The internet has killed many things in the last decade. Newspapers, movie rental locations, yellow pages, personal relationships, and even expertise in your career field.
Before the web, expertise was something you gained from years of work. Now, anyone can go online and become a so called “expert” by watching YouTube videos or reading blog posts.
Here’s an example - I recently moved to New York City, and on the weekends, I wanted to learn how to actually use my Nikon D3200 camera. I have plenty to explore in this city, and I wanted to take pictures along the way. So this past weekend, I watched 2 hours of videos about the basics of DSLR photography.
Below is the result from my first attempt at photography. I think they turned out nice!
The only thing I knew how to do with a camera was setting it to auto and hitting the shutter button. With the help of the internet, I already feel like I know more about photography than most people.
The same thing happened to travel agents in the last decade. People started going to websites like Expedia, Kayak, and Hotwire to find information travel consultants used to provide. The result was travel retail locations were cut in half over the last decade!
However, some travel consultants have evolved to the changing landscape. They’ve realized that creating custom travel experiences and adding value to clients was their real competitive advantage - not just being a gatekeeper of information.
These travel agents have taken that knowledge and applied it to these two target markets to succeed in a so called dying industry.
Best Markets for Travel Agents
Business travelers just want to book now. They’re always busy and unlike the everyday leisure traveler, they don’t have time to research online for hotels, ground transportation, plane tickets, etc. What’s more important to them is having the insurance of knowing their travel arrangements go as planned every time so they aren’t late to a meeting/outing.
Modern travel consultants provide these things by planning ahead - analyzing company travel patterns, chartering with trusted transportation providers, and keeping clients updated along the way.
Corporate travelers need to stay productive while traveling on business trips as well. They can’t afford time lost in transit and look to travel agents to charter private jets and executive vans that are mobile offices. See video below for example of a mobile office.
Luxury travelers are not going online to save a few bucks on their travels - they just don’t care. On top of that, they can’t find the luxury transportation they desire on websites like Expedia. These people want to call up luxury travel agents and be 100% sure they’ll be receiving the absolute best services and amenities throughout their travel experience.
The best part about these people is they’re recession-proof and are only looking for value - something you can provide them.
They don’t want any part of their travel to be mediocre, and that includes ground transportation. They look for something superior to a limousine when they're on the road. Below is a example of what luxury travelers expect when they're traveling on the road.