WHY TRAVEL AGENTS SHOULD MOVE BEYOND TICKETING
With the emergence of e-commerce and e-business, the role of the travel agent has changed. It used to be one of gatekeeping, where agents were responsible for most travel sales in the whole industry. However, now more than ever, the travel agent job is becoming centreed on “shopping”, as agents specialize and are constantly looking out for the consumer’s best interest by helping them find the lowest possible fare. In fact, the travel agent business is slowly (but surely) becoming one of “brokering” and “consulting”, instead of merely “ticketing”.
These trends come at a time where the tourism value chain (or the interlocking relationships linking travel consumers to service suppliers) is under dramatic shifts, which had been presaged for some years. For example, several airlines believe they no longer need an intermediary to sell their product. Their sales on the Internet are cutting into travel agents’ business. Airlines and other travel suppliers are squeezing the travel agent as they cut commissions and sell directly to customers.
Despite these trends, airline ticketing remains one of the leading e-commerce segment due to several converging factors. The ease of substituting one remote channel for another and the lack of physical fulfillment have made the traditional visit to a travel agency or to an airline ticket office obsolete for the purchase of airline tickets.
Today, the phone call has given way to the Internet as the next step in this evolution. Many airlines are battling non-airline-affiliated travel agencies for total domination of online distribution such as Travelocity and Expedia, the two larger online travel agencies.
Therefore, it is clear that the adoption of the Internet for booking airline tickets will
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