Contrary to the myth of the travel agent as a dying breed, agents have fully embraced new technologies and serve consumers through both specialized professional travel distribution technology, not available to consumers, as well as internet-based tools.
ASTA, the global advocates for travel, responded to an error-ridden blog on careercast.com titled “When All Else Fails, Consider a Useless Job.”
The article included travel agents as “useless” along with sign-spinners and clairvoyants; an assertion as insulting as it is inaccurate. “Before slapping such a label on an entire industry, you might have considered doing basic research on it. Since it appears that you didn’t, I am taking this opportunity to set the record straight on behalf of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and travel agents everywhere,” responded Paul Ruden, ASTA Senior Vice President.
Travel agents are alive and well - and they do a robust business by providing expertise and advice to millions of travelers every year, using a combination of new and old technologies. As of year-end 2012, there were about 8,000 U.S. travel agency firms in business employing 105,000 people. In 143 million transactions, those agencies sold $86 billion worth of air travel (64 percent of the market). According to Ruden: “While online agents account for a lot of that business, so-called traditional agents actually sell about half of it, in addition to the vast majority of the $15 billion worth of cruises (64 percent) and $9 billion in tour packages (66 percent). Those are big numbers. Travel agents help to move people around the country and around the world, and in the process keep our economy moving. Useless? Not hardly.”
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