Will Travel Agents exist?
What do you think?
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
The travel industry has been badly hit by the pandemic. That’s an understatement! Bookings were zero, no product to sell, citizens under strict lockdowns with no signs for a resumption of international travel. That was the situation just 6 months ago.
It’s always said that the travel industry is the first to be affected by the pandemic and will likely be the last to recover in any world crisis situation: be it a war, pandemic or an oil crisis. And which is true. Thousands of travel agents have shut, including some big players. Or, there have been massive layoffs. But, one sees a revival all around, lockdowns relaxing, people rearing to travel, holidaying at least within the country and also international travel slowly opening up.
Even before the pandemic, people from within the industry as well as without, pose a question: with the internet now being used by millions, will the millennials and the gen z make the travel agent extinct? If not today, in 5 years or 10? What do you think?
I have pondered on this for a long time and here are my thoughts as I questioned myself :
>Who performed well during the pandemic: the OTA’s or the travel agents/ travel agencies?
> Who spent nights resolving customer refunds and coordinated with airlines and aggregators to ensure refunds do get processed?
> As there is a revival, customers need hand holding and correct travel information especially inter state and international travel. Who is better equipped to take better care? The travel agent or the OTA’s ?
> India has a population of over 139 crore. Though millions would have access to the net, a very high percent would be first time travellers and would need support. More so, post pandemic.
> Travellers have had very bad experiences with OTA’s. How many of them would return to the OTA’s? Most likely, they would contact their local travel agent.
> Even if India has a very large young population, it is primarily a DIFM : Do It For Me population.
> With whatever technology advancements happening, there is always a need for the human touch.
Hence, I firmly believe that travel agents would continue to exist and also prosper with the right mix of technology and personal touch, which is so important to the travellers. What do you think? Share your views.