• Travel agents still thrive in the era of online travel


    When it became possible to make travel plans quickly and easily on the Internet, many people assumed that travel agents would become a thing of the past. However, like modern-day record collectors or black-and-white film enthusiasts, some people see value in things that others have left behind. According to Thrillist, one-third of the revenue generated by the travel industry each year still comes from travel agents. In fact, between 2002 and 2011, spending on travel agencies nearly doubled.

    Boost from boomers
    The service is not being used uniformly by travelers. The Boston Globe reported that the current popularity of travel agencies is being fueled mainly by baby boomers. Some of that may be because they're more familiar with travel agents than people who came of age with the internet, but it also has to do with the kind of vacations they're taking and what they're willing to pay for it.

    Younger travelers tend to prioritize economy, since that's often the only way that they can take a vacation at all. Older adults with more money in the bank may instead prefer to go all out, spending more money but taking longer, more involved trips. While a week spent on a friend's couch could make for a great vacation to recent college graduates, older travelers gravitate toward trips to more exotic locales that incorporate comfier accommodations.

    Areas of expertise
    Online travel planning can lead to more spontaneous trips, leaving travelers bouncing from one sight to another based on whim and circumstance, but travel agents specialize in meticulously planned vacations. For some, the chaotic flavor of self-planned travel is appealing, but others prefer to maximize their time out of town and see the best of the best. Thrillist reported that travel agents' value comes from their experience. While an individual traveler may arrange a dozen trips in his or her lifetime, that's all in a day's work for professionals. That expertise means that they know the ins and outs of the industry and have inside knowledge of how the get the best deals on everything from flights to hotel rooms.

    Agents often have contacts in the cities where they frequently send travelers and can use them to help clients get around like locals. Their relationships extend to services such as airlines as well, meaning that tourists can bank on their travel agent's reputation to score the best prices on getting there and back again.

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