Travel agents were once seen by many observers as one of the professions most exposed to the new digital world order. But they certainly have not disappeared. They are disruption veterans and transformation experts, and still account for a large proportion of the global travel market.
If we extend the definition of “Travel Agency” from a traditional brick and mortar agent to include online travel agents as well, then the sector is in even better health. Online travel agents (OTAs) have democratised travel, bringing a range of content to the desktops, laptops, and smartphones of billions of people worldwide. They’ve provided the spur for traditional agents to up their digital game and most successful high street agents have a virtual footprint as well as a physical presence.
The line between online and offline travel agents is becoming less distinct. Both can be broken down into leisure and business. Business travel agents have transformed into travel management companies and offer a range of services beyond booking flights and hotels.
In the same way as leisure agents blend the physical and digital, so do their business-focused peers. Self-booking tools co-exist alongside full service models, with itinerary mobile management apps, expense management tools, duty-of-care services, automated carbon reporting, as well as a host of other personalised features also offered to business travellers.
When it comes to each of the traveller tribes identified in our research, they will have a different understanding and expectations of a travel agent. You can learn more about these expectations in our report, Future Traveller Tribes 2030: Beyond Air Travel.