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Alumni News

Future for Travel Agents Looks Bright

May 09, 2013

The internet has not spelled the demise of the travel agent. On the contrary, it has increased the value of agents who can cut through the mountain of information online and find the perfect vacation for their customers. 

“Travellers are coming back to agencies in droves,” says Mark McKague (Tourism and Travel, 1996) District Sales Manager, Ontario and Atlantic Canada for SellOffVacations.com. 

“Customers are realizing that they can have the best of both worlds – the ability to conduct research online initially, and then take advantage of the knowledge and security of an agent who is backed by company, adds Mark. 

“Companies are hiring more travel agents rather than less,” agrees Jessica Pretty (2003). She is Senior Sales and Training Coordinator at Kensington Tours which offers private custom tours to 90+ countries worldwide. 

The price gap between booking online and using an agency has narrowed considerably, as well, says Mark, thanks to highly competitive flight and hotel costs. 

Another trend fuelling the need for agencies is the growth of specialized travel options. “Baby boomers and the recently retired have done the cruises and package tours. They are looking for a more intimate, customized travel experience,” explains Mark. River cruises, in particular, have taken off in recent years, he adds. “In a culinary-themed cruise, you can park in a small river, and join the chef in town to buy ingredients for the meal he or she will prepare back on the boat.” 

Destinations topping the popularity charts at Kensington Tours include Italy in addition to the more exotic locales of Kenya and Tanzania, says Jessica. Madagascar and Myanmar are climbing the list, as well at Kensington which was twice listed among the Best Travel Companies on Earth by National Geographic Adventure magazine. 

Although people are moving farther afield in their travel, it still pays to keep an open mind when embarking on that dream vacation, says Jessica. “I’ve had people demand that real Coca-Cola be served in their hotel and that the entire population speak English. Be realistic. We don’t expect someone visiting Canada to speak perfect English. If you’re going to Mexico, take a Spanish lesson; you might surprise yourself!”

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