Airfares can be booked on a commute to work, accommodation secured in less than 15 minutes and travel insurance purchased at a local grocery store…

… but no matter how convenient it may seem to be to purchase travel online, the digital world won’t replace the traditional Travel Agent anytime soon, according to Travellers Choice’s MD.

Speaking to KarryOn at the group’s annual conference in Perth last weekend, Christian Hunter said that although technology is evolving, the online travel industry still faces a number of challenges that are keeping consultants front-of-mind for travellers.

Among these biggest challenges is consumer ‘fear’ – fear of not having support should something go wrong, fear of losing their money and fear of making errors during complex bookings.

“Technology is evolving but it’s not as sophisticated as it needs to be.”

Christian Hunter, Travellers Choice Managing Director

“It doesn’t necessarily make it easy for consumers to book, faster or more efficient and it’s not anymore cheaper than using a Travel Agent,” he added.

“I constantly look at consumer-facing websites and they’re actually quite challenging when you want something that’s not point-to-point.

“The Travel Agent adds so much value to the consumer because they’ve got the information, they’ve got immediate pricing, they’ve got the expertise and the knowledge to give the customer the reassurance that they need.”

Travellers Choice Christian Hunter

In saying that, Hunter does recognise the influence the online world has had on the industry over the last decade and says there are opportunities for offline and online to work together to better meet customers needs.

An example of this would be Travellers Choice’s recent partnership with online package deal website, TripADeal, which the MD says has provided members with a new type of product to offer clients.

“We see the relationship with TripADeal as an opportunity to access a new type of product.”

Christian Hunter, Travellers Choice Managing Director

“Highly packaged offers are a new style for us and it’s an emerging sector in travel.”

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How do you see the role of the Travel Agent evolving in the future?