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What happened to Travel Agents?

What happened to Travel Agents?

Old Mar 20, 2024, 3:27 pm
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Programs: United Mileage Plus
Posts: 15
What happened to Travel Agents?

OK, I will admit the post title is rhetorical. I know what happened, the digital age came around and airlines/hotels etc saw an opportunity to cut out the middle man and increase profit margins. Agents commission become almost nothing (I've been told a fraction of a percent for US airlines) and the OTA came in and cut overhead and made up for the lack of commission by volume.

The thing is in recent months, I've heard of a significant amount of people looking for real advice about traveling. The common thread being since COVID people have been very disappointed in traveling, usually ending up with lack luster experiences because they booked something themselves and didn't get quite what they were hoping for, either because they lacked the knowledge about a destination or, more unfortunately, thing s like AirBNB, scammy tour agencies, promising one thing and delivering another.

I travel quite extensively, I prioritize it over a big house, fancy car or other luxuries. People come to me for advice. My social media backs this up, but I often have to explain to people that for every post of some exciting, adrenaline filled adventure, or cultural experience I do, theres 5 nights of sleeping in $10 a night hostels listening to 2 ,19 year old English kids trying to drunkingly bump nasties at 2 am.

Anyways, went off on a tangent there. I think I could still piece together some awesome itinteraries for people, if there was a way to do it and make money. The little bit of online research I've done, everything feels scammy (ie for the low price of $50 a month, you can book all your friends vacations and maybe travel for free!), or very niche. I guess Disney still pays decent commissions for booking their properties and cruise lines also but you cant realy do anything else besides those industries if you get into it.

Also, from what I gather Travel agents used to be very knowledgeable about airlines fare rules, booking codes and IATA rules being able to piece together some very niche itineraries and unique experiences that just don't happen anymore, and seems to be what a lot of people are looking for these days.

Anyways, does anyone know if theres a way to parlay my knowlege into a source of income? I think there is a market for it now a days, people will pay a premium for a quality trip. I'm also not trying to those "influencer tours", where you build a few thousand followers on social media and convince a dozen or so people to follow you for a week. Or one of those, I build you an itinerary and you book it things. How to get into being a old school Travel Agent, where you can find out exactly what people want and have the knowledge to book it correctly. Any idea?
RespectedPath is offline  
Old Mar 21, 2024, 9:15 am
Moderator: Travel Safety/Security, Travel Tools, California, Los Angeles; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Dec 2009
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Take a look at the Virtuoso business model.
TWA884 is offline  
Old Mar 26, 2024, 10:47 pm
Join Date: Jul 2022
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 31
It depends I think. Virtuoso is probably, specifically, the answer to your question about being an old-school travel agent. But that seems a bit disjointed from what you're talking about. If you're looking to parlay your knowledge into helping people have memorable, worthwhile experiences then you probably don't even need to become a TA to do this. It sounds like people want your expertise more than anything. If that was what you were planning to offer, you could do this by booking retail for your customers or partnering with a TA to do it for you (since presumably they aren't coming to you because they're concerned about the cheapest price, and you'll be needing to making some money as well).

I did run a business several years ago where this was one of the offerings and it was quite popular. I partnered with a TA specifically to book or manage complex itineraries and to support with trip management if there were disrupts. This model worked well at the time.

Side note, I do think there is a good market for something like this. I recently reached out to a few speciality travel agents for assistance with some travel (some offers were only available through agents). I was pretty blown away by how bad they were considering the industry suggests these kind of speciality agents are where they really add value. One was downright hostile from the get-go (single word answers, straight up up rude when he managed to get a sentence out). Another sent me a quote for a different trip. This seemed like basic stuff.

Best of luck with it, reach out if you would like to chat.
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turnips is offline  
Old Mar 30, 2024, 1:50 pm
Join Date: Oct 2013
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Register a business, start selling trips, sell premium fares with high comms
fuyao is offline  

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