering UNIQUE VALUE – knowledge on the customer’s terms. Customers don’t need the cheapest fair or schedules from NY to LA, they need to know what season to visit where, what they can expect, what wonders can be experienced…. which if they wanted to spend a few years becoming a vicarious expert on the destination (blunting the wonder of the experience) they could acquire themselves, or accept the impersonal recommendations of a guide book. For a personally tailored experience fitting their tastes achieved without spending hundreds of hours up front, they need a good travel agent. The same people who use tailors, financial advisers, and accountants will be travel agent customers. Need they be wealthy? By today’s US standards, not really, but they will be selective, and just as Tax-Cut software has slimmed the ranks at H&R Block and QuickBooks picked the pocket of the local accountant, the internet will thin the travel agent ranks much further than they are today.

  6. Steve says:

    I read these postings every chance I get and after reading the posting that states car dealers, realtors and travel agents are all the same, quite frankly inferiorities me. I am a Realtor that has spent thousands of dollars on my Real Estate education and has been a top producer in Real Estate sales for nearly ten years. I take pride in providing a real service to my client’s. The type of people who would write such a comment are the ones that would use you to get all the information they need and have absolutely no loyalty to you when it comes time to buy. What category do you put them in?

  7. Linda Bator says:

    I must agree with Steve. As a Virtuoso Travel Consultant, I can quite proudly say I can offer the travel “experience” not the touristy trips you can book online. Which is why a wealthier client uses us — we plan every nuance of a trip, from any and all transportation, the best rooms at the finest hotels, just the right private “insider” tours (how hard do you think YOU would have to work to get an afternoon tea with Princess Diana’s brother? And do you really think you can?), not just suggestions for fine dining, but the right table at the right restaurant, proper insurance coverage, etc. And of course, a personalized day-by-day itinerary for their use. I don’t apologize for charging what I do for what I do — and based on the number of satisfied clients I have (who gladly recommend me to their friends and family), I will never need to worry about my future in this business. I leave the internet option to people with too much time on their hands to spend hours researching to book something that in the end, is just another trip, and nothing special.

  8. dannyol says:

    The last time I used an on-line booking company (Expedia), the flight changed and Expedia did not issue a ticket for an added leg of the trip. At the airport, I couldn’t board the plane and it was too early to contact the airline. I was a day late to meet my tour (and I was the tour organizer!). Expedia claimed it was the airline’s fault and the airline claimed Expedia should have issued the updated ticket. I always use an agent now with excellent results every time.

  9. Beno says:

    I believe it is nowadays easy for people to use the internet to research and book travel to places that already know something about.

    I am sure most people who know nothing much about the a particular country would want to book a trip there by themselves. Unless they are VERY adventurous. Sure, the trip much end up $500 cheaper than using a travel agent but you will definitely get a lot less than what you pay for.

    Travel consultants that specialize in a certain country, know the country, have personally visited it themselves, would be useful for those trips to countries you know nothing much about and where you don’t want to take any chances.

  10. Georisiodomma says:

    I am happy i decided to finally say hey to you all, i been trolling for months and now its time for action!

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