Today, Travel Agents are told to fear online travel agencies (OTAs), tomorrow they’ll be warned against voice technology, and sometime in the future, it’ll be artificial intelligence.

But if history tells us one thing, it’s that when it comes to booking travel, holidaymakers will always prefer to make a transaction (especially a complicated one) via a real life Travel Agent.

History is the security blanket Travel Agents can rest under for job security because according to My Travel Research’s Carolyn Childs, there was once a time that people thought fax machines would be the end of retail agencies and video conferencing would eradicate business travel.

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Sounds hilarious now considering the fax machine’s futile fate, but before consultants learned to work with the communication device and use it to their advantage, it was considered a massive threat.

Speaking in a marketing panel during Visit USA’s Mid-Year Update in Sydney this week, Carolyn said people will always fear the latest technology, but she believes Travel Agents will always be relied upon for their expertise and authority.

She continued, saying that she does, however, think that voice technology and any future technology could impact the way Travel Agents work, just as the Internet did upon its arrival.

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“We may have fewer Travel Agents, but we’ll have Travel Agents doing a different job.”

Carolyn Childs, My Travel Research Co-Founder

“If you look at Travel Agents now, they’re doing the job you can’t find on Google because Google looks at what you did. But serendipitous is what a good Travel Agent can do – find those things you didn’t know about,” she added.

“One of the things we see in research is consumers saying that there’s too much information on the internet and there’s too much to sift through. So again, a Travel Agent can reduce complexity and build on that.”

Lauren Quaintance, Co-Founder and Head of Content at Storyation agreed, saying that people have predicted the “death of Flight Centre for years” but at the end of the day, consumers are hesitant about fulfilling travel transactions online.

“They want that security of a Travel Agent,” she said.

“They want to know that when they arrive at their hotel and no one opens the door that they can contact someone.”

 

Do you remember a time when fax machines were a threat?