wel­come

Selling Travel - - Welcome - Steve Har­tridge

As Mark Twain might have said, if he hadn’t been oc­cu­pied writ­ing about life by the Mis­sis­sippi, the death of the travel agent has been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated. Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted by a top ac­coun­tancy firm, the rate of travel agen­cies and tour oper­a­tors go­ing bust has been ar­rested, falling by 30% in the last five years, from 47 to 33 a year.

Of course, any travel re­tailer shut­ting its doors is a cause for con­cern, but these num­bers from Moore Stephens do at least sug­gest the im­pact of the in­ter­net is slow­ing and that travel busi­nesses are adapt­ing to the chal­lenges posed when con­sumers have a wealth of in­for­ma­tion avail­able at the click of a but­ton.

Ex­cept, of course, it is not al­ways a click of a but­ton. Putting to­gether that dream trip or long-an­tic­i­pated hol­i­day of­ten in­volves sev­eral tens if not hun­dreds of clicks, and who has time for that when there is (a) no guar­an­tee the fi­nal prod­uct(s) will save any sig­nif­i­cant chunk of money and (b) be ex­actly what the you are look­ing for? And don't get me started on what is in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent: there is no re­li­able cor­re­la­tion be­tween the vol­ume of travel and des­ti­na­tion in­for­ma­tion that is dumped on the web and the re­li­a­bil­ity and use­ful­ness of that in­for­ma­tion. So start-up blog­gers out there take note!

How­ever, that's not to say the mar­ket for travel agents is not chal­leng­ing - it is - but many agents are not just sur­viv­ing but thriv­ing be­cause they have suc­cess­fully adapted to these threats. As the Moore Stephens study points out, good agents have moved away from ‘vanilla’ pack­age hol­i­days to of­fer more be­spoke and ‘com­pli­cated’ prod­ucts, par­tic­u­larly niche in­ter­est hol­i­days and spe­cialised trips like cruise, sa­faris, ac­tiv­i­ties and ad­ven­ture, etc, where the knowl­edge and lev­els of the ser­vices they of­fer is highly val­ued by the cus­tomer.

So to end on an­other Mark Twain mis­sive: The se­cret of get­ting ahead is get­ting started.

En­joy this is­sue.

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