Today, many travelers turn to the Internet for their trip planning. With booking websites like Orbitz, services like Airbnb, and trips like Groupon’s Getaways available at your fingertips, you have the power to find a great deal on a vacation without hiring a travel agent. With that being said, is the era of travel agents gone? Our Philadelphia Airport parking company decided to find out:
In the mid-1990s, there were around 34,000 travel agent locations; today, there are fewer than 13,000. However, today’s travel agent industry also accounts for about one third of the U.S. travel market. So, are they relevant or not?
Apparently, (according to CNN,) it’s a bit of both. About 15-20 years ago, travel agents focused on point-to-point trips, but since Internet-goers can easily plan their own point-to-point trips today, travel agents have been forced to shift their focus.
With today’s tools, the average traveler can easily search and book their own flight, hotel, restaurant reservations, activities, and more. And, if they’re on a budget, they may actually be better off booking on their own. Websites like Kayak and Hotels.com let you compare flights and hotels in order to find the cheapest deal while websites like TripHobo and TripIt can essentially plan your trip for you.
In addition, many use websites like TripAdvisor to read real reviews from travelers on specific lodging locations, restaurants, tourist attractions, and even scenic routes. These reviews can help you decide what to do and where on your trip.
Because of today’s abundance of travel websites, many travel agents now target specific types of travelers, such as luxury or business travelers, who rely more on expertise than affordability. Luxury travelers often prefer to pay someone knowledgeable to plan out a vacation (especially if it includes exclusivity) while businesses usually don’t have the time to put together a travel itinerary and would rather a professional do it.
Cruise-goers and travelers heading abroad also still turn to travel agents. Cruises tend to be complicated vacations – especially if you want to travel to several different destinations, which is why many turn to an expert. In addition. those traveling to foreign countries where they don’t speak the language (think Asia) can have trouble understanding what/where to book, so they also often employ a knowledgeable agent.
When it comes to travel agents, we at Winner believe that they can still be incredibly useful, but to those in specific categories. For those who are looking to travel on a budget or on a whim, you can most likely book your own affordable vacation using a little research, planning, and one of the many web services available.