After a CareerCast blog listed travel agents as a "useless job" & a Women's Day article posed these consultants as unnecessary, many industry professionals have spoken out to counter these claims.
The American Society of Travel Agents is one organization standing by the usefulness of its trade. One of the main arguments for the declining value of travel agents is that computers can serve consumers faster or better, but Paul Ruden, ASTA senior vice president, argued that agents have become tech-savvy & can now provide consumers with improved service. Travelers who use an agent are able to take advantage of the best deals for a luxury vacation, while also enjoying the personalization that automated online booking services can't provide.
"Contrary to the myth of the travel agent as a dying breed, perpetuated by the article, those who have adapted to the Internet era have not only survived but have thrived," Ruden explained. "Travel agents have fully embraced new technologies & serve consumers through both specialized professional travel distribution technology, not available to consumers, as well as Internet-based tools."
The role of travel agents has undoubtedly been evolving, & Ruden went on to say that they still have an important place in today's society, as they can help to reduce the time & money spent on booking a trip. He noted that travel agencies were responsible for booking 64 percent of all air travel transactions, 64 percent of cruise reservations & 66 percent of tour packages. He even asserted that travel agents are critical to fuel the economy.
A treasured resource Gordon "Butch" Stewart, founder & chairman of Sandals Resorts International, is another hotel industry pro that is advocating for the crucial role agents have played in his company. According to Travel Agent Central, he also maintained that these professionals were key for opening the Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa.
"The role of agents in our success cannot be underestimated," said Stewart in a written statement. "We have invested heavily in this partnership [with agents] & will continue to do so, because we believe it essential to our ability to delight guests, to exceed their expectations & to welcome them again & again."
With the knowledge & advice of his agents, Stewart claimed that consumers are directed to a resort that is more tailored to their needs, preferences & interests. He explained that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a destination or a hotel for luxury travel. Since every resort has a different environment, amenities, activities & other aspects, travel agents are critical for ensuring trip-goers take maximum advantage of their vacation time & have a truly memorable experience.