Online travel agency behemoths Priceline and TripAdvisor were smashed in America on Tuesday after missing Wall Street expectations according to Reuters, with shares in TripAdvisor falling 23%, and Priceline dropping 13.5%.

Expedia has also continued to descend bumpily from the turbulent clouds, with its shares down 19% since it reported it’s most recent results in October.

Why? Official reasons cited in the media for the poor performance include a fiercely competitive sector; alternative accommodation options such as Airbnb taking more market share and hotels themselves aggressively fighting back for direct bookings.

travel-agent-karryon

Did someone say “I need a Travel Agent!”

Hotel chains like the Hilton Group or The Starwood Group continue to ramp up their loyalty incentives, with offers such as free Wifi and lowest rates on their own websites, to lure customers away from third-party booking sites, whilst Airbnb continues to grow globally as the dominant site for home rentals with its own marketing push.

Perhaps bizarrely though, the mention of poor (no?) personalised customer service and a general lack of empathy or care weren’t stated as valid reasons for why online travel agencies might be falling out of favour when we trawled the news.

Funny that.

So whilst the ever humble, battle-hardy Travel Agent still really isn’t mentioned as another competitive factor in the mainstream media, taking a look online in various forums such as LinkedIn off the back of the news gives a more balanced outlook, with agents being lauded as a far better alternative to booking travel online by many.

 

Check out some of the many comments below

He thinks it's funny

He thinks it’s funny

“These online travel sites make consumers difficult change the date or upgrade the ticket. I bought a ticket with Priceline. When I asked for the date change, the airline refused because the travel site did not give the permission. I called the company and I needed to pay almost the ticket price to change the departure date.”

Tony Yeung

 

This one couldn't wait to celebrate...

This one couldn’t wait to celebrate…

“And are you getting the best deal? You are not getting the best deal. Travel Consultants have access to better rates plus they use wholesalers that have a bulk rate. Rates with Expedia are not guaranteed and are higher. Plus when you have an issue Expedia will not help you.”

Arne De Jong

 

dog

True Dat!

“Another reason for TripAdvisor – Bad PR lately surrounding their censoring of reviews.”

Faith Aronow

 

cat

“Just about time. Go back to your travel agent!”

Alice Colody                                               

 

laughingseal

“I’m hesitant to book an expensive trip online… I’d much rather work directly with a reputable travel agent.”

Marybeth Kirschenmann

Perhaps we shouldn’t be laughing (Dare we say “We told you so”), but it seems the journey back to agents is continuing to gain momentum and it’s fantastic news for the industry at large.

For many of us in the industry, it’s hardly a surprise – we’ve been hearing this repetitive story for the last few year’s – we’ve certainly run enough of them on KarryOn.

FACT: Traveller’s are looking for expertise and fantastic service and yes they’re looking for value, but more than anything else – they’re looking for someone to guide them through every stage of experiencing an incredible trip with empathy, flexibility and support when travel plans change – for whatever reason.

Is it now finally time for the mainstream and general public to now accept this trend also?

I certainly hope so.

In the meantime, I’d suggest you get on the front foot, and share this story and the positive message to your customers so they can spread the word for you too.

READ: 7 things a Travel Agent can do that a website can’t

READ: 9 Reasons to use a Travel Agent in 2017

READ: Here’s why the future is bright for Travel Agents

What do you think? are you seeing more customers return after a bad online experience? Share your thoughts below?