I have stated many times before that travel agents, with their resilience and resourcefulness, have nine lives—but even that is an underestimation. You are neither dying nor going out of business, and you won’t become extinct. You are now increasingly seen by suppliers as influencers in the decision-making process and are no longer considered mere order takers.
This is the one good thing that has come out of this recession. You are correctly perceived as a vital sales channel in the travel industry, one that is decidedly not going away. For the last 10 years I have defended your place in the travel distribution food chain. And I can tell you it feels good to get that monkey off my back. It feels good to go back to all those suppliers and tell them, “I told you so.”
As always there is a new cross to bear, and today, that is the age issue. It is no surprise—look around your office or attend any travel agent event. It isn’t exactly a youth fest. So, now, I begin to defend the fact that the law of supply and demand will run its due course. The job market for college graduates this year is still a tough one as most positions continue to be filled by experienced labor. As many travel agents begin to retire, we will see an infusion of young blood in travel agencies across the country. It is pure economics—and we are seeing it now.
At Travel Agent magazine, we are not waiting around for nature to take its course. We are adjusting our voice to recruit, educate and inspire these young agents.
Travel Agent recently celebrated 80 years of existence, and we want to be around for another 80 years. As the leading voice of your industry, it is our duty to carry this burden. In that regard, this summer, we will sponsor 10 interns who will work in travel agencies. We will also continue to publish our annual “30 Under 30” issue profiling the 30 top travel agents under 30 years of age. And we will end the year with our Young Leaders Conference in December.
So, we do our best to energize our industry. I encourage you all to be evangelists and engage with the new workforce. Let’s prove the naysayers wrong once again and show them that our industry is here to stay.