As I’ve so often stated, to look forward, one needs to look back and reflect on past trends. It was with interest that I came across research about the role of Travel Advisors in 2019 and an insight into where they will be in 2020 and beyond.
Bear in mind that my observances are based on American research. Still, the corporate travel industry as we discuss it in these articles is effectively global, so it has relevance within our travel industry too.
Not surprisingly, due to the technological advances in travel that we have spoken so much about, the role of the Travel Advisor at the end of the last decade was seen to have diminished somewhat.
As a Skift research paper sourced from the US bureau of labour statistics puts it “As both leisure and business travellers turn to online travel agencies, metasearch websites, and mobile apps to plan and purchase their trips, demand for some traditional Travel Advisor services, like making flight and hotel reservations has diminished.”
We have often discussed whether technology, robotics and advanced systems would ultimately replace human beings in this industry. Figures that show the total number of individuals employed as Travel Advisors in the USA alone fell by more than 100,000 between 1998 and 2010 would seem to support this, but it is not all doom and gloom…
A significant rebound
I have always advocated that we need people in an industry that requires a substantial element of human interaction and so was pleased to see that it has not been only a situation of demise, but something of a roller coaster ride.
After a massive drop in 2010, around 2018 there was a significant rebound in the number of Travel Advisors being employed and the same research shows that there is hope on the horizon.
People still want people
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, it appears there is a growing call for more Travel Advisors in the industry, and so this role is by no means being replaced by A.I or anything else.
It is particularly interesting to note that one of the subgroups of corporate travellers that most support interacting with Travel Advisors is the Millennials. Quoting from the research; “MMGY Global’s 2017-2018 Portrait of American Travelers study said that 33% of millennials planned to hire a Travel Advisor in the next two years. This insight is further supported by research conducted by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), which found 55% of millennial respondents said hiring a travel expert was “worth it.”
Where is it leading?
This means that it is the younger generation that is likely to continue to support Travel Advisors and so it appears that the ‘human element’ is far from dead. Despite continually growing technological resources, there are many who still feel the need for good old fashioned customer care.
Watch this space as in future articles; I will discuss the apparent challenges that Travel Advisors are facing and some of the solutions we as an industry can offer to give our clients. Will we be able to give them what it appears they really want? I.E. the convenience and speed that technology provides, as well as face to face, or at least mobile to mobile personal assurance that if something goes wrong, someone’s ‘got your back!’
At the end of the day, our value and our credibility, whatever our occupation, is only as good as what we can deliver. I encourage Travel Advisors, as I would anyone else in this industry, to keep seeking better solutions for every client, always combining the high technology we have access to, with good, old fashioned, genuine customer care.LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER