In recent years, the media has reported that travel agents have made a comeback, but the truth is they never left, says Expedia CruiseShipCenters' (CSC) Pat Heathfield, sales manager, in a recent promotion.
CSC notes that there has been an increase in the home-based agent population from 31,000 in 2006 to 40,000 in 2011 (citing PhoCusWright data) and offers a rebuttal to the top 3 travel agent myths. The net result is an approach to recruiting agents that validates the agents value to the traveling public, Heathfield says.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters, the agent franchise unit of Expedia, offers answers to three myths:
Myth 1: Online booking engines have replaced the need for travel agents.
CSC's Answer: "The Internet can be a great starting point for planning your next dream vacation but it does not offer the industry knowledge, personal experience, and exclusive offers a travel agent can provide."
Myth 2: Travel agents don’t make good money.
CSC's Answer: "Cruise is the most profitable segment of travel and our Vacation Consultants earn the highest commissions in the industry. The future is bright with 42 million North Americans interested in taking a cruise in the next 3 years."
Myth 3: There is no more growth in the travel agent industry.
"The traditional travel agent is a thing of the past. Today, customers demand a travel service professional. The modern travel agent doesn’t just book travel, they orchestrate dream vacations."
The proof: CSC reports a 20 percent average growth rate for over 25 years and said CruiseShipCenters had a successful 2913. Highlights cited by Heathfield include:
- Signed 15 new retail locations bringing CSC to over 180 franchise locations throughout North America
- Added 960 new Vacation Consultants, taking the total to 4,100 agents
- Sold $14 Million in Princess Cruises during CSC's annual 1 Day Sale
Heathfield's conclusion: With 42 million North Americans intending to take a cruise in the next three years, and two-thirds of those likely to book their vacation with a travel agent, there has never been a better time to be an agent.