Today’s travel agent is more akin to an advisor or consultant than the booking agent of the past.

Makes sense.

If you wanted to travel say to the mountain village of Chefchaouen, Morocco, in the Riff Mountains (enjoy the blue houses and weavers), then wanted to spend a few nights in Tunisia’s Sidi Bou Saidbefore heading for some Sahara Desert camping, which online sites would you use?

Probably none.

The smart thing would be to visit a travel agent with in-depth North African experience.

Are there any left? Certainly Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, the big online travel agents, almost put the old-fashioned travel agent out of business. And the storefront agencies that used to exist have morphed into home-based businesses, many started by the unemployed, tapping into their circle of friends and families.

But American Society of Travel Agents president Nina Meyer was quoted as basically saying the “woe is me days” for travel agents are over.

And as Reuters recently reported, the pendulum has swung back, and business for the beleaguered travel agent is picking up. In fact agencies made 95 billion in sales last year, and American Express Travel says that bookings through agents are up an impressive 12% from last year.

Interestingly Generation Y consumers seem to use offline travel agents the most, with this late 20s cohort increasingly going into the travel agency business-and creating client bases from their own group and circles.

Travel, the argument goes, is so much more than booking tickets and packages, a function online travel agents are generally, if often confusingly, good at.

But travel agents can provide the personal attention and service, cut through red tape and answer questions, and it’s these functions that can make or break a trip.

Travel agents like Florida-based CruiseOne point out that consumers are overloaded with travel information and are eager for someone to help sort out the data and provide answers and guidance.

In short, travelers are way more likely to trust an experienced human travel agent than Internet ones, especially when it comes to complex travel and special needs.

Today’s agent, not unlike financial advisors, charges a service fee which can be set ($250.00 for a weeklong itinerary; more for complex travel) or a sliding-scale fee structure.

That’s not to say online, Internet-based travel agencies are suffering. They’re not. But they still can’t get into a travelers head and heart and hold hands.

In an increasingly busy and complex world, and travel is nothing if not complex, having a travel agent can be reassuring, time saving and personal - and, when necessary, a strong advocate for the traveler.

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  • Happy to help in any way I can. Can offer 1-minute Travel Video PostCards (240 of them; 5 million views); Podcasts; text content/posts..whatever helps you out

    Feel free to connect via eamailpersonally


  • Kaleel, my passion lies in my small version of Tripitini. My World Travel List. My new life will be social media travel. Whatever you wish to call it.

    If you wish.Feed me or allow me to post your postings on my sites., of course with your URL and BIO.

    There a work in progress, but I logical way for a life long travel entreprenuer. Well, I keep my passion for travel. I am working with www.adventurelink.com I may use there software.


    Anyway, my sites and facebook page are






    http://www.facebook.com/worldtravellist --- close to 20,000 travel followers for what it's worth

  • Yeah, man , I also do not know Tripitini's relationship with U.S. travel agents. I am also going to the ASTA show. Now here is my problem as a schtic player in the airfare business. I relied on my whits. I could find airfares based out of Seoul or Karachi and play tricks with the airlines. I should write a book one day on my airfare skills. One time Sabre made an error and back in the day when there were paper tickets. Well, paper tickets are gone. I am able to offer 12-15% off on Delta business class for airfares over 3300 and higher. Yes, part of it me. But it is hard to find deals for airfare. And I was an airfare player. The thing is I can still great for multi stop airfares out of the U.S. like today I did mange to Jfk to Hkg to Dps (Bali) to Fco on Cathay Pacific. This is type of ticket that I dream of. It's an odd request, and yes there out there. It's finding these clients and agents with the clients who understand the cost of a complicated routing. I am hanging in there, and using social media. But ideally, I'm looking for 8,000 and above complicated multi stop first and business class airfares. Fyi, this ticket today,,,priced at 13,000 and I sold it for 11,000 to another agent and made 1,000. In the old days this was the norm. Now this was a miracle sale.

  • Thanks, Nicholas. This is the second time I've seen David Appell's name in 5 minutes. Here and in an SATW xchange wondering why ASTA is sponsoring, with Tripatini, TBS

    But to your point...Thanks for reading the stuff I turn out. More importantly, who can say why your travel agency didn't make it, even after having made it. Tempting to blame the Internet and online booking sites and a fickle traveling public. And I think they are culpable.

    One of the questions I would as is this: since you are a niche business ("I only sell ,first and business class tickets) , have you used social media, for example, to develop and expand that niche, engaging with potential clients via your blog, web site, Twitter (whatever) providing them with compelling, timely and relevant information about their needs and preferences?

    I would think you do, But I'm not sure. Then there are other questions about your staff, marketing, the kind of professional advice you sought when you saw the handwriting on the wall.

    At any rate, before pronouncing "my gig is up," are you sure there are no good ways to reinvent the gig...and yourself?

    All the best!


  • Hi Kaleel,

    Strangly, I have read that travel agents are making a comback as there are some people who are revolting against the internet, or would just rather have someone do all the research for them. But, not for my travel agency. Technology and the internet actually killed my business.  As a kid in my 20s I took a backpack and went around the world. I came back and started the first travel agency specializing in discount rtw tickets. I made a great living as a travel agency entreprenuer. Now, I only sell first and business class tickets, as an economy class airfare is on line. I still can discount a few airlines in first and business class. But the internet and technology killed specialty, savvy, airfare brokers like myself. There is no spread anymore. I'm an airfare player. Now there is spread to make money anymore. I made a fantastic life for myself as an owner of travel agencies, and a good chunk of change.  I even almost took one of my agencies public. That didn't happen, but no regrets. But now this is the worse year in my travel history. Simply stated, there are few tricksleft that  I can do. Maybe for full service agents. I was David Appell's travel agent when he worked for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel. But as strickly an aifare broker. My gig is up. Fyi, I own World Travel List. Close to 20,000 people follow my two sites and facebook page. Kaleel, I enjoy reading your posts. All the best.

  • Well you should feel vindicated. You hung in and stayed loyal and there you have it. Well done!

    Thanks for writing in, Allie

  • When everyone else seemed to be abandoning travel agents, my husband and I continued to rely upon the good services of the agent who has served us since our children were young. Now we feel vindicated!

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