Are Travel Agents A Thing Of The Past?
In the past, before the advent of the Internet, it has largely been too time consuming or too expensive for the average consumer to deal directly with the travel operator and personally arrange every aspect of their holiday. Travel agents became a trusted and speedy medium via which the holiday consumer could book a ‘package’ that would otherwise be impossible for the independent consumer to find.
The role of the travel agent includes three key tasks:
1) Perform the function of the information broker, passing information between buyers and suppliers
2) Process transactions including printing tickets and forwarding money to suppliers
3) Advise travellers on places to go, things to do and other important information
These three tasks have been lampooned by the information and facilities provided on the Internet. Consumers have recently realised that it is possible to research their planned holiday fully online. Users can find out about specific regional information at the click of a mouse. Small local hotels, specific local attractions and regional tours can be researched with ease before a booking is considered.
In the early years of the Internet, consumers tended not to trust booking online. It was perceived that parting with credit card details over the Internet was not a secure method of payment. Users instead tended to research everything they wanted to know before hand – and then contact their travel agent either face-to-face or over the phone to book their holiday package.
The Internet offers an effective means for developing a single and sustainable electronic infrastructure for information gathering and business transactions for both travellers and suppliers. It is an ideal method for people to source information on travel. It is therefore essential for travel-related Websites to offer useful, pertinent and easy-to-find information alongside a booking facility if appropriate. The Internet can be used to fully research a destination, book all aspects of the holiday including travel and communicate others who have the same ideas or have been through similar experiences. It gives travellers an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast everything on offer before they make a purchase.
The information available online is continually being reformatted and presented in a more logical, easy-to-use and read format. The volume of consumers that rely on this information to make travel-related decisions will therefore continue to rise. In addition, features and benefits of using the Internet to research and book holidays are improving and being added to all the time. For example, consumers no longer have to receive printed tickets from the travel operator. They simply print out any information that they require themselves after they receive it automatically via email.
The Internet has meant that people can now easily plan trips for themselves. This has not only opened up a greater amount of discounts available to the general public, but also given people the fun and enjoyment of planning and booking their own trips.
Are travel agents a thing of the past? The future isn’t looking too rosy for them. They might perhaps retain their presence in certain specialist markets, where they can offer a unique service to individual market segments – but if you’re a ‘love all, serve all’ travel agent you’ve probably seen your income levels drop significantly over the last few years.
About the Author: David Bain is founder of the UK tourist information website http://www.TREKtheUK.com. TREKtheUK is a comprehensive UK tourist information guide featuring lots of places to go and things to do. Why not consider Scotland travel?