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What's in store for Travel Agents in 2017?

Another year of travel and opportunity beckons for Travel Agents everywhere. We asked our resident gypsies (some of whom also moonlight as Travel Agents) to gaze into their crystal balls and share their thoughts on what could be in 17'.

Another year of travel and opportunity beckons for Travel Agents everywhere. We asked our resident gypsies (some of whom also moonlight as Travel Agents) to gaze into their crystal balls and share their thoughts on what could be in 17′.

After the infamous Travel Agent/Webjet smack down last year (Which is still ongoing), it seems the battle of Agents Vs Online (OTA’s) appears to be swinging firmly back in favour of the Agent. Hurray for that.

A case of turning a negative into a positive?

I think it’s probably something we should all thank Webjet for as it’s they who have kick started a conversation with clients as to why Agents are still very much needed.

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Thanks Webjet… You’ve actually done Travel Agents a big favour.

Aside from numerous positive stories on KarryOn on the re-surgence of the Travel Agent, there seems to be no end of good news stories doing the rounds and talking up the rightful value of actually dealing with a human being over a website.

Nice one Webjet.

Particularly when the travel proverbial hits the fan and overseas ‘customer care’ is urgently needed. Or a cheaper price, expert visa advice, personal tips, better routing… As we all know… The list goes on.

So if you are consistently delivering on service excellence and new ideas (using technology in the process to help you) to meet your clients needs then you’re already on your way to winning the fight in 2017.

But what else? Here’s what our KarryOn gypsies think.

 

MATT CASTELL, WRITER AND ESCAPE TRAVEL MANAGER

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I see 2017 as a big year for changes in the way we sell travel.

The ‘younger’ generation is slowly taking over from us (ahem) older ducks and so are their demands for more flexible workplaces. I feel that we’re going to see more home-based or part-time Travel Agents earlier in careers, rather than traditionally later down the track.

This is in line with how our customers want to do business as well, which means when they want and how they want (non-traditional business hours & communication via phone/text/social media/Skype).

Read Matt’s now industry famous – ‘Dear Webjet’ story.

 

KATE WEBSTER, Writer and Travel Agent

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2016 was the year of disruption, prepping the industry for the bumper year ahead in 2017.

I think as agents adapt to shifting environment of the industry they will develop new creative ways to win clients over and keep them as repeats. While OTA’s will still be present, the traveller will resort more to traditional agents still to ensure they get the service they deserve.

As we have seen the past few months, Australia will get more air access to the rest of the world, with more carriers flying to cities nationwide meaning more competition and better fares.

Cruising will continue to boom with bigger better ships hitting our shores next year. The price of cruising for travellers will hit an all time low with amazing deals which will help drive the boom. Agents who are not CLIA trained and certified are missing out on this.

Destination wise, look for more unique offerings and not yet tapped into destinations. For example, Uganda Tourism will visit Australia in early 2017 for the first time, showcasing what the country has to offer through a number of Agent Roadshows.

I think there will be a rise in travellers visiting lesser known destinations more than the traditional Pacific Islands, USA and Europe.

Rubbing my crystal ball for the ultimate prediction, KarryOn will be bringing you some surprises in 2017.

 

SHAUN BUSUTTIL, WRITER AND FORMER STUDENT FLIGHTS AGENT

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There will be increased demand in 2017 to visit Iceland and Travel Agents will begin tacking on flights to the land of Fire and Ice onto a standard European holiday. But they’ll also get sick and tired of trying to explain to customers that Iceland isn’t really that icy nor cold, and that the Northern Lights are never a guarantee.

And neither is seeing Jon Snow from Game of Thrones nude in that thermal over there.

More agents will start charging fees for their time and expertise, and more customers will become ok with paying them as they understand the benefit that comes with booking with an agent.

The challenge for all of us as Travel Agents is to educate our clients as to why we exist to help them beyond bookings.

Meanwhile, the USA will remain as popular as ever, even with Mr. Trump in the White House but bookings to Turkey and the Middle East will decrease in light of security concerns in that part of the world.

Read Shaun’s ‘Will 2017 be the year Travel Agents strike back? story.

 

ANNE MAJUMDAR, WRITER & SEA GYPSY

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With all the awful things going on the world, travel will be more important than ever next year, helping people understand cultures different to their own and broaden their horizons.

Ducking under the rising tide of hate, the international travel community will instead pull together making personal connections more important than ever.

Yes, technology in the form of chatbots, virtual reality and social media will continue to drive the world of travel forward, but more than ever we will be seeking the expert opinions and thoughtfulness that only a real person can provide.

Experiences will be uniquely authentic rather than mass-produced.

Read Anne’s ‘4 technology predictions to drive more sales for Agents’ story.

 

TRAVEL TO CHANGE THE WORLD

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I couldn’t let this article wrap up without throwing my own two cents worth into the suitcase, which is to simply say that 2017 will be the year of more customers looking for responsible travel options where they can give back and make a difference to the places they visit.

Health and wellbeing are already booming trends for all ages and so as those trips rise further and humanity switches on to ‘more giving, less taking’, we’re going to see more clients wanting to make more ethical choices within their travel plans.

Get ready for more requests for voluntouring, positive encounters with animals (especially endangered ones) and experiences in diverse places and societies off the beaten track where people can actively contribute to doing something good.

We’ve just launched our ‘Travel to change the world’ initiative for 2017 and we urge you to get involved and do what you can too. Read on for more.

That’s just our view, now what about you? Share your thoughts and we’ll publish a follow up with your opinions.