The travel chaos caused by Iceland’s volcano shows why travel agents are still the best way to book an overseas trip. As millions of people are stuck where they don’t want to be and are struggling to sort out their plans, those with a travel agent only have to make one call.
That’s an important message for agents to convey, although it needs to be approached sensitively. Just emphasizing that you as an agent offer a human connection for your clients may be all the message that you need. No one wants to be accused of fear mongering.
Still, unexpected, natural events such as the volcano in Iceland, earthquake in Chile or landslide in Machu Picchu do point out the advantages of planning a trip with a traditional agent. People are starting to realize booking via the Internet is not always the best option for travel, particularly off-shore. Things can—and do—go wrong, and having an experienced professional to speak with is critical to giving consumers peace of mind as well as offering solutions.
Certainly the fallout from the volcano showed the limitations of online booking. With the disruption caused by the ash cloud creating havoc in Europe and jamming travel websites and call centers, it’s been extremely difficult for many travelers who have to do all the running around themselves. But those who booked through a travel agent were able to make one call and have their agent sort out everything for them—or at least explain the options. That’s something they can never get online.