You've probably wondered yourself whether Travel Professionals are still able to survive these days based on the way this industry has been evolving over the past many years... Online booking agencies like Travelocity and Expedia, booking online directly with suppliers and now Google entering the market big time, all appear to have replaced the need for the travel advisor. Or maybe not...
Maybe, just maybe the career choice of a travel consultant is one of today's best kept secrets?
The birth of the internet caused upheavals in many professions, but none so drastically as the world of travel. No longer did a travel advisor's knowledge of online booking systems offer job security. In the 'old days', the only ways to book a plane ticket were to either call the airline directly or stop into your local brick & mortar travel agency on Main Street. Is the Travel Consultant adapting to this new landscape? Some are and some are not.
There are a number great reasons I've discovered that make it beneficial to always use a travel specialist since I've switched into this career over the past couple of years and here are just 3 of them:
1. Dire importance to have someone 'at your back' if something goes wrong from political issues when traveling such as strikes to major weather problems.
2. Amount and detailed work to put together an itinerary or travel plans particularly in unfamiliar areas such as Africa and Australia/New Zealand as examples.
3. Ability for a Travel Professional to get extra perks, discounts, deals vs. 'going it alone' considering their extensive network of fellow professionals and relationships with consortiums, and various suppliers in the travel industry.
For many people, the decision to spend their valuable leisure time and money traveling is one of the most costly investments made each year. Did you know that the amount of time spent researching travel online is second only to those "researching" X-rated sites? The demand is there (for the former) and the need for expert guidance to vet thousands of options grows daily. There are features on the news quite often showing people who are hired by hotels to write “fake” reviews on Trip Advisor. So how do you know what to believe?
We all share a passion for exploration and adventure. The best in the field spend weeks or months traveling each year to stay up-to-date and most importantly are REAL specialists not generalists. Our passion for particular destinations (such as Australia and South Africa) or type of travel (such as Luxury Ocean & River Cruising) or a niche market enables us to really focus on learning the suppliers and destinations so that we can be better equipped to find the best match for each client.
The amazing specialists I have met in my years in travel are very busy traveling the world, setting up business and marketing systems, serving their clients 24/7 and some are making decent money. I belong to a business education group called the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs, made up of a group of dedicated niche agents who refer leads and clients between each other so the traveler is being served by someone who truly KNOWS and LOVES the destination they are interested in traveling to.
If you are smart you will use that type of professional to help you with your next trip. Ask me. Ask around. It'll be worth it in the long run even if you don't have any major issues with your travel - you can at least have peace of mind knowing that if something does, you're in good hands...