Over the last few decades, technology has become sophisticated enough to take over many jobs that used to be the responsibility of actual people. Manufacturing requires less human input, farming uses sophisticated machines that a single person can operate, and even the food industry allows customers to order using a touch screen. Other industries are racing against the clock in an effort to stay ahead of the tech in their field. It still stands in question whether tech will replace jobs within the decade. Perhaps one of the professions hit hardest by the onset of technology has A current profession that faces this threat is travel agents.
What statistics tell us
While some people in the tech agency or those outside of the travel industry seem skeptical about the future need for travel agents, data that’s been gathered says otherwise. Google has recently conducted research that shows people looking to book a trip will visit several different websites around 30 times before booking their tickets. They’re trying to find the best deal, but also don’t know what they should be looking for. Another study shows that travel agents are capable of saving consumers who use their services around $450.
According to that same survey, travelers were much more satisfied after using a travel agency to plan their trip. What did it save them? Money, time, and stress–not insignificant consolation prizes. And two-thirds of people said that having a travel agent help them plan greatly improved their entire experience.
Travel agents respond
In order to combat the idea that travel agents are a dying breed, agents, or advisors, continue to work hard to stay on top of their games. To accomplish this goal, they’ve taken advantage of the technology that many thought would hurt them. Travel advisors can accomplish most of their work remotely, allowing them to work from pretty much anywhere in the world. And while meeting with clients may be part of the job, several easy workarounds exist: Skype, Facetime, Google Hangout.
Agents spend a lot of their time traveling to different destinations to develop an understanding of the area and find the best places to stay, sites to visit, and restaurants to dine at, among other aspects of a trip. These whirlwind trips can be recorded and shared with anyone in a matter of seconds thanks to technology. Travel advisors have learned how to utilize social media and other technology in order to share their trips and tips, which often encourages people to contact them, through a call or email, and then book trips.
A Boutique Development
The initial fear that technology would end the profession of travel agents has been ameliorated with the simple fact that humans are good at doing what humans do. And when travelers want to find the best experiences that their destination offers, the internet can often do more harm than good. There are millions of reviews; thousands of hotels and restaurants to explore digitally. How can you be sure you’ve made the right choice? Will you be thinking about the other hundred options you could have chosen while your dining? Do you start to regret the hotel for its minor inconveniences? Yes, the internet is a wonderful database of learning, content, and user uploaded responses. But it can also make us more picky; less happy; and unable to actually enjoy that vacation that we’ve planned.
That’s where the travel agent steps in. Much like the personal chef was the boutique option to replace take-out, the travel advisor is a luxury that has something to offer beyond the world of Expedia. Yes, it’s part convenience, part savings. It’s also part nostalgia. Once we remove the human element of planning an excursion; it can feel less whole.
As long as they continue to utilize the technology that’s out there, I see no quick extinction of the profession for the foreseeable future.